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The Honourable
 Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken 

Assumed office 
January 29, 2001
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson
Michaëlle Jean
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Paul Martin
Stephen Harper
Preceded by Gilbert Parent

Assumed office 
1988 federal election
Preceded by Flora MacDonald

Born November 12, 1946 (1946-11-12) (age 63)
Kingston, Ontario
Political party Liberal
Profession Solicitor and barrister, lawyer, politician
Religion United Church of Canada

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken, MP (born November 12, 1946) is a Canadian lawyer and politician. He has been a member of the Canadian House of Commons since 1988, and has served as Speaker of the House since 2001. Milliken represents the Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands as a member of the Liberal Party. As Speaker of the House of Commons, he is entitled to be styled The Honourable while in office. On October 12, 2009, he became the longest serving Speaker of the House of Commons in Canadian history.[1]

Milliken is the cousin of John Matheson, a former Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) best known for his prominent role in adopting the red maple leaf as the Flag of Canada.[2]


Early life and career

Milliken was born in Kingston, Ontario, the eldest of seven children to a physician father,[3] and is a descendant of United Empire Loyalists who left the new United States of America after the American Revolution. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics from Queen's University (1968), a Bachelor of Arts (1970) and Master of Arts (1978) in Jurisprudence from Oxford University in England, and a Bachelor of Laws (1971) degree from Dalhousie University.[4] He was active in student politics, and served a year as speaker of the student government's assembly at Queen's. In 1967-68, he worked as a special assistant to federal cabinet minister George J. McIlraith.[5]

Called to the Ontario Bar in 1973, Milliken was a partner in a prestigious Kingston law firm before entering political life. He also lectured on a part-time basis at the Queen's University School of Business from 1973 to 1981, became a governor of the Kingston General Hospital in 1977, and has been a trustee with the Chalmers United Church.[6] As a consultant, he produced the Milliken Report on the future of Queen's University athletics in the late 1970s. A fan of classical music, he has sung with the Pro Arte Singers and the Chalmers United Church Choir as well as serving on the board of the Kingston Symphony.[7] He also often canoes, taking week long trips in northern Canada.[8] In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Bachelor of Laws degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam.[9] He is an honorary member of the Royal Military College of Canada, and an Honorary Patron of Choirs Ontario.

Milliken has long been active in political matters, having served as president of the Kingston and the Islands provincial Liberal Party Association in the 1980s. He subscribed to the Canadian House of Commons Hansard at age sixteen, and once wrote a thesis paper on Question Period.[10] Unlike most MPs, he was already well-versed in parliamentary procedure at the time of his first election.[11]

Member of Parliament

Milliken won the Kingston and the Islands Liberal nomination in 1988 over local alderman Alex Lampropoulos,[12] and defeated well-known Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Flora MacDonald by 2,712 votes in the 1988 general election. The Progressive Conservatives won the election with a majority government, and in early 1989 Milliken was named as the Liberal Party's critic for electoral reform, associate critic for senior citizens, and whip for eastern and northern Ontario.[13] Shortly thereafter, he was named to the parliamentary standing committee on elections, privileges, procedures and private members' business.[14] He supported Jean Chrétien for the federal Liberal leadership in 1990.[15]

He was easily re-elected in the 1993 election, as the Liberal Party won a majority government, and was named to a two-year term as parliamentary secretary to the Government House Leader in December 1993. He also became chair of the Commons procedure and House affairs committee.[16] Milliken was a leading candidate for Speaker of the House in January 1994, but lost to Gilbert Parent.

Milliken supported fellow Kingstonian John Gerretsen for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1996 and moved to the camp of the eventual winner, Dalton McGuinty, after Gerretsen was eliminated on the second ballot.[17] In the same year, Milliken and fellow Liberal MP John Godfrey introduced the Godfrey-Milliken Bill as a satirical response to the American Helms-Burton Act.[18] The Bill, which would have allowed the descendants of United Empire Loyalists to claim compensation for land seized in the American Revolution, was drafted in response to provisions in the Helms-Burton Act which sought to punish Canadian companies for using land nationalised by Fidel Castro's government in Cuba.[19] Godfrey and Milliken gave a twenty-minute presentation on their bill in Washington, D.C. in early 1997, and were greeted with warm applause from local Helms-Burton opponents.[20]

Milliken was re-elected for a third term in 1997 election, and became Deputy Speaker of the House for the parliament that followed.[21]

Speaker of the House

Milliken (left) along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as US President Barack Obama signs the Parliament guest book on February 19, 2009

