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The Speakers of the Canadian House of Commons

 

Hon. Marcel Joseph Aimé Lambert


P.C., Q.C., B.Comm., B.A., B.C.L., M.A. (1962–1963)

In his first words to the House on being confirmed as Speaker in September 1962, Marcel Lambert conveyed his hope that “we shall have productive days ahead of us within the rules of the house, which I would commend to all honourable Members.” Given the potential for disruptions during the minority Parliament, he intended not to lose control of the House.

Members of the opposition parties — and even Progressive Conservative government members — soon found that being required by the Speaker to conform to their own procedural rules was too onerous. They particularly objected to being held to relevant questions and allowable supplementary questions during Question Period, as the standing orders set out. Some members seemed to favour challenging the Speaker’s rulings by formal vote.

Not easily intimidated — he had been a tank officer in the Second World War, and spent nearly three years in a German prisoner-of-war camp — Lambert was firm in his rulings on argumentative and trivial questions. Early in 1963, dissension in Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s Cabinet over whether or not to arm Canada’s anti-aircraft missiles with nuclear warheads became a political issue in the House. Lambert ruled against holding an emergency debate on the Bomarc missile question, and his ruling was reversed by the House.

Shortly afterwards, the Prime Minister appointed him Minister of Veterans Affairs, bringing to an end the shortest term of service (September 27, 1962 – February 11, 1963: less than five months) of any Canadian Speaker. He went on to complete 10 terms as an MP, and in 1984 Prime Minister Mulroney appointed him to the Canadian Transport Commission. In a tribute to Lambert on his death in 2000, former Prime Minister Joe Clark praised him for having “earned a reputation as a tough arbiter in a rowdy Commons in those heady times.”

Lambert was the last Speaker to be appointed to the Cabinet after his resignation — formerly a frequent occurrence.

Next Speaker: Hon. Alan Aylesworth Macnaughton

Previous Speaker: Right Hon. Daniel Roland Michener


Artist: Kenneth Keith Forbes
Date: 1963

Born: Edmonton, Alberta, 1919

Died: Barrhead, Alberta, 2000

Professional Background: Law, Military

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: