Skip to main content

The Speakers of the Canadian House of Commons


Hon. Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken
B.A., M.A., LL.B. (2001–2011)

Peter Milliken was the longest-serving Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons in history, holding office for 3,776 days, or 10 years and four months. First elected Speaker in 2001, he was acclaimed in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and 2008 (the first election to feature speeches by the candidates). As a Liberal, Milliken was also one of only two Speakers from an opposition party elected to the post; James Jerome (1974–1980) was the other.

Milliken had a long-standing interest in politics and parliamentary procedure. He was only 15 years old when he went to a Liberal nomination meeting, for Edgar Benson, and campaigned for Benson in his successful run for Parliament in 1962. About that time he began subscribing to Hansard, unusual reading matter for a teenager.

Milliken was first elected to the House of Commons in 1988 and was re-elected at every general election until 2011, when he decided to retire from politics. He served on various procedure committees of the House, and as Deputy Speaker from 1997 to 2000. His well-developed interest in Parliament — and his sense of humour — stood him in good stead in dealing with three prime ministers and their parties, and three fractious minority Parliaments.

Milliken’s parliamentary expertise assisted him in making the difficult decisions that he was called upon to make. On May 19, 2005, for instance, he had to break a tie vote on a confidence motion — a first time for a Speaker. Until the end of Milliken’s tenure, Speakers had been required to vote to break a tie only 10 times since Confederation in 1867; Milliken cast five of those votes. On April 27, 2010, Milliken issued a major ruling confirming the absolute right of the House to compel the production of documents, and finding that the government’s failure to comply with an order of the House constituted prima facie a question of privilege; the parties were able to work out a solution to this matter.

Milliken had the unique distinction of being the first Speaker to preside over four Parliaments, including three minority Parliaments, one Liberal and two Conservative. As one of the most skilful procedural experts to be Speaker, Milliken was well placed to meet the challenges posed by these circumstances.

Milliken’s undergraduate thesis at Queen’s University was a study of Question Period between 1960 and 1967.

Next Speaker: Hon. Andrew Scheer

Previous Speaker: Hon. Gilbert Parent

Artist: Paul Wyse
Date: 2012

Born: Kingston, Ontario, 1946

Professional Background: Law

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Ministers During Speakership: