The Canadian Scene

Article 5 / 8 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

The Canadian Scene

New Nunavut Speaker

On May 28, 2019, Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak was elected Speaker of the Nunavut Assembly. Mr. Mikkungwak, who was elected in a secret ballot over MLAs Paul Quassa, Tony Akoak and Pat Angnakak, replaces former Speaker Joe Enook who passed away in March. “Having served as Deputy Speaker for our late Speaker, I am deeply touched,” Mr. Mikkungwak said. “My colleagues, it’s evident that we will work well together on behalf of Nunavummiut. I also humble myself for being elected as Speaker.” First elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, in addition to his role as Deputy Speaker, Mr. Mikkungwak also served as Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole.

Prior to entering politics Mr. Mikkungwak worked

as an inspector for the Kivalliq Inuit Association, an

alcohol and drug specialist for Nunavut’s Department

of Health and Social Services, a court interpreter, and

deputy mayor of Baker Lake.

New Alberta Speaker

Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper

was selected Speaker of the 30th Alberta legislature

on May 21, 2019 in a secret ballot over Edmonton-

Manning MLA Heather Sweet, who served as deputy

chair of committees in the previous assembly. Mr.

Cooper, who at 39 is the youngest Alberta Speaker in

more than 80 years, has a reputation in the Assembly

for his sense of humour and his love of parliamentary


Hon. Simeon Mikkungwak Hon. Nathan Cooper


“I think the thing that I hope to do is strike the right

balance of being a Speaker who has a keen sense of

when to interject and when to allow the members

of the assembly to continue in the cut and thrust of

debate,” he told reporters, noting he would “try his

very best Dad voice” when dealing with unruly MLAs.

Mr. Cooper said he planned to apply the rules

consistently while hoping debates would be “vigorous,

thoughtful and amicable.”

While working to remain order in Assembly, Mr.

Cooper explained that he did not view the legislature

as a workplace like any other. “This is the peaceful

way we do battle,” he said of Assembly debates. “We

are doing battle for ideas in democracy.”

New PEI Speaker

Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie was elected

Speaker of the PEI Assembly on June 13, 2019 in a

secret ballot over MLA Hal Perry. Mr. Perry became

deputy speaker. Speaker LaVie, who replaces retiring

Speaker Francis “Buck” Watts, said his admiration for

Speaker Watts and other previous Speakers inspired

him to seek the chair.

First elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in

2011, Speaker LaVie has won re-election twice. While

sitting in Opposition, he served as critic for fisheries

and agriculture, and as the Opposition whip.

“I want to thank you all for showing me your

support,” Speaker LaVie said following his election.

“It’s a real honour to sit in the Speaker’s chair….

Everyone is equal inside these rails.”

A local lobster fisher, Speaker LaVie is very active

in his community. He serves as Chief of the Souris

Fire Department and is a long-time volunteer with the

Eastern Kings Sportsplex.

New Clerk of the Alberta Assembly

On May 24, 2019, Speaker Cooper appointed

Shannon Dean as the new Clerk of the Alberta

Assembly. Dean, who is the first woman to be named

to the position, replaces Merwan Saher.

After earning a Bachelor of Commerce from the

University of Alberta in 1987, Ms. Dean attended

Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and

graduated in 1991.

During her more than 20 years at the Alberta

Assembly, Ms. Dean has held numerous positions

including Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Law Clerk,

and Director of House Services. She also served as

Acting Clerk following former Clerk Rob Reynolds


Noting her extensive experience working in nonpartisan

roles for the Assembly, Speaker Cooper said

he believes the Legislative Assembly Office should be

“very pleased to work under the leadership of Ms.