The next Speaker of the House

Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer (who served as deputy speaker during the last Parliament) and Barry Devolin (who served as an assistant speaker) will apparently seek to replace Peter Milliken as Speaker of the House of Commons. NDP MP Joe Comartin, who sought the Speaker’s chair in 2008, apparently won’t do so this time around.

Mr. Comartin had publicly recommended Michael Chong for the post, but Mr. Chong’s not interested. Via email, he explains as follows.

I’m not running for Speaker, because I want to make a difference in other ways.

The Speaker can’t introduce something as simple as the changes proposed last year to Question Period. While the Speaker has some latitude in interpreting the rules, the role is that of a referee and must be neutral on policy issues. There are a number of policy issues too important to me to set aside.

In addition, the Speaker must sever ties with the party: the Speaker cannot attend national caucus, party fundraisers, or even national party conventions. I’ve been a provincial and federal Conservative for over 20 years. Continuing to work within the party is important and something that I want to continue.

For all these reasons I won’t be standing for Speaker.

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