Although not officially a CPA
activity the Presiding Officers’s Conference brings together most of the
individuals who head their respective Branches of the Canadian Region of the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
The 16th annual
meeting of the Presiding Officers was held in Ottawa from January 7 to 10,
1999. The co-hosts of the meeting were Speaker Gildas Molgat of
the Senate and Speaker Gilbert Parent of the House of Commons.
Every Canadian jurisdiction was
represented by either a Speaker, a Deputy Presiding Officer or a Clerk.
Following a format adopted
several years ago a number of business sessions consisted of formal
presentations by table officers followed by general discussion. Among the
topics dealt with in this way were: “The Role of Parliaments and
Parliamentarians in the 21st Century Governance” presented by David
McNeil of Alberta, “The Changing Demographics of Parliamentary Assemblies”,
presented by Claude DesRosiers of Ontario, “Ensuring Order and Decorum”
presented by Lori Catalli Sonier of New Brunswick, “The Casting Vote”
presented by W.H. (Binx) Remnant and “Agreements to be Ratified by
Legislatures: A case study of the Nisga’a Treaty” presented by Robert
The Conference also included
reports from each jurisdiction on procedural issues that arose during the past
year. These reports were presented by the following Speakers Lloyd
Snow (Newfoundland and Labrador), Sam Gargan (Northwest
Territories), Jean Pierre Charbonneau (Quebec) Ken Kowalski
(Alberta) Ron Russell (Nova Scotia), Chris Stockwell (Ontario) Wilbur
MacDonald (Prince Edward Island), Louise Dacquay (Manitoba), Glenn
Hagel (Saskatchewan) and Senator Molgat. Two Deputy Speakers
presented reports for their jurisdiction: Peter Milliken (House of
Commons) and John Flynn (New Brunswick). The Yukon report was
presented by Deputy Clerk Missy Follwell and the British Columbia report
was presented by Clerk Assistant Robert Vaive.
The last session was an Oxford
Union-style debate on the following proposition: BE IT RESOLVED that the
televising of debates in legislatures and their committees is a key contributor
to the understanding of our parliamentary institutions.
Arguing for the affirmative were
Erda Walsh of British Columbia and Kim Trew, Deputy Chair of
Committees in Saskatchewan. For the negative were Ian McClelland,
Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole in the House of Commons and Donald
Tannas Deputy Speaker of Alberta.
Presenters were allowed six
minutes each for an opening statement and two minutes each for rebuttal.
There was also an opportunity for interventions from the floor.
Following debate the results were decided based on applause from the
audience and the negative was declared the winner.
The meetings demonstrated once
again the community of interest shared by presiding officers regardless of
which part of the country they came from or their party
The 17th Conference
of Presiding Officers will be held in January 2000 in Manitoba.