International Politics

Liberal MP Anthony Rota upsets Regan to become Speaker in minority Parliament

OTTAWA — Liberal MP Anthony Rota has been elected Speaker of the House of Commons.

And Conservatives say he has them to thank for beating out fellow Liberal Geoff Regan, who had been Speaker during the last session of Parliament and wanted to continue.

The election of Rota, who represents the northern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming, is the first sign of how the official Opposition intends to throw its weight around now that the Liberals have been reduced to a minority.

The Conservatives, with 121 seats, didn’t have the numbers to elect one of their own to the challenging post.

But they could ensure Rota, who had served in the last Parliament as one of Regan’s deputies, came out on top.

Two Conservative MPs, Bruce Stanton and Joel Godin, and one New Democrat, Carol Hughes, had also been in the running.

All MPs voted for the Speaker, casting preferential ballots.

Under preferential balloting, MPs list their first, second and subsequent choices. The votes for the last-place candidate are redistributed to his or her supporters’ second choices, a process that continues until one candidate emerges with more than 50 per cent of the vote.

After the election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while all MPs must work hard to keep decorum, Rota will be the one to remind them to do so if they fail.

“I know that though that every member will strive to ensure constructive and therefore productive debates, there will be times where our differences will get the best of us and have us get carried away,” Trudeau said Thursday in the House.

“And we will then look to you, Mr. Speaker, Parliament’s referee, to keep us in line,” he said.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who was Speaker from 2011 to 2015, noted the uniform worn by the person in the role carries important meaning.

“The neutral colours of black and white to denote your detachment from party affiliation. The old-style Queen’s Counsel robes and wig bag are a sign of the unbreaking traditions that are the foundation of parliamentary practice,” Scheer said when it was his turn to deliver his congratulatory speech.

“You will represent the collective rights and responsibilities of members while you are in the chair, but you will also represent our Parliament in several ways around the world,” he said. “And I have great confidence that you will do so with the dignity and professionalism that being the Speaker of a G7 country warrants.”

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