Liberal MLA Angela Simmonds chosen first Black deputy Speaker

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Angela Simmonds is the first Black woman to be selected as deputy Speaker in Nova Scotia. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)
Angela Simmonds is the first Black woman to be selected as deputy Speaker in Nova Scotia. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia MLAs have chosen two deputy Speakers of the House.

Angela Simmonds of the Liberals and Lisa Lachance of the NDP, both rookies, were selected Friday.

Simmonds, the representative for Preston, is the first Black woman to be named deputy Speaker. Lachance represents Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

The two opposition members were nominated by their caucus colleagues.

All members of the legislature ratified their appointments after MLAs voted PC representative Keith Bain to the role of Speaker of the House.

'I feel honoured'

Simmonds thanked her colleagues for their support.

"I feel honoured and privileged, excited … overwhelmed," Simmonds said to reporters.

"I think there's a lot of women before me who have quite a legacy, maybe not in politics, but just in life in general, so I think it's a real honour to be here and have the support of all my colleagues."

She said her appointment might serve as a message to others.

"I think the message is, … that we're adapting to change, we're seeing change and accepting change and … if I can be as frank, the status quo is changing," she said.

The deputy Speakers will share the responsibility of chairing debates in the legislature.

Simmonds and Lachance will split a salary top-up of $24,523.25.

Premier Tim Houston, whose PC party had the power to appoint its own caucus members to the position because of majority status, said he was glad the Liberals put forward Simmonds for the job.

"That's obviously an important milestone, and she's a quality, quality person and will be an excellent MLA, so I'm very, very pleased that she's advanced as a deputy Speaker," Houston told reporters.

Michael Gorman/CBC
Michael Gorman/CBC

Bain, who defeated Lachance for the Speaker's job in a secret ballot. said he was glad to have been chosen by his peers.

"It's certainly an honour," said Bain, the MLA for Victoria-The Lakes. "I've been around the legislature for 12 years.

"I had a short stint as deputy Speaker and I feel truly honoured that the leader and the members of the legislature chose me to be their Speaker."

Bain was one of only three returning PC MLAs not to get a cabinet post in Houston's government, but he said he wasn't put off by that.

"No, I'm not disappointed," he said. "I have every faith in the cabinet that the premier has chosen. I didn't expect anything.

"This was a pleasant surprise, I'll put it that way."

As Speaker, Bain will be paid the same salary as a cabinet minister, which is $49,046.51. That's on top of the MLA salary of $89,234.90.

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