Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hon Peter Milliken Canadian Speaker of The House


Original air date: March 25, 2011

The Speaker of the House of Commons is the representative of the House in its powers and proceedings, and my functions fall into three categories. First, I preside over the debates of the House of Commons and ensure the observance of all rules for preserving order in its proceedings. Second, I am the Chair of the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE), which manages the budget and administration of the House of Commons, and those areas of Parliament Hill which are under the jurisdiction of the House. Third, I am the spokesperson or representative of the House in its relations with the Crown, the Senate and other authorities and persons outside Parliament.In terms of ranking, the Official Order of Precedence lists the Speaker of the House of Commons as being in 7th place, immediately after the Governor General, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Chief Justice of Canada, former Governors General and Prime Ministers and the Speaker of the Senate. Distilled to its essence, the main function of the Speaker is as the servant of the House.

The Presiding Officer is, however, entitled on all occasions to be treated with the greatest attention and respect by the individual members because the office embodies the power, dignity and honour of the House itself.The office of Speaker of the House of Commons is the personification of authority and impartiality. The Mace, symbol of the authority of the House, is carried in front of the Speaker by the Sergeant-at-Arms and is placed upon the table when the Speaker is in the Chair. The Speaker calls upon Members to speak; when they do, their words must be directed to the Speaker. When she or he rises to preserve (or restore) order or to give a ruling the Speaker must be heard in silence.

Members must remain seated when the Speaker is standing. Reflections upon the character or actions of the Speaker cannot be criticised incidentally in debate or upon any form of proceeding except by way of a substantive motion. The House of Commons must trust in the impartiality of the Speaker, or it cannot function. Many conventions exist which are there to guarantee not only the impartiality but also the general perception of the impartiality of the Speaker. The Speaker takes no part in debate in the House, and votes only if there is a tie in the voting. In this case, parliamentary convention dictates that the Speaker must vote to continue consideration of an issue. For example, were I to vote at Second Reading, debate on approval in principle of the bill, I might vote in favour. If, however, I were to have to vote on Third Reading, the final stage of the legislative process in the House of Commons, I would vote against the bill, since convention prevents the Speaker from voting to change existing law. Accordingly, regardless of how I would like to vote, my duties require me to follow the precedents that have been set for the Speaker of the House.In order to ensure complete impartiality, the Speaker usually renounces all connections with any parliamentary party.

The Speaker does not attend any party caucus nor take part in any outside partisan political activity. When an MP is elected Speaker, essentially he or she no longer belongs to any party. It is no longer their function to support the government, or any of the opposition parties. The Speaker’s allegiance is solely to the House of Commons and to the 300 other members of Parliament who are there.As well as presiding over the House proceedings, the Speaker oversees the accommodation and services in that part of the Parliament Buildings and grounds occupied by the House of Commons. The Speaker, as Chairman and with the other Members of the Board of Internal economy (the governing body of the House of Commons), approves all budgetary estimates for the coming fiscal year.