Liberal MP Anthony Rota has been chosen as the new Speaker of the House of Commons, beating four other candidates to secure the coveted job — including the incumbent.
MPs cast their ballots this morning before the speech from the throne as Parliament returned for its 43rd session following October’s federal election.
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer jokingly dragged Rota to the Speaker’s chair, per tradition, the Ontario MP thanked his colleagues for choosing him to be the House’s referee.
“I’m here to serve you and make sure that everything runs well for all of us, so that we can conduct the business of Parliament and make sure that it works well,” he said.
“My promise is to be fair … to be nonpartisan, and to do my best in this House, at your service.”
Rota, who represents Nipissing-Timiskaming, choked up while talking about the honour of being the first Canadian of Italian descent to sit in the Speaker’s chair and gave a shout-out to his daughter, who was finishing her university exams today.
Rota beat his caucus colleague Geoff Regan, the MP for Halifax West, who was elected Speaker after the 2015 federal election when the Liberals had a majority government.
Two Conservative MPs — Joël Godin, who represents the Quebec riding of Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier, and Bruce Stanton, who represents Simcoe North in Ontario — put their names forward to sit in the big chair. The NDP’s Ontario MP Carol Hughes, who represents Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, was also a candidate.
Rota owns a pair of Speaker robes as both he and Hughes served as assistant deputy Speakers in the last Parliament. Stanton served as deputy Speaker over the same period.
The position comes with considerable perks, including an $85,500 top-up to an MP’s $178,900 salary.
It also comes with an apartment on Parliament Hill, an official residence at Kingsmere in Chelsea, Que., and an office budget of $1.2 million that includes up to $196,091 for hospitality and a car.
The day began with the clerk of the House of Commons calling on the longest-serving current MP — right now, that’s the Bloc’s Louis Plamondon — to take the Speaker’s chair and become the “presiding officer.”
Plamondon then named the candidates. Each got five minutes to speak before MPs voted, using a single preferential ballot system.
In his speech, Rota promised to serve all MPs and said he would be open to hearing all ideas on how to improve proceedings.