Deputy Speaker quits rather than be Tory 'puppet'

"Ending poverty, especially among children, is far more important than ruling on points of order and ensuring repugnant government legislation is passed," Martin said in a release. Martin, who did not quit his seat, said he refused to be an "unwilling accomplice" of the Tory government as it waged what it called its war on the poor.

The Record
December 20, 2000

Deputy Speaker quits rather than be Tory 'puppet'
James Stevenson

QUEEN'S PARK — The deputy Speaker of Ontario's legislature unexpectedly resigned yesterday, saying he would rather devote his time to alleviating poverty than be "a puppet" for the Conservative government.

Tony Martin, one of only nine New Democrats in the legislature, solemnly announced his decision as rapt members of the legislature stood by.

"Ending poverty, especially among children, is far more important than ruling on points of order and ensuring repugnant government legislation is passed," Martin said in a release.

Martin, who did not quit his seat, said he refused to be an "unwilling accomplice" of the Tory government as it waged what it called its war on the poor.

"I find it in my own personal conscience that I can no longer serve as deputy Speaker in this place, and so will be laying my robe on the chair."

Then he did just that, walking out while ignoring demands to be heard on a point of order from Chris Stockwell, a former speaker who is now Ontario's labour minister.

Opposition members stood and applauded as Martin left.

The deputy Speaker's resignation came as nearly 300 anti-poverty demonstrators and labour and student activists chanted and marched outside the legislature.

Martin said outside he felt staying in the deputy Speakers' chair was giving credibility and legitimacy to the government's policies.

"I came to the conclusion I would have to step down so that I could spend more time working on those issues that troubled me most."

Stockwell was livid over what he called "public stunts from the chair," and carried on a shouting match in the halls with opposition members.

"He may have great disagreement with the government, and the time allocation motions may be a concern," Stockwell told reporters.

"But if we had been reduced to Speakers performing cheap theatrical stunts for the media, in a legislative assembly dedicated to democracy, then this is a sad, sad day."


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