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A Tale of Two Speakers

Canada and the US Clean House

By Kendall Defoe Published 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 3 min read
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A Tale of Two Speakers
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Now, this is fun...

From the New York Times Opinion Page (October 3rd, 2023):

The U.S. Capitol may be perched on a hill, but it is understandable why so many Americans look down on it.

I have been reading, watching and looking at anything related to the latest clown and circus performance in Washington, DC. Speaker Kevin McCarthy is out after less than a year on the job. He sided with the wrong team to avoid a government shutdown and is now kicked to the curb by his own party.

From the Toronto Sun (September 26th, 2023):

Is Justin Trudeau the most incompetent foreign-policy prime minister in Canadian history or just the most incompetent in the last 50 years?

This leads to a discussion of one of the most embarrassing parliamentary moments in my country's history. The Speaker of our House, Anthony Rota, led all of its members into a rousing ovation for a World War Two veteran. Unfortunately, he did not fight on our side:

No one acknowledged that he had done his anti-Soviet fighting for the Waffen-SS, which was the combat branch of the Nazi party.

Two countries; two embarrassments. Now, our prime minister is not responsible for such gestures, and I am sure that your Speaker wanted to keep his job, but someone has to take the blame when history is made for very wrong reasons.

And as I said, I am enjoying myself.

Whenever people in power prove again and again that they do not understand how to use that power, it amuses me. Not always a healthy thing, but I cannot resist the smile on my face.

In the U.S., your Speaker is a very partisan role. I have no expertise and I am sure that you will correct me on this, but he is supposed to look out for his own party when votes are cast, and the government is threatened with closure. In Canada, the role is also partisan, but you often have the feeling that the speaker is just a referee; someone brought in so that all the players remember the rules and try not to injure each other...too much.

So, how do both nations seek to resolve their plights?

With maturity and common sense!

Just kidding...

The position of Speaker of the House in the United States has been described as equivalent to the position of Prime Minister in Canada: you have a limited amount of power, and you have to consider a higher authority (in your case, the President; here, the King - formerly, the Queen - of England). With Mr. McCarthy's removal, there must be a vote, and at least 218 of the members of that House have to agree with the decision. The Republicans are rightfully having many fingers pointed in their direction, but the Democrats should not get smug about things. No one likes Congress, as a wise American thinker once said. They will have to play nice with each other.

And in Canada?

We already have a referee. A new one.

A few days after the embarrassment with our Speaker, Mr. Rota made the decision to resign. And he was quickly replaced by a man that many of our reporters, media figures and broadcasters are celebrating: Liberal Member of Parliament Greg Fergus steps into the role as of today. He has a sense of humour, a winning charm, and something else that most of those reporters, figures and broadcasters cannot ignore: he is black. The first black Speaker of the House in Canadian history. We have had one black Governor-General, Michaelle Jean. And I do wonder what will be made of this. He was wise enough to use the referee reference I made and to have a sense of humour about the role.

So, this is going to be a very interesting ride...for both sides of the largest trade relationship in the world. It is going to reveal a lot of the cracks and fissures in both our systems of government.

I wonder what comes next...

By Mirah Curzer on Unsplash

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You can find more poems, stories, and articles by Kendall Defoe on my Vocal profile. I complain, argue, provoke and create...just like everybody else.

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About the Creator

Kendall Defoe

Teacher, reader, writer, dreamer... I am a college instructor who cannot stop letting his thoughts end up on the page.

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Comments (4)

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  • Mark Gagnon8 months ago

    As a political science major I find myself more and more frustrated with Congress. Unlike the House of Lords, the Senate was created to be the adults in the room but they weren’t given the power to control the House. I can go on but bottom line is when Washington left office he said the formation of political parties would be the downfall of the country. He is right!

  • Mariann Carroll8 months ago

    To be honest, I am glad there was no shutdown. It was hard to please anybody in Congress. The Republican Party, sometimes think of their personal agenda not for the greater good of the country. The dynamic of their party has really change it’s not the same like it used to be. People in power get seduced by it that they forgot, all is left is unspoken words that need not be said or explain to their constituents that n their mind .

  • Liglis Rodríguez8 months ago

    This article provides an insightful and somewhat humorous take on recent political developments in the United States and Canada. It touches on the roles of the Speaker of the House in both countries, the resignation of Canada's Speaker, and the appointment of Greg Fergus as the first black Speaker. The author's anticipation of an interesting political landscape and their curiosity about the future adds an engaging perspective to the discussion. 🗳️🇺🇸🇨🇦🤣

  • Recklessly & dangerously entertaining. Enough so as to make both my stomach & head ache.

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