The 24th Commonwealth Parliamentary
Conference in Jamaica: A Summary Report
The Twenty-fourth Conference of the CPA was
held in Jamaica, September 19 to 30, 1978, when the Jamaica Branch of the
Association was host. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the
Honourable Ripton S. Macpherson, M.P., President of the Association, was
Chairman of the Conference, which was attended by 192 Delegates and observers.
All participants assembled in Kingston on
September 19 and the two pre-conferences tours, which lasted from September 21
to 24, included visits to the following centres: Kirkvine (visit of bauxite
mines and cattle farms), Appleton (rural life presentation), Montego Bay,
Smithsfield (visit of small farms), Negril and Ocho Rios.
The Conference meetings were held at the
Pegasus Hotel, September 25 to 30. The Opening of the Conference also took
place at the Pegasus Hotel, when His Excellency the Most Honourable Florizel
Glasspole, Governor General of Jamaica, delivered the Opening Address.
Canadian Delegates to the Conference were as
Canada (federal) Dr. Maurice Foster, MP
(Leader of the Delegation) Senator the Hon. W.J. Petten (Government Whip in the
Senate) Senator the Hon. David G. Steuart Mr. Lloyd R. Crouse, MP Mr. Peter
Elzinga, MP Mr. Andrew Hogan, MP Mr. Fernand E. Leblanc, MP Secretary: Mr.
Bruno Lecci, Assistant Secretary, Canadian Branch, CPA
Alberta Mr. James Miller, MLA
British Columbia Hon. Harvey W. Schroeder, MLA (Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly), Mr. Ian M. Horne, QC (Clerk of the Legislative Assembly)
Manitoba Hon. Warner J. Jorgenson, MLA (Government House
Newfoundland Hon. G.R. Ottenheimer, MHA(Speaker of the House of
Nova Scotia Mr. Hugh Tinkham, MHA, Mr. H.F. Muggah, Clerk of the
House of Assembly
Northwest Territories Hon. David H. Searle, QC, MLA (Speaker of the
Ontario Mr. Hugh Edighoffet, MPP (Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly)
Prince Edward Island Mr. Ralph Jonstone, MLA
Quebec Mrs. Louise Cuerrier, MNA (Vice-President of the National Assembly),
Mr. Gilles Michaud, MNA Mr. Paul Trotier
Saskatchewan Mr. Gordon L. Barnhart (Clerk of the Legislative
The call of elections in the Provinces of
New Brunswick and Saskatchewan prevented these two provincial branches of the
CPA from sending a parliamentary delegation to the conference.
Also attending the conference were Canada's
two Regional Representatives, Mr. Harry Blank, MNA, (Quebec), and Mr. Maurice
Dupras, MP, (Federal). Four Canadian provincial branches of the CPA sent
unofficial observers: and Senator the Honourable Allister Grosart and the
Honourable Gerald A. Regan, QC, MLA (Nova Scotia) were special guests of the
Conference. The Congress of the United States, the AIPLF (Association
internationale des Parlementaires de langue française) the Commonwealth
Secretariat and the Society of Clerks-at-the Table were also represented.
During the Conference, the election of the
Hon. Gerald Ottenheimer, as Canadian Regional Representative (Provincial) was
officially accepted. Mr. Speaker Ottenheimer replaces Mr. Harry Blank, Member
of the National Assembly of Quebec, whose three-year mandate terminated during
the 24th CPA Conference.
It was at the General Assembly, on September
29 that the application of the Northwest Territories Branch to send one
delegate to future plenary conferences was unanimously approved.
The General Secretariat of the CPA issues
the Verbatim Report of the Conference to all delegates and Branches as soon as
ready. For the benefit of all parliamentarians of the Canadian Region of CPA,
we are reprinting in this issue the summary report of the Conference
Report of Conference Discussions
The following is a summary report of the
conference discussions, noting the main views expressed and the consensus where
this clearly emerged. This summary was prepared by a team from the staff of the
Clerk of the Canadian House of Commons who attended in Jamaica for the purpose
and is issued by the Headquarters Secretariat of the Commonwealth Parliamentary
First Plenary Session
The Current World Situation and Threats
to World Peace
The Hon. P.J. Patterson, Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jamaica, opened the session by stating that
peace is not merely the absence of military conflict or a preservation of the
status quo by the great powers. Peace can exist only in a world where human
dignity is stressed and where people are free from domination and the threat of
In too many cases economic liberation has
failed to follow the end of colonial rule. Many areas are today kept poor and
denied their legitimate aspirations by the developed nations. This new economic
colonialism is today the major threat to world peace. The great nations should
no more tolerate economic imbalance within the world than they now tolerate
extreme regional disparities within their own borders. The Commonwealth has the
capacity to understand these facts and must move to end world economic
imbalance. It can do this by example, by ceasing to utter platitudes and by
implementing the Singapore Agreements without delay.
A delegate from Zambia joined the Minister
in emphasising that the cause of world peace permits no compromise with South
Africa and Rhodesia. On this particular issue the Commonwealth must be firm and
not only support action now against Rhodesia but also truly isolate South
Africa from world affairs. The Zambian delegate went on to say that the West
must not fear that Africa is becoming communist and therefore feel that
Rhodesia and South Africa are bastions of capitalism. Cuba is not spreading
communism in Africa but helping to provide the freedom withheld by the West.
The leader of the Indian delegation deplored
the fact that nothing had changed since the great hope for world peace at the
end of the Vietnam War. He emphasized India's hope for a just and comprehensive
peace in the Middle East and in Cyprus. He condemned the South African policies
of racism and colonialism and expressed India's support for Namibian
independence. While the UN Conference on Disarmament offers some hope of
retarding the arms race, he warned that existing nuclear weapons must be destroyed
and further production ceased if enduring peace is to be achieved.
The leader of the New Zealand delegation
held that one of the important issues affecting world security is the problem
of restrictions on world trade such as the protectionism practiced by major
countries. His nation shares many of the difficulties faced by the smaller
countries and has been able to cope so far by adjusting to a lower standard of
living. There are hopeful signs that the major powers are prepared to accept
more responsibility in this area as evidenced by the recent GATT negotiations.
A Sri Lanka delegate stated that peace is
basically the presence of justice and equality. The right of all nations to
self-determination is the fundamental prerequisite to lasting peace.
A delegate from Malta spoke of numerous
theories concerning the origins of the threats to world peace. He noted that
the communist world is also in a precarious state of instability and that the
Third World is witnessing super-power rivalry at its worst.
In dealing with the arms race, a Sierra
Leone delegate commented on the UN Disarmament Conference and indicated that
the smaller countries are most likely to suffer from any arms race. He spoke of
economic conditions as the main causes of world instability and of the urgent
necessity for industrialized nations to become more sensitive to the needs of
smaller countries. He urged abolition of the arms race and the use of funds
thus saved to eliminate poverty.
The leader of the Mauritian delegation
expressed the fear that the world is sitting on a volcano which might erupt at
any time. He deplored the fact that superpowers seem more interested in
acquiring satellites and selling arms than in promoting peace. He urged
delegates to demand that the superpowers be sincere in words and action.
A delegate from Tanzania spoke of two
dominant currents in international affairs: turbulent and dialogue. The former
is evident in the growing gap between rich and poor, continuing racism in
southern Africa, increasing dominance by multinational corporations, arrogance
exhibited by the Western powers in their policing activities in Africa, and the
struggle between those seeking freedom and those seeking to dominate. As for
the latter, he appreciated the dialogue between North and South, attempts at
regional cooperation and the increase in number of independent and non-aligned
states. He advocated moral and material support to the liberation movements in
southern Africa and Rhodesia.
The leader of the Canadian delegation added
his support for the position of the front-line African states and the
independence of Zimbabwe and Namibia. He endorsed the Anglo-American proposals
relating to Rhodesia and hoped that the United Nations would be able to play a
stronger role in peaceful settlement of disputes. He recognised, too, that
economic problems have been detrimental to the current world situation.
The need for a new international economic
order was emphasized by the leader of the delegation from Guyana who pointed to
existing irregularities between and within nations.
A delegate from the United Kingdom
emphasized his government's commitment to NATO, the support of which is a
necessary precondition for disarmament negotiations and, ultimately, for
progress in economic development.
A delegate from Gibraltar deplored the
economic and political blockade imposed by Spain on his country. In his
opinion, time, evolution of international relationships and economic
reorientation at home will help to overcome the consequences of the blockade.
An Australian delegate took exception to
world criticism aimed at the governments of Rhodesia and South Africa. He
advanced several reasons in support of a reassessment of critical attitudes
toward these governments, including his feeling that apartheid affords human,
political and economic self -development and connotes no one black
"nation" dominating another. Two other Australian delegates
interjected to dissociate their government from the views expressed.
The delegate from the Falkland Islands drew
attention to the political engulfment of his country by Argentina. He rejected
Argentina's claim as unfounded, being based on territory rather than on people.
An Indian delegate strongly condemned the
governments of Rhodesia and South Africa. He objected to the fact that certain
nations, including some in NATO, in spending vast sums on armaments, provide
direct or indirect assistance to the South African government.
The leader of the Malaysian delegation
described his country's policy towards South Africa and the Middle East and its
support for self-determination. He proposed increased trade between developed
and developing nations as a means of fostering peace.