Milliken was elected Speaker of the House in late January 2001, after five ballots of a secret vote of all MPs held at the first sitting of parliament following the 2000 federal election.[22] He was widely praised by government and opposition MPs for his rulings, which were considered very fair.[23] He also brought new life to the chair in delivering his rulings and remarks with a sarcastic humour. Elected for his fifth term in 2004, he was the unanimous choice of MPs to be re-elected Speaker for the next parliament.[24]

In 2005, Milliken prevented an early federal election by breaking a tie vote on the second reading of Bill C-48, an amendment to the 2005 federal budget, which was a confidence motion. The vote was 152 in favour and 152 against prior to his vote, and he voted in favour of the bill. The Speaker does not vote except in the case of a tie, and must vote in such a way as to keep the matter open for further consideration if possible (ie. passing C-48 to allow further debate for a third reading). This was the first time that a Speaker used his tie-breaker vote on a confidence motion.[25]

Milliken won his riding for a sixth time in the 2006 election, as the Conservative Party won a minority government nationally. Though his party is no longer in government, he was re-elected as Speaker of the House for the 39th Parliament on April 3, 2006, defeating fellow Liberals Diane Marleau and Marcel Proulx on the first ballot.[26] With his re-election, he became only the second Speaker chosen from an opposition party in the history of the House of Commons (James Jerome being the other).[27]

In February 2007, Milliken rejected the Conservative government's challenge of an opposition bill that commits the government to implement the Kyoto Accord. The government argued that the bill introduced new spending, and could not be introduced by someone who was not a minister. Milliken ruled that the bill did not specifically commit the government to any new spending, and was therefore in order. The bill was approved by the house, despite government opposition.[28]

Milliken was re-elected for a seventh term in the 2008 federal election. On November 18, after five ballots, he was elected for the fourth time as Speaker. On October 12, 2009, he became the longest serving Canadian House of Commons speaker in history.[29]

As Speaker, Milliken only votes in order to break a tie. Speakers of the House of Commons have only needed to vote eleven times in Canadian parliamentary history. Milliken has done so on six occasions, more than any previous Speaker.[1]

Tables of offices held

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Flora MacDonald
Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands
Succeeded by

External links

Electoral record

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Liberal Peter Milliken 22,732 39.1%
     Conservative Brian Abrams 18,887 32.5%
     New Democrat Rick Downes 10,151 17.5%
     Green Eric Walton 6,382 11.0%
Total valid votes 58,152
Total rejected ballots
Turnout 61.9%
2006 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Liberal (x)Peter Milliken 28,548 45.86 $51,250.50
     Conservative Lou Grimshaw 16,230 26.07 $60,915.12
     New Democratic Party Rob Hutchison 11,946 19.19 $28,094.39
     Green Eric Walton 5,006 8.04 $18,532.43
     Independent Karl Eric Walker 296 0.48
     Canadian Action Party Don Rogers 222 0.36 $6,359.50
Total valid votes 62,248 100.00
Total rejected ballots 240
Turnout 62,488 65.97
Electors on the lists 94,720
2004 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Liberal (x)Peter Milliken 28,544 52.45 $45,543.70
     Conservative Blair MacLean 12,582 23.12 $83,209.34
     New Democratic Party Rob Hutchison 8,964 16.47 $18,440.27
     Green Janina Fisher Balfour 3,339 6.13 $14,087.39
     Christian Heritage Terry Marshall 481 0.88 $1,652.04
     Independent Rosie The Clown Elston 237 0.44 $134.54
     Canadian Action Party Don Rogers 179 0.33 $6,285.00
     Independent Karl Eric Walker 100 0.18 $670.21
Total valid votes 54,426 100.00
Total rejected ballots 175
Turnout 54,601 60.32
Electors on the lists 90,523
2000 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Liberal (x)Peter Milliken 26,457 51.69 $38,161.64
     Progressive Conservative Blair MacLean 9,222 18.02 $58,975.69
     Canadian Alliance Kevin Goligher 7,904 15.44 $28,534.05
     New Democratic Party Gary Wilson 4,951 9.67 $27,262.77
     Green Chris Milburn 2,652 5.18 $4,200.19
Total valid votes 51,186 100.00
Total rejected ballots 203
Turnout 51,389 58.53
Electors on the lists 87,793
1997 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Liberal (x)Peter Milliken 25,632 49.51 $39,224
     Progressive Conservative Helen Cooper 11,296 21.82 $44,719
     Reform Dave Clarke 6,761 13.06 $33,384
     New Democratic Party Gary Wilson 6,433 12.42 $28,694
     Green Chris Walker 902 1.74 $1,748
     Christian Heritage Terry Marshall 751 1.45 $127
Total valid votes 51,775 100.00
Total rejected ballots 239
Turnout 52,014 62.77
Electors on the lists 82,869
1993 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Liberal (x)Peter Milliken 32,372 56.46 $45,912
     Progressive Conservative Barry Gordon 10,935 19.07 $54,157
     Reform Sean McAdam 7,175 12.51 $32,259
     New Democratic Party Mary Ann Higgs 4,051 7.06 $22,979
     National Chris Papadopoulos 1,768 3.08 $8,171
     Christian Heritage Terry Marshall 663 1.16 $1,442
     Natural Law Chris Wilson 376 0.66 $0
Total valid votes 57,340 100.00
Total rejected ballots 369
Turnout 57,709 60.65
Electors on the lists 95,154
1988 federal election : Kingston and the Islands edit
Party Candidate Votes %
     Liberal Peter Milliken 23,121 40.62
     Progressive Conservative (x)Flora MacDonald 20,409 35.86
     New Democratic Party Len Johnson 11,442 20.10
     Christian Heritage Terry Marshall 1,646 2.89
     Libertarian John Hayes 301 0.53
Total valid votes 56,919 100.00
Total rejected ballots 269
Turnout 57,188 74.26
Electors on the lists 77,014

