This week, when MPs return to the House of Commons, they’ll have some urgent business to attend to. With the resignation last week of the previous speaker, there are a number of MPs who have decided to seek out the role of Parliamentary referee.
In today’s election, Parliamentarians will have a chance to hit reset by choosing a new Speaker of the House. We are in a time when many Canadians perceive Question Period and many of the activities on the floor of the House as adversarial, combative and deeply partisan. But, a new Speaker has the chance to be a strong adjudicator and ensure that we have levels of decorum and civility that many of us wish to see in our elected leaders.
The House rules send important signals to Parliamentarians and the public who casually observe about our political system. Too often, we hear that people think politics is simply a place of bickering, heckling and an awful lot of noise. But, for those of us who follow along more closely, we know that the House of Commons is a place where elected leaders come to move things along for their communities and constituents.
Could a new Speaker bring forward a tone of more civility? Could a new style of maintaining Parliamentary order signal that the House could be more inclusive to all? Could we see a more collegial, collaborative approach in our governing? Could a new speaker help to curtail the heckling and perhaps help to end more of the everyday sexism that MPs experience in the House? The new Speaker can continue the work of modelling the politics we want and modernizing our legislature, and we look forward to working with whomever the members of the House select in this critical role.
Congratulations to the newly elected Greg Fergus, Canada’s first person of colour on his election to be the next Speaker of the House.
Equal Voice has been advocating for more gender-inclusive legislatures since the release of our 2018 report on the subject.