The leader of the United Kingdom delegation
joined in the expression of concern over the situation in South Africa and
Rhodesia. She looked to free elections for all and greater UN presence as
fundamental requirements to solve this matter. Her conclusion was that a
framework for a solution already exists in Anglo-American proposals and only
requires communication between conflicting parties.
A delegate from Mauritius said that detente
is a fraud and that the threat of nuclear war increases daily. Disaster can be
avoided only by extending economic justice to all. It is indeed criminal for
men of goodwill to stand silent in the face of evil in South Africa.
An Australian delegate dissociated himself
from the views expressed by the first speaker from his delegation. He stated
that the real enemy to peace is to be found in the financial boardrooms of the
world. He pointed out that Australia expends some $7,000,000 per them on arms
and questioned the morality of doing so in the face of mass hunger in the
A Canadian delegate held that the concept of
some one hundred and fifty nations of the world living at peace was utopian and
almost beyond belief. World opinion must not concentrate solely on areas where
racism openly exists but must also view Russia as a racist state.
A plea for all to act as citizens of the
world came from an Indian delegate. He hoped that the UN would be used to its
fullest capacity and that the developed nations would strive to overcome
economic imbalance by purchasing raw materials at a fair market price.
Appealing to Southern Europe for
cooperation, a Maltese delegate spoke of his desire to see the Mediterranean as
a lake of peace. He felt that a marriage of European technology and Arab aid
could bring equality, stability and detente to all in his region.
The delegate from Belize pointed out that
independence must come soon for his country and asked the delegates if they and
their countries stood ready to help. He denounced the continued denial of the
right of self-determination for his people and viewed this denial as a real
threat to peace.
Second Plenary Session
The Value of a Bicameral Legislature
The Hon. Shri Lakshman Singh, Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly, Rajasthan (India), opened the session. He stated that a
second chamber performs a vital role. Legislation is no longer the sole
business of Parliament. Scrutiny of government administration is equally
important. The evaluation of executive performance is beyond the capacity of a
single house. The function is not properly carried out in he rough-and-tumble
of a popularly elected chamber. Experienced persons are required in a second
chamber which will review and revise as required.
In a second chamber debate is freer and more
dispassionate because of the absence of party considerations. Membership is for
longer periods and changes occur less frequently. The result is that the chamber
of ten comes to the rescue of the whole nation as a means of checking those
election promises which, if implemented, would be beyond a country's resources.
its contribution cannot be measured in quantitative terms. Much will depend on
its powers, its position in the legislative set-up, its membership and the
power structure of the society. There must be an absence of party politics,
otherwise it will suffer all the deficiencies of the lower house.
The delegate from Queensland (Australia) saw
no value at all in an upper chamber. He did not approve of politicians deciding
who would serve for varying terms in an appointed house but felt that all
Parliamentarians should have to fight for their places as legislators. He
questioned the idea that Members of Parliament cannot handle all the affairs of
Parliament and that a watchdog is needed.
An upper house is not necessary in order to
stop government; an opposition in the lower house can perform this function.
The danger with the upper houses is that party politics tend to creep in and
these chambers end up doing what they are told. He urged that upper houses be
A Jamaican delegate had opposed the idea of
an upper house for some years. If one is necessary, it should be elected, not
appointed. This makes for a wider choice of representatives, as in Jamaica's
case, where there is a proposal for elections to the upper house by
A delegate from the Cayman Islands
recognised the necessity of a bicameral system in large federations like Canada
and India where federating units want their views represented and a guarantee
that the elected chamber will not act in haste. He felt, however, that the
electorate should choose those who govern.
A New Zealand delegate described the upper
house as a redundant institution which, once established, is hard to abolish.
He felt that any useful functions performed there could be better carried out
by an expanded unicameral legislature .
In the view of a delegate from Andhra
Pradesh (India), bicameral legislatures are best suited to large countries.
Upper chambers vary widely in size, makeup and powers, but generally benefit
their countries by modifying legislation from the other house after mature
consideration, and by assuming some of the burdens of legislation. He denied
the assertion that upper houses are overly conservative and said that their
expense was justified if better laws are produced.
A Canadian delegate pointed out that an
upper chamber might be needed to make federation possible. In his own country,
the upper house brings experience, expertise and patience to the consideration
of complex bills and financial questions. It replaces expensive royal
commissions, initiates national debate on social issues, and works with the
lower house in joint committees. He noted that his upper house has called
unsuccessfully for changes in its own structure, and spoke of his government's
plans for radical Senate reform.
A delegate from Malaysia stressed that
legislatures must be adapted to the needs of each country. A majority of his
country's upper house are appointed: some Members to represent ethnic and
religious minorities, some to represent trade interests and some to provide the
legislature with technical expertise. Because debate is not politically charged
and because Members find no conflict between national and political
responsibilities, an upper house is especially useful to a developing country
and can offset its cost by restraining the politically motivated expenditures
of the lower house.
A United Kingdom delegate warned against a
general condemnation of the upper house. Such a body can be useful in count e
r-balancing the popular influence on the lower house. It can undertake part of
the overwhelming work faced by a modern legislature by giving more time to the
scrutiny and amendment of complex legislation, by initiating noncontroversial
Bills and by inspiring wide-ranging debate on important social issues. He
suggested then an upper house can remain extremely useful as long as it is well
set up and flexible enough to respond to the needs of the country as they
A Fijian delegate said that the
appropriateness of a bicameral legislature depends upon the needs,
characterization and genius of the people of a particular country. In Fiji an
upper house is necessary to ensure that the provisions of the constitution for
the protection of minorities are respected. Fiji is a multilingual,
multicultural and multiracial country, well served by an upper chamber which
ensures that all groups are represented. In a small country, the Senate is a
very useful institution to which are appointed able Members of the lower house
who are defeated at elections. Such a practice alleviates a scarcity of expert
and talented persons.
The Karnataka (India) delegate explained
that in India both the federal and state levels of government opted for
bicameral legislatures. He reviewed the arguments for and against a bicameral
legislature and concluded that the upper chamber is a very necessary
institution, particularly in utilizing the talents of persons who may not
desire to be candidates in elections. The second chamber must be more
functional than political.
A delegate from Barbados declared that he
had no strong feelings for or against the existence of an upper house, but he
felt that there is no possible justification for an appointed chamber. In
Barbados the second chamber has been very helpful because of the talented
persons it attracts and the restraint it places on constitutional reforms. But
if the Senate of his country is to continue it should be elected, and on a
basis different from that of the lower house.
The Tamil Nadu (India) delegate pointed out
that the upper house (Rajya Sabha) in India is indeed democratic as its Members
are elected by the lower house (Lok Sabha). The upper house can offer much
needed scrutiny of legislation, especially if it does not work along party
lines. In addition, it provides a valuable source of professional expertise.
In contrast to this viewpoint, the delegate from
Sierra Leone felt that for developing nations upper houses born of tradition
and left by departing colonial masters are unnecessary. Upper houses by their
very nature tend to represent vested, upper-class interests and provide the
mass of taxpayers with little value for money.
Ending the discussion, the delegate from the
Isle of Man's one thousand-year old Parliament, pointed out that bicameral
systems are satisfactory if they only advise, leaving power in the hands of the
electors. This, in fact, is the system evolved by the Isle of Man over the
Third Plenary Session
The Effect of the EEC on the Commonwealth
with Special Reference to Trade and the Lomé Convention
The Hon. Nalumiro Mundia, Cabinet Minister
for North-Western Province, Zambia, opened discussion by describing the EEC as
the world's largest trading unit made up of nine countries which bound
themselves together to protect their own interests. So too, he urged, should
the Commonwealth protect its own interests.
The purpose of the Lomé Convention is to
establish relations between developed and developing countries. Citing evidence
of trade cooperation, stability of ACP export earnings and increased
industrialization of the ACP nations, he suggested that the Convention's
implementation in the trade sector has been satisfactory. He concluded by
cautioning, however, that industrialized nations must still recognize the need
for a new international economic order.
The Lomé Convention was designed to
alleviate problems resulting from Great Britain's entry into the EEC, according
to a delegate from Tamil Nadu (India), but instead it had divided the
Commonwealth by excluding Asian countries. He urged members of the CPA to
recognize the United Kingdom's reduced role in the Commonwealth and to encourage
increased trade amongst the other Commonwealth countries.
Losses to Asian countries were mentioned by
a Sri Lanka delegate. Earlier trade preferences had been replaced by a
generalized scheme of preference which left the non-ACP nations at a disadvantage.
All members of the Third World need access to markets and abolition of
barriers, but protectionism, which is anathema to the Commonwealth concept of
free trade, appears to be a guiding principle of the EEC.
A United Kingdom delegate stated that a
suitably re-negotiated Lomé Convention would lead to greater cooperation on the
basis of real equality between the developed and developing countries. He
emphasized the importance of including newly independent Pacific nations and
endorsed the view of the delegate from India that Commonwealth countries must
ensure that the Lomé Convention does not have a divisive effect. While
advocating increased trade, resistance to protectionism, improved aid and
commercial investment, he noted that Great Britain faced some difficulty in
securing popular support for such programmes because of its own economic
The leader of the Gambian delegation said
that the Lomé Convention had resulted in increased aid, greater industrial
cooperation and guaranteed prices on specified products. He added that the ACP
countries are, nonetheless, disadvantaged in an uneven partnership because
their primary products are processed by members of EEC and re-exported.
