Saturday, November 15, 2008

 

TALKING STICK?

On Wednesday, the Governor-General, Michaelle Jean, travels from Rideau Hall to Parliament Hill to deliver the "Speech From The Throne." Take note Mr. Obama: Canada's Head of State is a woman of colour, born in Haiti, married to a dual French/Canadian citizen...I digress.

Parliament's House of Commons actually reconvenes on Tuesday November 18, for the purpose of electing the Speaker of the House. The coveted Speaker's Office has been occupied by the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Kingston and the Islands, Peter Milliken, since 2001. The Speaker more or less rules the House, including the day to day staff activities of those responsible for running Ottawa's historic and iconic "Hill".

Until 1986 when the Constitution was modified, The Speaker of the House was appointed by the Prime-Minister. It is now an elected position which requires a majority of the 308 Members of Parliament, or 155 votes. By the way, my old Philosophy 200 Professor at St. Thomas University, Conservative Senator Dr. Noel Kinsella, is the Speaker of Canada's Upper House, The Senate...but I digress yet again.

Surely in addition to enjoying the trappings of the job: Including a home in the Gatineau Hills, car and chauffeur, a suite of offices, and a salary of more than $200,000/year...In my opinion Mr. Milliken, a lawyer by trade, has done an admirable job maintaining order in a frequently tumultuous House, particularly since the January 2006 first election of the current minority government.

There's a cabal in the works to dump the Speaker on Tuesday. For 20 years, Mr. Milliken has occupied the historic seat held by the country's first Prime-Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. It has changed name and boundaries many times since 1867. In 1988, Peter Milliken defeated the iconic Flora MacDonald to grab the seat for the Liberals. It seems the Conservatives may now be planning their sweet revenge. It is widely believed that Mr. Milliken will not stand for re-election to the House in the next election if he is not elected Speaker...a job he covets and truly enjoys.

Although the Conservatives failed in their bid for a breakthrough in Quebec in the October 14Th Federal election; they did make significant gains in Ontario. They firmly believe Kingston and the Islands is theirs for the taking next time if Milliken walks the plank.

Count'em: Four siting Conservatives are running against Milliken on Tuesday for the Speaker's Chair: Ontario M.P.'s : Royal Gallipeau and Barry Devolin, Andrew Scheer from Saskatchewan and Merv Tweed from Manitoba. Just for added good measure: Windsor N.D.P., Joe Cromartin is also running, as is Ottawa Liberal, Mauril Belanger. Oh my! The race for the Chair is pretty much starting to look like the Liberal Party's last leadership convention. Front runners beware.

If the cabal succeeds, Mr. Milliken will be trading the fabled "talking stick" for the Speaker's shaft.

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