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And Thus Begins the 40th Parliament

I love the smell of pomp and circumstance in the morning, and for the next two days, there's going to be plenty to go around.

This morning at 10 am, the House returns and begins the process of electing the Speaker. For the first time in several Parliaments, there is going to be a contentious race, with no less than seven candidates. Peter Milliken has been Speaker for the past seven years, but there has been some discontent with the way he's handled the role, blaming him for not keeping enough of a reign on the raucous Commons. 

One consideration that is probably not going to be made by any of the MPs who will be casting their ballots (in secret, it should be noted), is that Milliken is a very gay-positive MP. A little over a year ago, when there was a Hill Pride network in operation for staffers (though it has since gone defunct), a Conservative MP objected to the fact that they had broadcast news for a get-together over the House of Commons email system – even though said system is often used to announce prayer breakfasts and such. When the MP threatened to bring the matter before the Speaker, the group knew that they had nothing to fear from Milliken. That may not be the case for future incarnations of such groups should there be a different Speaker in the big chair – especially if the new Speaker is a Conservative.

Once the new Speaker is elected, Wednesday will be the Speech From the Throne, which will officially open up the new session of Parliament. It sounds like it's going to talk mostly about economic issues, but I'll keep you posted on what's in it.

After the Speech, it'll be several days of debate on the Speech and the amendments and sub-amendments that have to be put forward by the opposition parties before it can be passed and the House can get down to business.

If you want to know a little more, The Hour put together a nice explainer piece titled "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About the Opening of Parliament," which gives not only the brief run-down of the pomp and circumstance, but some of the history behind it, including why the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod always knocks three times.