MPP Bill Walker was appointed as a deputy-speaker of the Ontario legislature on Tuesday morning following the removal of Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls.
Nicholls was removed from the post after seven years, following an earlier dismissal from the Ontario PC caucus for being unvaccinated without an accepted exemption. He now sits as an independent.
When contacted, Bill Walker’s office said that the MPP declined further comment on the broader context of his appointment.
For his part, Rick Nicholls told the media that he found out about Walker’s appointment through the media not from the government – “But I know the individual, and I wish him all the best.”
Along with the role of deputy-speaker, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Walker will serve as the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House.
The Committee of the Whole House includes all Members of the Legislature. MPPs meet this way to make further comments on bills before a final vote. This stage can follow second reading or a standing committee which does not end with a unanimous decision to recommend a bill for third reading.
“This is a great honour and I am humbled to accept this special role and want to thank my colleagues for their support and confidence,” said Walker after his appointment.
MPP Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills) is continuing in his role of Speaker. Because the House sits too often for the speaker to be able to preside over each proceeding, there are four deputy-speakers. Mr. Walker is first in line to take the chair in the Speaker’s absence
The other deputy speakers are NDP MPPs Lisa Gretzky, Jennifer French and Percy Hatfield. Ms Gretzky will serve as Deputy-Chair of the Committee of the Whole House.
“The Speaker plays a vital role in our Parliamentary democracy,” Walker said, “and I look forward to working with Speaker Ted Arnott and my fellow deputies, as well as the Clerk and his team, and will carry out my duties to the best of my ability.”
ROLE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE
After Second Reading, bills can be referred for Third Reading with unanimous consent. Otherwise, they go to either a standing or select committee or to the Committee of the Whole House.
Standing committees can hear comments from individuals and also from interested groups as part of their consideration.
After it comes back from standing committee, if a bill doesn’t receive unanimous support from the house to go to Third Reading, it goes to Committee of the Whole House.
Significantly, at this stage, a bill can be amended. No amendments can be moved at Third Reading.
Unlike standing committees, individuals and groups don’t take part in the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole House. Ministry officials may attend to provide advice to Minister while each clause of the bill is considered.
Then, after the Committee of the Whole House reports back, the Bill can go to Third Reading for debate and vote.
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald