Posted by Vi Hughes on Mar 05, 2020
This week we heard from the Honorable Nathan Cooper, the UCP MLA for Olds, Didsbury, Three Hills and the fourteenth Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Nathan told us that he is a former Rotary Exchange student and that he still feels the impact that the people he met during that year made on him.
He was first elected to the Legislature in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019.
He said that as speaker he is responsible for the five hundred employees of the legislative office. He is also responsible for ensuring that the rules for the assembly are applied equally and that every member has the resources they need to do their job.  He said that he thinks that people are losing faith in their democratic institutions because they don’t know what goes on behind those doors. He thinks that educating the public about the processes of the legislature, such as the role of the speaker, will help to restore their faith.
The role of the speaker is to be a non-partisan arbiter, calling out people for offensive language and defending the rights to free speech and assembly. It also includes enduring filibusters that are long on speeches and short on bathroom breaks. He then went on to talk a little about the history of the role of the speaker in our British system. He said that originally the speaker was responsible for relaying the wishes of the monarch to Parliament, and that quite a few speakers in the past were executed by Parliament for just doing their jobs. We still see a little of this history when the speaker is preceded by the mace, the symbol of the monarch, when they enter the assembly each day.
In closing he said that our provincial motto, Fortis et Libre, (Strong and Free) captures the spirit of our province by stating that we want to remain strong and free. He hopes that in his role as speaker he helps to ensure this.