Newfoundland and Labrador
The Speaker is the key figure in the House of Assembly, a position that is open to all Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs), except for party leaders and Cabinet ministers. He/she is elected in a secret ballot by other Members immediately following each general election or when a vacancy occurs. The Speaker must maintain order in the House in an impartial manner and serve all MHAs equally.
The current Speaker of the House of Assembly is the Hon. Perry Trimper. He was elected Speaker on August 8, 2017.
As the person of highest authority in the House, the Speaker sits on the chair situated at the end of the Chamber. It is also used by the Lieutenant Governor when delivering the Speech from the Throne.
The responsibilities of the Speaker can be divided into four categories:
The Speaker is responsible for ensuring that the rules of the House are followed. The Standing Orders – the House rules of parliamentary procedure – are enforced by the Speaker to ensure that all MHAs have the opportunity to participate in debate.
The Speaker is responsible for the internal administration of the House of Assembly – overseeing the day-to-day operations of the various divisions and offices. The Speaker acts as the Chair of the House of Assembly Management Commission, a committee on which both government and Opposition caucuses are represented.
The Speaker represents the House of Assembly on all ceremonial and formal occasions, including dealings with the Crown and with other Parliaments and Legislative Assemblies.
While no longer a Member of a caucus, the Speaker continues to represent a district within the province as an MHA. The Speaker must remain impartial and avoid taking public positions on politically controversial matters.
The Speaker has been part of the British parliamentary system since 1377. The office emerged when the Commons – the ordinary people – needed a person to bring their messages (often complaints or grievances) to the monarch. This was by no means a safe or easy thing to do, as the King or Queen was not always pleased with these messages. Some of the Speakers during that time met a violent death, and for this reason the potential spokesperson usually had to be pressured into accepting the responsibility. The nature of violence associated with the role of Speaker in the early days explains a current tradition of the House. Today, upon election, the Speaker pretends to be reluctant to take the Chair and must be dragged to the front of the Chamber.
The walls of the House of Assembly Chamber are lined with painted portraits of former Speakers of the House of Assembly. The tradition was started in 1949 when former Premier Joey Smallwood, commissioned an artist to paint portraits of all former Speakers dating back to 1832. The tradition has continued since 1949, with a portrait being commissioned while each Speaker is in office. Once the Speaker leaves or retires, a ceremony is held in the House of Assembly Chamber to hang the portrait.
Former Speakers of the House of Assembly (dating back to 1832)