A Canadian delegate drew attention to the
levels of world poverty and the difficulty of getting nations to agree on help
for developing countries in times of world economic recession. He noted that
there had been concern over Britain's entry into the EEC because of the
possible decrease in trade between the two countries and the unemployment this
could cause. Later experience, however, proved this concern to be unfounded
notwithstanding the underdeveloped state of the Canadian manufacturing
A delegate from St. Lucia outlined the
historical evolution of negotiations of international trade agreements. He
explained that it is now possible for developing nations and small countries
such as St. Lucia to sit as equal partners with developed nations to discuss
international trade agreements.
An Australian delegate expressed his
disagreement with Britain's entry into the EEC, suggesting that it has had a
detrimental effect on Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe because the EEC is a
very inward-looking organization.
The West Bengal (India) delegate criticized
the manner in which EEC countries ignore ACP countries. The EEC was an
organization whose members have trade agreements with certain powers to temper
minor rivalries and to exploit other countries. He hoped the developing
countries of the world would unite to solve their mutual problems and not be
overwhelmed by EEC members.
A Malaysian delegate spoke of the problem of
divided loyalties within the Commonwealth. Some Commonwealth countries are
often forced to adopt policies which may conflict with the best interests of
other member-nations. The realities of economic inter-development must bring
out an extrovert attitude and a positive approach by developed countries
towards developing nations.
A United Kingdom delegate maintained that
the EEC should seek to amend the Lomé Convention to provide for the transfer of
more technology to ACP countries. He also noted the reluctance of certain EEC
countries for such a transfer and the resulting slowness in implementing
Article 48 of the Convention. ACP countries have sought a stable agreement in
addition to the transfer. He reminded delegates of the Secretary-General's
observation that the Commonwealth has failed to deal with those companies which
inhibit the transfer of technology. The time has come, he said, for the CPA to
take urgent action by means of a specialist committee to break down the
resistance to such a transfer.
A delegate from Tanzania noted that the Lomé
Convention and the EEC/ACP relationship were a step forward in the search for a
new international economic order and can be a model for the Commonwealth in its
efforts to build stronger economic relationships amongst members.
The disadvantages for his country in terms
of decreased agricultural production were stressed by a New Zealand delegate.
New Zealand has the potential to produce more agricultural products, but the
efforts of trading blocs will force his country to diversify its products and
markets. He noted the various techniques adopted by the EEC to stabilize prices
and control imports and exports. These had the effect of phasing down New
Zealand food production with a consequent reduction in training, expertise and
The Solomon Islands delegate drew attention
to a trend toward protectionism detrimental to developing countries trading
with the EEC. His country looks forward to a re-negotiated Lomé Convention and
Stabex coining to the rescue in efforts to diversify trade. He also spoke of
the interdependence of well-to do and poor countries. Both groups should be
treated with equality, keeping in mind the wish of ACP countries who are
parties to the Lomé Convention for more self-reliance.
The Hon. Treasurer of the Association
expressed his personal opinion, which, he stated, was shared by a majority of
Britons, that they had been wrong to join the EEC. This essentially selfish and
increasingly protectionist group, whose policies produced the inadequate Lomé
Convention, hopes to open Third World markets for itself without reciprocal
European markets for the developing countries. The EEC's ultimate goal, a
federal European State, would force its British province from the Commonwealth
but this will be forestalled by the economic collapse of the EEC, which is
moving in the wrong direction.
A Guyanese delegate pointed out that poverty
and economic injustice must end before world peace can be achieved. Despite the
Lomé Convention, there are few signs that poorer countries with most of the
world's population and resources are to receive more than their present small
share of its wealth. it is unrealistic, however, to wait for help from
excolonial capitalist exploiters. The developing countries must realize that
their hopes of freedom lie in economic independence through socialism.
Objecting to the Phrasing of the agenda
subject, the delegate from Kerala (India) said that the existence of the EEC
has widely different effects on different countries of the Commonwealth. In the
case of the developing countries, the intention of the EEC is to exploit the
former colonies through protectionism and price manipulation. This was clearly
shown when all the Western countries rejected the reasonable proposals of the
Group of Seventy-seven at Nairobi. He urged countries of the Third World to
abandon the delusion of aid from, or even expanded trade with, the EEC and to
work for self-reliance.
The delegate from Tuvalu complained of EEC
protectionism in dealing with small or poor countries. It is difficult to see
why the procedure for obtaining aid under the Lomé Convention is so cumber
some. He predicted that the EEC would grow stronger with the admission of.new
countries, and urged it to simplify its
aid procedures if it sincerely wishes to
help. He recognised that Commonwealth countries to whom small countries in the
Pacific might look for aid have their own difficulties with the EEC, but hoped
that, with good faith on both sides, future aid problems could be solved.
A United Kingdom delegate conceded that his
country has been less successful in reducing EEC protectionism than had been
hoped. But since the U.K. is in the Common 'Market after full national debate
and on better terms than expected, it remains to work for fairer policies in
the future. Developing countries should prepare now for an urbanized population
which will accompany economic development. He maintained that the EEC will be a
force for good, since world trade and economic development can best be promoted
in conditions of peace in Europe.
The Lomé Convention's stipulation that no
one continent should receive more than fifty per cent of the aid total was
questioned by the delegate from Assam (India). He went on to point out that
this provision created certain inequalities when viewed on a per capita basis.
He hoped that Lomé would be applied in future to strengthen both the EEC and
developing states and that the EEC would strive to create a decent minimum
living standard for all areas in the world.
A Maltese delegate observed that the
political significance of Lomé to the Commonwealth was as great as its economic
significance. Lomé is the first real example of regional collaboration and as
such adds a new, more mature dimension to foreign aid. He hoped that Europe
would soon take positive action in Africa to defeat the potential spread of
communism in that continent.
A delegate from Fiji suggested that, if the
figures presented to the session were correct, the EEC when viewed in relation
to countries like Canada, was providing only conscience money. It would be a
delusion to see the Lomé provisions as a life-line to prosperity. He questioned
the EEC practice of providing capital to allow new states to enter the already
depressed world sugar cane market.
Fourth Plenary Session (Balloted
A) The Need for Updating Medical
Legislation on Abortion in the Commonwealth
Senator Michael H. Beaubrun, CMT, Trinidad and
Tobago, opened the session by noting the world tendency towards the
liberalization of abortion. The main reasons are: greater recognition of a
woman's right to determine how her body is used, the increasing number of
unwanted pregnancies, improved medical technology and over-population. New
abortion procedures technically violate existing laws of most countries, and
laws which are unenforceable are bad laws. In his view, the fundamental right
of the unborn child is the right to be wanted: "all unwanted children are
a dangerous source of pollution of our human resources pool". Restrictive
laws send women to backroom abortionists. In most cases this leads to tragedy.
He concluded by making the following points: whether you are for or against
abortion the present laws are obsolete and must be changed; the purposes for
which the United Kingdom Act of 1861 was enacted no longer apply and the Act
has become counter-productive.
An Australian delegate expressed the view
that the issue of abortion basically comes down to the woman's right to decide
for herself and all legislators must respect that right. The only changes
needed to the law are those to remove abortion as a criminal offence and to
ensure the safety of the mother and child.
A delegate from Mauritius said that it is
not a change in the law which is necessary but change in the attitudes of the
public. Resistance to the liberalization of abortion derives from religious and
Victorian beliefs. The equation of abortion with crime is a false concept
derived from the Middle Ages. He observed that abortion laws are based on sex
and class discrimination.
The delegate from Northern Territory
(Australia) asserted that laws against abortion are laws against the poor.
Having noted that ecclesiastic law must not intrude upon civil law and that
modern medical procedures have made abortions simple and safe, she emphasized
that the woman must make the decision whether or not to bear a child.
A Bahamian delegate spoke of the pressing
problem of over-population in the Caribbean Islands and of the consequent need
for more liberalized abortion laws. He pointed out that this area cannot hope
to overcome serious economic problems if it is to be continually subjected to
increasing demands for housing, food and classrooms.
A Quebec (Canada) delegate outlined the
present federal-provincial division of responsibilities relating to abortion.
She asked the delegates to consider the UN Declaration on the Right to
Self-determination as they legislated on this matter.
While explaining that many in his country
were morally opposed to abortion, an Indian delegate noted that overwhelming
social and economic problems leave very little choice.
A Malaysian delegate pleaded for better
education concerning birth control and abortion. She asked men to see the need
to be partners in parenthood and rejected the idea that moral decay will result
if abortion laws are liberalized.
A Maltese delegate deplored the lack of
conscience shown in the speeches. Comparing abortion to apartheid, he spoke out
against abortion and maintained that on both subjects an expression of
conscience would allow no compromise for convenience.
Delegates from Belize and the Cayman islands
spoke of the restrictive stance of the Roman Catholic Church on birth control
In closing, a delegate from Gibraltar
reminded legislators they cannot disregard the moral climates of their own
countries and the individual consciences of their constituents.
