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The Speakers of the Canadian House of Commons


Timothy Warren Anglin
(1874-1877; 1878)

Timothy Anglin is the only Speaker both to have lost his seat in the House of Commons because of corrupt practices and then to be re-elected in the same Parliament. Before he was elected as an MP in the first post-Confederation Parliament, he had firmly opposed Confederation. By the end of his political life he had come to be respected for his strength of will, diligence and talents as a journalist and propagandist.

Anglin’s career in New Brunswick before 1867 included election to the colony’s House of Assembly and a year as a member of the Executive Council. He had founded his own newspaper, the Freeman, in 1849, and it would remain his public mouthpiece for more than three decades. His main cause was the progress of Irish Roman Catholics, first in New Brunswick and then throughout the new Dominion of Canada.

Anglin ran for the federal House as an Independent in 1867, but by the time of the general election in 1872 he had affiliated himself with the Leader of the Opposition, Alexander Mackenzie, and his Liberal party. When Sir John A. Macdonald’s Conservative government fell in November 1873, Mackenzie did not include Anglin in his Cabinet. Instead he nominated him as Speaker four months later when Parliament reconvened.

Anglin had an unsettling practice of intervening in debate in the House. Opposition members were also concerned that the Speaker continued to own and actively edit the strongly partisan Freeman. That concern was reinforced by a member of Mackenzie’s own Cabinet, who reported that the newspaper had received untendered government printing contracts contrary to the Independence of Parliament Act. The Committee on Privileges and Elections eventually reported that the Speaker had indeed violated the statute. Anglin resigned his seat in June 1877, but won it back in July 1877. He was also re-elected as Speaker in February 1878, but with the support of only two-thirds of the members (116 to 53): this was the first time in the House that a vote to elect the Speaker was not unanimous. Macdonald’s Conservatives won the ensuing September general election, and Anglin was once more on the backbenches. He was defeated in his bid for re-election in 1882, and failed in a later attempt to make a political comeback.

Anglin’s Freeman newspaper — an important voice for the Roman Catholic community — influenced New Brunswick politics for nearly 30 years.

Next Speaker: Joseph-Godric Blanchet

Previous Speaker: James Cockburn

Artist: John Colin Forbes
Date: 1878

Born: Clonakilty, Ireland, 1822

Died: Toronto, Ontario, 1896

Professional Background: Journalism

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: