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SCOOP: Hughes and Mendès to run for Speaker
In this edition: the race for the Speaker's chair has begun, a new cabinet is coming to Ottawa, controversy in Don Valley West
It’s Monday, October 18. Welcome to POLICORNER — your insider’s guide to Canadian politics, policy, and power. Albertans head to the polls today to choose their local representatives and vote on two provincial referendum questions.
In this 9 minute read, Carol Hughes and Alexandra Mendès join the race for the Speakership of the Commons — they tell newsBeyond why they’re running. Plus, who will be in Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet, nomination controversy in Don Valley West, and the Legislative Pages return to Queen’s Park.
It’s official — Parliament is returning on November 22. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office confirmed the news in an early morning press release on Friday.
Parliament's first order of business is to elect a new Speaker, and there are some new developments on the race for the Speakership of the House of Commons. In our last edition, we told you that Speaker Anthony Rota intends to run for another term as Speaker of the House. Now, two more MPs are vying for the role.
newsBeyond has learned that NDP MP Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing) and Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès (Brossard—Saint-Lambert) will be seeking the Speakership of the House of Commons. Both served as assistant deputy Speakers in the previous Parliament, and are campaigning to become the Commons’ first elected female Speaker. Hughes is expected to officially inform her colleagues of her decision as early as tonight. Meanwhile, Mendès sent letters to numerous MPs from all parties seeking their support.
Speaking to newsBeyond on Friday, Hughes explained that she has the interest to continue the work she has done as assistant Deputy Speaker. “I've proven that I am a fair person, that I'm impartial, and that I'm open to suggestions,” she said.
“I think that the skills that I have gained not only from being the assistant deputy Speaker but from the experience that I bring from having worked in the labor movement show that I like to bring people together. I think that it's extremely important for the Speaker of the House to bring the parties together, especially under a minority government.”
Hughes spoke on electing a female to the Speaker’s chair. “If we're serious about saying women should have these important roles, then we should be making sure that we practice what we preach,” she told us.
On what she would do differently in the Speaker’s chair, Hughes explained that her priority would be “opening up more communication between the parties and remaining accessible.” If elected, Hughes said she would bring forward “a review of the challenges that we've had and how to resolve them a bit quicker.”
In the upcoming Parliament, Hughes plans to focus on housing affordability, the environment, and the prioritization and passage of the modernization of the French Languages Act. “Addressing the inequities and building towards that true reconciliation with Indigenous people is really important,” she added.
In an interview with newsBeyond, Mendès said she “fell in love” with the job. “It’s a wonderful way of integrating the legislative aspect of our job and discovering this country through the voices of my colleagues,” she explained.
When asked if she had spoken with Liberal MP and incumbent Speaker Anthony Rota about her decision, Mendès said he was the first person she spoke with.
“I told him that it’s nothing against him. It is absolutely for the fact that I did fall in love with the job. And secondly, I think it's about time that there would be a woman elected as Speaker of the House. I think it's about time that a woman is elected, and a member of Parliament from Quebec.”
Asked if she was worried about splitting her party’s vote with Rota, Mendès said having preferential ballot makes it “less likely.” “I'm hoping that I will be at least, if not the first choice, the second choice of the majority. That is my target.”
Mendès confirmed that she has reached out to some colleagues via email and says she has received a “positive response.” She plans to start contacting other MPs by phone this week, “now that we know when we'll be returning.”
What needs to be done differently to maintain decorum, Mendès was asked. “I would apply the rules. We have them. We just have to use them,” she said. She explained that the Speaker has “quite a few tools” at their disposal, and “I am very prepared to use them.” Aside from the Speakership, Mendès said climate change mitigation will be a “huge priority” for her and the Liberal government.
It is unclear whether any other MPs will run. Earlier this month, Conservative MP Joël Godin’s office confirmed to newsBeyond that he was considering a run for the role. His office did not respond to a request for confirmation that a final decision had been made. In an email, Conservative MP John Nater, who former Conservative MP Peter Kent said “would be an excellent choice to ensure the will of the House is respected and enforced” told newsBeyond that he will “not be a candidate for Speaker of the House of Commons.”
The election of the Speaker will be presided by the dean of the House — Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon, who was first elected in 1984. Voting is done by preferential secret ballot in the lobbies of the House of Commons — the member with the absolute majority is named Speaker. When asked whether all 338 MPs will be forced to attend in-person when the House of Commons votes for the Speaker, Hughes says discussions are underway on how Parliament will function, and other technical issues, such as voting.
The responsibility of the Speaker includes overseeing the administration of the Commons, presiding over the House’s proceedings, upholding the rules impartially, and maintaining order and decorum during debate in the chamber. Upon election, the Speaker receives an additional $85,000 on top of their base salary of $178,900. A private residence near Gatineau Park and a private apartment on the Hill are provided.
Gender parity, regional distribution, experience — Trudeau prepares to name his executive council
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will swear in a new cabinet next Tuesday, his office confirmed on Friday. Some veterans will be handed the pink slip, according to the latest cabinet speculation. Several backbenchers and rookie MPs will be promoted, per CBC News’ David Cochrane and the Star’s Tonda MacCharles.
Trudeau has publicly confirmed his starting point for building an executive council — gender parity. Speaking to reporters in a post-election presser, Trudeau, who is building his third cabinet on the advice of Bob Rae, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations said he would ensure that there is “proper regional distribution” and “a range of skills and diversity” on the table.
Who might join Trudeau’s frontbench
Trudeau will look for an Ottawa-area representative to join the government’s frontbench, filling the vacancy left by former Minister Catherine McKenna, who didn't seek re-election. Two names may be on his list: newly-elected MP Jenna Sudds and former provincial veteran Marie France LaLonde. Sudds previously served as the deputy Mayor of Ottawa and LaLonde was the Government Consumer Services minister in the Kathleen Wynne government.
If previous government experience is a qualification, Trudeau will likely look to provincial-turned-federal representatives to join his executive council. Yasir Naqvi previously served as Ontario’s Attorney General. Helena Jaczek, York Region’s former chief medical officer of health served as the province’s Minister of Health. Michael Coteau was an Ontario Liberal leadership candidate, a former cabinet minister, and was part of the mini-Liberal caucus elected to Queen's Park following the 2018 provincial election.
The Liberals were shut out of Alberta after failing to win a single seat in 2019. With two seats, Trudeau is expected to appoint Randy Boissonnault and (or) George Chahal as cabinet ministers from the Western province. However, Chahal's chances of becoming a minister took a hit since a doorbell camera caught him removing his opponent's campaign flyer.
There will also be several Ontario-based cabinet ministers Trudeau will look to appoint. To compensate for the loss of former MP Navdeep Bains, Trudeau is expected to appoint a cabinet minister from Peel Region, such as Ruby Sahota, Kamal Khera, or Rechie Valdez. Trudeau will seek a replacement for Deb Schulte in York Region. Schulte lost to Conservative Anna Roberts in King-Vaughan and could be replaced by Leah Taylor Roy, who defeated incumbent Leona Alleslev in Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. Television personality-turned-MP Marci Ien is expected “to be at the top of the list,” the Star reports.
Pickering-Uxbridge’s Jennifer O’Connell, Brome—Missisquoi's Pascale St-Onge, Halifax West's Lena Metlege Diab, Malpeque's Heath MacDonald, and Central Nova’s Sean Fraser are also names to watch for.
Demotions and promotions
Among political circles in Ottawa, National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan is expected to be shuffled over his handling of ongoing sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian military. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett may also be considered for a demotion over her response to a tweet by former MP Jody Wilson-Raybould on the government’s response to the discovery of unmarked graves in Saskatchewan.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand is widely expected to be promoted. Melanie Joly and Marco Mendicino, who played crucial roles in the Liberal’s campaign in Quebec and Ontario may also get job upgrades.
