Peter Milliken becomes Commons' longest-serving speaker

3,178 days on the chair

Canadian Press pays tribute to Peter Milliken, “the white-haired chap in the black robe” most often seen “trying to keep the exasperation from his voice as he tries to calm a raucous question period” as he heads into the parliamentary history books as the longest-serving speaker in Commons history. The job definitely has its perks—a cabinet minister’s salary, a car and driver, more screen time on CPAC than the prime minister and not one but two official residences, including a modest apartment in the heart of Centre Block—but, as CP points out, with the speaker’s power comes great responsibility, both inside and outside the Chamber. Not only is Milliken “the chief executive officer of Parliament, overseeing budgets and operations for the Commons and the various buildings that make up what’s called the parliamentary precinct,” but in a minority setting, he is also required to set aside the traditional neutrality of the post as the deciding vote in the event of a tie, something that has only happened 10 times since Confederation—and five times since he took over the chair in 2001, including a motion of non-confidence against Paul Martin’s government in 2005. (He voted against the motion.) Despite the pressure of keeping order in a fractious minority House, it sounds as though Milliken is still enjoying his work, telling CP that he’s “quite enjoyed the experience” and continues to do so.

The Canadian Press

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