OTTAWA — Conservative MP Andrew Scheer has been elected Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Saskatchewan politician beat out seven other candidates for the coveted position, including six Tories.
The race came down to a sixth ballot between Scheer and New Democrat MP Denise Savoie — the only woman in the running. Scheer won, supported by the Conservative majority. The vote numbers were not provided.
A beaming Scheer was strong-armed to the Speaker’s chair by the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition in a time-honoured ritual.
The new Speaker spoke briefly, promising to “live up to the trust you’ve placed in me.”
“I can’t claim that I’ll ever be perfect, he said. ”But you can count on one thing — that I will give 100 per cent to the job that you’ve given me today.“
The Speaker’s job comes with a $233,000 salary, a car and driver, country estate, parliamentary apartment, and considerable power.
In 2005, former Speaker Peter Milliken cast a tie-breaking ballot that saved the Paul Martin government from defeat on a budget vote.
This spring, he ruled that there were grounds to find the Harper government in contempt of Parliament — a judgment that helped trigger the May 2 election.
He also cast the tie-breaker in a contentious vote on same-sex marriage.
All eight candidates were given five minutes apiece to make a stump speech in the Commons, but the campaigning has been going on for weeks. Campaigns included offers of free ice cream and Starbucks coffee. Cupcakes were also circulated.
“I considered offering a mini bar on the green bus on the Hill but then I thought better,” Savoie joked as she headed into the Commons.
MPs travel around Parliament Hill and surrounding government buildings via green shuttle buses.
Savoie asked MPs for their support “only if you’re prepared to do your part to improve decorum.”
Scheer, a deputy speaker in the last Parliament, was considered the front-runner for the position.
“I have heard some feedback about my age,” said the 32-year-old father of four, to laughter from the House.
“I know I am getting quite old now.”
The election of Speaker was the first order of business for the 41st session of Parliament.
History wasn’t just being made Thursday by the choice of Milliken’s replacement. It also marked the official move of the Liberal party to the also-ran seats in the Commons.
It is now NDP Leader Jack Layton staring down Harper from the chair of leader of the Opposition.
New Democrats looked comfortable in their new front-row spots and for all the new members it was a moment to remember.
“Just took my seat in the House of Commons for the first time,” new Tory MP Mark Strahl said on Twitter.
“What an honour.”