The opinions a new member of the House of
the House of Commons forms about Parliament and his own role in it are
determined not only by his immediate observations, but by his former experience
in various fields. Of particular interest are the views of members who have
previously served in provincial legislatures, and who are, in consequence,
observant of the effects that differences in scale, procedure and geography can
Three members with previous provincial
experience were interviewed for the Canadian Parliamentary Review in February
Pat Binns (Conservative, Cardigan) was a
member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island from 1978 to 1984.
He served at various times as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of
Labour, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Community Affairs, Minister of
Fisheries, and Minister of Industry.
Raymond Garneau (Liberal, Laval-des rapides)
was, early in his career, executive assistant to former Quebec Premier Jean
Lesage. He was first elected to the Quebec national Assembly in 1970 and served
as Minister of Finance from 1970 to 1976. He left politics after failing to win
leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party in 1978, and worked in the private
sector first as Vice-President of the Laurentian Group of insurance companies,
later as Chairman of the Montreal City and District Savings Bank until his
return to politics in the last federal election.
Michael Cassidy, (NDP, Ottawa Centre) has
had experience at three levels of government, beginning as an alderman for the
City of Ottawa. He represented Ottawa Centre in the Ontario Legislative
Assembly for 13 years (1971-1984) including a period as party leader from 1978
The interviews were conducted by Barbara
What led you to move from provincial into
Mr. Binns: A lot of things came together. I
was approached by a number of people in the constituency. I had been concerned
for some time that the issue of regional development was not getting the
attention it should. In Prince Edward Island we have been so dependent on the
federal government, we had to develop a better relationship with Ottawa. I
thought that if I could help to create a better understanding of our
difficulties in the federal arena, I would be doing a useful job.
Mr. Garneau: It had been in my subconscious
for some time that if I returned to politics, it would be at the federal level.
I had been actively involved in provincial politics from 1963 to 1978: but
although circumstances, brought me in at the provincial level, ever since my
studies in Europe I have had a profound interest in international economic
questions. I certainly had not thought to return to politics as soon as I did,
but a number of prominent Quebec Liberals resigned at the same time Mr.
Trudeau. Evidently, that was going to affect the representation of Quebec in
the Parliament and it was necessary to recruit some new people with
considerable political and administrative experience. So it was a sense of
duty, an obligation to do my part, that led me to run for office in the last
Mr. Cassidy: I had represented Ottawa Centre
at the provincial level for thirteen years and thought there was a good chance
I could carry the seat for the NDP federally. In personal terms, I looked
forward to the challenge of operating in the federal arena. Now that the
attention of the country has shifted to economic concerns, there are great
opportunities in policy development. Because of our strong base in the west,
the New Democratic Party has in the past focused its attention primarily on
resources and other concerns of western Canada. Our attention is better
balanced now, and a few of us in caucus are seeking to ensure that the balance
includes concern with the policies of the Bank of Canada for example. We are
also trying to reflect the interests of regions not included in our caucus. For
example, I am the head of a group of caucus which will travel and raise issues
of particular importance to Quebec.
At the constituency level, what was the
effect of moving from a provincial legislature to the House of Commons?
Mr. Cassidy: The difference was incredible.
After I was elected in September, the demands on my riding office tripled from
the level of a year earlier. The office had been open continuously the whole
time, although the staff, of course, wore different hats as I changed position.
We could not tell if the increase was due to pent-up demand which had not been
met by the previous federal member or whether it suggested that a Member of
Parliament has higher visibility and prestige than a provincial legislator. The
demand is still quite high, but I have had experience for only a month or two
of sharing riding duties with an NDP provincial member, so it will take us a
bit of time to determine whether there has been an absolute increase.
One striking fact about coming here was
that, even though I have been an outspoken member of the Legislative Assembly
and Leader of an opposition party, once I became a Member of Parliament, the
number of invitations to take part in various events shot up. I think that is
quite a clear indication that Members, enjoy higher prestige than do provincial
legislators, and it is probably true right across the country.
Having a spending limit during the campaign
is a very, good thing, but it ought to be higher. We certainly found during the
last campaign that it did not go very far, and we had the impression that the
other two parties were trying to cut corners and find loopholes. In Ontario
elections, however, where there are no limits, there are tremendous abuses.
Mr. Binns: The style of campaigning of
course had to be different. In a federal riding, it is not as easy to reach
most people at the door so there has to be more communication through the
media, through mail-outs, through debate. and so on. There simply is not time to
talk much on a one-to-one basis.
Because of federal legislation, there are
controls (in campaign expenditures in a federal election, and I think that is a
good idea, Everyone is playing, by the same rules. In a provincial situation,
the costs can vary wildly from one riding to another, or from one election to
Federally, the individual member may be
slightly less important. An incumbent can be swept out more easily. People
weigh all the factors they look at the polls, at the candidates, at the leaders,
at the issues. Of course, different factors will have more or less importance
in each election.
Now that I am in Ottawa, I notice that I
receive different kinds of' requests from my constituents. I hear from people
about Canada Pension. old age security, farm credit, federal fishing subsidies
and licenses. When I was an MLA, constituency demands, especially related to
employment, tended to be very heavy in the spring. The seasonal economy had a
big, effect. The demand now is more steady.
People seem somehow to find out who is
responsible for what. Of' course. if they have a special problem and they know
you, they will call on you for help no matter what the jurisdiction. But the
bulk of my constituency work-load has shifted.
I do not know whether I am any busier.
Constituency work takes about 60 per cent of my time. Because of the size and
relative isolation of PEI, people feel they can bring their problems to their
member. and because of the broad economic base and the numerous small
communities, the problems touch on a lot of areas. Of course, as a federal
member, I am much more isolated from my constituency. I keep in touch a lot by
telephone. As an MLA, I did not need a constituency office. I drove to
Charlottetown every day.
Mr. Garneau: The size of the federal, as
opposed to the provincial, ridings makes a difference. The fact that federal
jurisdictions are in general more removed from the day by day, preoccupations
of citizens also changes one's relationship with one's constituency. It is not
everyone who takes an active interest in Canadian-American relations or in our
role in South America. Such matters are not as immediate in a constituency as,
say, construction of a new road or a municipal sewer. So the individual demands
on my constituency office are relatively few. I would estimate that I spend 90
per cent of my time on parliamentary work and 10 per cent on constituency work.
I think people elect their federal member in the expectation that he will
attend to national policy. On the other hand, there are, for me, numerous
When I was a member of the Quebec National
Assembly, I represented the Jean Talon riding, in the city of Quebec. In 1979,
I sold my house in Quebec and moved to Montreal, where my work in the private
sector brought me. Now I represent Laval-des-rapides, which is half in the City
of' Montreal and half in the City of Laval. The two ridings are very similar:
chiefly middle class, middle income urban areas, both containing poorer
neighbourhoods and also significant groups with a higher-than-average level of
education. The difference is that in Laval-des-rapides, I also represent an
ethnic community Italian, Greek and Lebanese. They, together with English
Canadians make up 25 per cent of the population of the riding.
It was a great advantage, when I was Finance
Minister in Quebec, having the National Assembly, in my riding. I practically
never went to my constituency office, although I had one. I had a secretary who
took calls, and if constituents had to see me, they usually came to my office
at the Assembly. My evenings were therefore more free. Furthermore, all the
provincial administrative offices were at hand. If a constituent had a problem,
say, with workmen's compensation, he was very likely to go directly to the appropriate
office and resolve it on his own. Constituency contacts were also much easier.
I could arrange a meeting with the executive of my riding association or make
an appointment to meet the Chamber of Commerce on very short notice, and
without worrying about being absent from the Assembly.
But in effect, my relation to my
constituency is very similar now to what it was when I was in provincial
politics. The real contrast is not between the two levels of government but
between representing a rural or an urban riding, In a rural riding a much wider
variety of questions will come up. A member may represent 25, 30 or 40
municipalities. If he meets with each mayor only twice a year, that's 80
meetings. If I meet each mayor I represent twice a year, that's four. And of
course, in most rural ridings the problems of distance, travel costs and travel
time make constituents more likely to turn to their Member of Parliament for
In the organization of your personal or
family life, has the move to Ottawa created difficulties?
Mr. Garneau: Of course. One of the great
advantages of representing a Quebec City riding, was the extra time I could
have with my family. I came home in the evening and my children were there.
Even if I arrived late, after they had gone to bed, I would see them at
breakfast. Now that the children are grown up, having to maintain a secondary
residence is not the problem it would have been then, and I have a lot of
support from my wife. But my sympathy goes out to the younger members, to those
with young families. It is very difficult. If you look at the divorce rate
among members over the last 20 or 30 years it is fairly high; and certainly it
takes a lot of character and understanding on the part of a member and his
spouse to "manage" their marriage, under that sort of strain.
