Did you know the Speakers Chair in the House of Commons moves up and down? I do because I once sat in it. Yesterday Parliament elected a new speaker of the house Geoff Regan. Beginning today he will preside over the business of governing Canada from the Speaker’s Chair doing his best to create a civil and orderly exchange among the 338 members of Parliament.
On a visit to Ottawa a family friend working on Parliament Hill gave us a personalized tour of the House of Commons. We got to take turns sitting in the Speakers Chair and having our photo taken. Ensconced in the chair I could imagine for just a moment that I was the Speaker of the House being asked to cast the tie breaking vote for an important piece of legislation. Our guide explained the first female Speaker of the House to sit in the chair was Jeanne Sauvé. Since she was quite short, her feet couldn’t reach the floor when she was sitting in the chair, so a hydraulic lift was installed to move it up and down at the press of a button.
Looking at photos of our new speaker Geoff Regan he appears to be tall enough that he probably won’t need to move the chair up or down but he probably will have his hands full trying to keep Parliament on track amid the ups and downs of political debate and decision-making that lie ahead.