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Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Liberal member of Parliament who was vying for the Speaker's chair has dropped out of the race following comments he made at a town hall meeting in his Winnipeg riding.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette told constituents at the event on Saturday that former Speakers told him the job allows for "great influence" with the prime minister.

Ouellette said they told him that if Speakers have an issue in their ridings which require funding or action, they can call the prime minister to their chair.

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He also said Speakers have influence because they control debate, and prime ministers want to keep them happy.

In a statement Sunday, Falcon says he's withdrawing his name from consideration as Speaker and regrets any impression he gave of the job during the meeting.

Ouellette says he never intended to imply anything other than that the Speaker can still bring constituents' concerns to the attention of the government.

"I deeply regret any impression I gave of the Speaker's role," Ouellette said in the statement.

"I must take responsibility for the clumsiness in the way I expressed myself."

Electing a new Speaker is the first order of business when Parliament returns on Thursday.

The contenders include veteran MPs, including Liberals Geoff Regan, Denis Paradis, Yasmin Ratansi, Mauril Belanger and Scott Simms and Conservative Bruce Stanton.

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