My dear colleagues, it is a pleasure to be here in this House once again as the 40th Parliament begins.
Last October, Canadians elected their third minority government in four years. So, here we are sitting in this House having the privilege and responsibility of serving our fellow citizens in Parliament. We have an important decision to make today in choosing one of us to preside over this House during this Parliament.
You have before you a number of candidates from three of the parties represented in the House, all of whom have expressed the desire to represent you as your Speaker. They wish to offer their services to the House because, as has been mentioned, the Speaker is a servant of the House.
I have no doubt that the other hon. members who have let their names stand for this position have all done so because they are motivated by a sincere concern for making Parliament work. It is, after all, the role of the Speaker to preside in the House and try to make our House effective and functional. These motives as well as their previous experience, I am sure, have helped them get elected as representatives of the people in their constituencies, as has been the case for all of us in this House.
That being said, in my view, in a minority House there are certain circumstances that require expertise, not merely experience, and I think it is important to have these two reflected in the choice of Speaker. A minority government or Parliament brings with it a series of challenges, politically, of course, but also on the logistical, administrative and procedural side.
In this Parliament we will have a number of challenges. In my view, a minority Parliament is best served by a Speaker who can balance the rights of the members to fulfill their parliamentary obligations with the necessity of maintaining order in the House, and there is a balance between these two.
There have been many concerns expressed by other colleagues who are presenting their names today and in the media concerning the issue of decorum in this chamber. I agree that decorum has gone down somewhat, but I do not believe that is uncommon in a minority Parliament, because there is a lot of competition going on in the House.
These issues are going to be raised here, and there is bound to be some disorder when issues are raised, but the person who is elected to be the Speaker must be able to count on hon. members to share in the responsibility for maintaining order in the House. It is all of our responsibility to do that.
Without the goodwill and express support of members on all sides, it is very difficult for a person occupying the chair to in fact impose order. In my view no amount of interference or chastisement of members will impose order that does not exist, unless the members themselves wish to have order in the House, so it is important that we work together in that connection.
If you do me the honour of selecting me to be Speaker of the House, I will bring to the task not only my 20 years of experience as a member, but also my experience, since 2001, as Speaker. Despite being a member of the opposition, I presided over the previous Parliament because the members elected me Speaker. I appreciate the support I received when I was elected in 2006, and I hope to be given another mandate for this Parliament.
I thank you for all your past support in doing this job. It would have been impossible for a Speaker to continue working without the support of all members. The Speaker is the servant of the House.
For your past support, I thank you. I hope that you will continue to keep me in this job to work as your Speaker in this Parliament. I would appreciate the opportunity. I enjoy working with every one of you.
I truly appreciate your support in past years. Thank you very much.