MLA and Deputy Speaker of the House George Rogers and his biggest fan, Julia Carter at the Opening of the 28th Alberta Legislature
Well it is now official. On Wednesday May 23rd, the long-term MLA, Honorable Gene Zwozdesky has been elected by his peers as the new Speaker of the House for the Alberta Legislative and the new Deputy Speaker is none other than our Leduc-Beaumont MLA George Rogers, a hard-working and recently re-elected member of the Assembly who for the past eight years has earned the respect of his peers and of the current Leader of our province, Mrs Alison Redford.
The Opening Ceremonies of the First Session of the 28th Legislature of Alberta took place on Thursday May 24 at 3pm. The Sheriff’s Pipes and Drums played the vice-regal salute. Simultaneously, an artillery troop from the 20th Field regiment delivered a 15-gun salute from the saluting base located on the west side of the Legislature Grounds. In front of the ‘Leg’, an impressive display of members of the First Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and police commanders and officers stood at attention, waiting for the Alberta Lieutenant-Governor, the Honorable (ret’d) Col. Don Ethel and Mrs. Linda Ethel to begin inspecting the troops. While this is taking place, guests and members are being seated in the Legislative Assembly Chamber.
With 87 members of the Alberta Parliament in attendance, the proceedings could not start until the Sergeant-at-Arms called “Order. Order. Order. Mr Speaker!” A procession of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Legislative Assembly Clerk and other representatives entered the Chamber. The Sergeant-at-Arms laid the Mace upon the stand placed in front of the dais.
Mr Paul Lorieau accompanied by four members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra sang the national anthem, after inviting guests and members to join them. While most Canadians grew up singing O Canada in school and later on at official and business functions, nothing compares to being a part of an impromptu choir performing this classic piece in the heart of our Alberta Legislature, in this imposing, magnificent Chamber…
A musical interlude was provided once again by Mr. Lorieau and the four ESO members. Everything that took place that day seemed to be in slow motion, with the guests being respectfully quiet and attentive, and the official participants ceremonious and proud. Then the Lieutenant Governor entered the room, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms who knocked at the Chamber door to announce their arrival, while the mace lay there, two yards in front of the Throne, covered as the tradition demands. The Lieutenant Governor enters the Chamber, escorted by several representatives of the Assembly: they take their seats, and his Private Secretary carries forward the Speech from the Throne.
The Speaker addressed the Lieutenant Governor, asking that the Crown recognize the privileges of this New Assembly, and using words that have been used by every speaker since the First Session of the First Alberta Legislature in 1906. The Honorable Jonathan Denis (who hails from Calgary, and has been a visitor to the City of Leduc on the occasion of a 2010 Cabinet Tour) responds in the same words as 1906, and it is now time for the Speech to be read.
The Speech from the Throne is an imposing, positive piece of literature that tells of the “hope and confidence” Albertans feel when looking at the future. It mentions Alberta’s safe and responsible energy sector, a global leader that wishes to reduce its footprint while expanding its production: it boasts of Alberta’s strong and responsive Public Services and its government’s new fiscal disciplines to budgets. The Speech also focuses on Alberta’s traditions and the western spirit and heritage that will help to plan and execute change. It promises that Government will “get out of Albertans’ way, so they can unleash their creative potential and build a prosperous province, one that is not only rich in resources but in opportunity”.
The Speech is then returned to the Lieutenant Governor’s Secretary, and all rise. Mr Lorieau and his musical companions deliver a sober, touching performance of God Save the Queen, following which the Lieutenant-Governor, his party and the Premier leave the Chamber while a trumpet fanfare is played. The mace is uncovered, representing the absence in the Chamber of a throne representative. Bill 1 is introduced. The Honorable Alison Redford moves that the Speech be taken into consideration the following week. The Honorable Gene Swozdesky delivered his own speech, a fascinating and extensive summary of all 87 members of the Assembly, pointing out that careers “from A to the letter V” are represented in the House, and that members of the Legislature were born in several countries and speak several other languages, heralding the rich diversity of our population.
When the Honorable George Rogers returned to his Office on the hallowed Fifth Floor of the Legislature, he shared with a close group that this new position has complex facets: it also carries the responsible duties of Chair of the Committees, which he confirms will “not interfere with his duties and dedication as an MLA”.
Mr Rogers expresses his gratitude for this great honor, and declares firmly that he will use his twenty years of political experience and his strong position within the Assembly to continue to address his constituency’s needs and concerns… The role of Deputy Speaker is to be a support to the Speaker, to “spell him off” if he cannot be present, and to assist the “Committee of the Whole” when legislation and amendments are introduced and examined closely. The Speaker is also the official host of foreign delegations visiting Alberta, as well as well as the government’s representative when participating in other Provincial and other Commonwealth members’ Legislatures. The Leduc-Beaumont MLA and new Deputy Speaker Mr George Rogers is embracing his new ‘ancillary duties’ and looking to the future with optimism and pride. His regional and Caucus supporters will undoubtedly join in trusting in his success and wishing him the best in the upcoming months.