B) A New International Communications
The leader of the delegation from Guyana,
Comrade Shirley Field-Ridley, MP, pointed to a revolution in the influence of
the mass media. A one-way flow of capitalist-oriented information emanates from
the developed countries. Inexpensive programming distributed by international
news agencies depicts values which are detrimental to the poorer nations. The
total communication network focuses on the sensational, ignoring issues
relevant to developing countries and resulting in a tendency toward
counterproductive destabilization. She urged the CPA to organize a group to
work as a catalyst for cooperation in devising programming relevant to both
developed and developing countries and to provide assistance in adopting
technology to recipients.
The delegate from Nova Scotia (Canada) urged
CPA members to publicize in their countries the positive accomplishments which
are drawing developing countries closer to the level of prosperity of developed
A note of caution was introduced by a United
Kingdom delegate who warned against the creation of a monopolistic organization
which would judge whether news is fair and balanced.
An Indian delegate explained that biased
news reporting in his country had resulted in a monopolistic agency being
replaced by several smaller agencies. He criticized the media monopoly enjoyed
by some international news agencies which concentrate on events in major
countries to the neglect of substantial news from the smaller nations. He spoke
of the need for a competitive but independent media not controlled by
A delegate from St. Lucia spoke of honesty
as the essence of international communications, while a delegate from Selangor
(Malaysia) noted that the media can be instrumental in bringing about peace and
harmony but can also sow the seeds of strife.
The Jersey delegate strongly opposed
interference with the media and made a plea for the preservation of freedom of
A Canadian delegate criticized the Quebec
media for failing in its newsreporting responsibilities by editorializing and
indulging in opinionated reporting. He attributed this to the highly unionized
nature of the media whose members' first loyalties were not to the public but
to their trade unions.
In supporting the proposal of the opening
speaker for a CPA organized group to promote cooperation in devising relevant
programming, a United Kingdom delegate expressed particular interest in the
distribution of world-wide news about developing countries and the
dissemination of technical knowledge.
A delegate from the Turks and Caicos Islands
pointed with pride to the recent establishment of daily news reporting in his
country and spoke of the importance of accuracy, freedom and truth in media
The delegate from the Falkland Islands
stressed the greater importance of freedom of the press in developing
countries. The higher rate of literacy in developed countries affords people
the opportunity to determine for themselves the extent of media abuse; many in
developing countries are unable to do so.
A Fijian representative cautioned that
criticism of the media may often be unfounded. News reports may clash with
preconceived ideas of events and when this occurs news agencies are believed to
be inaccurate. He concluded by observing that the selection of news items from
international agencies is often based on popular appeal rather than on the
importance of the news.
C) The Role of the Opposition in A
In opening on this subject, Hon. Osman
Gendoo, MLA, a delegate from Mauritius, stated that the role of the opposition
is to criticise constructively. He spoke also of the desirability of
cooperation and respect between government and opposition. An opposition can
play a vital role, particularly in newly independent countries. He spoke of
oppressive government measures, designed to thwart opposition. Left unchecked,
he cautioned, a government using such measures can turn a parliamentary
democracy into a parliamentary dictatorship.
The delegate from Gujarat (India) pointed
out that the opposition must be responsible, placing the stability of the
country before its own desire for power. It is the duty of an opposition to
keep the government to a high standard and to present the electorate with an
alternative programme. A Jamaican delegate agreed that an opposition must
oppose constructively and present alternatives. He added that it is important
that an opposition have freedom of expression and take part at home and abroad
in political forums such as the CPA.
A United Kingdom delegate referred to a
difference in the opposition's roles in the house and in select committees; in
the former it is the only group that can control a government often
automatically supported by its own Members, while in the latter non-partisan
scrutiny of government business is the rule, since an unfavourable committee
report will not cause the government to fall.
Reflecting on earlier statements, the
delegate from Newfoundland (Canada) commented that, whether its differences
with the government are ideological and basic or limited to specific
programmes, an opposition must provide a credible positive alternative. The
electoral system must therefore offer an unhindered opportunity for change of
government and there must be various mechanisms in Parliament by which the
opposition can make its position clear. While agreeing that responsible
behaviour is necessary, he emphasized that a free exchange of opinion and a
vigorous opposition are of primary importance to the rule of law.
The delegate from Johore (Malaysia) spoke of
the role of the opposition as watchdog in the parliamentary democratic system.
The developing countries, especially those with multiracial and multiparty
societies, face the special challenge of ensuring that government and
opposition evolve integrated programmes for the benefit of all the people. The
opposition, he said, has the right to criticise and the responsibility to
accept those majority views which promote the national interest.
A Canadian representative spoke of the
importance of the Speaker in protecting the rights of the opposition and in
guaranteeing that it can perform its job. He warned that a proper balance
should be struck between those issues upon which opposition can support
government and those which it wishes to put before the people. In many
democratic countries with absolute freedom of the press, the media rather than
any parliamentary party became the true opposition. This denies the voter
The use of press conferences and outside
meetings was supported by a delegate from Guyana as proper to the role of an
opposition which has the right to expose failures and weaknesses and to state
its own philosophies and ideas. The news media, he added, should be available
to both sides to put all views before the electorate.
The role of an opposition, a delegate from
Jamaica noted, depends on the electorate, the press, the government and the
Speaker. He agreed its chief task is to offer an alternate government. It
carries out this task by opposing when necessary, by exposing when rights are
denied and by attempting to depose a government which lacks public support.
Rejecting the traditional role of an
opposition, a delegate from Fiji', an independent Member, stated than an
opposition should decide each issue as it arises. In his house there is a
gradual tendency to rule by consensus and solve problems by dialogue.
The Ontario (Canada) delegate drew attention
to some of the advantages to an opposition in a minority government situation.
In his province this has resulted in more consultation between house leaders
and the appointment of both a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker from the opposition.
The Tamil Nadu (India) delegate commented on
the difficult role of Speakers and noted that their task is made more difficult
by an obstructive opposition. In his view, there should be a code of conduct to
control an opposition bent only on enhancing its own image.
The Gibraltar delegate remarked upon the
good sense of the government and the opposition in his country in their
response to the 1967 referendum dealing with politicians must try to establish
working external political pressure. Governments and oppositions of small
countries in the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions have a responsibility to
put the interests of their countries ahead of the interests of large adjacent
Panel A) A Conflict of Interests of MPs
Between Their Parliamentary, Constituency, Party and National Responsibilities
Chairman: Hon. H.R. Shekilango, MP, Tanzania
Panel Members: Shri Godey Murahari, MP, India;
Hon. Keble Munn, MP, Jamaica
The panel member from Jamaica opened the
discussion by emphasising the importance to MPs of keeping in touch with their
constituents. The task of doing so falls mainly on the MP but he should seek
and receive the assistance of his local organization.
The Chairman mentioned that MPs are elected
to represent their own constituents, a fact which should not be overlooked.
The Indian panel member discussed his
problems as an elected representative with over 1,000,000 voters in his
constituency. He noted that such a large number of constituents precludes the
possibility of knowing all their problems and dealing directly with any
Pointing out that dangerous divisions --
religious, ethnic, urban versus rural, developed versus underdeveloped and
national versus local -- occur in society at large, many delegates agreed that
politicians must try to establish working compromises which reflect the needs
of both their constituents and their nations.
When conflicts cannot be resolved, delegates
differed as to whether their prime duty is to the local region or to the
It was suggested that members should not
view constituencies as "islands divided from the mainstream of life."
In general, what is good for one region or constituency is good for all.
Problems may occur, of course, where for certain reasons some constituencies
are ignored by the government and other constituencies, represented by
government Members, are over-rewarded.
Several delegates noted the financial
conflicts of interest that may face a Member. It was generally accepted that
MPs should register their pecuniary interests.
Some delegates said that MPs can perhaps be
most effective in their constituencies when they act as "prime
mobilizers" in leading their constituents.
Delegates from large countries often faced
problems different from those in small countries. It may be very difficult for
a Member from a large constituency in a large country to either know or visit
all areas within it. In a small country the problem may be that the Member
knows his constituency too well and cannot view the national issues, or in
fact, is not allowed to do so by his local organization. However, in both large
and small constituencies it was noted that some form of political education for
the electorate is needed. It may be, for example, the ignorance of the duties
of an MP may lead constituents to have unrealistic expectations.
Delegates reached no consensus as to whether
their first duty was to follow the wishes of their constituents, to heed the
dictates of their parties or to concentrate on their national responsibilities.
All agreed, however, that an MP who does not represent his constituents is not
likely to be re-elected.
The panel member from India noted in closing
that it may be difficult to represent both party and local needs. He felt that
on large issues the Member must follow the dictates of his whip or leave the
party. The panel member from Jamaica closed by mentioning that discussion had
been full and frank. He noted that as Members served longer and longer they
tended to become more conservative and perhaps better able to resolve conflicts
by informing and discussing the issues with their constituents.
The Fight Against International Terrorism
Chairman: Mr. Harry Blank, QC, MNA, Quebec
Panel Members: Mr. Lee Khoon Choy, MP,
Singapore Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran CBE, QC, JP, United Kingdom
The panel member from the UK opened
discussion by listing the principles which had been unanimously upheld at a
meeting of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) at Bonn in September
1) the rule of law must be upheld; 2)
governments must resist terrorists' demands; 3) terrorist acts must be
considered as crimes in the countries where they are committed and no asylum
should be granted; 4) there is an inalienable right to self-determination; 5)
governments should uphold the legality of liberation movements in conformity
with the UN Charter and international law; 6) there should be measures to
prohibit financing of terrorist acts which subvert legal governments.