All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada. Italicized expenditures from elections after 1997 refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available. Expenditures from 1997 refer to submitted totals.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Jennifer Ditchburn, "Peter Milliken fascinated by Commons workings from an early age", Canadian Press, 29 January 2001, 18:04 report.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Peter Milliken biographical sketch, "Canada votes 2006", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  5. ^ Judi McLeod, "Gentleman Politician", Kingston Whig-Standard, 5 August 1988, p. 1.
  6. ^ Lynn Messerschmidt, "Longtime Liberal challenges city councillor for nomination", Kingston Whig-Standard, 9 March 1988, p. 1.
  7. ^ Anne Kershaw, "Peter Milliken: Liberal Party", Kingston Whig-Standard, 19 November 1988, p. 1.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Peter Milliken, Commencement Address to the State University of New York at Potsdam, 20 May 2001.
  10. ^ Jeffrey Simpson, "Speaking of politics: a race too close to call", Globe and Mail, 10 January 2001, A15.
  11. ^ Stevie Cameron, "Time will tell whether promising neophytes produce a good show", Globe and Mail, 24 November 1988, A2.
  12. ^ Carol Goar, "The first time Bill MacAleer ...", Toronto Star, 26 May 1988.
  13. ^ Bill Hutchison, "Milliken appointed to shadow cabinet", Kingston Whig-Standard, 7 February 1989, p. 1.
  14. ^ "Milliken appointed to special Commons committee", Kingston Whig-Standard, 18 April 1989, p. 1.
  15. ^ Geoff Pounsett, "Missing Meech deadline won't kill Canada: Chrétien", Kingston Whig-Standard, 28 May 1990, p. 2.
  16. ^ Hugh Winsor, "Chrétien grooms rookies", Globe and Mail, 7 December 1993, A1; "MPs may try to halt change in ridings", Hamilton Spectator, 15 March 1994, C9.
  17. ^ Murray Hogben, "Local delegates had plenty of decisions to make", Kingston-Whig Standard, 2 December 1996.
  18. ^ "Beware the wrath of the Loyalists", Financial Post, 25 July 1996, p. 12 and Allan Fotheringham, "Ridicule is the best policy when taking on Helms-Burton", Financial Post, 27 July 1996, p. 17.
  19. ^ "MPs mock Helms-Burton at Congress", Globe and Mail, 12 February 1997, N10.
  20. ^ Kathleen Kenna, "U.S. crowd applauds MPs' jabs at Cuba law", Toronto Star, 12 February 1997, A16.
  21. ^ "PM makes Reform MP a deputy Speaker", Globe and Mail, 24 September 1997, A4.
  22. ^ Broadcast News, 29 January 2001, 16:34 report.
  23. ^ Graham Fraser, "It's High Noon and he's the marshal", Toronto Star, 9 June 2001, NR04.
  24. ^ "Peter Milliken is the unanimous choice of M-P's to be speaker of the House of Commons", Broadcast News, 4 October 2004, 11:07 report.
  25. ^ John Ward, "Speaker's tie-breaking vote to save the minority government was a first", Canadian Press, 19 May 2005, 17:54 report.
  26. ^ Brock Harrison, "Speaker's job still available", Kingston Whig-Standard, 7 February 2006, p. 1.
  27. ^ There was also an "opposition speaker" in the 1926, although the circumstances were much different. Rodolphe Lemieux, a Liberal, was chosen as speaker during the Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, and continued to serve in that capacity after King's government was defeated and a new ministry formed by Arthur Meighen of the Conservative Party.
  28. ^ Allan Woods, "Honour Kyoto, House tells PM", Toronto Star, 15 February 2007, A1.
  29. ^ John Ward, "Commons Speaker marks milestone", The Canadian Press, 12 October 2009.


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