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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

16th Presiding Officers’ Conference

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 Vaive.

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 affiliation.  

The 17th Conference of Presiding Officers will be held in January 2000 in Manitoba.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 22 no 1

Last Updated: 2020-09-14