At this point in the opening of the thirtieth parliament we are engaged in the election of a Speaker. Few people outside this House realize how basic the choosing of this officer is to the functioning of this institution and to the course of our mandate for the next few years.
The qualities which a Speaker is supposed to possess are truly formidable. I doubt that anyone outside of politics would consider for a moment stepping into a position which demanded so much. My predecessor, the late Lester B. Pearson, when nominating a Speaker, described his qualities in the words of Socrates. Referring to the requirements for a judge, the Greek philosopher said: "Four things belong to a judge; to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially."
It is fitting that the Speaker of the House of Commons should seek inspiration from these wise words. At various times in our history, there have always been some exceptional men to take on the very difficult task of conducting with fairness and self-control the proceedings of colleagues with very decided and widely different political convictions. We are all aware of the courage and the wisdom, the experience and the sense of humour that this task requires.
Regardless of his background and of his political affiliation, the designated candidate is in duty bound to serve the members of parliament from all areas and of all political parties. This duty is fundamental.
On the other hand, during the proceedings of the House, members of parliament are equally in duty bound to cooperate fully and entirely with the Speaker, and I am certain that all join with me in wishing great success to the holder of this position. During three parliaments, Mr. Lucien Lamoureux served the House of Commons with the greatest distinction, in a most polished manner and with remarkable firmness.
It is difficult to find all these qualities in members of either official linguistic group. However, we always do, which undoubtedly proves the value of our system.
It is therefore with great pleasure and pride that I move that Mr. James Jerome be Speaker of the House during this parliament.
Mr. Jerome is a member of the government party. According to tradition, the Prime Minister designates the candidate to the position of Speaker and his nomination is moved according to the traditional rules.
September 30, 1974
Election of Speaker
Mr. Jerome is particularly well-prepared for the office of Speaker. He has practised law and during the last few years, he has spent a great deal of time looking into delicate social problems in his constituency of Sudbury, Not only has he applied himself to serve his constituents better, but he has also tried to participate more fully in parliamentary life by striving systematically and successfully to learn the official language which was not his mother tongue.
He has acquired the sensitivity, the shrewdness that can be called the sense of Parliament. Indeed, since his election in 1968, he has followed very closely the proceedings of the House. For two years he was Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Privy Council, the Government House Leader. All hon. members will no doubt agree with me that such an experience is in itself an excellent preparation for the responsibilities of the Chair.
But Mr. Jerome's contribution as Chairman of the Justice Committee was also most remarkable. In that capacity he demonstrated not only his legal expertise and political ability, but also his fair-mindedness in difficult situations, where no partisan pressure could make him alter the decisions he felt were well-founded.
The Speakership of the chamber is serious business. Naturally, the cornerstone is fair play. But it also requires toughness, equanimity, compassion and the ability to laugh, not just with others, but at oneself. Anyone who has enjoyed the companionship of Mr. Jerome in his years in parliament knows his ability to find a spark of laughter in even the most tense and difficult times.
Mr. Fraser, I frankly look upon this parliament as a challenge and as an opportunity. I have asked my colleague, the leader of the House, to explore realistically with his counterparts in other parties ways in which we can smooth out the procedures of the House of Commons to make them more meaningful both to the members and to the public. I sincerely hope we can work together toward an accommodation. I know there are divisions among us as to the route we should be following. I know that one of them concerns the concept of a permanent Speaker. My objections to the idea are common knowledge and have been for years, and they have been shared by some hon. gentlemen in the opposition. But in the process of studying possible reforms, the government does not have a closed mind on any of them, and these propositions can be discussed in specific ways in the appropriate parliamentary committee.
However, today my thoughts and intentions are directed toward an individual whom I strongly hope all members of the House will support, knowing as we do the strains and challenges that will accompany his acceptance.
Mr. Fraser, it is a privilege for me to move, seconded by the hon. President of the Privy Council (Mr. Sharp) that James Jerome, Esquire, member for the electoral district of Sudbury do take the Chair of this House as Speaker.
Subtopic: ELECTION OF SPEAKER