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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Two CPA activities took place recently in Canada. From October 3-14, 1994, Canadian parliamentarians hosted the International CPA Conference in Banff, Alberta and from October 30-November 2, the 18th Seminar of the Canadian Region of CPA took place in Ottawa.

40th CPA Conference

More that 500 participants representing over 120 Branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association assembled for the 40th CPA Conference which was held in Banff from October 8-14, 1994. The conference was opened by the Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn. Other speakers at the opening included: the Speaker of the House of Commons, Gilbert Parent, President of the CPA; K.B. Ratnayake, Vice-President of the Association; Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly, Stan Schumacher; and Chief Ernest Wesley of the Wesley First Nation. The highlight of the opening was a traditional First Nation blessing ceremony by Nakoda Elder Eddy Holloway. The conference also heard an address from the Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

At its General Assembly the Association approved application for re-admission from several branches including South Africa which returned after an absence of more than thiry years. The Assembly also elected its new executive including Senator William Petten as the Canadian Regional Representative.

In addition to the plenary session which dealt with how parliamentary insitututions can be made more representative and responsible, there were also six panel sessions on a variety of topics.

One of the most lively sessions focussed on practical and innovative processes to achieve full equality for women. There was also a separate meeting the Commonwealth Women Parliamentary Group which has become a regular feature of CPA conferences.

Delegates also had an opportunity to visit Lake Louise, a rodeo in Calgary, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drummheller.

Eighteenth CPA Regional Seminar

This year the theme of the Seminar was Parliamentary Government in an Age of Restraint. The first session dealt with Internal Economy Committees: A Comparative Perspective. Speakers included: Hon. Alfonso Gagliano, MP, Senator Colin Kenny and William Cusano, MNA (Quebec) and Dame Peggy Fenner of the United Kingdom Parliament.

The second session focused on The Size of Legislatures. Speakers included Emery Barnes of British Columbia and two Saskatchewan MLAs, Maynard Sonntag and Tom Keeping.

The third session considered the issue of Salaries, Pensions and Benefits of Legislators. Panellists included Doug Martindale of Manitoba and Greg O`Donnell of New Brunswick.

The fourth session looked at the possibilities for An Information Highway for Parliamentarians. It featured Reg Alcock, MP and Michael Binder, Assistant Deputy Minister at Industry Canada.

The final session brought together panellists from Alberta, Richard Magnus, MLA, the Northwest Territories, Henry Zoe, MLA and Colin Pickthall, MP of the United Kingdom. They considered whether there is a role for parliamentarians in controlling the deficit.

The Chairman of the Seminar was Bob Speller MP, Chair of the federal branch of CPA. The seminar was opened by the Speaker of the Senate, Hon. Romeo LeBlanc and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Hon. Gilbert Parent. Except for Ontario, where the opening of the fall session coincided with the seminar, every province and territory was represented.

New Speakers

Two new presiding officers were chosen recently in Quebec and the Senate. In New Brunswick, a new Speaker was also elected following adoption of changes to the Standing Orders.

The Senate

On November 22, 1994, Speaker Roméo LeBlanc resigned from the Senate in order to become the next Governor General of Canada. He will be he first Acadian and the first representative from Atlantic Canada to be elevated to that position.

The new Speaker of the Senate is Gildas Molgat. He was born in Ste. Rose du Lac, Manitoba and was educated at the University of Manitoba and St. Paul's College. A business consultant, he was first elected to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in 1953 and re-elected in 1958, 1959, 1962, 1966 and 1969. He was Leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba and Leader of the Opposition from 1961-1968.

Mr. Molgat was summoned to the Senate in 1970 and has held many positions in the Upper House. He was appointed Chair of the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada in 1971. He was co-president of the Special Joint Committee on Senate Reform (Molgat-Cosgrove Report) in 1983-1984. He was appointed Government Whip in 1983 and has served as Deputy Speaker of the Senate from 1983 to 1984 and from 1988 to 1991. He has been Chair of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord and Senate Task Force on Meech Lake Accord and Yukon and the Northwest Territories. In 1993, he was appointed Deputy Government Leader.

New Brunswick

When the Legislature adjourned in the Spring of 1994, Premier Frank McKenna announced a cabinet shuffle and at the same time said he would ask the Legislative Assembly to consider Gérald Clavette to preside over its deliberations when the House resumed in the fall. In the interim, it was decided to follow the precedent established by other jurisdictions and elect a Speaker by secret ballot.

Although designated Speaker Clavette was elected November 29 to preside during the proceedings of the House, following the adoption of rule changes December 2, he resigned to accommodate the wishes of the Members and allow the historic secret ballot election to take place.

On December 2, 1994, following a secret ballot, the former Speaker Shirley Dysart was declared elected.

Speaker Dysart is a former teacher, who was first elected to represent Saint John Park in 1974. She was re-elected in 1978, 1982, 1987 and 1991. She served as Interim Leader of the Liberal Party for two months in 1985. She was appointed Minister of Education on October 27, 1987 and served in that capacity until she was named Speaker on October 8, 1991.


The new Speaker is Roger Bertrand. He was born July 26, 1947 in Donnacona and educated at Laval University where he received a B.A. in Social Science and an M.A. in economics. He subsequently did post-gaduate study in Applied Macroeconomics at the University of Paris. From 1980-1984 he worked in the Social and Health Programme Division of Treasury Board. From 1985-1987 he was Vice President of the Commission of Inquiry on Health and Social Services. He later became the Director General of the Health and Social Service Council of the Quebec Region.

He was elected to the Quebec National Assembly in a by-election in July 1993 and was opposition spokesman for matters pertaining to the public service. He was re-elected in 1994 and became Speaker of the National Assembly on November 29, 1994.

New Clerk Assistant in Saskatchewan

Margaret (Meta) Woods was raised and educated primarily in Saskatoon. She obtained her B.A. in History and her law degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She subsequently received a Rotary scholarship to study at the University of Aberdeen where she earned a M.Litt (History). Following completion of her class work in Scotland, she articled with the Balfour Moss law firm in Saskatoon. After two years in law practice she returned to an administrative position within the Naval Reserve which enabled her to complete her thesis and defence with the University of Aberdeen.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 17 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-03-03