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Speaker and Other Presiding Officers

Election of the Speaker of the House

The Constitution Act, 1867 requires the election of the Speaker at the beginning of a Parliament and again any time a vacancy occurs. At the first sitting of a new Parliament, the Members assembled in the House are summoned to the Senate Chamber, where they are informed that the business of the new Parliament may not officially commence, nor the Throne Speech be read, until the House of Commons has elected a Speaker.

The Members then return to the House and immediately proceed to elect a Speaker by secret ballot.


With the exception of Ministers and party leaders, all Members are considered candidates for the position of Speaker unless they inform the Clerk of the House in writing, by 6:00 p.m. on the day prior to the election, that they do not wish to stand for the office.

Prior to the election, the Members who are candidates may make introductory speeches of no more than five minutes. Following the speeches, the House suspends its proceedings for one hour before the election is held.

Conduct of the Election

The election is presided over by the "Dean of the House", the Member with the longest unbroken record of service in the House who is not a Cabinet Minister, party Leader, House Leader or Whip.

The election is conducted by secret ballot using voting booths placed on the Table in front of the Speaker's chair. During the election, no debate is allowed, no motion is accepted and no question of privilege may be raised.

When the first ballot is completed and counted, the bells are rung and the Members are called to hear the results. If no Member has received an absolute majority of the votes cast, a second ballot begins. The name of the candidate who received the least number of votes, together with the names of any candidate who received 5% or less of the ballots cast on the previous round, are removed from the list.

This procedure continues until a candidate has obtained a majority of votes.

Once elected, the Speaker takes the Chair, thanks the Members for electing him or her and then adjourns the House until the next day.


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Modified: March 2006