CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy is elected President of the National Assembly

Jocelyne Richer, The Canadian Press

QUEBEC — The CAQ member for Montarville, Nathalie Roy, became the new president of the National Assembly on Tuesday, succeeding François Paradis, who left politics in October.

In all of Quebec’s history, this is only the second time that a woman has held the prestigious position. Before her, the PQ Louise Harel had paved the way, but very briefly, from 2002 to 2003.

His election, which was an open secret, was confirmed Tuesday at the start of the new parliamentary session of the 43rd legislature of Quebec.

Visibly very moved, she ascended the throne of the presidency, emphasizing this “very great honor” which was done to her. She said she wanted to carry out her duties « with the utmost seriousness », showing herself open to possible reforms. Ms. Roy promised to act with all elected officials in a “fair, balanced and equitable” manner.

During the first mandate of the Legault government, Ms. Roy was Minister of Culture and Communications. She had also been briefly responsible for promoting the French language during the first year of her mandate. When forming his cabinet last October, Prime Minister François Legault chose not to entrust him with ministerial responsibilities.

Aged 58, Ms. Roy, who is in her fourth term, is a lawyer by training and had mainly worked as a journalist on television, before entering politics in 2012 under the banner of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ ). She is therefore part of the first cohort of deputies of the party formed in 2011 by Mr. Legault.

In her duties as 47th President of the National Assembly, she will be assisted by the CAQ member for Saint-Hyacinthe, Chantal Soucy, who will go from second to first vice-president, the CAQ member for Chauveau, Sylvain Lévesque, in the post second vice-president, and the Liberal MNA for Viau, Frantz Benjamin, who will occupy the position of third vice-president. This last position goes to the official opposition, in this case the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ).

Officially, the deputy called to the presidency is chosen by his peers, following an election. In fact, it is the Prime Minister’s choice. No other candidate being in the running, Ms. Roy was therefore elected without opposition. Two other MNAs had shown interest in the position, Chantal Soucy and Sylvie D’Amours (Mirabel), but they withdrew when the Prime Minister indicated his preference for Ms. Roy.

Even if the president comes from the party in power, she must have the confidence of the elected representatives of the various parliamentary groups to exercise her functions without seeing her decisions constantly challenged. His position involves a duty of neutrality and impartiality, ensuring that each deputy has a place in parliament and can make his voice heard. During the first CAQ mandate, Ms. Roy had the reputation of sometimes yielding to partisanship, a flaw that would be very frowned upon from now on.

Its role will essentially consist of ensuring the proper functioning of parliamentary debates and business, particularly during question period, applying the rules, managing the services provided to parliamentarians and, on occasion, representing the National Assembly to other parliaments at ‘foreign.

On a day-to-day basis, it will at all times have to play the role of arbitrator, in order to settle the disputes which will inevitably arise between elected members of the government and the opposition.

Maintaining the decorum specific to the institution, an often thankless and delicate task, will also be under his responsibility. We will no doubt see quickly if she has the necessary authority to bring order to the Blue Room, when the debates between elected officials on both sides of the House get out of hand and turn into a rat race.

From now on, always for the sake of impartiality and neutrality, and even if she is a CAQ member, Ms. Roy no longer has the right to attend CAQ caucuses.

The spokesperson for Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, reacted to her appointment on Tuesday by saying that she hoped that Ms. Roy would be “unifying, that she would rise above the fray”.

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