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.
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?
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.
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.
General in Quebec
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.