Only 14 Albertans have had the privilege of becoming the Alberta legislative speaker with Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper now being one of them.
At the swearing-in ceremony on May 21, Cooper was determined as the speaker, being the youngest since 1936 by his fellow MLAs.
Cooper was first elected as an MLA on May 5, 2015 and again on April 16, 2019 representing the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills constituency.
He has served on several committees of the Legislative Assembly since he was first elected.
He is an active community member and is also the proud father of three.
“It was obviously a huge honour to be selected by my peers to represent all members in this role,” said Cooper. “I consider it a huge honour.”
The Speaker’s role is to maintain orderly debate in the Chamber and to ensure that members conduct their business according to the Standing Orders of the Assembly.
In essence, Cooper’s new role is to ensure that members have the necessary tools and resources to fulfil their roles as representatives of the people of Alberta.
“There are a number of tools that speakers can use to maintain decorum,” he continued. “I found over my tenure as an MLA that there’s two ways to accomplish this around the legislature. One is with honey and one is with vinegar. I find that I try to use honey first where I can inject some humour and levity in the chamber. I hope to be able to do that but at the end of the day, you also need to be firm.”
The 39-year-old mentioned his grandmother as an inspiration to him during his success.
She grew up in a remote area of Newfoundland where “she had to walk across ice blocks to get to school” and was a nurses aid by the time she was 13-years-old.
“She’s just so brave and courageous and fought against all sorts of odds as she was a young girl. She is a large inspiration to me in that she has always been so generous and kind and willing to help every person necessary and really provide care and support to so many out of a situation that wasn’t ideal,” he said.
Despite his new role, Cooper is still determined to connect with residents of his riding.
“My responsibility is always, of course, the constituents of Olds- Didsbury-Three Hills and I want to make sure that I keep that a priority and maintain a strong relationship with my constituency. I will be in Edmonton a little bit more than I have been in the past,” said Cooper.