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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

New Speaker of the Senate 

Noël A. Kinsella was named Speaker of the Senate on February 7, 2006. Senator Kinsella was a senior public servant serving as Associate Under-Secretary of State of Canada when he was summoned to the Senate of Canada on September 12, 1990. 

Since his appointment Dr. Kinsella has served as Opposition Whip, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and most recently as the elected Leader of the Opposition. He also has been a member of Senate Standing Committees, including Human Rights; Social Affairs, Science and Technology; and National Finance. 

Prior to his appointment as a Senator, Dr. Kinsella served as Chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission for 22 years, beginning in 1967 and is well-known nationally and internationally as a human rights advocate and academic. 

Dr. Kinsella earned several university degrees, including doctorates in philosophy, theology and psychology. He has had a successful career as an academic, psychologist and labour arbitrator, with three books, several monographs and more than 50 articles published in the fields of psychology and human rights. 

In 1984, he was made a Knight of the Order of Malta. 

23rd Canadian Presiding Officers Conference 

The 23rd Canadian Presiding Officers Conference took place in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories from January 19-22, 2006. The conference was attended by Speakers, Deputy Speakers, Chairs of Committee of the Whole and Clerks-at- the-Table from Legislatures across Canada.  In all, 43 delegates and five accompanying persons attended the meetings. 

The conference began with an excursion to the Diavik Diamond Mine some 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.  Diavik is Canada’s second diamond mine and was constructed at a capital cost of $1.3 billion.  Peak annual production at the mine is approximately 8 million carats, the vast majority of which are of gem quality.  The two and soon to be four operating diamond mines in the NWT will make Canada the second largest producer of diamonds in the world.  The ability of the Northwest Territories to retain a fair proportion of the resource royalties generated by this non-renewable resource extraction is a significant priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. 

The conference got underway in the Chamber of the NWT Assembly on January 20. Speaker Paul Delorey welcomed all delegates to the conference. A special welcome was extended to Speaker Bill Barisoff of British Columbia and Speaker Michael Brown of Ontario who were attending their first Presiding Officers conference since being elected to the Speaker’s Chair. 

Tim Mercer, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, used the first business session to provided the delegates with an overview of the unique style of consensus government that exists in the Northwest Territories. Other business sessions included: 

  • Providing a Parliamentary Dimension to the Work of the United Nations:  The Declaration of the World Conference of Speakers
    Presenter: Gary O’Brien, Deputy Clerk, Senate of Canada 
  • Contested Elections
    Presenter: David McNeil, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Alberta 
  • Managing Parliament with Civility
    Presenter: Craig James, Clerk of Committees and Clerk Assistant, British Columbia 
  • The Jean-Charles-Bonenfant Foundation
    Presenter:  Diane Leblanc, Deputy Speaker, Québec 
  • Challenging the Chair
    Presenter: Tim Mercer, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Northwest Territories 

On the evening of January 20, 2006, the delegates attended a reception at the Northern Frontier Visitors’ Centre hosted by former Speaker and now Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, Anthony W.J. Whitford. Commissioner Whitford chose this reunion with many of his former colleagues for the official unveiling of his Speaker’s portrait which will be permanently displayed in the Legislature. Later that evening, the delegates were addressed by Joseph Handley, Premier of the Northwest Territories. Premier Handley outlined many of the unique challenges and opportunities facing the Northwest Territories in the face of unprecedented economic growth. 

After a brief excursion to the outskirts of Yellowknife for some dog sledding, hot tea and tube rides, the delegates assembled for one last time before returning to their home jurisdictions. At dinner, the conference heard a presentation from Major Kevin Tyler of Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters on the increasing importance of northern sovereignty in Canada’s Arctic. Speaker Delorey later provided each of the delegates with as North of 60 Explorer’s Certificate and thanked them for traveling so far to see one of Canada’s most unique and diverse regions up close. 

Of special note, Speaker Harvey Hodder of Newfoundland and Labrador took advantage of the conference to announce the upcoming retirement of that jurisdiction’s Clerk, A. John Noel. All delegates rose to give John a warm round of applause in appreciation for his many years of service to the House of Assembly and indeed to development and understanding of parliamentary democracy in Canada. 

All delegates are looking forward to next year’s conference to be held in Prince Edward Island. 

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 29 no 1

Last Updated: 2020-09-14