My colleague and fourth-floor neighbour here in the Press Building, Aaron Wherry from Macleans, has been featuring on his blog some job applications/interviews with candidates for the Speaker's job.
One of those candidates is Lee Richardson, one of the Commons' most cordial and gentlemanly folks, and here's the letter he sent out today to make his case for the job. He talks about his long history with this place and fondness for more civil dealings -- on this, I can attest from long acquaintance, Richardson walks the talk. He is not an MP known for nastiness or overt partisanship -- far from it, actually.
Here's the text of his letter, in its entirety. (And if any other candidates want to send on their letters, happy to run them here too.) A French version is available here: Download Richardson Bureau du President 2011
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
May 27, 2011
I am writing to you today to ask your support for making this 41st Parliament the place we restore respect for the House of Commons and for each other as Members.
By entering public life, we have all made a strong personal commitment to making our country a better place. Each of us also has a strong interest in making the House of Commons a better, more honourable place. I think it is time we do exactly that.
I am letting my name stand for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons, this place I have loved since first coming to the Hill as Executive Assistant to the Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker in 1972. I believe change is due, and that change has to start with respect.
I fondly remember following razor sharp debate from the Opposition gallery. My boss, Mr. Diefenbaker, and NDP Leader David Lewis engaged in fierce oratory. During evening sessions I sat with Sophie Lewis, often it was just the two of us, quietly cheering our respective heroes. The combatants didn't agree on much but there was mutual respect and civility as well as eloquence.
It was a time, before excessive partisanship and 10 second TV clips, when Members practiced mutual respect and earned the respect of Canadians. It was not only an honour and privilege to be a Member of Parliament but an honourable profession held in high regard. Members strove to uphold that reputation.
My goal, my reason for seeking the office of Speaker, is to restore that respect for Parliament and parliamentarians.
Over the years, and more so recently, I have had discussions with former Speakers about the increasing difficulty they appear to have in preserving order and decorum in the House and why they seem reluctant to impose the discipline and sanctions they have available to them. There are many reasons given as well as possible remedies. In speaking to my Parliamentary colleagues over the past few weeks I have found a strong willingness to work together and make the changes necessary to restore civility and respect. I will outline the specifics of my proposals to achieve this goal in my remarks to the Members on June 2nd.
Foremost I would seek by example to establish, fairly but firmly, a correct tone in the House that would encourage and reflect a probity and, simply put, "good manners" that the Canadian public should rightly expect from their parliamentarians.
I believe we have an opportunity now to turn the corner. While the House always will be combative, my clear goal as Speaker will be to restore dignity and mutual respect, and make this Institution an honourable place for the people's representatives to debate policy once again.
Lee Richardson, MP