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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene


19th Regional Conference of CPA

The Nineteenth Canadian Regional Conference of the CPA is taking place in the Province of New Brunswick, from August 13 to 17, with the CPA Branch of New Brunswick acting as host to some eighty parliamentarians from the other 12 Canadian Branches of the CPA.

Historical Perspective

Although there's no evidence to prove it, the Vikings probably touched here at one time or another in their great dragonships. But the first European settlers were the French, who began arriving early in the 17th century, encountering members of two Indian nations, the Micmacs and the Malecites, who had been established here for countless centuries before them.

The French settlers in Acadia were few and far apart, and the authority of their mother country was represented only by a handful of widely-scattered soldiers. Consequently, as has been pointed out by Parkman and subsequent historians, the Acadians were unique in the modern world in that they lived in peace with one another despite the fact that for all intents and purposes they had no government. While old France was an absolute monarchy, Acadia was in effect a libertarian republic. The Acadians' fervent love for their land was demonstrated by the lengths to which so many of them went to return here after the expulsion of 1755, when they were driven from their homes by the New England militia and scattered along what is now the Atlantic seaboard of' the United States. French settlement in New Brunswick was also increased by an influx of settlers escaping from the rigid seigneurial. system of government then existing in Quebec.

While the Indians and the French had long preceded them, it was the Loyalists, arriving with comparative suddenness and in relatively large numbers in the 1780's, who initiated the movement for local government that brought. about the organisation of New Brunswick as a distinct political unit. Their aim, they said, was to make this "the most gentleman-like province on earth".

The first meeting of the Legislature was held in the port city of Saint John, but the first governor, Sir Thomas Carleton, insisted that Fredericton primarily, it's said, because Fredericton was much less vulnerable to attack from the United States. As it happened, New Brunswick and New England treated each other virtually as neutrals when war again broke out, in 1812, between Britain and the United States, although, somewhat paradoxically, the 104th Regiment of Foot, recruited in New Brunswick, marched from Fredericton to Quebec City on snowshoes in order to fight in Ontario.

The political history of New Brunswick during the first half of the 19th century was parallel to, although less dramatic and therefore less memorable than, that of other British colonies. Essentially, it's the story of how the people, or such of them as composed the indigenous mercantile class, strove successfully to make the government answerable to them, rather than to the Crown.

Responsible government was achieved in 1847. Twenty years later, under the British North America Act of July 1, 1867 New Brunswick, together with Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario, became one of the four original provinces of the united Canada.

Since French is the first language of nearly 36 per cent of its population, New Brunswick comes closer than any other province to the English-French ratio of the country as a whole. Its legislature was the first in Canada to install a simultaneous translation system; and it was the first province to proclaim itself by legislative act to be officially bilingual.

The Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick

The present Legislative Assembly Building in Fredericton has been the seat and symbol of democracy in New Brunswick since 1882, when it replaced a building that had been destroyed by fire two years earlier.

Of Corinthian architecture, its dominant external feature is a tower surmounted by a 135-foot-high dome.

The most impressive element of the Assembly Chamber itself is its height, more striking because of the relative smallness of the room in terms of length and breadth. It rises 43 feet through the two mains stories of the building.

George III had reigned for 24 years and had 36 years left to live when New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia and created a separate province in 1784. The province was named for his family's ancestral seat, Brunswick, in Germany. Previously, it had been known as Sunbury County, Nova Scotia.

The Throne, or Speaker's Chair, together with the clerk's desk and the table in the Assembly Chamber, were rescued from the fire that destroyed the old legislative building.

In keeping with tradition, the Premier, the Cabinet and members of the government party are seated on the Speaker's right, while members of the Opposition are seated on his left, beneath the Visitors' Gallery.

The New Brunswick Flag

The provincial flag, based on the Coat of Arms, was adopted on Feb. 24, 1965. The ship represents both the Provinces maritime location and its earlier shipbuilding industry. The lion was a symbol of the House of Brunswick, after which the Province is named. Legal authority for the flag stems from Queen Victoria's Royal Warrant of 1868.

The New Brunswick Flower

The Purple Violet (Viola cuculata) was adopted as the Province's floral emblem in 1936, at the request of the provincial Women's Institute.

The Mace

The sterling silver gilt Mace is the symbol of Parliamentary authority. it was presented to the Legislature in 1937, the Coronation Year of King George VI, by the Hon. Murray MacLaren, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province. On top of the cushion of the Crown are the Royal Arms. On the head of the Mace are the Arms of the Province on one side and the first seal of the Province on the other. The Royal Monogram G.R. VI is on both sides. There are also sprays of purple violets, the Provincial flower. On the staff are representations of the purple violet, red spruce and maple leaves to signify the connection between the Province and the Dominion.


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 2 no 3
1979






Last Updated: 2019-11-29