OTTAWA—Canada’s 42nd Parliament began with the requisite nods to history and tradition that happen on the first day, but also offered plenty of signs that the class of 2015 has its own fresh chemistry and look.
That new energy seemed to be encapsulated in the moment Nova Scotia Liberal MP Geoff Regan was brought up to his seat as the new Speaker of the House of Commons, elected by his peers.
The custom is for the new Speaker to pretend they don’t want the job and so the party leaders drag him up.
This year’s pantomime was particularly light-hearted—Regan’s face contorted in feigned horror, Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose yanking one of his arms over her head as she marched forward, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pulling on the other.
Once in the seat, Regan echoed the hopeful sentiment that has been on the lips of so many MPs of all stripes over the years: that the Commons should commit to a new, more collegial culture.
“You have given me a very important responsibility and I will need your support,” Regan said, having beat out Liberal colleagues Yasmin Ratansi and Denis Paradis and Conservative Bruce Stanton for the job.
“I think we need to raise the tone in this chamber and reconstitute goodwill,” he added.
“We have to have respect for one another, despite our differences.”
Trudeau said Canadians want to see constructive debates on issues that matter to them.
“We will work hard to promote more openness across government; we will give Canadians a voice in Ottawa and in this chamber,” Trudeau added.
“This also means greater independence of committees, reforming question period, and more free votes.”
Ambrose, who repeatedly has said that she’s committed to bringing a more respectful tone to the Commons, said one day Canadians would come to know this period as the “Great Parliament.”
She promised she would support the government when it’s in the best interest of Canadians.
When it’s not, “Just watch me,” she said with a smile, quoting her Liberal adversary’s father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.