During the first of our of two visits to Queen’s Park, we had the pleasure of meeting the Honourable Tedd Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. To ensure proper social distancing, our meeting was held in the ornate Legislative Chamber, which was humbling and exciting. Speaker Arnott has served at the legislature for thirty years, representing the riding of Wellington-Halton Hills.
Speaker Arnott offered thoughtful and candid responses to our questions about the day to day workings of the legislature, including how he and his colleagues have adapted parliamentary business to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations. For example, traditionally when taking votes on bills or motions, MPPs would pack into the Chamber and stand up to have their vote counted - which does not allow for social distancing. Now, MPPs follow the British tradition of lobby voting - walking through either the “aye” lobby or “nay” lobby outside the Chamber to have their votes tallied safely.
We also learned about the unique experiences and challenges the Speaker faces in his role, including staying nonpartisan and mediating discussions among longtime colleagues and friends. Speaker Arnott also emphasized the importance of the next six months, as we begin to build a new society after COVID-19. We appreciate his advice on the importance of being hardworking, honest and maintaining integrity. We are grateful for the welcome we received and that Speaker Arnott has remained a strong supporter of our Programme! We are also grateful to have been invited to watch Question Period from the Speaker’s gallery on September 28.