Two Parliamentary Conferences on
Parliament in Quebec
A special conference bringing together parliamentarians
and students of parliament from several countries was held in Quebec City from
October 9-12, 2002. The conference was organized by the Amicale des
anciens parlementaires du Québec and the present members of the Quebec
National Assembly. There were approximately 175 participants.
The opening ceremony included a welcome
from Speaker Louise Harel. André Boulerice, Minister for
Relations with the Citizens and Immigration spoke on behalf of Premier Bernard
Landry, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay spoke on behalf of the Leader of the
official Opposition. Pierre de Bellefeuille, the Conference Chair and Denis
Hardy, President of the Amicale des anciens parlementaires du Québec
also welcomed delegates.
The Opening session featured a
presentation by Beatriz Elena Paredes Rangel, President of the House of
Deputies of Mexico.
The topic for the first plenary session
was “What at the Roots of the Malaise Afflicting our Democracies?” The panel
consisted of Matthias Rioux, MNA, Bernard Cassen, General Manger
of the Le Monde diplomatique, and Serge Cantin, Professor of
Philosophy at the Université du Quebec at Three Rivers.
The second plenary session was devoted
to the question of whether parliament’s decline is irreversible. The
panel was made up of Professor Louis Balthazar, Denis Marshall,
Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Professor Alan
Rosenthal of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
The third plenary session dealt with
party discipline and featured Jacques Brassard, former MNA and cabinet
minister, Gilles Lesage a freelance journalist in Quebec and Nathalie
The fourth session asked the question
“Should Ministerial Responsibility be Limited”. The speakers were Jean
Garon, Mayor of Lévis and former MNA, Victor Goldbloom, former MNA
and Senator Jean-Claude Rivest.
The fifth session asked “Can Parliament
be Reinvented”. It featured presentations by Richard Guay, former
Speaker of the National Assembly, Claude Ryan, former MNA and cabinet
minister; and Caroline St-Hilaire, MP.
The sixth session looked at
“Resurrecting the Citizen in the Age of the Internet”. The speakers were Jacques
Dufresne, philosopher and writer from Quebec and Olivier Giscard
d’Estaing, Chairman of the Action Committee for a World Parliament.
The closing session featured an address
by Philippe Séguin, former President of the French National Assembly.
The Speaker of the Quebec National Assembly
was also instrumental in organizing another conference “Global Governance 2002”
which took place in Montreal on October 14 as part of a larger conference on
Globalization organized the Forum International de Montréal.
Speakers at this conference included Jacques
Parizeau, former Premier of Quebec, Bob Rae, former Premier of
Ontario, Philippe Herzog, a Member of the European Parliament, Adrien
Houngbedji, Speaker of the Benin National Assembly, Carlos Baraibar
of the House of Representatives of Uruguay, Elizabeth Ungar, Professor
of the University of Los Andes in Columbia and Olivier Giscard d’Estaing
of the Action Committee for a World Parliament.
The rapporteur was Roger Paquin,
MNA of Quebec who is also Chairman of the Quebec Branch of the Commonwealth
Second Canadian Parliamentary Seminar
From November 3 to 9, 2002, the
Canadian federal Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association hosted a
seminar attended by 22 parliamentarians from Antigua and Barbuda, South Australia,
India, Karnataka (India) , the Isle of Man, Terengganu (Malaysia), Nigeria, St
Christopher and Nevis, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, Scotland,
Wales, Zambia as well as three Canadian provinces - Manitoba, New Brunswick and
Prince Edward Island.
The Chair of the seminar was Sarmite
Bulte, Chair of the Canadian Branch, CPA. The first session was
devoted to the Commonwealth and the Role of CPA. Speakers were Denis
Marshall, Secretary-General of CPA and Bob Speller, MP, Chairman of
the Executive Committee. An overview of the role and operation of the
Canadian Parliament was provided by Audrey O'Brien, Deputy Clerk of the
House of Commons.
An introduction to the Canadian
Political Scene was offered by Senator Lorna Milne, Loyola Hearn,
MP, John Williams, MP, and Suzanne Tremblay, MP. The topic
of Political Recruiting and Women in the Political Process was addressed by
Senator David Smith, Hedy Fry, MP and Alexa McDonough, MP.
The Role of Party and Caucus was the
subject of another session which featured Joe Fontana, MP, Professor C.E.S.
Franks, and Werner Schmidt, MP.
The speakers for the session on
Engaging Citizens: Resources and Tools were: Dr. Carolyn Bennett,
MP and Dr. Keith Martin, MP. A session on Representing
Pluralistic Constituencies featured Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral, MP, Libby
Davies, MP, and John McKay, MP.
A panel on Parliament and the Media
consisted of John Harvard, MP and Susan Murray of CBC News.
The topic of Parliament and Civil Society featured Senator Raynell Andreychuk
and Sean Moore, Public Policy Advisor with Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson.
The panel on Parliamentary Committees
consisted of Charles Caccia, MP, John Williams, MP and William
Young of the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament.
The session on Parliament and Lobbyists featured John Chenier and Marlene
In addition to the business session
delegates had an opportunity to attend question period in the House of Commons
and Senate. The Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, and the Speaker of
the Senate, Dan Hays, hosted a reception and dinner for the delegates.
The keynote address for the conference was delivered by Hugh Segal,
President of the institute for Research on Public Policy. He spoke on
“Parliamentarians as Intermediaries: A View from Outside the precincts of
New Chairman of Executive Committee of
CPA from Canada
Bob Speller, MP was elected Chairman of the
Executive Committee, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association at the 48th Commonwealth
Parliamentary Conference held in Windhoek, Namibia in September 2002.
The other three candidates for the
position were Bill Baxter, MP (Victoria, Australia); Hazel Hannan
(Isle of Man) and Senator Dato Ghazi Ramli (Malaysia). Mr. Speller
won on the second ballot and succeeds Pius Msekwa from Tanzania who was
executive head of the Association since 1999. The position is for a three-year
New Regional Representative
In September 2002 the Speaker of the
Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, Myron Kowalsky, was elected as one of
Canada’s three representatives on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth
First elected to the Saskatchewan
Legislative Assembly in 1986 and re-elected in 1991, 1995 and 1999, he has
served as Government Whip and on various committees before his election as
Speaker in March 2001.