January 7, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York):

As one of the senior members of the House, I desire to add to what has already been said by hon. members who have pointed out that the late Speaker of the House, the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Lemieux), does possess in a marked degree the first requisite of a good Speaker, namely, a knowledge of the rules and practices of the House. That is a good thing for him and for us. But he has other high qualities which peculiarly fit him for the office of Speaker. In the first place, he keeps a check on himself as Speaker; he holds the Speaker of the House to the rules1 of the House as well as I have ever seen it done, and I have seen a good many Speakers. He also has the quality of fairness, Which is another essential. He has respect for the dignity of the office, and he forces every member in this Chamber to maintain the dignity of the House and the dignity of parliament.

Election oj Speaker
He stands firmly behind his decisions. Best of all he is equally competent in the rules and practice of the Speaker in our two languages-and if I might add even more so in the English practice and all former rulings. Those are all good qualities. I have watched the deve'opments in the office of Speaker in the Old Land, and I think the practice there is a good one. Once you have a good Speaker, keep him there, because good Speakers are hard to get. I agree with my hon. friend and leader (Mr. Meighen) that a better example would have been set if the rule had been put in practice in the case of a Speaker elected by members on the opposite side of the House. Certainly I know of nobody who possesses the qualifications for the position of Speaker to the extent that the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Lemieux) does. I shall be glad to see him elected unanimously, as I know he will be by this House, and whi'e this is fighting ground, we will all do our best to respect him, his office, and the rights and dignities of this House.
Finally, in these days there has arisen a new spirit called the spirit of Locarno. I do not know quite what it is, but already it has been effective in Ireland and I hope it will find its way into other countries where British parliamentary institutions prevail. In the last election we had just one little indication of it. It is this and it means a great deal. I do not know to whom the credit should be given, but we have had the wisdom in this House to ask the returning officers in this country to respect their office as a judicial office and have enacted that they shall hold that office so long as they properly perform their duties. I should like our returning officers to have a good deal of the spirit of the presiding officer of this House and to apply the principle throughout the country so that the same men, whether they be returning officers or deputy returning officers or clerks, may remain in office as long as they perform their duties properly.
The Clerk of the House declared the motion carried in the affirmative, nemine contradi-cente, and Honourable Rodolphe Lemieux, member for the electoral division of Gaspe, duly elected to the chair of the House.
Honourable Mr. Lemieux was conducted from his seat in the House to the Speaker's chair by Hon. Ernest Lapointe and Hon. J. A. Robb.
Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT said: Madame, fellow members of the House of Commons, I beg to return my humble acknowledgments to the House for the great honour you have been pleased to confer on me by choosing me to be your Speaker. After thirty years of 14011-lj
public service in the House of Commons it is particularly gratifying to me that I should deserve your confidence. In the discharge of my duties it will be my pride to maintain and preserve the traditions, privileges, usages and customs which, from time immemorial, have came to us from the Mother of Parliaments. I sincerely thank both sides of the House for their unanimity in selecting me as their chief officer. Let me assure the House that I shall always be inspired by that inscription that I read every day from my window on the monument of that great Scotch Canadian, Alexander Mackenzie: "Duty was his law; conscience his ruler."
Madame, mes chers collegues,-J'appreeie plus que je ne saurais le dire le grand hon-neur que vous me faites en m'elisant a la Presidence. Apres trente annees de service continu a la Chambre des Communes, il m'est particulierement agreable de savoir que j'ai merits votre confiance. Dans l'exercice de mes fonctions, j'aurai toujours a cceur de main-tenir et de preserver les traditions, les privileges, les us et coutumes qui de temps immemorial nous ont ete transmis par 1 'Alma Mater des Parlements. .
Je remeroie les deputes des deux cotes de la Chambre de leur unanimite en me choisissant comme leur president. Puisse-je m'inspirer toujours de cette inscription que je Ms de ma fenetre, sur le socle du monument de lTiono-rable Alexander Mackenzie, ancien premier ministre: "Le devoir etait sa loi; la conscience son guide".
Encore une fois merci, mes chers collegues.

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