The second panel member described two
incidents of terrorism which had taken place in Singapore, indicating that his
government had acted 'in accordance with the Bonn resolutions.
Discussion revealed that the problem becomes
more acute as some governments give way to political blackmail while others
provide a haven for terrorists.
Several delegates were concerned with the
underlying causes of terrorism. While some speakers pointed to a revolt against
capitalism by middle-class youth, others perceived the basic problem as one of
frustration in the face of poverty.
There is a dilemma in defining terrorism
since both governments and liberation movements sometimes resort to violence
when promoting their political objectives.
The problem of international terrorism is
exacerbated by the availability of potent weapons, by military aid from foreign
governments and by compliance on the part of negotiators with terrorists'
Several remedies were considered: terrorism
should be treated as a crime and be punished accordingly; all nations must sign
existing international conventions which stipulate that hijacking be an
extraditable offence; pilots should refuse to fly to non-signatory countries;
airport security should be improved; sanctions should be applied against
countries harbouring terrorists; Freedom fighters should be encouraged to use
non-violent methods to realize their objectives lest they lose credibility for
There was a consensus among the delegates to
support the IPU resolutions as outlined by the opening speaker. It was
recommended that the CPA Secretariat place the question of terrorism on the
agenda of the next conference.
Panel C) The Smaller Countries of the Commonwealth:
their Security and Future
Chairman: Senator the Hon. Sir. Vijay Singh,
Panel Members: Mr. K.R. Allen, 'MP, New
Zealand Hon. P. Mmusi, HP, Botswana
The Chairman commented that discussions
concerning the security and future of smaller Commonwealth countries were bound
to touch on problems of defence and economics.
The panel member from Botswana spoke of the
problem of defence in his country. Increasing external threats made demands on
precious resources intended for social and economic development. He asked
Commonwealth Members to consider seriously the extent of assistance they are
prepared to give to countries which suffer as a result of taking a moral stand
on questions like apartheid.
The panel member from New Zealand said that
Commonwealth countries have been searching for ways to help. Finance and some
technical resources can readily be transferred to needy countries. It is more
difficult to decide what additional resources might be allocated, without a
clear understanding of recipients' needs.
Delegates from small island states in the
Caribbean and Pacific mentioned their security and trading problems, caused in
large part by their dependence on the markets of more powerful countries and
their failure to form lasting federations. Federation remains a goal, thus far
frustrated by historically inspired divisions and the short-sightedness of
Several delegates noted their strong sense
of family as members of island states. They hoped the valuable strategic
resources they provide to big powers will help them to create additional
economic resources with which to aid one another.
The impact of a new International Economic
Order on smaller Commonwealth countries was also discussed. The challenge will
be for the developed nations of a stronger Commonwealth to provide leadership
to the smaller countries and further assist them toward increased strength and
A consensus emerged in the discussions that
the aim of smaller countries is to move from independence to interdependence.
Certain countries face threats against their sovereignty. ASEAN countries live
with the danger of subversion and insurrection. If left to their own devices,
the solution to these problems would be federation. Big-power politics have
made this difficult, although the efforts of the Commonwealth as. a useful
restraining influence were noted by several delegates.
The problems of Gibraltar and the Falkland
Islands were discussed: both have a small economic base and strong, immediate
external threats to their security, and are therefore grateful for their
continuing colonial status.
Several delegates pleaded that small
countries be allowed to choose their own political and economic paths without
external pressure and to work for self reliance.
Discussion returned to the special
difficulties of small island states. These may be remote from their allies and
trading partners and widely dispersed, making it difficult and expensive to
transport goods to and within the country, to receive economic or military aid
quickly, and to police all their territory -- particularly the expanded
offshore economic zone. This task will become more difficult as sea-bed
resources grow in importance to larger countries, perhaps even to the point of
cold war in the Caribbean and Pacific.
In dealing with the need to find a balance
between modified independence and security, both internal and external, many
delegates supported close regional cooperation. Small countries speaking with
one voice in international councils can deal equally with the large powers in
regard to both economic relations and territorial security.
Delegates gave their enthusiastic support to
the proposal that the Commonwealth Secretariat establish a committee to assist
the economic development of small countries and help ensure their security and
to coordinate the transfer of all kinds of aid among countries within the
In summing up, the panel member from New
Zealand warned that the road to economic as well as political independence may
be too long for small countries' endurance; he spoke of the problem of
leadership in restructuring economies and political systems to fit a new world
order; and agreed that the CPA may be able to evolve a suitable mechanism for
resolving some problems of economic cooperation in the short term.
The panel member from Botswana confirmed the
opinion that this matter should be examined by the CPA and spoke of the value
of combining independence with interdependence.
The Chairman concluded that there was ample
concern in the Commonwealth for the difficulties of small member countries and
agreed to enquire how the subject of aid coordination might best be brought for
consideration to the CPA's General Assembly.
Panel D) Parliamentary Scrutiny and
Control of Public Expenditure and Methods For Improving The Estimates Procedure
Chairman: Hon. H.C. Kerruish, OBE, CP, MHK,
Isle of Man
Panel Members: Mr. James Boyden, MP, United
Kingdom Hon. Shri Shivraj V. Patil, MLA, Maharashtra (India)
The panel member from the United Kingdom opened
the discussion by stating that more parliamentary participation in this field
is needed. In the United Kingdom both the Public Accounts and the Expenditure
Committees scrutinise public expenditure. He noted that, in general, reports
from the committees are acted upon quite rapidly but press coverage tends to be
sensational rather than in-depth.
The panel member from Maharashtra mentioned
the two-stage system in his country whereby estimates prepared by departments are
examined by the Estimates Committee and the accounts are scrutinized by the
Public Accounts Committee. He noted that a greater control over the estimates
would make for a more effective control by Parliament over the executive.
However, this control is difficult to achieve when Members do not remain on the
committee for at least two years and when a committee lacks expert staff.
The knowledge that a department's estimates
are to be carefully scrutinized is a great threat to a Minister. One delegate
pointed out that Parliament must assume control of money before it is spent and
must also ensure that good value is received for money spent. He continued by
saying that capital expenditures are an important part of any budget and should
be studied carefully.
Several delegates explained that, as it
takes two or three years for a Member to understand the estimates procedure,
membership of a committee should remain constant for the life of a Parliament.
In the same vein, delegates spoke of the conflicting demands made on their time
by their constituencies, their whips, and legislation, all of which may leave
little opportunity to study the estimates.
A bureaucracy with little concept of
business realities and firmly entrenched in wasteful habits is a matter of concern
to many Members. In one country civil servants are encouraged to join the
private sector for two or three years to gain an understanding of business
It was noted that, in general, the power of
the executive seems to be increasing relative to that of Parliament; some
nations almost have "taxation without representation".
Most delegates agreed that the form of
presentation of the estimates has improved in their countries. However, a need
for more financial detail is required. Some delegates felt that the study of
estimates could be expedited by the use of specific subject committees and
pre-budget consultation. The use of specific committees to study the estimates
would allow more time for consideration of each vote and permit Members to
Many delegates spoke of the need for MPs to
scrutinise proposed legislation with great care. "It is only by doing so
that hidden financial implications can be discovered and monitored." It
was suggested that governments make more use of "White Papers" to
ensure input from all, including MPs.
One delegate noted the very basic
contradiction whereby a Member is quite happy to slash expenditures as long as
the slashing does not harm his constituency.
Several delegates observed that in their
countries it is often two or three years before expenditures are referred to a
Public Accounts Committee. It was suggested that a delay of this magnitude
makes any committee report of little worth. To be of real value, interim
monitoring of accounts should occur as funds are spent. Any delay in this
monitoring reduces the import of Parliament with respect to the executive. One
delegate noted that in certain developing nations, money for some projects
comes from foreign grants and loans. It may be impossible for the developing
nations to monitor or even inspect these accounts.
In concluding, the panel member from
Maharashtra noted that legislators must increase their knowledge of finance if
they are to be effective. "At a time when government expenditures are
increasing daily all Parliaments must find ways to increase their control over
The panel member from the United Kingdom
observed that Parliaments and committees do not need large staffs but rather
should themselves ensure that all legislation passed is actually needed.
Panel E ) Control of Marine Resources
Chairman: Mr. P.E - Lucock, CBE, MP,
Panel Members: Hon. C.L. Bolden, MP,
Barbados Mr. Lloyd R. Crouse, MP, Canada
The panel member from Canada opened the
discussion by describing the Canadian declaration of a 200-mile limit as part
of a world-wide effort toward the rational harvesting of fisheries resources.
Noting that Canada is a coastal state which lacks the capacity to exploit fully
its fish stocks, it outlined the regulations by which foreign boats are allowed
to fish in Canadian waters.
The problems as well as the benefits
associated with unilateral declarations of zoo-mile limits became the focus of
much discussion. Recognizing the right of states to invoke such a measure, the
panel member from Barbados emphasized the need for equitable agreements
regarding waters where jurisdictions overlap. He went on to say that even where
disputes are resolved, there remain potential conflicts over the territorial
fishing rights of small nations.
General discussion revealed that efforts are
made to protect marine resources from poachers, over-fishing and pollution but
extreme conservationists should be discouraged.
