13th Canadian Presiding
The 13th Canadian Presiding
Officers’ Conference took place in Whitehorse, Yukon on January 26 and 27, 1996,
during a record- breaking cold spell. Delegates were treated to minus 48°
John Devries, Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly
and host of the conference, welcomed delegates to the westernmost capital in
Canada and to the Yukon Legislative Assembly Chamber which served as the site
for the meeting.
The first business session dealt
with the election of the Speaker by secret ballot. Camille Montpetit,
Clerk Assistant (Procedural Services), House of Commons, led off with a description
of the current procedure governing the election of the Speaker in the House of
Commons and a summary of their experience with it. Delegates from the growing
number of jurisdictions which have adopted the secret ballot election method
provided details on the procedure followed in their Houses and discussed the
merits of this innovation.
W.H. (Binx) Remnant, Clerk of the Manitoba Legislative
Assembly, made a presentation on Question Period in which he focused on the
common difficulties Speakers face during this portion of the Daily Routine. In
the ensuing discussion, participants exchanged views on the allocation of
questions and on the means of ensuring that neither questions nor answers are
The Secretary-General of the
National Assembly of Quebec, Pierre Duchesne, presented a paper on
parliamentary privilege. He outlined the history and scope of privilege and
then went on to offer some thoughts on its current-day application and
The fourth session, dealing with
the activities of the Speaker as a constituency representative and as a
candidate in general elections, was opened by George MacMinn, Clerk of
the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. This topic, which is touched on in
some form from year to year, centres upon the challenge of endeavouring to
provide effective representation for a Presiding Officer’s constituents without
endangering the essential neutrality of the Chair.
In the fifth session, Gwenn
Ronyk, Clerk of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, discussed the role
of presiding officers in maintaining and enforcing order. Delegates were
provided with a manual containing a compilation of comparative practices across
The last session of the conference
covered the topic of the Speaker’s responsibility for security and space. The
Clerk of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Claude DesRosiers, introduced
the subject with a description of recent experiences at Queen’s Park and of the
steps being taken there to address the question of security. Delegates outlined
events in and around their own Houses and reflected on the difficulty of
achieving a proper balance between allowing an appropriate level of public
access and providing an adequate level of security.
Before topics were open for general
discussion, the respective Speakers present followed up immediately after the
Table Officer who introduced a subject. Delegates then entered into lively
debate on all of the topics and would gladly have spent more time on each of
them. It seemed fairly clear, though, that ensuing discussions in less formal
settings did cover the procedural landscape from coast to coast.
Because of the thick blanket of ice
fog which enveloped Whitehorse during the conference, delegates left the Yukon
having "seen" very little of it. However, many of them appeared to
get on the plane with the sentiment in their heart expressed by the famous bard
of the Yukon.
There’s a land – oh it beckons and
And I want to go back – and I will.
The Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service
Regional Council Meeting
Following the Presiding Officers
conference a meeting of the Canadian Regional Council of CPA was held. Among
other things, Manitoba was confirmed as the site for the 1996 Regional
Conference with Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec offering to host the conferences
in subsequent years.
Quebec also announced it would be
hosting an inter-parliamentary conference on free trade in America in 1997 to
which representatives from Canada, Mexico, the United States and certain other
countries would be invited. Several international parliamentary organizations
including CPA would also be involved.
The Council decided that the 1996
CPA Regional Seminar would be held in New Brunswick and the Presiding Officers
Conference for 1997 would be in Alberta.
Newfoundland was selected as one of
the three Regional Representatives replacing New Brunswick.
New Speaker of Saskatchewan
On February 29, 1996, Glenn
Hagel became the third Speaker to be elected in Saskatchewan under the new
rules and the first to win in a contested ballot.
Mr. Hagel was born in Beiseker,
Alberta on August 17, 1949. He attended the Universities of Manitoba and
Regina, convocating with a Bachelor of Arts. Mr. Hagel has spent most of his
career as an adult educator and administrator, working in all three post-secondary
education systems in Moose Jaw. He has also worked as a consultant.
Mr. Hagel was first elected to the
Legislative Assembly in 1986. Of note during his first term was his success as
an Opposition Member in having April 28 declared an official day of mourning in
Saskatchewan for workers injured or killed on the job.
Mr. Hagel was re-elected in 1991
and 1995. During the previous legislature, Mr. Hagel held the position of
Deputy Chair of Committees and chaired the Select Committee on Driving Safety.
He was also the government caucus chair, a member of the Board of Internal
Economy and a member of the government’s Planning and Priorities Committee.