By Bobbi Ann Brady, MPP
As I sat down to pen my first column as your representative for Haldimand-Norfolk, I reflected on the events of the past three months — it’s been a whirlwind of fantastic people, events, and meetings. I say this continuously, but our riding boasts some of the hardest working people and puts together some of the best days, and sometimes full weekends of events.
The role of a Member of Provincial Parliament is somewhat of a mystery to many. Attending events and supporting local initiatives is important, and I have learned that’s where you find out what’s on people’s minds. And, it has not been lost on me how grateful volunteers and organizers are when you show up.
Meeting with professionals, groups, or concerned residents is also part of the job. The issues are varied but equally important from one meeting to the next.
Attending Queen’s Park and meeting in the Legislative Chamber is the area of the role that genuinely mystifies people. The Chamber has many quirky traditions, and although I worked alongside MPP Barrett for 23 years, many of these protocols are known only to the elected members privy to them. One example is that walking between the back of the Clerk’s Chair and the Speaker is prohibited.
Let me digress for a minute and talk about the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly – Todd Decker. Mr. Decker is the chief permanent officer of the Assembly who carries the rank and status of a Deputy Minister. As the House’s principal procedural adviser and senior officer, the Clerk’s responsibilities include advising the Speaker and members of the Legislature on questions of procedure and interpretation of the rules and practices of the House.
On a local note, Mr. Decker hails from Delhi and played sports with a few of my uncles, which made my swearing-in ceremony on July 5th more special.
I took my seat in the Ontario Legislature on August 8th. I was pleased to play a role in the election of Ted Arnott, MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills. The first order of business was to choose a Speaker – an integral non-partisan role.
The Speaker has three roles i) administrator (if the Chamber were a Ministry, the Speaker would be the Minister, with the Clerk being the deputy) ii) the Speaker ceremonially represents all MPPs, and iii) is in charge of order and decorum in the Chamber. The Speaker’s word is always final.
For most of Ontario’s history, the Speaker was elected on a motion moved by the Premier. The Canadian House of Commons was the first parliament in Canada to adopt a secret ballot in 1985; Ontario followed in the same footsteps with the first secret ballot in 1990. To date, there have been eight Speakers elected by secret ballot voting.
Once the Speaker is elected, the mover and seconder of the nomination’ drag’ the Speaker to the throne — one of those quirky traditions. It is a longstanding tradition for Speakers to be reluctant to accept the role, a reference to the historical dangers associated with the position.
Now that I’ve taken my seat, I look forward to taking your challenges, ideas, and advice to Queen’s Park.
In closing, I want to provide you with the contact information for my office: 519-428-0446, 905-795-8413, or 1-800-903-8629 and email, [email protected]. You may also visit my website at www.bobbiannbrady.com.
Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk