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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Seminar of Parliamentary Procedure and Practice

The 1985 seminar on Parliamentary Practice and Procedure was held in Ottawa from November 25 - 28. Every jurisdiction sent at least one delegate to the seminar and some former members and outside experts were also in attendance.

The first session dealt with Courts and Legislatures in the Age of the Charter. The panelists were Roy Romanow, former Attorney General of Saskatchewan, professor Donald Smiley of York University and Lawrence Greenspon, an Ottawa attorney. As one of the negotiators of the charter Mr. Romanow said that he and other participants in the process had realized that the charter marked a theoretical shift from a system of parliamentary sovereignty to one based on judicial intervention. However, he doubted if anyone foresaw the extent to which the basic rules of society would be changed.

Professor Smiley said he was more favourably disposed to the charter than he used to be. He saw it as a nationalizing document that would tend to counter balkanizing forces in this country. It was also more extensive than the American charter having been drafted in an age with more consciousness of rights although he agreed with Mr. Romanow that there was a down side to "rights consciousness".

Mr. Greenspon said courts look at remedies which are "appropriate in the circumstances." He thought parliamentary sovereignty had suffered a blow but only a mild one. The Charter was particularly useful in cases where the law overlook reality. He said the Cruise missile case was important because the Supreme Court had stated its willingness to consider whether the government was answerable to a body other than Parliament.

The next session looked at the very topical question of choosing a party leader and featured two legislators from provinces where there have been leadership conventions in the past year: David McFadden, MPP, President of the Conservative Party of Ontario, and Sheila Embury, MLA of Alberta. Professor George Perlin of Queen's University spoke about his experience studying federal leadership conventions.

Based on his experience presiding over two conventions, Mr. McFadden felt they were the best way for a party to choose its leader. (An article by Mr. McFadden on this subject will appear in the summer issue of the Review). Mrs. Embury outlined the numerous factors which go into making a successful convention. Professor Perlin described some of the functions formed by conventions aside from the simple act of choosing of a leader.

Perhaps the most controversial session turned out to be on redistribution of seats. Patrick Boyer MP and two provincial legislators John Newell of Nova Scotia, and Rick Swenson of Saskatchewan examined the question of Representation by Population: Do We have it? Do We Want It?

Mr. Boyer described recent changes to the method of distributing seats in the federal House. Mr. Swenson and Mr. Newell, outlined the practices in their provinces. The controversy began when the delegate from Newfoundland, Mr. Morgan, pointed out that the proposed federal changes meant that his province would get no more seats whereas under the old formula it would have one more. Mr. Boyer explained some of the reasons behind the federal legislation.

The final session considered Parliament and Television. The panelists were jack Ellis MP, Conrad Santos of Manitoba and John Warren of CBC Television's Parliamentary network. Mr. Ellis, a member of the special committee on Reform of the House, outlined some of the proposals in that report relating to broadcasting and televising committees. Mr. Santos raised some problem with the television the emphasis on form over content, style over substance. Television might lead to people wanting to replace traditional parliamentary government with direct representative democracy. Mr. Warren thought television was more likely to be a positive force because it was closer ties between citizens and their representations. The ensuing discussion proved to be most interesting.

New presiding officers have been elected during the past few months.

In Quebec, the new Speaker is Pierre Lorrain. Mr. Lorrain, a lawyer, was elected to the National Assembly for the first time on December 2, 1985. Less than three weeks later the member from Saint-Jean was elected Speaker. The former Speaker was defeated in the general election.

In New Brunswick the new Speaker is Charles G. Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher, 60, was born in Centreville, New Brunswick and studied at the Truro Agricultural College and MacDonald College in Montreal where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He was actively involved in the farming business for thirty years.

First elected to the Assembly in 1970 he was re-elected in 1974, 1978, and 1982. He has served previously as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Whip and was appointed as Minister of Education in 1976. He became Minister of Health following the 1982 election and held that portfolio until 1985. He replaces former Speaker James Tucker who was named to the cabinet by Premier Hatfield.

New Secretary General in Quebec

Pierre Duchesne was named Secretary General of the Quebec National Assembly on December 19, 1985. A native of La Malbaie, fie was educated at Chicoutimi, and at Laval University. He practised as a Notary from 19671974 when he became Assistant Secretary General. Mr. Duchesne has been active in many community and professional associations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Richelieu Club, the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada arid the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. He had been interim Secretary General since October 1984.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 9 no 1

Last Updated: 2020-03-03