New Yukon Speaker
On January 12, 2017, the 34th Yukon Legislative Assembly convened for the first time since the November 7, 2016 general election. The first order of business on the one-day Special Sitting was the election of a Speaker. On motion of Premier Sandy Silver, seconded by Leader of the Official Opposition Stacey Hassard and Third Party House Leader Kate White, the Assembly elected Nils Clarke, the Member for Riverdale North, as its Speaker. Mr. Clarke was the sole nominee for the role.
The Premier had announced his intention to nominate Mr. Clarke on December 3, 2016 at the swearing-in ceremony for Cabinet.
In a December 6, 2016 news release, the Premier stated, "I am certain that [Nils Clarke's] vast experiences have prepared him to maintain the civility and order of the assembly. I am confident Nils will carry out this critical role with the diplomacy and good will needed in the assembly.... good ideas can come from all sides and I am counting on Mr. Clarke to create a positive and dynamic environment in the assembly to support all MLAs to the job Yukoners sent us to do." Mr. Clarke noted that he was honoured by the nomination and "look[ed] forward to helping to ensure that the work of the entire legislative assembly can proceed with civility and efficiency for the benefit of all Yukon citizens."
In his address to the Assembly upon his election as Speaker, Mr. Clarke spoke of "the importance of the Speaker's role in ensuring the business of the Legislature is conducted in an independent, fair and respectful manner." He added, "To that end, it is the Speaker's duty to be impartial and to treat all members equally and without favour. This high standard must be met in order to maintain the confidence and respect of the Legislature, and I commit today to make my best efforts to do so."
Mr. Clarke succeeds former Speaker Patti McLeod, who was re-elected as the MLA for Watson Lake in November, and now sits in the Assembly as a member of the Official Opposition.
In the 24 years preceding Mr. Clarke's election as an MLA in November, he practiced law in Yukon and since 2000 he has served as the Executive Director of the Yukon Legal Services Society. Mr. Clarke has represented clients from all Yukon communities, and at all levels of Yukon Courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.
Deputy Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly
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