Thirty-sixth Regional Conference, Regina
Approximately sixty-five parliamentarians
from across Canada, representing a cross section of political parties gathered
in Regina from July 12-18 for the 36th Canadian Regional Conference of the
Commonwealth parliamentary Association. The host of the Conference was Speaker Glenn
Hagel of Saskatchewan. A number of other provincial and territorial
Speakers were also in attendance including Ken Kowalski (Alberta), Lloyd
Snow (Newfoundland), Sam Gargan (Northwest Territories), Wayne
Gaudet (Nova Scotia) and Robert Bruce (Yukon).
Also in attendance was Eric Pickles
from the British House of Commons, Emily Saunders, a Member of the
Legislative Council of the Turks & Caicos Islands and Andrew Imlach representing
the CPA Secretartiat in London. The Conference took place in the Legislative
Assembly Chamber where it was officially opened by Saskatchewan Premier Roy
Saskatchewan is known for its innovative
spirit both in public policy and parliamentary government. This spirit was very
much present in the organization of the Conference as well. For the first time
proceedings were televised live across the province on the provincial cable network.
They were also rebroadcast nationally in both English and French on CPAC.
Another precedent was a professional
development workshop led by Lee Morrison on "Political
Personalities: Is there a quintessential temperament?" Delegates were
asked to fill in a Myers-Briggs questionnaire designed to help them discover
and use their strengths, improve communication and understand others.
The first topic for the business session,
chaired by Richie Hubbard (Nova Scotia) was "Women
Parliamentarians: Is there a Path to a Gender-balanced Parliament?" The
lead Speaker was Jane Groenewegen, (NWT). She said the key to attracting
more women into politics was to make political life more compatible with family
Another session, chaired by Speaker Snow,
dealt with "Increasing Public Respect for the Parliamentary Institution:
Is it time for more outreach?" The panellists were Speaker Hagel, and LeRoy
Johnson, (Alberta). Speaker Hagel outlined the ambitious outreach programme
undertaken by his province (See Canadian Parliamentary Review vol. 20 No. 2
Summer 1997 pp. 2-3). Other members discussed what was being done in their
Russell MacNeil, (Nova Scotia) chaired a session on "Devolution
of Programme Responsibilities: Community Empowerment or Fiscal Downloading?"
The Speakers were Russell Williams (Quebec) and Doug Livingston,
(Yukon). It engendered a lively discussion between advocates of a strong
central government and those in favour of more powers for provincial
A session on "The Changing Face of the
Grain Industry" was chaired by Dan D’Autremont, (Saskatchewan). It
featured presentations by Albert Klapstein, (Alberta) and Senator Nick
Taylor. The discussion centred around arguments for and against the use of
marketing boards and particularly the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
Pat Duncan (Yukon) chaired the session on the "Role of the
Caucus in the Canadian parliamentary system". The panellists were Ray
White (Nova Scotia) and Violet Stanger, (Saskatchewan). There was no
single model for caucus but many ways were suggested to involve members in the
Yves Blais, (Quebec) chaired a session on "Delegated
Legislation/Regulations: The weak link of Parliamentary Accountability?"
Different aspects of this topic were presented by Elizabeth Weir (New
Brunswick) and Sue Olsen (Alberta). Articles based on their
presentations appear in this issue of the Canadian Parliamentary Review.
A session entitled "Negotiations on
Self-government Arrangements with First Nations" was chaired by Dave
Boushy (Ontario) and included presentations by Roy Erasmus,
(Northwest Territories) and Eber Hampton (President of the Saskatchewan
Indian Federated College).
There was a First Nation’s theme running
throughout the Conference. For example, at the opening ceremony Elder Donald
Bigknife of the Piapot Reserve offered a Prayer for the Conference.
During a visit to Craven in the Qu’Appelle Valley delegates were treated to an
evening of First Nations Cultural Performances directed by Boye Ladd of
the Hochunk Nation. It including a spectacular Hoop Dance by Preston Pashe
of the Dakota Tipi Reserve. Other Dancers represented the Cree, Otoe/Pawnee,
and Hidatsa/Arikara Nations.
On the Sunday before the Conference there
was an Ecumenical Aboriginal Service led by Christine Hodgson. It
included prayers, readings and a "Water Ceremony" Representatives
from each Canadian jurisdiction had been asked to bring small samples of their
local water. They were called forward one by one to pour the water into a large
clear bowl. Samples of the combined water were given to delegates. The
remainder was returned to earth in a ceremony outside the legislative building.
The pitchers used to pour the water were crafted by former Saskatchewan MLA Anita
Bergman who requested that each pourer accept the pitcher as a souvenir of
The social programme included a reception
and dinner hosted by J.E.N. Wiebe, the Lieutenant Governor of
Saskatchewan. It was followed by a command performance of the historical play
The Trial of Louis Riel at the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts. Delegates were
also treated to a trip to Moose Jaw for a rare opportunity to witness a
practice by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. This was followed by a visit to the
Western Development Museum with its transportation collection. There was an
opportunity to tour a Saskatchewan Wheat Pool elevator and visit a working farm
in order to obtain some insight into what is still Saskatchewan’s largest and
most important industry.
The organizing committee, headed by Speaker
Hagel put together a memorable programme that left all delegates with a
favourable impression of Saskatchewan.
Canadian Regional Council
The Council met on July 12 to conduct the
business of the Association. Bob Speller, MP was elected to serve on the
international executive committee replacing Senator William Petten whose
three-year term had expired. The other two regional representatives are Speaker
Ken Kowalski of Alberta and Speaker Lloyd Snow of Newfoundland.
The 1998 Regional Conference will be held in
Ontario and the following year in Quebec. The Regional Seminar will be in
Alberta in 1998 and Newfoundland in 1999. The Presiding Officers Conference
will be in British Columbia in January 1998 and in Ottawa the following year.
Quebec Hosts Parliamentary Conference of
An important event in the field of
parliamentary relations took take place from 18 to 22 of September 1997, when
the National Assembly of Quebec hosted the Parliamentary Conference of the
Americas, a meeting which brought together for the first time in the history of
our continent parliamentarians of the two hundred unitary, federal and federate
States of the Americas. (See article in Summer 1997 issue of Canadian
Parliamentary Review) Participants discussed the issues and impacts of economic
integration on the 775,000,000 inhabitants of our hemisphere.
The debates were held in four languages:
French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Speakers discussed various matters
relating to the theme "Towards the Americas of the Year 2005: Democracy,
Development and Prosperity".