Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Raymond, in the light of the experience of the last few minutes, all hon. members realize that the traditional and constitutional requirement for the formal setting up as an operating body of the House of Commons demands the appointment of a Speaker. The choice of a Speaker is one of those responsibilities which more than anything else conduces to the regularity of our proceedings, to the assurance that the assembly shall be orderly in its operation, and above all that the prerogative rights and privileges of members of the commons shall be scrupulously maintained and preserved. Whoever is chosen Speaker will have much to do with determining the order of the proceedings of the house, the assurance that they are businesslike and efficient; and also, as I said a moment ago, he will determine whether the rights of minorities shall be preserved, without which parliament, under our traditions, cannot attain its responsibilities.
There are certain requirements that through the years have been referred to as necessary in the person of the member amongst us who is chosen to be the first commoner. One is that he shall be absolutely impartial; that is a fundamental requisite without which the discharge of his responsibilities would not be in keeping with the extent of those responsibilities. Whenever a government has a large majority it is more than ever important that he who is chosen shall, in every particular,
Election of Speaker
divest himself from his normal party affiliations and thereby practise an impartial, even a judicial rule. He must be the servant of no party. His responsibility is to be the servant of the whole house. To that end he must have a calm and equitable temperament, and from the experience of the past, a superabundance of patience. He must be firm. He must have a good presence and a good voice; and something that we all need in public life, a reasonable degree of humour, with an adequate knowledge of the practices and procedures of the house.
The hon. gentleman whose name I shall propose has demonstrated that he has that knowledge, as well as the experience that comes from having sat as a private member of the House of Commons and also in the legislature of the province of Ontario. The choice of a Speaker is not the right or prerogative of the government, although in our country since confederation the motion that is invariably made for the appointment of the Speaker has been at all times made by the prime minister of the day.
I think I should say a word with regard to the question of a permanent Speaker. This is a subject that recurs from time to time. At Westminster, the source of our parliamentary traditions, our usages and practices, the Speaker once elected is honoured by being re-elected to the chair at the beginning of each new parliament. But there is a difference between their procedure in that regard and ours. We have, in the light of the duality of our citizenship, provided in general for succession as between the two major races. I have nothing to say on this occasion with regard to the question of a permanent Speaker; that is a matter for future parliaments to determine in the light of the circumstances that develop through the crucible of history.
This is the second occasion on which I have moved the election of a Speaker, and the motion I make concerns the same candidate whose name I placed before you last year.
Subtopic: MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S