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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

First Canadian Conference of Presiding Officers

The Alberta branch hosted the first Conference of Presiding Officers held in Edmonton February 5-8, 1984. The concept of an annual meeting of Canadian Speakers was recommended by the task force on CPA and adopted by the Canadian Regional Council last spring. Speaker Gerard Amerongen of Alberta offered to host the first conference. Alberta invited the Speakers, Deputy Speakers and Clerks from the House of Commons. Senate, the ten provinces and two territories. All Canadian parliaments were represented except Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

The conference was officially opened in the Legislative Chamber on February 6, 1984 by Lieutenant Governor Frank Lynch-Staunton. After brief welcoming remarks, the conference moved to Government House for the panel discussions.

Keith Penner. M.P. and Newfoundland Speaker Jim Russell, led the first discussion on the Oral Question Period. This discussion centered on the role of the Speaker, the number of supplementary questions that should be allowed and ways of curbing the practice of having mini-debates instead 3t brief questions and answers.

Mr. Penner opened the second panel discussion on the Rule of Relevance and Repetition. He noted that the purpose of the rule on repetition is to help members come to a decision once all of the arguments have been fully presented but without needless repetition. While thorough debate with some emphasis on a theme is important, it is the role of the Chair to eliminate needless repetition. The rules on relevance and repetition are intermeshed both help members use their time effectively for an orderly dispatch of business balanced with the rights of the minority to be heard. The Chair has to judge the mood of the House and use the rules when he thinks appropriate.

Terry Jones, Deputy Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, led the discussion on media relations. The Speaker is often caught between the members who want publicity and the media who are trying to catch the story. The presiding officers also compared notes on legislatures which allow the television personnel into the Chamber and legislatures with in-House systems.

Speaker Amerongen led the discussion on the effect of the Charter of Rights; on the role of Parliament. The debate centered on the reduction of the power and role of the Canadian provincial legislatures due to the charter, The struggle seems to be on two fronts: between federal and provincial parliaments over the power of taxation and between the courts and the provincial legislatures on who determines the law the elected legislators or the federally appointed judges. This topic was one of the most hotly debated subjects but lead to a genera! consensus that Speakers and Clerks are entrusted with the duty to restore and' preserve parliaments role and effectiveness.

Speaker Herb Swan opened the discussion, on members services Each presiding officer outlined the services that are provided to members in their respective jurisdiction. The increasing role for a Board of Internal Economy or Members Services Committee was noted and encouraged by several Speakers.

Richard Guay, Speaker of the Quebec National Assembly led the discussion on the role of Speakers in Parliamentary Reform. In doing so, he outlined proposed reforms that: are now before the National Assembly. Even though procedural reform depends upon support from the members, initiatives should and can come from the Speaker.

Speaker Amerongen led the discussion on the independence of the Speakership. He outlined the position of the British Speaker and his re-election as an independent. In Canada Speakers still seek re-election as members of political parties. The feeling was that in general most members appreciate that a Speaker is still a political being and must, maintain some political links in order tie be re-elected. Even with these political links, he still can be fair and impartial while in the Chair.

C.B. Koester. Clerk of the House of Commons opened the session on security. He outlined the role that the Speaker plays in Ottawa in protecting the members and the building while trying to permit full public access to their elected members. Speakers across Canada share a concern about security. Speaker Marion Reid of Prince Edward Island explained that in her House, "security in the galleries is not a problem: on the island, all members recognize and know everyone." A stranger is easily recognized.

During the last afternoon, the Speakers met to discuss their roles during elections; the Deputy Speakers met separately to compare notes on chairing Committees of the Whole House, and the Clerks toured the new word processor system which the Alberta Legislative Assembly Office is installing.

Speaker Amerongen was a gracious host for the seminar and for the evening dinners. He and the Alberta Branch are to be complimented on their organization and warm western hospitality. Judging by the reaction of all Speakers, Deputy Speakers and Clerks assembled, the conference was a success and will indeed become an annual event.

Saskatchewan to Host the 31st General Conference

The Saskatchewan Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will host the 31st General Conference in 1985. This is the fourth time since 1948 the International Conference will take place in Canada but the first time it will be hosted by a provincial branch. Some 300 delegates from all parts of the Commonwealth are expected to participate in the sessions and tours which will last from October 2-13, 1985.

Accountability Session Federal Branch

Or February 14, 1984 some thirty-five members of the federal branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association attended the annual luncheon and "accountability session". The purpose of the session. chaired by Lloyd Crouse, Vice-President of the federal branch. was to listen to reports from delegates who attended CPA functions during the past year.

