Speaker of the House steps down

Milliken not running for re-election

MP of Kingston and the Islands and Speaker of the House Peter Milliken says that he is not resigning, and that he will serve until the end of his term.
MP of Kingston and the Islands and Speaker of the House Peter Milliken says that he is not resigning, and that he will serve until the end of his term.

Peter Milliken, Artsci ’68, Speaker of the House of Commons and Kingston and the Islands Member of Parliament for the Liberals, announced on June 26th that he will not be seeking re-election in the next federal election.

The announcement was made after his annual summer barbeque for his supporters in an unprecedented press conference at his home just outside Kingston. Milliken is the longest-serving Speaker in Canada’s history, having been elected the 34th Speaker in January of 2001 and subsequently being re-elected three times and acclaiming the position once. He is also the longest-serving Member of Parliament in Kingston’s history. He has served Kingston and the Islands as an MP for more than 22 years.

Milliken thanked his supporters for their help over the years, stating that he was privileged and honoured to serve in his position as Member of Parliament to the Kingston and the Islands community.

“I’m not resigning, I will serve until the end of term and I am happy to continue so as an MP and as the Speaker,” Milliken said.

Milliken mentioned the demanding hours of work as the most challenging reality of his job.

“I’m tired of the position’s constant demand of time. Getting a day off has always been relatively difficult,” Milliken said, adding that breaking tie votes and finding support in minority Parliaments are two of the hardest but most interesting aspects of his position as Speaker.

“To the next Speaker of the House, have a good time! To the next MP of Kingston, you have to learn to work with, and deal with everybody. It’s been a pleasure and an honour for me to be able to do so,” Milliken said.

Once his term ends, Milliken said that he is looking forward to sitting on more volunteer boards and getting more involved with community activities. He also plans to increase his involvement with Queen’s, which he has been actively supporting since he graduated in 1968.

Milliken’s involvement in the Queen’s community has been especially important to Queen’s Model Parliament (QMP). He has helped QMP transition smoothly to the House of Commons every January since the early 1990s.

Milliken’s retirement coincides with Stephen Harper naming a successor to Michaël Jean as Governor General of Canada. Many speculate that Harper may announce Milliken as the new Governor General when the Queen visits from June 28th to July 6th. When asked about this, Milliken seemed ambivalent about the prospect.

“I haven’t yet been approached by Harper, but I’m not sure if it’s something I’d like doing. I’m not sure I’d enjoy all the formalities,” Milliken said. “Once my term is over, I guess you could say that this is the end of Peter Milliken the politician.” Attendees at the press conference included many of Milliken’s potential successors. Bill Flanagan, Dean of Law at Queen’s has long been thought off as a likely candidate to succeed Milliken. Keeping in mind the theme of the day, Flanagan was unwilling to confirm any rumours about his potential nomination.

“This is really Peter’s day to celebrate. Many people have approached me regarding this position, but I’m taking some time to reflect, and I will be making a decision in the near future,” Flanagan said, adding that he admires and respects Milliken’s 22 years of service, especially his recent decision on the Afghan documents which outlined the transfer of Afghan detainees. Flanagan said Milliken’s ruling that Parliament had a right to ask for uncensored documents has set a new precedent.

Ron Hartling, the President of the Liberal Kingston and the Islands Riding Association, has worked directly under Milliken for several years.

“Peter has been a wonderful person to work with. He’s very calm and unassuming,” he said. “He’s just a really nice human being, someone who you can respect and who respects you back.” Hartling will be remaining in his position after Milliken retires. He said that the next step is to open a fair and amenable campaign.

“Our next step is to launch a search committee and then our members will nominate who they see fit. The nomination process begins immediately,” Hartling said.

As a close friend and colleague to Peter Milliken, Hartling offered nothing but friendly remarks about Milliken’s time in office.

“I think it’s a wise person in politics who can retire on his own terms. A lot of politicians don’t have that wisdom.”

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