It was pointed out that some developing
countries insist on state control of their marine resources whereas many
industrialized nations want private enterprise to share in the profits.
Several delegates proposed the establishment
of international authorities to guarantee equal benefits to all. Others
advocated that the CPA be concerned with sharing resources as well as
increasing trade among Commonwealth nations. It was suggested, furthermore,
that developing countries should act collectively on a regional basis to
protect mutual interests.
Delegates from small countries which are
heavily dependent on the sea emphasized that they need help from industrialized
countries to develop technology and to protect their marine resources. The
United Kingdom was urged to take a leading role in the establishment of a
Commonwealth study group so that vital technological advances could be shared.
Panel F) The Problems of Ethnic Groups
Within The Commonwealth
Chairman: Dr. The Hon. J.B. David, MLA,
Panel Members: Hon. Tan Sri V.
Manickavasagam, MP, Malaysia lion. L.W. Athulathmudali, MP, Sri Lanka
The panel member from Malaysia used the
experience of his country to illustrate how the aspirations of varied ethnic
groups contribute to nation building.
The panel member from Sri Lanka recognised
the problems of both major and minor groups and expressed his concern that even
small problems be solved before they escalate disastrously.
Various delegates commented on their
multi-cultural societies. Ethnic groups have become good citizens of their
adopted lands while at the same time being encouraged by governments to retain
their cultural identities. One delegate cautioned that not all imported
cultures will have a beneficial effect for everyone. He spoke of the
"danger of a rising expectation" when the replacement is attempted of
one culture by another which is thought to be superior. Many participants
agreed it is far better to be tolerant of all cultures, with more exchanges
between different groups.
There was a discussion concerning the
various approaches taken by countries anxious for their ethnic groups to
coexist. Some groups have been interspersed throughout the communities, others
have been separated into well-defined territories, while still others have been
recognised as autonomous nations. The technique of assimilation is favoured only
when it can be accomplished democratically.
The experience of Malaysia was particularly
emphasized. That country is made up of many nationalities, each with its own
language or dialect. A national language was needed to bind the people
together. Malay was chosen and it has become the focus of national identity.
Just as Malaysia has succeeded by tolerance of its many ethnic groups,
countries noted the tolerance and justice for all which exist in their lands.
This generous treatment of ethnic groups and open immigration policies have
caused problems like the drain of doctors and engineers from India.
Delegates mentioned various examples of
successful integration in such countries as New Zealand and the UK and in such
fields as sport and education. All were agreed that greater attention should be
given to achievements rather than to occasional difficulties. It was pointed
out that the true causes of much ethnic prejudice are often class distinctions
and economic difficulties: minority and racial groups become scapegoats if they
are easily identifiable.
The solution is not segregation, but rather
federation and economic development. Parental guidance, according to one
delegate, can prevent the early growth of discrimination, while proper education
and integrated sports programmes lead to good relations among ethnic groups.
The panel member from Sri Lanka, in summing
up, stated that accelerating contact among ethnic groups is irreversible in a
shrinking world and that this will force a breaking down of prejudices.
Achieving acceptance and quality for all is a challenge that all must face.
The Malaysian panel member maintained that
problems of ethnic difference can always be solved with political goodwill and
social and economic cooperation and, in concluding the discussion, spoke
movingly of the essential oneness of all mankind.
Fifth Plenary Session
Unrest among Youth with particular
Reference to Unemployment and the Problem of Drugs
The Hon. Rafidah Aziz, MP, Deputy Minister
of Finance, Malaysia, opened the session. She spoke of her involvement in
dealing with the drug problem in her own country. She expressed the hope that
the debate would transcend political rhetoric and the subject would be
approached as a matter of human survival. Delegates were urged to reflect upon
the opening remarks to the Conference by the Prime Minister of Jamaica relating
to the impatience of youth and the need to promote the ideal of democracy among
them. Youth has expressed its frustration by turning either to conservatism or
In her opinion, the main reasons for the
present unrest among youth are: structural changes in the economy which have
increased the gap between realizations and expectations; the decrease in
youth discipline; the failure of governments
to bring youth into the mainstream of social and economic development; the
apathy of some government leaders towards youth problems as evidenced by the
lack of programmes directed specifically to the problems of the young.
Drug abuse has reached considerable
proportions in Malaysia; some estimate that over one per cent of the youth are
addicted to hard drugs. She warned that no government can solve the drug abuse
problem unilaterally. All governments must cooperate in informing the
population of the extent of the problem, in controlling drug trafficking and in
The delegate from South Australia
(Australia) observed that the problems of youth unemployment and drug abuse can
only be solved by the recognition of the two basic human rights: the right to
work and the right to just wages. Noting that solutions to the problem of youth
unrest require international cooperation, he urged that every Parliamentarian
assume the duty of making this a drug-free world.
A delegate from Sri Lanka deplored the fact
that youth unrest was considered to be a "disease" which should be
eradicated. Delegates should see youth unrest as "nuclear energy which can
be harnessed for good or for evil". There is no direct relationship
between youth unemployment and youth unrest. He pointed out that youth unrest
exists even in European countries which have almost full employment.
Disagreeing, a delegate from Dominica said, "Unemployment cannot be
isolated from youth unrest and the drug problem". When children leave school
and are unable to find jobs they become bitter and unhappy and seek the
excitement of crime and drugs.
The delegate from Bihar (India) said that
youth unrest has two causes, "economic distress and lack of purpose in
life". He felt that unless the world economic imbalance is corrected youth
unrest will always exist in his country, and pointed out that boredom is the
root of the unrest problem. A United Kingdom delegate called for harsh
penalties for those who would "prey on this unrest by selling drugs".
A Solomon Islands delegate said that
sixty-five percent of his people are under twenty-five. He deplored the rural
to urban movement of youth in his country, noting that opportunities for work,
although perhaps menial, are available in agricultural areas but not in the
The leader of the delegation from Malawi
spoke of the steps taken by his government to overcome unemployment as a cause
of youth unrest in his country -involvement of youth in the mainstream
political parties, reorganization of the educational system with emphasis on
agriculture and trades, creation of economic incentives for participation in
small business and establishment of a youth week during which young people work
on various building projects.
A Canadian delegate recognised a
relationship between youth unrest and unemployment, the latter being a direct
impediment to the material aspirations of young people. He added that a
reorientation of the education system at the post-secondary level was required
to reduce unemployment among the educated young. Further he condemned the
widespread use of alcohol by students.
Unemployment was the main cause of youth
unrest a Maltese delegate asserted. He supported the call for re-examination of
tertiary education. He stated that programmes encouraging youth initiative and
input must replace paternalistic attitudes, citing the potential benefits which
would accrue from youth participation in, for example, CPA conferences.
A Jamaican delegate agreed with other
speakers that unemployment was a major cause of the youth unrest crisis. Youth
must associate a re-structured education system with hope for the future. He
expressed the view that states should, perhaps, resort to a socialist ideology
in solving the youth crisis, the low rate of unemployment in Cuba being an
The delegate from Grenada also commented on
unemployment and the need to encourage self-reliance among the young. She
pointed out that youth unrest often begins in privileged homes where parents
have failed to establish proper communication with their children.
Underlining the failure of governments to
come to terms with the economic contradictions inherent in capitalistic
societies, a delegate from Australia advocated massive government intervention
to solve the problem of growing unemployment.
Expressions of concern about youth
unemployment are often hypocritical, the delegate from the Northern Territory
(Australia) stated. Children complete many years of schooling only to find that
their education has been irrelevant. Turning to the problem of drug abuse, she
noted that youth would be less cynical if adults were not so simplistic in
their approach to drugs and if the profit motive were removed from the illegal
A United Kingdom delegate described a
rehabilitation project in his country for men between the ages of 18 and 25 who
have suffered long-term drug or alcohol addiction.
The factors responsible for high
unemployment, especially among school leavers, were mentioned by a St. Lucia
delegate. Chief among these is rapid population growth and the failure of the
education system to equip people for jobs. To help alleviate serious
unemployment among its young people, St. Lucia has obtained UN funding to train
educators in family-planning techniques. It has also established a service to
train youth leaders and has built colleges to provide technicians for
The Government of Malta, a delegate stated,
considers itself morally responsible to find jobs for its unemployed youth. A
pioneer corps has been set up whereby young people can take part in the
construction of the infrastructure required for new industry and later hold
positions in those same industries. Newly established trade schools also
guarantee jobs to young people after graduation.
A Fijian delegate noted his government's
realization that its education system had been inadequate and that the effects
of concentrating on a cash economy were destroying a valued way of life. A new
Ministry of Education and Sports helps young people to receive the training
they need to meet the demands of society. The government is also cooperating
with volunteer agencies which promote the interests of youth.
The problems associated with the use of
drugs were mentioned by a delegate from Trinidad and Tobago. There is no easy
solution to the drug question but the problems can be alleviated if control
methods seek to preserve the traditional ways of life, to motivate youth and to
involve them in national development.
According to a Guyana delegate, his country
dealt with the problem of youth unrest by establishing a national service to
involve young people in the political and economic development of their
country. They are taught discipline, responsibility and pride of
The delegate from Haryana (India) traced the
causes of youth unrest and noted especially the effects of sex and violence in
the mass media and the lack of religious instruction in educational
institutions. In its desire for increased youth participation, India has
established a national cadet corps and a national service scheme. Both offer
young people an opportunity for adventure and meaningful community development
work. The delegate praised the Commonwealth Youth Programme and recommended
that its role be expanded.
