OTTAWA – Parliament re-opened today for the first time after Canada’s 4th federal election in 8 years changed the political landscape in the country. The first order of business was the election of a new Speaker of the House of Commons, which resulted in Regina Qu’Appelle Conservative MP Andrew Scheer being elected after 6 rounds of voting.
“I’d like to offer my congratulations and support to Andrew Scheer, the new Speaker, in his election to this vital position,” said Hyer after voting for almost 7 hours. “We’ve had problems that have gotten worse and worse in Parliament as time goes on: increasing partisanship, and decreasing civility of debate. Our new Speaker will be key to tackling these problems, in controlling the heckling and name-calling, and in enforcing the rules so that we can have more substantive and respectful discussions.”
With the exception of Ministers and the Prime Minister, all MPs are considered for the role of Speaker of the House of Commons unless they voluntarily withdraw their names from the race. At the first sitting of the House of Commons after an election. The election of the Speaker is held by secret ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of votes right away, the candidate with the least votes is dropped and another round of voting is held. This continues until one candidate gets more than 50% of the votes. Scheer becomes the youngest Speaker in Canadian history, at 32.
“I’ve always made a point to avoid the heckling and name-calling that’s all too common in the House,” said Hyer. “The excessive tribalism and partisanship – encouraged by the system itself – doesn’t help us solve Canada’s problems. It doesn’t help the image of Canada’s Parliament either. It’s a well-known fact that many schoolteachers now refuse to bring their classes to watch Question Period because the level of decorum has gotten so low. It is my sincere hope that history will see this Parliament as the turning-point where our toxic political atmosphere started to change, and civility came back.”
Working as the Official Opposition to the first majority government elected in over a decade, New Democrats have pledged to work to improve the level of debate in the Commons. The Harper Conservatives have echoed this commitment.