OTTAWA—With the recent naming of the 42nd Parliament, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes has found herself with two new positions in Ottawa, assistant deputy speaker and deputy chair of the Committee of the Whole.
“This is a great honour and privilege to have received the trust of my caucus and parliamentary colleagues and I look forward to playing an integral role in making the House more functional and less partisan,” said Ms. Hughes, a member of the NDP third party. “There is a real appetite for a more respectful parliament.”
The appointment was announced in the House of Commons late last Monday and will see Ms. Hughes join two other Parliamentarians in supporting the role of Speaker of the House, Geoff Regan, one of whom is fellow Northern Ontario MP Anthony Rota of Nipissing-Timiskaming, a Liberal.
“Although I will no longer have a critic portfolio, I will still be able to introduce legislation and work on issues important to all Northerners,” added Ms. Hughes. “I think this is recognition of the fact that I have been fair and respectful while performing my role in previous parliaments, and I will continue to stand up for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing at every opportunity.”
Ms. Hughes told The Expositor that she was approached by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and asked if she would be interested in becoming the assistant deputy speaker.
Her first choice with the new Parliament was to become NDP critic for the Ministry of Natural Resources, a job she initially had until her meeting with Mr. Mulcair.
“I had about five minutes to make up my mind,” she said, noting that she consulted with her Ottawa team before giving her answer, which was yes.
The Liberal government reached out to the NDP, asking the party to find a candidate for the job, Ms. Hughes explained. The Speaker, Geoff Regan, is a Liberal while the Deputy Speaker, Bruce Stanton, is a Conservative.
Ms. Hughes explained that she is guaranteed about 10 hours or so a week in the Speaker’s chair.
There was no formal briefing session on the job either, she added. Ms. Hughes began her role in the chair immediately, presiding over the morning debate the day after the announcement was made.
When asked about the tone of the House since the new Parliament, she said “it’s pretty good; people are testing the waters.”
“The speaker has certainly indicated that he’s not going to put up with heckling,” Ms. Hughes added. “It’s about keeping the House in order, ensuring everyone’s points of view are respected.”
The MP said the new job comes with its ups and downs. “I’ll have to learn how to do things differently. I can’t participate in debate, which is a downfall, but I hope to be able to raise Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing issues in other ways.”
The Expositor caught up with Ms. Hughes on her way back to Ottawa where she was to take part in the final tabling of the Truth and Reconciliation Report yesterday (Tuesday).