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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

13th Canadian Regional Parliamentary Seminar

The Thirteenth Canadian Regional Seminar was held in Vancouver, British Columbia from Thursday, November 17 through Saturday, November 19, 1988. The host was John Reynolds, Speaker of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.

David C. Lam, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia opened the Seminar by remarking upon the need for parliamentarians to gather under the auspices of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Not only do Members gain an insight into parliamentary practice and traditions in other jurisdictions but a clearer understanding of issues confronting each parliamentarian is developed. John Fraser, Speaker of the House of Commons in Ottawa and Art Donahoe, Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly, and Speaker Reynolds were the panellists for the First Plenary Session: Issues Facing Mr. Speaker at Election Time.

The views expressed provoked a lively debate among the delegates particularly in light of the Canadian General Election to be held a few days later. It was generally agreed that the approach taken by the Speaker of the House of Commons had immense merit given the nature of the office.

The Second Plenary Session consisted of a panel chaired by Arnold Tusa, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan and David Smith, MPP (Ontario) and Jean Joly, MNA (Quebec). They discussed the need for adequate compensation, especially in recognising the role of the constituency office, for all parliamentarians. There was no disagreement that disparities existed between each jurisdiction and that a more concerted effort should be made to, at the very least, monitor the Member's funding levels in a realistic manner.

The Third Plenary Session: The Future of Bicameralism in Canada after the Meech Lake Accord chaired by Denis Rocan, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly had as its panellists Senator Gerald Beaudoin (Ottawa) and David J. Carter, Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly. The discussion revolved around the need for Senate reform. The participants suggested many different ways to modify the Senate to reflect the interests of all regions of Canada.

The final Plenary Session dealt with Time Allocation in Debate. The ensuing discussion concentrated primarily upon Question Period as a consequence of time allocation. The panel consisted of Red Peterson, Speaker of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly, Pierre Lorrain, Speaker of the Quebec National Assembly, Keith Penner,MP and Dianne Cunningham, MPP, (Ontario).

Seminar on Canada and US Political Systems

During the first week of October, eleven legislators from six provinces participated in a seminar "Special Features of the US Political System". The seminar was organised for the Canadian Region of CPA by the Centre for Legislative Exchange. In addition to illustrating what the separation of powers means in terms of the policy-making process, this seminar focussed on four important features of the US political system quite different from Canadian practice: the organisation of elections, party leadership and discipline, the role of caucuses and the role of political action committees in election financing.

In the opening session, Catherine Rudder, Executive Director of the American Political Science Association, outlined the dynamics of the congressional system and contrasted them with the parliamentary system. The group then travelled to Capitol Hill where Congressman Beryl Anthony Jr. described the role of political parties and the methods for selecting candidates. Robert Okun, Executive Director of the Republican Policy Committee concluded the first day with a discussion of the role of leadership for the minority party in Congress.

Day two began with a briefing by Canadian Embassy officials on current Canada/US relations. Then, Robert Barrie, Manager of Federal Legislation Relations Operation of the General Electric Company, spoke about the development of political action committees in the United States. Later, two members of the Northeast/Midwest Congressional Coalition, Congressman Howard Wolpe and Congresswoman Claudine Schneider described how their special caucus operated and contrasted it with some of the other congressional caucuses. The federal election law was outlined by Carolyn Oliphant, former Special Assistant General Counsel for the Federal Elections Commission. House Majority Leader Thomas Foley took time from a busy schedule on the floor to provide several humorous anecdotes about the role of party leadership and party discipline in Congress. The day ended after a meeting with Christopher Bowman, Director of Political Operations for the Republic National Committee and his counterpart, Tom O'Donnell, Deputy Director for Politics, Democratic Congressional Campaign.

New Table Officers in Manitoba

Janet Summers began sitting at the Table during Manitoba's short first session in 1988 (February 11 to March 9). As well as serving as Clerk of several Standing Committees of Manitoba's Legislative Assembly (Law Amendments, Municipal Affairs, Public Accounts, Public Utilities & Natural Resources, and Rules of the House), Janet oversees the administration of MLA allowances for constituency, access, mailing and printing expenditures. She joined the staff of the Clerk's Office in November of 1986.

Bonnie Greschuk joined the Table at the start of the current session (July 21). She is the Clerk of the following Committees: Agriculture, Economic Development, Industrial Relations, Private Bills, Privileges & Elections, and Statutory Regulations & Orders. As well, Bonnie is the financial administrative officer for all offices of the Assembly. She joined the Clerk's Office staff in May of this year.

Eighth Annual Meeting Canadian Association of Sergeants-at-Arms

Leo McNulty, Sergeant-at-Arms of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly was host to the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Sergeants-at-Arms held in Fredericton from August 16 through August 19, 1988.

Attending the three-day conference along with Sergeants-at-Arms from the various provincial legislatures and the Senate was Peter Jennings, Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms of the British Parliament in London.

During the three-day conference, the delegates attended lectures on the history of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Library and participated in four working sessions covering such topics as employment of sessional staff, detection of drug abuse in the workplace and New Brunswick's first legislature without an official opposition.

The last day of the conference saw the election of Thomas Stelling, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Ontario Legislature, as the new President of the Association.

The informal nature of the discussions, the generous hospitality of Sergeant-at-Arms McNulty, and the excellent presentations made for a most successful conference.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 11 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-09-14