Sixth plenary Session
Calling the Executive to Account by
The Rt. Hon. Lord Drumalbyn, KBE, United
Kingdom, opened the session by stated that his remarks would be directed to the
question of the right of Parliament to call the executive to account and the means
of exercising that right. He observed that all governments represented at this
conference share some form of parliamentary democracy which consists of five
main elements -- representatives of the people, a civil service and an
The justification for Parliament to call the
executive to account is based on the fact that Parliament is the only
institution representing all the people and is the only institution from which
the members of the executive are chosen. It is the trustee of the people and,
as such, has a right to call the executive to account. Other bodies which may
call the executive to account were the people at election time, the party to
which the government members belong, and the mass media.
Turning to the means by which Parliament
calls the executive to account, the usefulness of supply days and of select
committees was discussed as was the means available to individual MPs:
questioning Ministers in the house, private notices and seeking leave for the
adjournment of the house to discuss urgent matters.
It was observed that there is a need for
greater freedom of information and that the increasing power of the executive
must be reduced.
A delegate from Malaysia indicated that the
power of the executive to spend public money demands that it be accountable. He
pointed out that his country is composed of various racial groups and has a
federal system. He discussed the means available to MPs to call the executive
to account, for example the budget debate, the parliamentary committee system,
the tabling of documents and the questioning of Ministers. It is essential, he
noted, that some means other than the ballot box be available to the people to
create a popular trust in government.
In conclusion, he stated that the matter of
accountability depends upon the efficiency of individual MPs and especially
upon that of Members of the opposition.
An Indian delegate pointed out that, in his
country, emergencies often make it necessary for the executive to act quickly,
and without consulting Parliament. He considered it important for both the
executive and Parliament to ensure that they control the civil service. If the
bureaucracy is not carefully scrutinized there is no guarantee that policies
put forth by Parliament and the executive will be carried out as intended.
A Canadian delegate said that the televising
of the daily question period, introduced recently, makes the House of Commons
more relevant to the Canadian people and accordingly of more concern to the
executive. The government is now called to account not only by Parliament but
is also forced to defend itself daily before the voters.
Commenting on the emergence of Adolf Hitler
in Germany, a delegate from Madhya Pradesh (India) noted that when Parliament
fails to control the executive, dictatorship is the result. He stressed the
need to have all Bills studied by select committees and suggested that, unlike
present practice, all committee meetings should be open to the press.
To permit the executive to account to people
as well as to receive feedback from them, the delegate from Perak (Malaysia)
emphasized the need for dialogue.
A delegate from Manitoba (Canada) felt
strongly that Parliament's right to examine the executive should be exercised
by Parliament itself rather than by any of its committees. He also commented on
the ineffectiveness of the question period.
The present procedures for calling the
executive to account by Parliament were described as negative by a Jamaican
delegate. He proposed presentation of quarterly progress reports by Ministers
and endorsed parliamentary scrutiny of budget proposals.
A United Kingdom delegate pointed out that
the question period was more effective in Canada's smaller house than in
Westminster. Referring to reports from select committees, he observed that
although they receive little parliamentary scrutiny, they are adequately
studied by the press. With respect to legislation, he advocated better
preparation and drafting to save time in Parliament.
The delegate from Andhra Pradesh (India) reviewed
various procedures available to Parliament to control the executive -- the
question period, the adjournment motion, the budget debate and standing
The Hon. Treasurer noted that, since the
life of a government depends on the support of a majority in the house,
backbenchers frequently are pressured by their whips to vote on legislative
measures against their better judgment. He was of the opinion that governments
should be obliged to resign only in the event of censure regarding overall policy.
He suggested also, that there be procedural changes in the house only when
supported by a two-thirds majority of those casting a vote. His final point was
that an opposition party lacks much of the information available to the
executive; a political manifesto, therefore, should advance a general
philosophy rather than detailed proposals.
The delegate from Sabah (Malaysia) advocated
that elected representatives should recognize and utilize the checks and
balances already available within the scope of their parliamentary rules.
A New Zealand delegate was concerned by the
trend toward single-party systems of government which might prevent Members
from calling the executive to account.
A United Kingdom delegate explained that the
best way to improve Parliament's control of a much more powerful and
increasingly complex executive is to modernize the committee system. This can
be accomplished only after a thorough analysis of its functions. Committees
must be allowed to hear evidence, employ advisers, and question Ministers with
regard to the planning, implementation and success of their policies.
Parliament must reclaim control of procedural changes from government, and must
have a voice in the determination of policy.
A delegate from Himachal Pradesh (India) reminded
the conference that all power dwells in the people. The Westminster model works
well in his state, although the committee system needs improvement. He did not
agree that the power of the executive is increasing but warned that vigilance
must be maintained against the abuse of existing powers.
A Guyanese delegate said that crossing the
floor is a crime and that MPs elected on a party ticket should instead resign.
Under a democratic system, MPs speak for the people and it is important that
they be aware of all aspects of government activities. The executive must
always remember that it is responsible to Parliament, which is supreme.
A delegate from Gibraltar conceded that a
committee system, not divided along party lines, makes the MP in opposition
more effective but objected that it does not present the electorate with a
clear choice. The multiparty system, he said, offers the best guarantee of
democracy -all the rest is procedural convenience.
A Zambian delegate reported that in his
country the one-party system allows Members much greater freedom to criticise,
influence and oppose the executive than they had previously under a two-party
system, when majority supporters feared a change of government if they did not
New Commonwealth Countries: (Dominica and
(Dominica became independent on November 3,
1978. St. Lucia became independent on February 22, 1979. St. Vincent is
scheduled to become independent some time this year.)
The People: Dominica has a population of 80,000. Reduced
emigration and a dramatic fall in the death rate has given the country the
fastest rising population in the eastern Caribbean; it is expected to reach
100,000 by 1990. The country is composed of people of African descent, people
of mixed descent, Europeans, Syrians and Caribs, the last three groups in small
numbers. English, the official language, is very widely spoken and almost
universally understood but a French patois persists as the medium of
conversation among older people. Religious adherence is pre dominantly Roman
Catholic but the Church of England and the Methodist Church have also been long
The Country (Capital: Roseau. pop.
12,000) Dominica lies in the
Windward Islands group between the French Islands of Guadeloupe, to the north, and
Martinique, to the south. The island is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide with an
area of 289.8 square miles. It is roughly rectangular in shape and is very
mountainous, picturesque and well-watered. During the cool months of the year -
December to March the climate is particularly pleasant. The dry season lasts
from about February to May; June to October are generally the wettest months
and the period during which hurricanes may occur. The annual temperature ranges
from 78 degrees to 90 degrees in the hottest month - generally July.
Historical Note: Dominica was discovered by Columbus on Sunday (dies
dominica), November 3, 1493. It was then a stronghold of the Caribs, who had
arrived in the Antilles from the mainland of South America and were in the
course of driving out the less warlike Arawaks. The Spanish made no attempt to
establish settlements on the island either then or later, probably because of
the strength of the Caribs and the forbidding terrain.
English associations with Dominica did not
begin until 1627, when it was included in a grant of sundry islands in the
Caribbean made to the Earl of Carlisle; several attempts to take possession,
however, proved abortive. Under the treaty o f Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748, Great
Britain and France agreed to treat the island as neutral ground and to leave it
to the Caribs. Nevertheless, French planters continued to settle and establish
plantations and Dominica came to be regarded as a de facto French colony. In
1759 the English captured it from the French and the conquest was acknowledged
in the ninth article of the Peace of Paris 1763. In 1778, the French in
Martinique, attracted by the fertility of Dominica and encouraged by some of
their countrymen on the island, launched a military and naval assault under the
Marquis de Bouillé. In 1783 the island was again restored to the English and
Sir John Ord, Bart. was appointed Governor.
In 1833 the island was, with Antigua and the
other Leeward Islands, formed into a general government, under a governor-in-chief,
resident at Antigua. In 1871 Dominica and other British islands to the north
were formed into the federation of the Leeward Islands Colony to which Dominica
remained attached until 1939. In 1940 the island became a unit of the Windward
Islands group. In January 1960 the post of Governor of the Windward Islands was
abolished and the Windwards Group was dissolved as an administrative unit.
The Constitution: Dominica had enjoyed internal self-government since
1966, with Britain responsible only for defence and external affairs. However,
Dominica became independent within the Commonwealth on November 3, 1978 and
opted to become a republic.
The new constitution provides for a
non-executive president and a democratically elected Parliament. After
consultation between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, Mr.
F.E. Degazon, a former speaker of the Legislative Assembly, was nominated
President of the Republic.
The Dominica Labour Party led by Patrick
John, holds 16 of the 21 seats in the Parliament, while the Freedom Party, led
by Eugenia Charles holds four. The remaining set is held by an Independent.
The Economy: Dominica's economy is based on agriculture with
bananas as its principal export crop. Other important crops are limes, coconuts,
grapefruit, oranges, cocoa, vanilla, mangoes, avocado pears and various ground
provisions for domestic use. The main products are raw and sweetened lime
juice, lime oil, rum and copra. Coconut production, from which copra, coconut
oil, fats, soap and detergents are derived, is gaining ground. Livestock on the
island consists of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and fowl.