Mr. Cassidy: In my case, election to the
House has resolved many problems. As a provincial member, I found that after a
few years of carrying on business in a different city from where my family
lived, I was very tired of it. It was rough on the family as well. When I
became leader, we all moved to Toronto and we stayed there as a family even
after I resigned the leadership. Any provincial member who brings his family to
Toronto has my sympathy, although even cabinet ministers tend to leave their
wives and families in the ridings. It is a great pleasure to me now in terms of
my personal as well as my political life to be representing an area only a 10
minute walk from Parliament Hill.
It therefore seems to me that one of the
reforms suggested for the parliamentary timetable makes a great deal of sense,
and that is having members sit intensively for 3 weeks and then take a week off
to go back to their ridings. It would be highly preferable to the sort of thing
I went through of coming back to Ottawa on the weekend, returning to Toronto
Monday, flying back Tuesday evening for a meeting. then rushing back to Toronto
again until Friday. That sort of schedule is pretty killing and can be even
more so in federal politics when the travel time can be eight or ten hours each
Mr. Binns: We knew that there would he some
sacrifices involved in my being a federal member, that I would be away more and
we accepted that. I am able to get home most weekends, and in fact I think I
see more of my family on weekends now than I did when I was a provincial
minister. My constituency office is very close to home and I spend less time
driving here and there around the Island. Of course I miss them through the
week, but if they were in Ottawa I mould probably end up seeing less of them.
My evenings are so frequently occupied with work. We did have to give up the
little farming we were doing. We sold the livestock. But farming is easy to
pick up again.
How well served are you in Ottawa in terms
of Parliament's administrative system office, staffing, support services,
Mr. Cassidy: Individual members are much
better served than in the Ontario legislature. There are substantially greater
resources available. The administration does try to put the members first.
At Queen's Park, the political culture has
been so affected by four decades or more of Conservative rule that it was a
constant struggle getting reasonable consideration for the needs of individual,
private members. It was not an issue for the government, because so many
Conservative members were ministers or parliamentary assistants, and they were
looked after, thank you very, much. Two reasons for the difference here are
that there have been more changes of government and there are a substantial
number of backbenchers on both sides of the house.
It is very important to have a good
legislative library. Obviously, the resources of the Library of Parliament are
much greater than what was available at Queen's Park although the resources
at Queen's Park have improved greatly over the last seven or eight years and
compare very well with what exists in most of the other provinces.
The bureaucracy is larger in Ottawa, and
there are more rules, but at least the rules are communicated to us. At times
they are awkward, and there are things I find frustrating. One is the rather
trivial matter of being unable, as only a private member, to get a suitable
design of bookshelf for my office. But taking it on balance, there is an
orderliness to the administration which is a virtue.
Members of the House of Commons are much
better served with staff. It may still not be entirely adequate I find that
my staff are running off their feet with the pressure of the job but it is
much better than in the Ontario legislature. An enormous amount of the pressure
which I felt as a provincial legislator was related to having to do so many
things or to find people who would do them for me for free, or to compete with
my colleagues for the very limited resources of the caucus just to deal with my
basic responsibilities particularly in being an effective opposition critic.
We still have NDP members in the Ontario Legislature facing ministries which
may spend up to S6 billion a year for example, in education and health and
they do it with the assistance of one person who is secretary, scheduler,
research assistant and everything else, and one other person looking after
their case work in their riding offices.
Mr. Binns: The difference of scale between Parliament
and the PEI Legislature is of course extreme. The PEI Legislature does not meet
on the average, for more than three months a year. The ministers, during most
of the year, play a pretty large role in the administration of their
departments. The systems are smaller, and you become familiar with most of the
people in most program areas. It's a very "hands-on" kind of
The obvious difference in Ottawa is that
there are many more people to get to know and many I will never get to know
who have relevance to what I am doing here. So I appreciate that it is going to
take more time to get things done and there are more steps to go through to get
a decision made.
A great deal of information is available but
it may take me and lily staff a little longer to find it. I have never found
that I could not get something I needed.
I found some of the orientation seminars
offered to new members quite useful. The Member of Parliament in some ways has
to operate a kind of small business. He is provided with a certain amount of
support both financial and in terms of ability to hire staff. General
guidelines are provided. But beyond that, he has to sort out what will be best
for his own constituents and for his own needs in working for them. He has to
take responsibility of establishing offices, staffing and equipping them and
making them run efficiently. In Prince Edward Island, the MLA normally does not
have a constituency, as such, or a personal staff. The training sessions were
valuable to me in that they gave me an idea of what support services there were
through the whip's office and so on and how I might utilize them. The
legislative processes are quite similar, so I was less in need of special
training in that area.
In terms of legislative procedure, do you
find that Parliament functions smoothly? Can you suggest any desirable reforms?
Mr. Garneau: I have seen a great many
changes in legislative procedure, and, although I am far from being an expert
on procedural reform, it seems to me that the essential thing is that there be
good will in the Chamber. Otherwise, whatever the reforms, they will come to
naught. There is, however, one thing that has struck me as being somewhat
inconvenient. That is the fact that the house sits from 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. It
gives one very little time to prepare or consult. One may have only a week to
study a fairly complex bill. It may be necessary to consult a number of people.
There are only two working hours available from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.. Or one can
have an evening meeting but committees often occupy one until after six. You
have to eat at some point., and there is always reading to be done in the
evening. When I was in provincial politics, the Assembly sat at 3 o'clock and
went on into the evening. We had the whole forenoon to prepare and to meet with
But obviously, evening sittings have their
disadvantages too. Many people say that nothing gets accomplished. I am
reserving judgement for the present.
Mr. Cassidy: The decision not to sit nights
is positive, though there is no easy, answer. Evening sittings are an archaic
tradition, and I thought it ludicrous in Ontario to sit from 8 to 10:30 two
evenings a week. We should perhaps start our days earlier, at 7:30 or 8 a. m.
That is happening more and more in the Prime Minister's Office, and also in
In general, our political institutions are
immediately flexible and powerful. Their effectiveness is limited chiefly by
two factors: the ability of the people who are running the institutions and our
political culture. There is a substantial lack of harmony within the country
that imposes constraints. Canada is a far more difficult country to govern than
it was a few years ago. We face the dilemmas that afflict all western
countries, plus the added baggage of' federalism.
Some reforms are necessary. A way has to be
found to ensure a more adequate flow of information to enhance the ability of
Parliament and the legislatures to grasp some of the issues emerging is
There is no doubt that Question Period in
the House of Commons is much better than in the Ontario legislature. I think
the major reason is the tradition that the Speaker be quite firm in directing
the use of time. The consequence is that even though Question Period is only 45
minutes, we on our side are getting about six rounds of questions a day. In the
Ontario legislature, where Question Period lasted an hour, we would get at best
only four or five. Each series would, of course, tend to be longer. The federal
Question Period, however, is crisper. It gets more attention. Because the press
follows it more closely, there is more rapid interplay between
parliamentarians, and the press. In Queen's Park, the press tends to be awfully
comfortable with the government in power.
The presence of television is another
difference. Queen's Park is televised only to the extent that newsmen are
allowed to bring video cameras into the press gallery. The angles and lighting,
are bad, and the tendency is to take only, short clips. I was on the committee
that successfully recommended the introduction of' television into the Ontario
legislature. We recommended authorizing video cameras in the gallery on the
grounds that it was an inexpensive foot in the door. Unfortunately, the process
stopped there. I think it is a lot healthier to have Question Period and the
rest of the debate televised. To judge by the reaction of my constituents and
others, a large number of people form their opinion about what's going on from
the televised proceedings. I am strongly in favour, in this Parliament. of
introducing television to committees. That is an idea whose time has come.
Procedurally, one of the differences between
the House of Commons and Queen's Park is the fact that, in the Ontario
legislature, ministers are allowed to make statements ad nauseam with no right
of reply from opposition critics and spokespeople. These statements can last up
to an hour, and so Question Period can often drag on until 4 o'clock. By then,
newsmen have left and whoever gets up may be speaking to the wind. In the House
of Commons, such statements are rare, in part because spokespersons have the
right of reply. Instead. the first few minutes are used for members to make
statements on matters of public concern, and that process of ventilation, I
think, has been very valuable.
If the reforms brought in by the special
committee a year or so ago are confirmed, we will certainly be well ahead of
where we were in the Ontario legislature.
