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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Twelfth Canadian Regional Seminar

Delegates from the Senate, House of Commons, nine provinces and both territories met in Toronto from November 23 to 25 for the annual CPA regional seminar. Legislators from the various jurisdictions discussed four subjects of mutual interest.

The first panel considered the question of "Coping With Large Majorities," a frequent occurrence in Canadian assemblies. The session was chaired by Hugh Edighoffer, Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. Panelist included Lloyd Crouse, from the House of Commons, Frank Branch Speaker designate of New Brunswick, Charles Beer of the Ontario Legislative Assembly and Professor Desmond Morton of the University of Toronto.

Much of the discussion dealt with whether private members on the government side can and should speak out in opposition to government policies. Several speakers noted that size was not necessarily a problem for the opposition and some very effective opposition parties consisted of no more than a handful of members. The idea of proportional representation was also discussed as a means of avoiding large majorities but it did not obtain much support. Most speakers felt it would replace one problem with other potentially more dangerous ones.

The second panel was called "Full-time House, Part-time Member?" The panel was chaired by Speaker Patrick McNicholas of Newfoundland and included Don Cousens of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Terry Huberts of British Columbia and Donald C. Macdonald former member of the Ontario Assembly. Aside from obvious differences related to the size of the legislature and the number of days sitting a number of similarities emerged from the discussion. For one thing it was agreed that regardless of whether a member holds another job or not constituents expect their member to be full time. The issue is also related to the rate of remuneration. While some members thought legislators were underpaid for the number of hours they put in, others thought the financial rewards were generous enough.

Another panel considered the question of "Television in Legislatures" and whether it serves a persuader or an educator. The panel was chaired by Jean Poirier of Ontario and included Arnold Tusa, Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislature, Mike Breaugh of Ontario, Professor Michael Nolan of the University of Western Ontario and Jean-Pierre Jolivet of Quebec. There was general agreement

that television had changed the way legislatures operate but less agreement as to whether these changes are cosmetic or fundamental in nature.

The last panel considered the Meech Lake Accord and particularly the role of legislators under the proposed new constitution. Panelists included Professor Deborah Coyne, of the University of Toronto, Stan Darling of the House of Commons, Jean Pierre Belisle of the Quebec National Assembly, William Remnant, Clerk of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and Tony Penikett, Government Leader in the Yukon.

Many arguments for and against the Meech Lake Accord were raised by panelist but most of the discussion centred around conditions for the admission of new provinces and whether the Accord should be reopened to give a voice to northeners in future constitutional amendments. Several delegates called for a special CPA conference of parliamentarians to give further consideration to the Accord.

New Speaker in NWT

The new Speaker of the Northwest Territories is Red Pedersen. Born in Denmark in 1935, Mr. Pedersen moved to the Canadian Arctic in 1953 when he joined the Hudson Bay Company. In 1963, he joined the Federal government and served as area administrator in Coppermine, Pangnirtung and Fort Rae, NWT. He returned to Coppermine in 1969 and helped to organise the first settlement council.

First elected to the Assembly in 1983 he served as Minister of Culture and Communications from 1985 to 1986 and subsequently served as Minister of Renewable Resources, Personnel and Status of Women during the last assembly.

He resides in Coppermine where he was active on the settlement council and other community organisations for many years.

William Reid 1913 to 1987

The Clerk of the Prince Edward Legislative Assembly died recently. For over thirty years Bill Reid worked for the provincial government in several capacities including Deputy Minister of Welfare and Labour. He retired in 1976 but two years later was persuaded to return to public life as Clerk of the Assembly. Active in many community and sports associations Mr. Reid was known and respected by Islanders in all walks of life.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 10 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-09-14