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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene


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 follows:

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 Leader)

Newfoundland Hon. G.R. Ottenheimer, MHA(Speaker of the House of Assembly)

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 Legislative Assembly)

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 Assembly)

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 discussions.

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 Association

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 domination.

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 world.

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 abolished.

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 constituencies.

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 arise.

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 years.

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 difficulties.

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 industry.

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 capital assistance.

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 Subjects)

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 and abortion.

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 Order

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 nations.

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 capitalistic nations.

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 the press.

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 reporting.

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 Parliamentary System

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 effective control.

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 powers.

Panel Session

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 significant number.

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 nation.

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.

Panel B)

The Fight Against International Terrorism

Chairman: Mr. Harry Blank, QC, MNA, Quebec (Canada)

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 1978:

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' demands.

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 their cause.

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, KBE, Fiji

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 their politicians.

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 security.

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 Commonwealth.

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 methods.

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 become specialists.

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 public expenditures."

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, Australia

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, Mauritus

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 to radicalism.

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 sponsoring research.

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 cities.

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 example.

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 drug trade.

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 industrial concerns.

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 accomplishment.

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 Parliament

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 independent judiciary.

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 committees.

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 conform.

New Commonwealth Countries: (Dominica and St. Lucia)

(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.)

Dominica

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 established.

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 Parliamentarians)

St. Lucia

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 March 1967.

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 Parliamentarians).

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.

Speakers Re-elected

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: Progressive Conservative

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

Other Appointments

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 spring.

 


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 2 no 1
1979






Last Updated: 2020-03-03