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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Ninth Canadian Regional Seminar

The ninth Canadian Regional Seminar as held in Regina from October 37, 1983. Saskatchewan thus became the fourth province, after Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia to host the regional seminar. All provinces and territories were represented as was the House of Commons. Three members from the British House of Commons, William Hamilton, Frederick Silvester and Donald Limon also attended. The recently retired Clerk of the British House, Sir Charles Gordon, was a special guest.

The first session featured an Oxford Union style debate on a resolution that 1he American Congressional System is better suited to meet the needs of a modern democratic society than the British parliamentary system". Supporting the resolution were Keith Penner, MP and Dr. Morris Shumiatcher, a prominent local attorney. Defending the parliamentary system were Sir Charles and Stephen Neary, MHA from Newfoundland. The Penner-Shumiatcher team made a vigorous critique of the parliamentary system centering on its tendency to relegate backbenchers to the role of "trained seals".

Dr. Shumiatcher characterized their argument with a few lines, sung in fine melody, from Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore:

i always voted at my party's call. And I never thought of thinking for myself at all. I thought so little they rewarded me. And now I am the ruler of the Queen's navy."

In their rebuttal Neary Gordon deplored the loss of liberty associated with greater and greater departures from the British system. Mr. Neary even countered with an impromtu verse sung to the tune of "Where have all the flowers gone":

"Where have all our democratic freedoms gone? Someone took them, every one. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?"

The motion was defeated on the basis of applause from assembled parliamentarians and observers. A video tape of the debate was presented to the head of each delegation at the conclusion of the seminar.

Other topics on the agenda provoked much interest and discussion by parliamentarians. Among these were presentations by the Auditor General, Kenneth Dye, on "New Developments in Financial Security". Professor Duff Spafford spoke on "Proportional Representation in Canada". Parliamentarians to lead off discussions were: John MacDougall, MP, on "The Role of Parliamentary Committees and Task Forces", Loyola Hearn, MHA, on "Can the Westminster model be successfully adapted to plural societies with federal governments?", John Turner, MPP, on 1s Parliament winning the battle of accountability?", Austin Pelton, MLA. on "Accountability of Crown Corporations", Pierre de Bellefeuille, MNA, on "Security within the precincts of Parliament", Douglas Moore, MLA, on "Administration of Members Services" and finally Tom Musgrove, MLA, on "The role of Private Members vis-Ó-vis service as parliamentary or legislative secretaries".

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 6 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-03-03