Canadian Regional Representatives, Keith Penner reported on the Atlantic Parliamentary Seminar in St. John s, the Canadian Regional Council meeting in Ottawa, the parliamentary delegation to Malaysia, as well as the 29th General Conference in Kenya. Maurice Foster, who replaced Mr, Penner at the CPA Executive meeting in Singapore reported on that event.

The two main Canadian regional activities, the 23rd conference held in Winnipeg and the 9th seminar in Saskatchewan were the subject of reports by Stan Darling and John MacDougall respectively. Bryce Mackasey reported on his attendance at an ASEAN conference in Manila and recommended that the Association continue to send representatives to these meetings.

Parliamentary relations with the United Kingdom were the subject of some discussion at the meeting. John Evans and Gordon Taylor reported on their extremely valuable experience attending the annual CPA seminar on Parliamentary Procedure held in London. Maurice Harquail and Tom McMillan informed members about the useful information acquired during their parliamentary visit to Westminster. On the other hand James McGrath reported that his subcommittee, mandated to explore the possibility of establishing a Canada-United Kingdom Parliamentary Group (similar to those existing between Canada and other countries) had been unsuccessful. While British members were favourable to the idea, he said he had found considerably less enthusiasm at the level of the secretariat who seemed to prefer that such exchanges continue on an ad hoc basis.

Allister Grosart

The Canadian Region of CPA lost one of its best friends with the passing of Allister Grosart on February 6. 1984 Best known as the person who organized the Progressive Conservative electoral victories of 1957 and 1958. Mr. Grosart was a member of the Senate from 1962 until his retirement in 1981. He was Speaker of the Upper House in 1979.

He was in the words of Senator Royce Frith, "a staunch expert and sensitive parliamentarian: a supporter of the parliamentary system, a supporter of the Commonwealth; and a supporter of free governments and their institutions".

Senator Grosart was Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the federal branch from 1966 to 1975 and later represented Canada on CPA s International Executive Committee. His greatest contribution to the Canadian Region was as chairman of a special committee which was instrumental in establishing the basis for the present organization. Among other things it recommended a written constitution, rules for annual conferences, establishment of parliamentary seminars and a cost-sharing arrangement among the provinces These and other recommendations of the committee were accepted in 1975.

New Speakers for the Senate and House of Commons

Following the resignation of Jean Marchand to become President of the Canadian Transportation Commission and Jeanne Sauvé who was named Canada's next Governor General both the Senate and the House of Commons find themselves with new Speakers for the remaining months of the 32nd Parliament.

On December 16, 1983 Senator Maurice Riel became the thirty-seventh person to occupy the Speaker's chair in the Upper House. A lawyer, Senator Riel was summoned to the Senate in 1973. He was co-chairman of the Special Joint Committee on immigration policy during the 30th Parliament and has served on various Senate committees including Agriculture, Foreign Affairs and Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Senator Riel can claim descent from one of Canada's most celebrated rebels, Louis Riel.

Exactly one month later, the members of the House of Commons elected Lloyd Francis Speaker of the House. First elected for Ottawa West in 1963 he has an unusual record for being defeated in 1965, re-elected in 1968, defeated in 1972, re-elected in 1974, defeated in 1979 and re-elected in 1980. He has held various parliamentary offices including Chief Government Whip, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veteran Affairs, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and since 1980 has served as Deputy Speaker of the House.

Speaker Francis holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. During the war he served with the R.C.A.F. as a navigation instructor and air navigator. Before his election to the House Mr. Francis was active in municipal politics.

Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia

On December 23 Prime Minister Trudeau announced the appointment of Alan R. Abraham as 28th Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Mr. Abraham, 53, is a graduate of Saint Mary's University in Halifax. He was building inspector for the City of Halifax from 1957 to 1965, later entering the business community and eventually buying Maritime Warehouse and Transfer Co. Ltd. In 1974, he became president of the Canadian Association of Movers.

Mr. Abraham is president of the Bill Lynch Memorial Fund, a past president of the Better Business Bureau (Maritimes) Inc., former director of Izaak Nalton Killam Hospital for Children and Abbie Lane Memorial Hospital. He has also been active in Liberal politics serving as Nova Scotia chairman of the Paul Hellyer leadership campaign in 1968. Elected president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party in 1976,he chaired the party's 1980 provincial leadership convention, resigning the presidency in 1981.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 7 no 1

Last Updated: 2020-09-14