Flin Flon MLA Tom Lindsey will take on an important role in provincial legislature. The newly-reelected Lindsey has been named the newest Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
Lindsey was officially elected to the job Nov. 9, being ceremonially "dragged" to the chair by both Premier Wab Kinew and former Premier Kelvin Goertzen and receiving the speaker's ceremonial robe and hat.
"Honourable members of the 43rd legislative assembly - I wish to thank the members for the high honour the house has conferred on me," said Lindsey during his induction.
"I intend to carry out the important duties as speaker of the legislative assembly with impartiality, to the best of my ability."
“I am so proud of Tom Lindsey’s election to speaker of the Manitoba legislature, an incredible achievement in an already impressive career,” said Premier Wab Kinew in a statement issued on Lindsey's election.
"I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with Tom in the opposition trenches for years. He is a passionate voice for working people across our province, particularly in the north. I know he will bring that same focus on justice, fairness and solidarity to the job of speaker.”
Lindsey is the first northern Manitoba MLA to ever hold the position and the first Manitoba NDP MLA to hold the post since the party lost provincial power in 2016 - former Transcona MLA Daryl Reid was the party's last speaker. Former Progressive Conservative MLA Myrna Driedger had served as speaker since the PCs won power in 2016 - Driedger's party lost this year's election and Driedger did not run for reelection.
The speaker is the presiding officer of the legislative chamber, the highest authority within the Legislative Assembly and is neutral and non-partisan in role. The speaker is elected in a secret ballot by MLAs to preside over debate and ensure that order is maintained, procedures are kept and each MLA maintains the established rules of behaviour during debate - working, in basic terms, as the legislature's referee.
As speaker, Lindsey will also be responsible for the financial management and budgeting of the assembly as chair of the Legislative Assembly Management Commission and will review budgets for outside independent officers working with the legislature, like the provincial children's advocate, ombudsman and auditor general.
Originally, the title of speaker was intended to relay information from the legislature or House of Commons to the Crown. Today, the job is meant to maintain order and decorum in the chamber. The speaker does not take part in debates or ask and answer questions, and does not vote unless it is to break a tie - an unlikely event, considering the NDP currently hold 34 of 57 seats in the legislature. Otherwise, the speaker maintains the rest of the duties of an MLA.
Lindsey was first elected to represent Flin Flon in provincial legislature in 2016, was reelected again in 2019 and again for a third time earlier this fall. A retired miner, safety officer and long-time member of the USW Local 7106, Lindsey was formerly the NDP's critic for natural resources and northern affairs. He was not announced as part of the party's initial slate of government ministers last month.