Elizabeth delivers speech for her candidacy in the election of the House Speaker

Please watch and read the full speech delivered by Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, for her candidacy to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada:

Monsieur le président, c’est un grand honneur de prendre la parole aujourd’hui durant cette session exceptionnelle. Malheureusement, ce n’est pas possible pour moi de participer en personne.

Because of my inability to be on an airplane at this point in my life due to having had a stroke, and I am, as you see, quite well recovering, I cannot participate in person, which means I also cannot vote, which is a terrible shame. I participate in this way because I want to make sure this election for the Speaker takes into account what I think are the essential elements for the next Speaker of the House.

Nous devons suivre nos règles.

For me, this is essential. If you walk down that back corridor we have there behind the Speaker’s chair, you will see the portraits of former Speakers. I do think you should pause in front of the portrait of Lucien Lamoureux, who served this place from 1966 to 1974. He was the best of all of our Speakers. He personified nonpartisanship. In fact, elected as a Liberal in the government of Lester B. Pearson, when he ran for re-election as a sitting Speaker, he did so twice as an independent. He also applied our rules, which meant he was not always popular, and he was not elected. He was able to enforce the rules. Everyone who has spoken has said our rules are important, but on a daily basis we ignore Standing Orders 16 and 18, which require that we respect one another and that we treat each other with respect.

Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec les mots de mon collègue le députée de Hull—Aylmer. Le respect fait partie des choses les plus importantes, mais à chaque fois, nous avons, comme d’habitude, une approche qui ignorait nos règles.

We ignore our rules our rules at our peril. I do cite the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming for his service, and the tragedy that unfolded in this place could have been avoided if we had followed our rules.

Nous avons des règles pour la reconnaissance des visiteurs dans la tribune du Président. Dans ce cas, c’est clair que les règles concernant la reconnaissance de cet homme ont été enfreintes.

I know that, because I tried to convince the former speaker to recognize someone whom I thought did deserve recognition in our gallery, only to be told that Dr. David Suzuki did not qualify, so I know the rules represent a steep hill to climb to recognize someone in the gallery. I cannot imagine how this happened, but I also agree words are not enough. That moment in this House brought back the words of the late Irving Abella, who said that in our history it was easier to gain entry to Canada as a Nazi than as a Jew. I think we have to do more than say we are sorry; I think we have to atone and open up the records of the Deschênes Commission. We actually have to look at our history, just as we do on the day of truth and reconciliation for the injustices and genocide toward indigenous peoples.

Nous devons suivre nos règles.

The Speaker’s role is essential in being the only person who can decide who speaks in question period. It has been 40 years that the Speaker has broken the rules every single day, regardless of what Speaker we are talking about, by accepting a list from a party whip that tells him or her who speaks and in what order. That abomination has moved the system of rewards and punishments from the Speaker to the party whip, and the party whips are not the people we want to please if we want this place to operate with respect to make Canadians look at our House of Commons and think “There is a place I respect; that is democracy in action.”

Nous pouvons essayer plus fort et nous pouvons être meilleurs. C’est possible.

All of the those running in this election are more than qualified to be good Speakers of the House. If it was my honour to fill that role, I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I would be. However, I think it is not likely, and I encourage members to vote for the person they think will be their best Speaker.

I pledge my support to the next Speaker, whoever is brave enough to go back to following our rules that only the Speaker chooses who speaks in question period, as was confirmed when the hon. member for Regina—Qu’Appelle was the Speaker of the House when he confirmed it back in April 2013 on a point of order from the late Mark Warawa. It would no doubt improve our proceedings enormously.

With that, I wish you all the best of luck.

Je souhaite à mes collègues bonne chance dans les élections à la présidence.

I miss you all and I cannot wait to see you all again. You know that I love you all, I really miss you and I want to give you a big hug.

Thank you very much.

Best of luck and God bless you.