Do the structure and functions of
committees differ at all from what you were familiar with at the provincial
Mr. Garneau: Yes. In general legislative
procedure at the two levels is so similar as to be virtually identical, but the
most marked difference is in the functioning of committees. When I was active
in provincial politics, a minister who sponsored a bill would be present, after
the bill was referred to committee, at all the meetings, and defend it step by
step from A to Z. In Parliament, now, the minister is not necessarily present
while a committee reviews his bill. He will come and testify; he will answer
questions; but the review carried on principally by the other members of the
committee and ministry officials. To give you an example, I am a member of the
Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The Minister of Finance rarely appears
at its hearings. The committee itself hears testimony, and the minister comes
only when the committee invites him to appear. I find this procedure very
interesting. It has the disadvantage of tending to undermine direct ministerial
responsibility, but it is probably the only possible way to operate in a
country as vast as ours, where regional problems can often call the minister
away from the capital. The overwhelming advantage is that it gives more
responsibility and more scope for positive action to the private members on the
It is probably also true that officials of
the public service hold greater sway in Ottawa than in Quebec for that reason.
I have no quarrel with the fact: the scope of the minister's responsibilities
and the size of the country, make it necessary to delegate and the minister
cannot possibly have a thorough knowledge of everything that comes under his
authority. He has to be able to trust the competence of his officials, especially
in matters of administration. (Certainly. during the six years I was Finance
Minister in Quebec. I was at various times both praised and blamed for things
about which I had not the slightest knowledge!)
Mr. Binns: I have been struck by the great
degree of specialization and the consequent structural formality in the federal
government. Because of the nature of Prince Edward Island, all MLAs have to be
well informed about all government programs and services, both federally and
provincially. The island has a very diversified economy and you are dealing on
a day to day basis with farmers, fishermen, small businessmen, municipal
organizations and community groups.
In Ottawa, I am a member of the standing
committee on fisheries and agriculture, and those two areas alone occupy a
great deal of my time.
The committees seem very workable. I have
not found them unwieldy to date. It is quite possible for a private member to
express views and concerns to a minister and to department officials. One
weakness of committees is that their powers are limited and they can generally
only, recommend, but I accept that as part of our system. Persuasive argument
often leads to changes in any event.
I welcome the fact that the government has
established a committee to look at procedural reform. It is a difficult area. I
appreciate that a cabinet has basically to set the pace for the House, and that
the private member's role flows from that. The challenge is to make the private
member's role more meaningful. One thing that could make a tremendous
difference would be giving committees more responsibility in terms of
administering finances. But I am of two minds about making such a radical
alteration to a system that has, on the whole, worked reasonably well in the
Do members sufficiently understand and
respect the rules of the House and make use of them?
Mr. Cassidy: My experience is that the rules
are complex, that most of them you never need to know, and that therefore,
quite properly, parties have tended to have one or two members who specialize
in becoming experts on the rules and that other members have obtained a general
understanding of them without knowing all the specific details. Although I have
always been aware of parliamentary rules, what I have learned about them has
often resulted from doing the wrong thing and being chided for it.
Is the caucus organized differently in
Mr. Garneau: Number is the great factor in
caucus organization. After the 1973 election in Quebec, we had a majority
Liberal government with 102 members. That posed a number of problems in party
organization and co-ordination. With 211 members, as the Conservatives have at
present, it becomes devilishly complicated. You practically need an
amphitheatre just to have a meeting. On the Liberal side, we have something
over 120 caucus members, including our Senators.
The result is that, at the federal level,
the regional caucuses become very important. It is not solely the effect of numbers,
of course; the strong regional caucuses are also a way of dealing with the
significant regional differences across the country. The provinces,
individually, are far more homogeneous.
The substantive differences in the matters
that come under discussion at federal and provincial caucus meetings is the
third factor that creates a very different tone. There are numerous policies.
particularly in international relations, that transcend party differences.
Mr. Binns: We have here both provincial and
regional caucuses that meet regularly. The regional caucus is a very useful
institution, it promotes a sense of fraternity among members from the same area
of the country and gives us a chance to discuss areas of policy that may not
come up in our other work on standing committees for instance.
Mr. Cassidy: Our party in caucus was
rejuvenated in the last election, but we have so much to do, one hardly knows
where to begin. We sit on a basis of parity with the Liberals in major
committees and ask questions in the House on almost a basis of parity, so we
have almost half of the opposition debating time. It gives us a tremendous
opportunity to develop themes but requires great effort and participation from
each individual member.
