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The Speakers of the Canadian House of Commons


Hon. John William Bosley
P.C., B.A. (1984–1986)

Nominated by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1984, John Bosley, at 37, was the second-youngest Speaker in Canadian history. He was chosen, some observers suggested, because he was both fluently bilingual and had gathered appropriate experience during his previous five years as a Progressive Conservative MP.

Among Bosley’s important rulings from the Chair were several concerning changes to the Standing Orders dating from 1982, and to new 1986 procedures adopted by the House, based on recommendations of the Special Committee on Reform of the House (the McGrath Committee).

Some personal and overly critical comments had been directed at him fairly early in his tenure by both opposition and government members. Although Bosley was a patient man, members increasingly allowed the decorum of the House to suffer. As a result he was hard-pressed to check irrelevant comments and repetitive debate. In 1985 Bosley had to eject a Liberal MP from the House for yelling at him and refusing to recognize his authority.

With new House standing orders in place in 1986, the Speaker had clear authority to require shorter and more relevant questions during Question Period, a procedure that actually benefited MPs because more could participate. On the first day the new procedures went into effect, the Speaker made a statement to members explaining the current and new provisions, with a comment on the effect of television in the Chamber. That same day he had to expel a New Democratic Party MP for refusing to withdraw an accusation of lying directed at a government minister.

Quite unexpectedly, Bosley resigned the Speakership in September 1986, after less than two years in the Chair. There was media speculation that he had been forced out. In his letter of resignation to the three party leaders, however, Bosley made it clear that he was leaving because the House was suffering from “a crisis of our own making”: “indiscipline” and the “resulting erosion of public respect for Parliament.”

Before his resignation took effect, he presided over the MPs’ first election of a new Speaker by secret ballot. Nine months after Bosley’s resignation, Prime Minister Mulroney nominated him as a member of the Privy Council for Canada. He remained in the House as a government MP — unsuccessfully running for re-election by MPs as Speaker in 1988 — until he was defeated in the general election of 1993.

Bosley was the last Speaker to be nominated by the Prime Minister; all his successors have been elected by secret ballot.

Next Speaker: Hon. John Allen Fraser

Previous Speaker: Hon. Cyril Lloyd Francis

Artist: Shirley Van Dusen
Date: 1993

Born: Toronto, Ontario, 1947

Professional Background: Business

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: