NORTH BAY — A big honour and responsibility for Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota today.
He's been elected the new House of Commons Speaker
It's a historic first for the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming and the Italian-Canadian community in the city.
The vote was the opening order of business for the 338 MPs today in what was their first gathering since the Oct. 21 federal election.
“First and foremost, my duty is to continue to be the best representative for the citizens of NipissingTimiskaming, who time and again have placed their trust and confidence in me,” said Rota, a five-term MP and first speaker of Italian heritage as his wife Chantal watched from the gallery.
“The Speakership will provide an opportunity to bring more attention to our beautiful riding, its opportunities, and its warm and welcoming people and communities.”
Only one other northern Ontarian has served as Speaker. James Jerome, a Liberal MP from Sudbury, held the position for two terms from September 1974 to December 1979.
The Speaker plays a vital role in House proceedings as an impartial arbiter of rules and procedures and maintaining decorum.
“I am humbled by the show of support by my fellow parliamentarians,” said Rota in an emotional speech.
“I believe in protecting and enhancing the rights of Members of Parliament so that they can serve their constituents and all Canadians effectively,” he said. “This is the role of the Speaker and his role as a servant to his fellow MPs.”
Rota said he will convene regular meetings with party leaders and whips to ensure House business proceeds smoothly and based on co-operation, wherever possible. He also plans to hold informal get-togethers with small groups of MPs from across the political spectrum in an effort to build personal relationships and rapport.
On a practical note, he will install a suggestion box as a means of gathering continuous feedback and input.
Rota said this parliamentary term will be both interesting and challenging and called on MPs to work together in the spirit of dignity and mutual respect.
“Canadians have chosen us to come to Ottawa to represent them and it is our duty to perform to the best of our abilities.”
The origins and traditions of the Speakership stretch back centuries in the British parliamentary system. In Canada, its authority and responsibilities are set out in the Constitution and Parliament of Canada acts as well as “Standing Orders” – or written rules.
The Speaker also chairs the board that is responsible for administering the House of Commons’ estimated $500-million budget, its employees and the surrounding parliamentary precinct.
"Mr. Rota’s background in business, including an MBA, a finance diploma and as an entrepreneur, provides a good grounding for the financial management and human resources sides of the role," says a news release from Rota's office.
Beyond these duties, the Speaker also acts as its representative in the public and diplomatic sphere and in dealings with the Crown and Senate.
Rota served at Assistant Deputy Speaker and Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole during the previous parliamentary term. He has more than a decade of experience as Nipissing-Timiskaming’s representative in Ottawa, having first been elected in June 2004.
He was subsequently re-elected in January 2006, October. 2008, October 2015, and October 2019.
Rota is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.