Health Minister Patty Hadju, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Queen's Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, Attorney General David Lametti, and Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault may also be on the list for cabinet moves.
There will be more members in the House of Commons when the number of seats increases from 338 to 342 as early as 2024. Canada's Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault unveiled the new seat allocation to account for changes in Canada's population on Friday. British Columbia and Ontario are expected to gain one seat while Alberta gains three. Quebec will lose one seat, falling to 77 seats. More from the Star’s Althia Raj.
Fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to cross the border into the United States as of November 8. Although the country does not administer the vaccine, those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine will be allowed into the United States. Travelers who received mixed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will also be allowed to cross the border.
Stephanie Bowman, a financial services executive has been nominated as the Ontario Liberal candidate in Don Valley West — the riding of former Premier Kathleen Wynne — who will not be seeking re-election in June. However, newsBeyond has learned of allegations surrounding Bowman’s nomination. The party has been accused of choosing a “safe old stock candidate” and sitting on nomination packages of nominees for months, particularly for “those of under-represented backgrounds and non-traditional gender identities.” More from l-express.ca.
Liberal incumbent Julie Dzerowicz is heading to Ottawa after defeating NDP candidate Alejandra Bravo in a ballot recount in Davenport. Elections Canada confirmed to newsBeyond that the previously validated results that narrowed the difference between Dzerowicz and Bravo to 76 votes will stand. Reaction from Bravo and Dzerowicz.
Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca has sent a letter to the major party leaders asking them to commit to at least four leaders’ debates during the next election. Addressing members at the Ontario Liberal Party’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday, Del Duca said he would implement major electoral reforms, including ranked ballot voting in provincial elections if his party wins in the June election. If he does not fulfill his promise during his first term, Del Duca says he will step down.
“Other leaders have promised a lot on electoral reform and they haven’t delivered. So I want to be clear about how committed I am to this promise. If I don’t deliver electoral reform in my first term, I will resign on the spot and give you back the power to choose someone else.”
A number of teachers at the York Region District School Board have reportedly been threatened with disciplinary action for wearing N95 respirator masks in the classroom, instead of the surgical masks provided by the province. In a statement to newsBeyond, a spokesperson for the board said staff “must wear board-provisioned personal protective equipment to ensure it meets health and safety requirements and ASTM standards.”
A limited number of fully vaccinated grade 8 students have returned to Queen's Park as Legislative Pages. Speaker Ted Arnott described their return as a ‘trial period’ and said they would continue to ensure every occupant of the precinct is protected. Notable pages include 680 News’ Richard Southern, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, Attorney General Doug Downey, and Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford. (On a side note: the author of this newsletter once was a Legislative Page).
WHAT WE’RE READING
CBC NEWS: “Legal talks are dragging out Annamie Paul's departure from Green leadership” by David Thurton
“Minister in Doug Ford’s government accused of using controversial new law to try to ‘silence’ grassroots groups” by Noor Javed and Kristin Rushowy
TORONTO SUN: “Ford asks Ontario hospital CEOs for advice on mandatory vaccinations for health workers” by Brian Lilley
MONTREAL GAZETTE: “Quebec delays mandatory vaccination for health-care workers until Nov. 15” by Katelyn Thomas
GLOBAL NEWS: “Senior CAF officer steps aside months into sexual misconduct investigation against him” by David Lao and Amanda Connolly
Last week, we asked for the name of the newly-elected MP who defeated former Minister Maryam Monsef in Peterborough-Kawartha. Conservative Michelle Ferreri is the correct answer. Ferreri is an entrepreneur, social media marketer, and influencer. She defeated Monsef by 2,737 votes.
ANSWER THIS: Name the five MPs who ran for Speaker of the House in 2019. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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