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

The decision to try and unseat Geoff Regan as a show of strength was made at the Conservative caucus meeting earlier this week

December 5, 2019  The Canadian Press

Anthony Rota. PHOTO: House of Commons

OTTAWA—Liberal MP Anthony Rota has been elected Speaker of the House of Commons, beating out fellow Liberal Geoff Regan, who had been Speaker during the last session of Parliament and wanted to continue.

Rota’s election is being billed by some as an early 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 with the Speaker being elected via a preferential ballot, they could try to ensure Rota, who 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, also put their names on the ballot.

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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% of the vote.

To place Rota at the top of that list, all of the Conservatives—with support from MPs from other parties—simply had to rank Regan farther down.

The decision to try and unseat Regan as a show of strength was made at the Conservative caucus meeting earlier this week, and MPs refused to discuss it publicly citing the confidentiality of caucus proceedings.

Rota will be tasked in the 43rd session of Parliament with keeping the order and decorum of debates, which in a minority government are expected to be raucous.

“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,” Prime Minister Justin 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.”