Playing it safe, Ontario MPPs have elected veteran Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Arnott as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Arnott, a 28-year member who represents Wellington-Halton Hills, edged maverick Tory MPP Randy Hillier for the right to referee the sometimes raucous proceedings in the House.
“I want to thank all of you for your support as I undertake this new responsibility,” said the new Speaker, who succeeds former Liberal MPP Dave Levac, who did run in the June 7 election that brought Premier Doug Ford’s Conservatives to power after almost 15 years in opposition.
The former deputy speaker bested three other Tory MPPs for the important post, which comes with a $152,914 salary — a $36,364 boost in members’ base pay — and a spacious third-floor apartment in the Legislature.
It was decided by a secret ballot.
Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, returning to Queen’s Park after a four-year hiatus, had hoped to make to make history as the first woman to become Speaker.
McKenna was elected in 2011 and then defeated in 2014 before returning after June 7.
Also in the running were maverick MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston) and MPP Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent-Leamington).
The Legislature will continue Thursday with a speech from the throne read by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell outlining the new Tory government’s agenda.
Government House Leader Todd Smith said the administration’s first three priorities are legislating an end to the strike at York University, repealing the cap-and-trade law governing Ontario’s environmental alliance with Quebec and California, and cancelling a controversial wind farm in Prince Edward County.
Wednesday also marked Ford’s first day in the House. He is the rookie MPP for Etobicoke North.
Conspicuously absent was former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, who represents Don Valley West.