Britain is supporting various developments
through its aid program and has agreed 10 million pounds in development
assistance and to continue with special financing until 1981.
As a full member of the Commonwealth,
Dominica will continue to receive technical assistance from the CFTC
(Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation) and is now also able to take
advantage of many schemes for functional co-operation among Commonwealth
members and to attend meetings, including those of Heads of Government.
Dominica is a member of the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association. Its Parliament also sends observers to the General
Assemblies of the AIPLF (International Association of French-speaking
The People: The population is estimated at 120,000 and is
mainly of African or mixed origin. About one third is concentrated in the
capital and chief port, Castries.
Rapid increase in the population in recent
decades has been checked only by massive out migration during the sixties. Over
50 per cent of the people are under 15 years of age. St. Lucia reflects the
influence of both past colonial occupancies: in 300 years the island was seven
times French and seven British. The government and administration are British;
language and religion are evidence of strong French cultural ties. A form of
French patois is spoken by many of the older people.
The Country (Capital Castries) St. Lucia is in the Windward Islands group; its
pear-shaped land mass is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest point.
it is situated south of the French department of Martinique. The island is
mountainous, with magnificent scenery. The highest peak is Mt. Gimie (3,145
ft.). There is a dry season from January to April, and a rainy season from May
to August, with an Indian summer in September - October. Towards the end of the
year it is usually wet.
Historical Note Columbus appears to have missed St. Lucia but as
early as 1605 Englishmen en route to Guyana touched at St. Lucia and made an
unsuccessful effort to settle. Prior to 1814 when the British took final
possession, the Island was contested for 200 years by the British and French,
and many French place names survive.
The Constitution Following decisions taken at a Conference in London
in April and May 1966, provision was made in the West Indies Act, 1967, under
which St. Lucia assumed a status of association with the United Kingdom on Ist
The Premier of St. Lucia is John Compton who
has led the United Workers Party in the House of Assembly since 1964. Upon
attainment of full independence, the country is a constitutional monarchy with
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State who is represented, on the
island, by a Governor General.
The Economy St. Lucia's economy is based on agriculture and
tourism. The main crops are bananas, coconuts, copra, cocoa, fruit and root
crops. There is a fair amount of fishing, but the supply of fish does not meet the
demand. The principal manufactures are rum and citrus and coconut products.
Over 40 manufacturing units are now operating in St. Lucia.
St. Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association, and also sends parliamentary observers to the General
Assemblies of AIPLF (International Association for French-speaking
With the achievement of Independence of
Dominica and St. Lucia, the Commonwealth now comprises 40 member countries with
Nauru and Tuvalu having the status of Special Members.
John Brockelbank was re-elected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
of Saskatchewan on February 22, 1979. (Elected Speaker at the First Session of
the Eighteenth Legislature, November 12, 1975 A member for Saskatoon Westmount
he was born February 23, 1931 at Tisdale, Sask. An instrument technician he was
first elected to Saskatchewan legislature in 1964 and re-elected in 1971, 1975
and 1978 for the NDP.
Last December, 1978, Don Taylor was
unanimously reelected Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon. Speaker
Taylor was first elected in 1961 and reelected in 1964, 1967, 1970, 1974 and
1978. He was first appointed Speaker in December 1974. Political Party:
The Honourable Ronald S. Russell,
Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, was elected as the Progressive
Conservative Member for the constituency of Hants West in the 1978 General
Election. Mr. Russell was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 22, 1926. lie
served during World War II with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and in the
latter stage of the war with the Royal Australian Air Force. He came to Canada
in 1949 and in 1950 joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot. He retired
with the rank of Squadron Leader after 25 years of service.
Prior to entering provincial politics, Mr.
Russell was a member of the Council of the Municipality of West Hants, member
of the Board of Health, member of the West Hants School Board and a member of
the Board of Hants County Senior Citizen's Home. Mr. Russell graduated in
industrial mathematics from the Ryerson Institute of Technology. He studied
psychology at Queen's University. He is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Staff
School and a graduate of the School of Management Engineering.
Mr. Russell is married to the former Anna
Isfeld of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba. They have two sons, Stephen and Randy, both
of whom are presently attending the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario.
Mr. Russell presently resides in Falmouth, Hants County.
Installation of a new Governor General
The installation of the new Governor General
of Canada took place in Ottawa on January 22, 1979, in the Senate Chamber. His
Excellency the Right Honourable Edward Schreyer is the twenty-second
Governor General of Canada since Confederation and the fifth Canadian-born
representative in Canada of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His Excellency was
educated at St. John's College and the University of Manitoba. He was chosen as
Leader of the Manitoba N.D.P. Party in 1969, served as Premier of Manitoba from
1969 to 1977 and was Leader of the Opposition in the Manitoba Legislature until
his appointment as Governor General in December, 1978. In 1960, Mr. Schreyer
married Lilly Schulz of Winnipeg. Their Excellencies have four children: Lisa,
Karmel, Jason and Toban. The new Governor General of Canada was preceded in
office by the Right Honourable Jules Léger
On December 23, 1978, at Halifax, John
Elvin Shaffner was sworn into office as the twenty-sixth Lieutenant
Governor of Nova Scotia since Confederation. Born in the Annapolis Valley of
Nova Scotia, the Land of Evangeline, the Honourable Mr. Shaffner graduated from
Acadia University in 1931 with a B.A. He studied the following year at Bentley
School of Accounting and Finance, Boston, Mass. After two years with a firm of
Chartered Accountants he entered the family business and from there advanced to
the presidency of major food processing and distributing corporations. From
1962 to the present Mr. Shaffner has served as a Member, and since 1969 as
Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors of Acadia University. In the business
world he holds directorships in a number of major Canadian corporations.
In 1962 Mr. Shaffner headed a Canadian Trade
Delegation to the United Kingdom and Western Europe. He served as Agent General
for the Province of Nova Scotia in London between 1973 and 1975, cultivating
economic links between the Province and the United Kingdom and Western Europe.
Married to Nell Margaret Potter to whom he has two daughters: Susan married to
W.M. Lewis, Ottawa; and Lynne married to Geoffrey Leppinus, Sydney, Australia.
The new Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia was appointed to replace the
Honourable Clarence L. Gosse, whose term of office terminated in 1978.
A fourth generation Yukoner, Mrs . Ione
Christensen is the new Commissioner of the Yukon Territory. She was born in
Dawson in 1934, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cam Cameron, once voted Mr. and
Mrs. Yukon. Mrs. Christensen was educated in Vancouver, Whitehorse and San
Mateo, California, where she received a degree in Business Administration. In
1958 she married Art Christensen, a Yukon Territory Government employee. In
1971 Mrs. Christensen was appointed Justice of the Peace and Juvenile Court
Judge. In 1975 she ran for Mayor of Whitehorse and won, and again in 1977. Mrs.
Christensen was appointed Commissioner of the Yukon on January 20, 1979, to
replace Dr. Arthur M. Pearson.
Patrick Michael was appointed Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of
the Yukon to replace Mrs. Linda Adams who resigned to take up a new post Born
June 27, 1951 at Edmonton, Alberta. Son of Hazel Ralston and Wilfred J.
Michael. Educated at Carnduff, Saskatchewan and Estevan, Saskatchewan
elementary and secondary schools and University of Alberta. Legislative Intern
at Alberta Legislative Assembly. Appointed Executive Assistant to Leader of
Official Opposition, Alberta Legislative Assembly, August 1975. Appointed Clerk
Assistant, Yukon Legislative Assembly, November 1977. Appointed Clerk of Yukon
Legislative Assembly, 1978.
On December 27, 1978, Alcide Paquette retired
as Assistant Clerk of the Senate, a position he had occupied since 1958. Mr.
Paquette entered the Public Service of Canada in 1938. He served on the staff
on the Leader of the Opposition until 1957 and was Secretary to the Prime
Minister of Canada, June 1957 to June 1958.
Visiting Delegation from Barbados
In response to an invitation from John
Stokes,, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, a delegation of
six parliamentarians from Barbados, led by Henry Forde, Attorney General
and Minister of External Affairs, visited Ontario from September 9 to 16, 1978.
The delegation was composed as follows: Lindsay Bolden, Then Minister of
Agriculture, Food & Consumer Affairs, Senator Randolph Fields, Senator
Aaron Truss, LeRoy Sisnett, MP and Raynold Weeks, M.P. The delegation
was accompanied by George Brancker, Secretary to the delegation.
A wide variety of activities were
undertaken, including tours of Ontario Agricultural and Industrial Research
projects, meetings with Ontario governmental officials, a visit to the
Parliament of Canada at Ottawa and a visit to Niagara Falls, which was hosted
by the Hon. Robert Welch, Deputy Premier of Ontario. During the visit to
Niagara-on the-Lake, the delegation was able to meet with a delegation from the
Parliament of New Zealand, which was also in the Niagara area as guests of the
Parliament of Canada. During its week's visit to Ontario the delegation had an
opportunity to compare legislation in a n umber of areas, including consumer
protection, small business encouragement and family law. A return visit to
Barbados will be undertaken by six Ontario Members of the Legislature in the