The Canadian Scene

Article 8 / 11 , Vol 46 No. 2 (Summer)

The Canadian Scene

New PEI Speaker

On May 12, 2023, Darlene Compton, MLA for Belfast – Murray River, was elected as the new Speaker for P.E.I.’s legislative assembly. The 69th Speaker in the province’s history (pre- and post-Confederation), she is also the sixth woman to hold the position. Speaker Compton replaces Colin LaVie, former MLA for Souris-Elmira, who did not reoffer in the recent general election.

PEI Premier Dennis King said the new Speaker “has a strong rapport with all members of the house, is a strong supporter of good governance and respects the role of the legislative branch of government.” Premier Dennis King said in a statement.

Speaker Compton was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019 and 2023. While in Opposition she served as the Progressive Conservative House Leader and Critic for Finance, Family and Human Services, and the Status of Women. In 2019 she was appointed Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance and served as Minister responsible for the Status of Women from 2019 – 2020.

Prior to her election, Speaker Compton earned a business degree from Casco Bay College and worked as administrator of the Dr. John Gillis Memorial Lodge. She is a board member for the Belfast Development Corporation and the Belfast Recreation Centre and serves as a director of the Belfast Historical Society.

She lives with her husband Russell in South Pinette and has two grown children.

New Senate Speaker

On May 12, 2023, Manitoba Senator Raymonde Gagné became the third woman to serve as Speaker of the Senate. It had been 44 years since a woman occupied the chair.

Speaker Gagné, who replaced former Speaker George Furey on his retirement from the Chamber, was appointed by Governor General Mary Simon on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Initially opting to sit as a member of the Independent Senators Group, she changed her status to non-affiliated in 2020 when she was appointed Deputy to the Representative of the Government in the Senate, Marc Gold.

Prior to joining the Senate in 2016, Speaker Gagné worked in the education sector for 35 years, including time as a high school teacher and principal. Serving as president of Winnipeg’s Université de Saint-Boniface from 2003 to 2014, she managed the institution’s transition from a college to a university and spearheaded the largest fundraising campaign in its history. The funds raised were used to construct a new health sciences building, to expand research capacity and to increase the institution’s scholarship and bursary program.

A strong advocate for minority language rights, a statement from the prime minister announcing her appointment lauded her reputation for productivity, objectivity and fairness. The prime minister expressed his confidence in her ability to uphold Canadians’ confidence in their democratic institutions.