dmonton Mill-Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky is dragged to the throne by Premier Alison Redford, left, and Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith after he was elected as the Speaker of the house in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. It is traditional to show hesitation when taking the throne as, historically, some speakers have been beheaded for displeasing reigning royalty.
Credits: AMBER BRACKEN/QMI AGENCY
"I am a carded official with Hockey Alberta, so I can't resist saying that being a referee that has helped prepare me for this role," he said after being dragged in faux reluctance to the Speaker's throne by Alberta Premier Alison Redford and official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith.
It's a tradition as old as the parliamentary process itself, Zwozdesky said, eyes a-twinkle under the brim of his newly-donned traditional tri-cornered hat.
"The tradition of reluctance goes back a long way to when certain Speakers made some unpopular decisions that did not curry favour with the king or queen of the day. To my great surprise reading about it, they were all beheaded, so there's been a reluctance ever since to take the chair," he said.
"I'm not worried about getting beheaded before Monday, no."
As he got the "thumbs-up" from passing Transportation Minister Ric McIver, Zwozdesky told reporters legislators come in "loaded for action (to) get their points across whatever way they want."
He said he intends to manage the floor to promote respect, civility and demeanour/decorum.
Pre-election behaviour on the legislature floor got a bit rowdy on occasion, prompting a strongly-worded letter of complaint about what public viewing the proceedings were witness too when things got a bit raucous among the caucuses.
Zwozdesky said he intends to see a new civility come into play.
"I think the members know I'll be as fair as possible -- I'll be as firm as I need to be ... But at the end of the day, we should all do all we can to help improve the (tone) of this house, so we start getting more letters of congratulations on the behaviour in the house, for example ... Obedience to the rules of the house, whatever it takes," he said.
While others ran, the Progressive Conservative backbencher and former cabinet minister from Edmonton-Mill Creek was the sole nominee from the Tory caucus. Nominated by MLA Dave Quest, he walked in the processional with Redford. Leduc Tory MLA George Rogers was named deputy speaker and chair of committees, and Mary Anne Jablonski was named deputy chair of committees.
Shut out was Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman, a 15-year veteran of the legislature and MLA for Edmonton-Centre, whose name was in the hat for Speaker and deputy Speaker.
Speaking after the session's opening, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk said if the fix was in as Tory members fill all three posts, it was a fix with the Albertans who elected a Tory majority.
"Albertans have elected a government into this chamber and members of this chamber have chosen to vote one way or another," he said. "We ended up with a very highly qualified Speaker. Mr. Zwozdesky is second to none in the chamber," he said.
Lukaszuk said the new team, elected by secret ballot, represent experience and diversity.