Twenty-fourth Annual Canadian Presiding Officers' Conference
Greg Deighan, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island
was host to the 24th Annual Canadian Presiding Officers' Conference in
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from January 18 - 21, 2007. It was
the first opportunity for PEI to host the Conference since 1992. Speaker
Deighan was delighted with the turnout and participation in the program
with forty-two delegates and eleven Partners from every jurisdiction in
Canada in attendance. Business sessions were held at the Delta Prince
Edward Hotel on January 19th and 20th with presentations and discussion
on the following topics:
Dr. David McNeil, Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Alberta presented on Alberta's
online 'Virtual Visit'. He demonstrated to delegates how this interactive
web based application is navigated and how it was designed to enable students
from areas remote to the capital city of Edmonton (and others) to experience
the beautiful Legislative Assembly Building of Alberta and learn more about
Tim Mercer, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
presented a paper on Language Rights in the Northwest Territories. This
very informative session on the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories'
decision which led to the suspension of the production of Hansard on October
26, 2006 (presently under appeal) generated a great deal of interest.
Michel Bonsaint, Director General of Parliamentary Affairs of the National
Assembly of Québec and Francois Gendron, MNA, Deputy Speaker of the National
Assembly presented on the Michaud Affair which concerns the important
matter of parliamentary privilege and the application of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms to legislative assemblies.
- Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons lead those assembled in
a round table discussion on decorum in the Chamber. This session proved
to be very informative and entertaining often illustrating the different
approaches taken by Canadian jurisdictions in dealing with the thorny and
delicate matter of decorum in the Chamber.
- Dr. David Docherty, Dean of Arts and Professor of Political Science at
Wilfrid Laurier University and author of Legislatures (part of the Canadian
Democratic Audit series) presented on Effectiveness in Legislatures: Getting
the message out. Delegates were treated to a learned presentation on
the state of our legislative assemblies, the matter of compensation for
members of Canadian Parliaments, the role of legislative assemblies and
the general regard with which Canadians hold their parliamentary institutions.
Speakers George Hickes (Manitoba),
Bill Barisoff (British Columbia), Harvey
Hodder (New- foundland and Labrador), Myron Kowalsky (Saskatchewan),
Clarke (Nova Scotia) and Eugene McGinley (Deputy Speaker designate, New
Brunswick) kindly agreed to serve as session chairs and did an excellent
job of facilitating discussion and encouraging participation.
Aside from the business sessions there were opportunities for some social
activities and friendship. After registration on the first day of the
Conference, an Island Welcome Reception was held, providing an opportunity
for delegates to meet new friends and get reacquainted with their colleagues
from across Canada. The Manorfield String Quartette provided beautiful
background music and Island oyster shucker Mike Pendergast commanded the
attention of those gathered as he offered exquisite Colville Bay oysters
on the half shell from his well stocked dory! The next evening, delegates
took a short bus ride through the rain to Province House for a reception,
an opportunity see the Legislative Assembly Chamber up close and to walk
the same halls as the Fathers of Confederation did in 1864. In fact delegates
and guests received a special greeting by George Coles, Father of Confederation,
as he descended the staircase of Province House to welcome those assembled!
This was followed by dinner in Memorial Hall of Confederation Centre of
the Arts, Canada's national memorial to the Fathers of Confederation.
Provincial and territorial flags hang from the ceiling and the names of
the delegates to the 1864 Conference are carved in stone above the entry
a fitting setting for our parliamentarians! Delegates were then treated
to some traditional Island entertainment by fiddler Sheila MacKenzie and
On Saturday afternoon, delegates and guests were offered optional activities
such as; a guided Island tour (including a drive over Confederation Bridge),
an afternoon at the Charlottetown Driving Park for live harness racing
or some shopping in downtown Charlottetown. The day culminated with a
reception and dinner at the Culinary Institute of Canada where delegates
and guests enjoyed the fine music of Este Mundo and an ample sampling of
traditional Island fare prepared by some of the soon to be best chefs in
As stated by Speaker Deighan at the closing dinner, it was a pleasure
for the Presiding Officers' and staff of the Legislative Assembly of Prince
Edward Island to once again have the opportunity to host the Canadian Presiding
Officers' Conference. It is our sincere hope that delegates and guests
in attendance found the experience as informative and enjoyable as we did!
New Speaker in New Brunswick
The New Speaker of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly is
Elected in the provincial election held June 9, 2003 to represent the constituency
of Grand Lake during the 55th Legislature, he was a member of the Standing
Committee on Private Bills, and the Standing Committee on Law Amendments.
As a member of the official opposition, he was the critic for matters relating
to seniors. Re-elected in the provincial general election held September
18, 2006, he was elected Speaker on February 6, 2007.
Born in Chipman, Mr. McGinley graduated from high school there. In 1957,
he graduated from UNB. with his B.A. (Honours in Economics) and, in 1958,
he obtained a Master of Arts Degree (Economics). He was a Sir James Dunn
Scholar. He earned his Bachelor of Civil Law Degree from UNB in 1962 and
he studied international and civil law in Texas. From 1963 to 1991 he practiced
law in Bathurst and he was honoured with the designation of Queen's Counsel
Previous to his election in 2003 he completed five years as Chairperson
of the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board. He was the MLA for the
city of Bathurst from 1972 to 1978 and has been actively involved in Liberal
politics since he was a teenager. He was president of the Lions Club, New
Brunswick Lung Association, Victorian Order of Nurses, and the Multiple
Sclerosis Society. He chaired the Bathurst Planning Appeal Board and was
research economist with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.
New Clerks in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador
The new Clerk of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly is William
(Bill) MacKenzie. His appointment was affective October 30, 2006. Mr.
MacKenzie has been Deputy Minister, in an acting capacity, of the Department
of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development since January 2006. Before assuming
that responsibility, he was Assistant Deputy Minister of trade and investment
with the same department, with responsibility for overseeing governments
trade policy, export development and investment attraction. From 1996 to
2001, he was Assistant Deputy Minister (Regional Development), overseeing
the departments network of 22 offices throughout the province.
He has also served in other executive and management positions with government
departments and agencies. From 2001 to 2004, he was Assistant Deputy Minister
of the Department of Government Services, with responsibility for motor
vehicle registration, vital statistics, the Queens Printer and the overall
operation of Government Service Centres. He also worked with the Department
of Development, and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, first
as Regional Coordination Consultant, and later as Director of Human Resources.
Mr. MacKenzie was a high school teacher for 10 years. He has a Master
of Arts from the University of British Columbia, a bachelor of education
from the University of New Brunswick, and a bachelor of arts from Mount
Allison University. He replaced John Noel who retired as Clerk in August
In Saskatchewan the new Clerk is
Gregory Putz. He was born in Moose Jaw
and educated at the University of Regina and the University of Western
Ontario. He worked as a researcher with the Canadian Institute for Historical
Micro Reproductions in Ottawa from 1984-1986 before joining the Legislative
Assembly of Saskatchewan in 1987 as a Clerk Assistant.
He is a member of the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada, the
Canadian Study of Parliament Group, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society
and a former President of the Roland Groome Chapter and a member of the
National Board of Directors of the CAHS. He replaces Gwenn Ronyk who retired
in December 2006.
On December 6, 2006, the Government House Leader
Glenn Hagel asked leave
to permit Ms Ronyk to address the House. She noted that Saskatchewan has
a very vibrant parliamentary democracy but there is room for improvement.
Some very significant reforms have recently been done, especially the new
committee system that was designed to strengthen the role of private members
and to increase citizen participation in the legislative process. But now
you have to make those reforms work. You have to use those committees
to involve the public and to enhance the roles of members and to strengthen
the accountability of the legislature.
And for our committees to really work, they must have more resources. One
of Chief Justice Gomerys chief findings in his review of the sponsorship
scandal in Ottawa was that parliamentary committees needed to have more
resources if they were to be effective in holding government accountable.
And if its true there, its very true here.
I believe strongly that our legislature is too small. We need more members
to have an active committee system and to have a strong and an inclusive
legislature. And this isnt just my opinion, theres lots of sound research
to support the idea that a critical mass of legislators is needed in a
modern and effective legislature. The taxpayers association may not understand
this, but you dont get smaller government by weakening the legislature,
you only get a weaker watchdog. That is not in the public interest.