The Ontario legislature voted Monday to elect Brant MPP Dave Levac as speaker on the second ballot.

Levac, first elected in 1999, had been serving as Liberal whip at Queen's Park.

"I accept the challenge humbly, and very proud to say that we are the elected members of Ontario," he told his fellow legislators.  "I'll do my best to work with all of you to keep the dignity and the honour and the trust of this place in your hands. It's your house, it's our house."

However, the bigger news may be who didn't win -- Donna Cansfield, who could have been the first female speaker of Ontario. The Etobicoke Centre Liberal MPP has been an MPP since 2003 and had held cabinet portfolios.

The other candidates were Oakville Liberal MPP Kevin Flynn and Liberal Willowdale MPP David Zimmer.

No opposition MPPs ran, although veteran Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees entered and then exited the race after facing a backlash from his party. Electing an opposition MPP as speaker would have given Premier Dalton McGuinty's government a virtual majority as the speaker traditionally votes with the government in the event of a tied ballot.

Ontario is facing its first minority government scenario since the mid-1980s.

Levac's election leaves the Liberals with 52 MPPs. The Tories have 37 and the NDP have 17.

CTV's Paul Bliss said Levac's fellow MPPs followed the tradition of "dragging" him to the speaker's chair to acknowledge the fact that the English used to execute speakers who displeased the monarch of the day.

Outgoing speaker Steve Peters said English kings and queens ordered the killings of seven or eight speakers.

Being elected speaker brings some perks with it:

  • a salary of $153,000 per year
  • an apartment in Queen's Park
  • the hanging of one's portrait in the legislature

The next order of business at Queen's Park comes Tuesday, when the throne speech will be read out, setting the direction for Premier Dalton McGuinty's government.