POLITICS

Mauril Bélanger, Liberal MP, May Withdraw Bid To Be House Speaker Due To Voice Loss

11/23/2015 09:15 EST | Updated 11/23/2015 11:59 EST
CP

OTTAWA — Veteran Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger says he may pull out of the race to be speaker of the House of Commons if his mysterious voice loss doesn’t recover in the next nine days.

Speaking to The Huffington Post Canada on Monday, Bélanger said he started losing his voice in the last month of the election campaign, and his physician has been unable to determine the cause.

He has had several tests done, a CT scan and two MRIs for the neck and head, and all three have been deemed normal, he said. “There is no stroke, no cancer, no tumour,” he told HuffPost.

It doesn’t hurt him to speak, his throat isn’t irritated, he said, his voice weak and wispy. He finds it frustrating, but he doesn’t feel ill.

Bélanger said he hopes his voice will return after a bit of rest, but he still has a series of medical tests scheduled later this week.

For the first time, since his first election in 1995, the MP for Ottawa–Vanier said he felt he faced a tough fight in his riding against an impressive candidate, NDP opponent Emilie Taman.

“We won all the polls, [but] we weren’t expecting it,” he said during an interview in his office Monday.

“The reasons for the weakening of my voice and for not recovering it to date are still a mystery."

Bélanger and his team opened their campaign office on July 2 and after that, he said, he spent 11 to 15 hours a day talking nonstop to people.

“Blah blah blah blah… all the time,” he said.

Perhaps his vocal chords are irritated. Perhaps it is something more. One individual campaigning for one of his rivals for the post suggested that Bélanger is a very sick man who wouldn’t be able to fulfil his four-year term as speaker if he were elected.

Perhaps that is what prompted the Liberal MP to write to all his colleagues Monday expressing to them why he hadn't called them personally to lobby for their vote and to give them an update on his situation. Bélanger wouldn’t say.

“The reasons for the weakening of my voice and for not recovering it to date are still a mystery,” he wrote in an email to all MPs. “If I do not recover my out-loud voice, and out of respect for my colleagues, I will pull out of the race before 6 pm, December 2, 2015.”

Bélanger is among a handful of Liberal MPs vying for the role of Speaker. The job involves administering the House of Commons, presiding over Question Period and entertaining out-of-town diplomatic guests. It comes with an apartment on Parliament Hill, a historic farmhouse in the Gatineau Hills, a car and driver, and an $80,100 salary increase.

So far Liberals Geoff Regan, Denis Paradis, Yasmin Ratansi and Conservative MP Bruce Stanton have declared their interest in the job. MPs will decide Dec. 3 in a secret preferential ballot.

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