Each year the Canadian Parliamentary Review
publishes one or more articles on the parliamentary tradition of the province
or territory hosting the Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association. In 1982 the Conference takes place, for the first time, in the
Northwest Territories. Parliamentary government in the north may not be as
developed as in the south, but northern legislators are necessarily close to
certain basic tenets of parliamentary democracy. One such feature is the
representation of minorities.
The article by Donna Laing describes the
establishment of the Northwest Territories Interpretation Corps. The advent of
simultaneous English-Inuktitut interpretation in the Legislative Assembly is a
significant political and cultural achievement for the Inuit. Not only can
unilingual members now listen to and participate in debate in their own
language, but the infrastructure and expertise required to establish the
service will serve as a catalyst to stimulate interest in Inuit culture and
language among the population at large. Parliamentary democracy can be judged
by how well it organizes reasoned debate among the various cultures and
economic interests which make up a society. Translation and special support
services help to foster such debate.
Interest in reform is another measure of
parliamentary democracy. A recent study of this subject. was prepared by a
member of the Quebec National Assembly, Denis Vaugeois. In this issue we are
publishing both an extract from his report as well as a summary of the report
Serious parliamentary debate cannot take
place without an official written record of the proceedings. Over the years the
reporting of debates has undergone many technical and philosophical changes.
The article by Peter Brannan on the development of Ontario's Hansard
illustrates some of the issues involved. For future issues we hope to publish
similar articles on the way other provinces report their debates.
Finally the story of the restoration of
Province House, Prince Edward Island, illustrates the importance of tradition.
Without certain traditions, such as respect for the rules (both written and
unwritten) and the concept of fair play, Parliament either ceases to function
or loses much of its legitimacy. What better way to remind members, as well as
the general public, of the importance of tradition than through restoration of
some of the fine old parliamentary buildings in Canada.
Regular readers of the Canadian
Parliamentary Review will note a number of changes in our format including a
new cover. These do not reflect any change in the basic aims and objectives of
the magazine but rather an attempt to make it more attractive, not only to specialists
in parliamentary matters but to the general public as well.