12/09/2015 05:44 EST | Updated 12/09/2016 05:12 EST

Mauril Belanger, Veteran Liberal MP, Named Honorary House Speaker

The veteran Liberal MP dropped out of the Speaker race after he was diagnosed with ALS.

OTTAWA — A motion to make Ottawa-area Liberal MP Mauril Belanger an honorary occupant of the Speaker's chair for a day has been greeted by a thunderous standing ovation in the House of Commons.

Belanger dropped out of the running for Speaker last week after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Belanger had been experiencing difficulties speaking during the final weeks of the federal election campaign — difficulties that were painfully obvious when he rose in the Commons to ask a question earlier this week.

After the motion was read by Liberal MP Andrew Leslie, MPs from all sides of the House rose to their feet and showered Belanger with applause for several minutes.

Speaker Geoff Regan took that as a sign no one would oppose the motion, and no one did.

Belanger, who represents the riding of Ottawa Vanier, disclosed his condition in a letter to colleagues last week.  

The disease, also known as ALS, became known as Lou Gehrig's disease after it claimed the life of the legendary New York Yankees first baseman in 1941.

Belanger, who had been considered a top contender for the role of Speaker, was first elected as an MP in a 1995 byelection and has held his seat ever since.

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