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Andrew Scheer, 32, takes Speaker's chair

Saskatchewan MP youngest to fill role

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OTTAWA -- Canada's Parliament has its youngest Speaker in history after 32-year-old Andrew Scheer was elected to the post Thursday.

Scheer, a seven-year veteran of the House of Commons, was one of seven candidates for the position. It took six votes over nearly seven hours to determine the winner in a process that requires the winner to achieve 50 per cent plus one of the votes cast.

Scheer is also the first MP from Saskatchewan to win the chair's job.

A big cheer erupted from the Conservatives when the results were finally announced after six ballots. His wife, and four-month-old son Henry, as well as his parents, were in the gallery watching.

Afterwards, Jill Scheer said she thought her husband would do well.

He's good at keeping the peace among their four children, she said.

"I don't want to compare his colleagues to children," she said.

"But he's a very wonderful father."

It's a largely administrative role but one with considerable power -- Scheer's predecessors have helped prop up and defeat governments, modernize Parliament, break tie votes on landmark laws and also act as the ambassador of Parliament at home and abroad.

The Speaker's job comes with a $233,000 salary, car and driver, country estate and parliamentary apartment.

NDP MP Denise Savoie finished second and will likely be named deputy Speaker. She was the only non-Conservative MP to vie for the job.

Scheer was the deputy speaker in the last parliament and Savoie was one of two assistant deputies.

Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed was in the running until the fourth ballot. He was well-supported by fellow Manitoba MPs. Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia MP Steven Fletcher offered his Centre Block office on behalf of Tweed as a hospitality suite to entertain MPs with snacks and wine in between votes.

Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge handed out Starbucks coffee in the foyer outside the House of Commons in paper cups emblazoned with Tweed's photo.

This was Tweed's second try for the job. In 2008, he made it to the fifth and final ballot, but the election was won by Liberal Peter Milliken. He had held the job for the previous 10 years.

The campaign for Speaker centred around promises to improve decorum but much of the focus was on the goodies offered by various candidates.

Scheer, who was the youngest MP in the running, had cupcakes with prairie lily icing, and made a note that the coffee in his suite came from Tim Hortons.

Ontario's Barry Devolin, who was eliminated after the third ballot, offered up ice cream from a local dairy.

Scheer took the chair with a big grin and thanked MPs for electing him.

"I will do my best to live up to the trust you've placed in me," he said.

 

-- with files from the Canadian Press

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 3, 2011 A13

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