Speakers of The Legislative Assembly of
The Province Of New Brunswick 1786-1985, Legislative Assembly, Fredericton, New
Brunswick, 1985, 72 p.
The forward to this compendium of
biographies quotes an extract from the New Brunswick Journal of Debates
(February 16, 1939) referring to a statement by former Speaker F.C. Squires
describing what this function involved: "The Speaker, more than any other
member of the House, represents the will of the people of the country. He is
the barrier which any subversive attack on democratic institutions must break.
He is the First commoner. The power placed in his hands by the House is great.
Without his consent, even the Representative of the King cannot enter this
chamber. He represents in no small way the supreme will of the people... His
decisions cannot be questioned except by a vote of the House. He maintains
decorum in debate and sees to it that each representative of the people has the
exercise of freedom of speech within the Rules of the House".
Unfortunately, most of these biographies
provide very little information on the careers of the men who held the position
of Speaker in New Brunswick. The Honourable Amos Botsford, the first Speaker
occupied the position for twenty-six consecutive years, from January 3, 1786 to
March 7, 1812. His son, William, and grandson, Bliss Botsford, succeeded him.
But their careers as Speakers remain largely unexplored.
As regards James Edward Lynott, the book
quotes from an editorial in The Gleaner of January 8, 1890 which indicated
that, as Speaker of the House, he acted with courtesy and impartiality, and his
decisions were never questioned. No events illustrating this statement and no
highlights of his career are reported. The same is true with regard to the
Honourable George Johnson Clarke. A quotation taken from The Cleaner of
February 27, 1917 indicates that he fulfilled his role with dignity and won the
confidence and respect of members from both sides of the House.
One career which seems to have been rather
extraordinary was that of Frederick Charles Squires. Appointed Deputy Speaker
of the House during the 1926 session he became Speaker on February 12, 1931, a
position he retained until April 4, 1935. On March 5, 1936, he was chosen as
parliamentary leader of the opposition and later became head of the
Conservative Party. In 1953 he was appointed Clerk of the New Brunswick
Legislative Assembly and Law Clerk. He performed these roles until 1959. The
Telegraph Journal of December 17, 1960 described him as having acquired a
reputation as a first-class expert on parliamentary procedure in New Brunswick.
This book is not intended for those
interested in the evolution of parliamentary procedure in New Brunswick or
Canada as a whole. It does not provide a comprehensive description of the
mandates and responsibilities of those who occupied the position of Speaker. It
is, however, a very useful reference tool for those who want more information
on the major stages in the fives of these politicians. More information would
be required concerning their duties and the events which distinguished their
careers as Speakers in order to bring these individuals to life. It could then
prove to be a most valuable tool for those working in the field of
Suzanne Verville, Table Research Branch, House of Commons Ottawa