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Five Tory MPPs interested in becoming speaker of the House

July 4, 2018
Robert Benzie

It is the most influential elected position at Queen’s Park still up for grabs, and comes with a spacious apartment and immortality in the form of an official portrait on the first floor of the legislature.

The next speaker of the Legislative Assembly will be chosen by 124 MPPs using a secret ballot next Wednesday.

Burlington PC MPP Jane McKenna wants to make history by being the first woman to hold the post of speaker.

Five Progressive Conservative MPPs have so far expressed interest in the key post that includes a $152,914 salary, a $36,364 boost in members’ base pay.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, elected on June 7 and returning to Queen’s Park following a four-year hiatus after losing in the 2014 election, hopes to shatter a glass ceiling in Ontario politics.

McKenna wants to make history by being the first woman to hold the post of speaker.

“As a mother of five, I decided to run for MPP in Burlington because I wanted to make a difference. As an MPP, we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Ontarians,” she said in a letter to other members.

“In the months ahead, we will consider and debate many challenging issues that will have life-changing implications for the people we represent. Throughout these debates, I believe that we all have a role toplay to ensure order and decorum in the House.”

MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston), who has crusaded for backbenchers to have more of a role at Queen’s Park since his election in 2007, said he would like to improve transparency in the Legislature.

“I look forward to having the opportunity to ensure the richness of our representative democracy by acting as a vigilant safeguard of this cherished institution,” said Hillier, who has stood up to his own party’s leadership in the past.

“My motivations to seek the speaker’s chair are rooted in my desire to see an elevation of the standard of discourse both in the legislature and our wider society,” he wrote in a pitch to MPPs.
“I have sought to be fair and impartial, and demonstrate appropriate respect for all members while seeking to maintain decorum in the chamber,” Arnott said in a letter to MPPs.

“Many MPPs from all sides of the House have encouraged me to consider seeking the speaker’s position,” he wrote.

MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Leamington), who was first elected in 2011, notes his experience as a deputy speaker and as a sports referee would help him moderate legislative debates.

“I know what it means to enforce the rules of debate impartiality, to avoid favouritism, to censure respectfully, and to allow the procedures of the House to run smoothly,” Nicholls said in a written appeal to his colleagues.

“I have a strong sense of fair play developed over many years as an official in provincial basketball, hockey and baseball (both fastball and slo-pitch),” he added.

Also reportedly considering a run for the speaker’s post is MPP Bill Walker (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound), although he has yet to formally declare his intentions.

If there are five candidates, it will likely take several ballots to determine the successor to former speaker Dave Levac, who did not seek re-election in the June 7 campaign.

The plum position includes a large apartment on the third floor of the Ontario Legislature.

There are 76 Tories, 40 New Democrats, seven Liberals and one Green eligible to vote.