This workload had, in the early months, the
effect of limiting casual social contacts with other caucus members. Now I have
a bit more time for NDP get together. There is a very, strong bond among the 23
members who were here under seriously adverse conditions in the last
Parliament. It will take a bit of time before all the new members are
The real issue in the organization of caucus
is that of the resources available to opposition parties to do their job. A
member has three or four staff at most, and that is an insufficient level of
support to carry on the duties of opposition.
It is also important to recognize the
importance of travel. Government members and especially ministers can travel
much more freely than opposition members. An opposition member is always trying
to make one short trip serve a dozen purposes. His travel might be more
usefully done if he were free to concentrate in each trip on the subject of
Is there a significant amount of contact
between members across party lines?
Mr. Cassidy: At Queen's Park. most of the
members of caucus Conservatives, Liberals or NDP had offices in the same
general area. Here in Parliament, members are scattered: there are three or
four PCs a couple of Liberals and a couple of NDPs in every corridor. That
leads to more contact across party, lines which is a healthy thing for the
Mr. Binns: Two factors besides party
influence one's contacts. Members from the same region tend to have common
interests, despite differences in points of view. Relationships also build up
around the fields you are working in for example, the standing committees.
But because of the very large Conservative majority in this parliament. I tend
to associate mainly with other Conservatives.
Is there too much mobility in Parliament?
Would it be better for the institution if more people were to make politics a
Mr. Garneau: This Parliament obviously is an
extreme case. Most of the members on the Liberal side, however, have
considerable experience. Some have been there 15 or 20 years. One cannot object
if the electorate decides to make a sweeping change. That is its privilege in a
democracy. The American system of rotating elections for the Senate leads to
more continuity, but it is difficult to see how that could he adapted to our
parliamentary system. In Europe you have politicians who are embedded in public
life like flowers in a carpet, but I am not sure that that is a good thing,
either. I think it is a very good idea for politicians to move in and out of
public life and gain experience in different sectors. I think I am a better
member today for my experience of the last five years.
Mr. Cassidy: I think it's healthy to move in
and out. There is no question that someone with a dozen or so years' experience
in a legislature has a great deal to contribute in public or indeed in
private life. But every institution needs continuous renewal. If the
parliamentary system has a relatively regular ebb and flow in terms of changes
in position and retirement You will achieve some of that. For the most part the
good members will survive although it is regrettable that some of the best
and brightest inevitably will be competing against each other in the same
riding. and some will necessarily be bumped out. But a system that was totally
stable would be not only boring, but less effective than what we have now.
How important is it to have experience at
both the provincial and the federal level?
Mr. Cassidy: It is hard to say. I found my
municipal experience was helpful to me when I became a provincial politician.
The reason was that municipal politics is not, as a rule, adversarial. I could
go to other people and get support without having to worry about party lines. I
learned a great deal about building-consensus. Similarly, many of the things I
did provincially have enabled me to adjust fairly rapidly to the work here. But
I do not think experience at two levels is necessary. It is nice to have some
people who know provincial politics at first hand. If there were none, it would
make Parliament less effective in terms of understanding what is going on in
Mr. Binns: Traditionally in Prince Edward
Island there has been a lot of movement back and forth between the provincial
and federal arenas. There are no set patterns or hard and fast rules about it.
Whether a member from one level to another depends on times and circumstances.
I think it has been valuable for me personally to have the twofold point of
view although the fact that I grew up in Saskatchewan has also contributed to
my sense of regional differences, and regional similarities. The Atlantic
region and the prairies have a lot in common. Part of the challenge Canada
faces is ensuring that the various regions share equally in the benefits of
belonging to Canada.
Mr. Garneau: What I think is important, is
to have the experience of administering something and experience in public
debate. But this can be obtained in many ways as a member or minister of a
provincial legislature, in municipal politics, in chambers of commerce, in
women's clubs, in teaching, in parish organizations, in sport, in recreation
and so on. A politician has to learn to recognize what is going on around him
and to reflect it within the confines of the House of Commons or the
Legislative Assembly. If a person has never administered anything. has never
had to give an account of his thoughts or his actions, then certainly he is ill
prepared be a Member of Parliament. Experience comes, in large part, with age.
There is without doubt a place for youth in Parliament, but there must also be
a component of experience, and that is what makes a society civilized,
responsible and wise.