Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly was recently elected Deputy Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. In that role she is also the chair of the Committee of the Whole House and will preside over debates in the stead of Speaker Ted Arnott when required. When her name was put forward at the beginning of the current term Skelly shared some of her life experience with members.
Being objective isn’t always easy, but I have to tell you again: I haven’t always been partisan. I spent a great deal of my time as a reporter covering all levels of government, from city hall to provincial government—one of the reasons I got into politics—to federal government. But we had to do it. We had to do it objectively. The story wouldn’t go to air if we showed any form of bias. I had a job to do. I had an opinion, but that opinion could not come through in the work that I was filing.
For members of the opposition who may not think that I can relate to the so-called ordinary working people, my father was a railroad engineer. My mother was one of only four women in an executive role, as a receptionist who worked at a mine in our local community, and I went on to become the leader of our bargaining unit at CHCH in Hamilton. I understood the issues that faced the rank-andfile workers, and I fought to protect their wages and benefits and to improve working conditions, especially for the more vulnerable employees, and I was often clashing with management. I know how to negotiate. I’ve sat at the negotiating table, advocating for members. I was a voice for my colleagues.
I will respect parliamentary traditions, which include the right to be heard. I understand that debate can get very emotional, and I admire my colleagues, who are passionate about the issues that are most important to them, but in my role as Deputy Speaker I will ensure that debate is conducted in a respectful, courteous and civil manner. I will do my best to treat each member fairly. I will listen to each member respectfully and objectively.
Donna Skelly is the second CHCH journalist to serve in the Deputy Speaker role. Ed Doyle, who represented Stoney Creek in the first Harris government also was names to that post.
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