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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

20th Canadian Regional Conference, Victoria, B.C.

The annual Canadian Regional Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference took place in British Columbia, from September 7 to 13, 1980. All thirteen branches of the Canadian Region were represented at the conference. On the morning of September 8, some ninety, delegates and observers gathered in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia to hear the welcoming address of the Deputy Premier and Minister of Human Resources, the Honourable Grace McCarthy. The remainder of the morning session was devoted to CPA and regional affairs of the Association in Canada.

All plenary sessions of the conference were held at the Legislative Assembly. The host of the meetings was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Harvey Schroeder, who, convalescing from an illness at the time of the conference, delegated the. duties of chairing the sessions to the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Walter Davidson conducted the debates with great ability and style. The six items entered on the agenda by the host branch were topical and of great interest to the assembled parliamentarians. The subjects included: the conservation and diversification of energy; the transportation and telecommunications revolution; regionalism and research and development in resource industries; parliamentary control of public expenditures; public opinion and pressure groups; and the subject of constitutional, electoral and parliamentary reform.

Following a practice established at the 1979 conference in New Brunswick, the host Branch invited discussants who, because of their specialized experience and studies were able to bring different opinions on the subjects under discussion. These speakers were: Mr. Robert Bonner, Chairman of British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority; Dr. Robert Stewart. Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Universities, Science and Communications. Mr. Gerald H.D. Hobbs, Former Chief Officer for Cominco Limited; the Hon. Robert Andras, Senior Vice-President, Teck Corporation. and Dr. Walter Young, Professor of Political Science at University of Victoria. Delegates also heard two keynote speakers. Dr. David Suzuki, of the University of British Columbia. who spoke to the participants on the challenge facing the legislators in the ever-evolving field of science and technology. and Dr. Neil Perry, of Simon Fraser University, who addressed the participants on the subject of public policy and decision-making in this new decade.

Also following a well-established practice, the host Branch had invited the United Kingdom Branch of CPA to send two parliamentary observers. The participation of Mr. Sydney Bidwell and Mr. Roger Moate in all aspects of the conference was most appreciated by all delegates.

During their weeklong visit the 170 delegates, observers, spouses and staff had an opportunity to tour many points of interest in both Vancouver Island and the lower mainland. Two salmon fishing expeditions were organized and many visitors took home proof that fishermen's tales could truly have happy endings. All those involved were grateful to the hospitality offered them by Speaker Schroeder and Deputy Speaker Davidson. A special word of thanks is also due to Conference Co-ordinator David Adams, Assistant Conference Co-ordinator Elaine Dunbar and Tour Guides Lynne McCaughey, Michael Doherty, Cliff Hewitt and Jennifer Verrall.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Zambia

The 26th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference took place in Zambia from 21 September to 4 October 1980. It was attended by some 180 delegates and a number of secretaries and observers representing 45 countries and 93 branches of the C.P.A. The only branches unrepresented were those of Guyana, Jammu and Kashmir Manipur, Orissa, St Helena, St Lucia: Solomon Islands, and Tanzania. For the first time in many years delegations attended from Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria and Swaziland. Sikkim was represented for the first time. Xavier Deniau and Robert Moinet attended as observers representing l'Association Internationale des Parlementaires de Langue française.

A notable event of the Conference was the admission to the C.P.A. of Zimbabwe which was represented by the Clerk of the House of Assembly, Mervyn Van Ryneveld who attended in an observer capacity. Zimbabwe's application was enthusiastically endorsed and the new Branch was warmly welcomed following Zimbabwe's years of isolation from the Commonwealth community.

On the 20th September the delegates were addressed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Shridath Ramphal. On Monday, 22 September the delegates and those accompanying them set off on tours which covered the Copper Belt, a game reserve and the Victoria Falls. The Conference was opened in Lusaka on 27 September by President Kaunda at the Mulungushl Hall. The plenary sessions were ably chaired by the President of the Association, Mr. Speaker Nabulyato of Zambia and the Vice-President, Mr. Speaker Qionibaravi of Fiji. A number of panel sessions also took place in which debate was more informal.

The agenda of the Conference included a number of items of international concern, such as current threats to international peace and security, the significance and implications of the Brandt Report, international collaboration in combating drug addiction and trafficking. and the law of the sea. Some of the other matters discussed bore more directly on the affairs of Parliament such as the Role of Parliament in relation to public enterprises, Parliament and the Scrutiny of Public Finance, and the Functions and Responsibilities of the MP.

Twenty-eight Canadians were present at the Conference as delegates, secretaries and observers, several of whom were accompanied by their spouses. The Federal Delegation consisted of Keith Penner, the Leader of the Delegation, Senator Sidney Buckwold, Senator Duff Roblin, and MPs Lloyd Crouse, Rosaire Gendron, Steve Paproski and Mark Rose. The Provincial and Territorial delegates were: Henry Baker (Saskatchewan), Bennett Campbell (Prince Edward Island), William Campbell (Nova Scotia), Jacques Couture (Quebec), Donald Craik (Manitoba), Walter Davidson (British Columbia), Norman Doyle (Newfoundland), Bud Gregory (Ontario), Robert McCready (New Brunswick), Mrs. Lynda Sorensen (Northwest Territories), and Gordon Stromberg (Alberta). Dr. Maurice Foster and Gerald Ottenheimer of Newfoundland attended as the Canadian Regional representatives on the Executive. Senator Allister Grosart and Maurice Dupras received special invitations as former members of the Executive. Mrs. Lillian May, Gordon Barnhart, Ian Izard, David Petersen, Joe Maingot and Philip Laundy were the officials attached to the Canadian contingent. The five last named all attended the one-day meeting of the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table which was chaired by the Clerk of the National Assembly of Zambia, Mr. Mwelwa Chibesakunda.

Vanuatu, New Republic and New Member of the Commonwealth

The newest member of the Commonwealth and a country that Canadian parliamentarians may one day have an opportunity, to visit is the group of islands in the South West area of the Pacific known as the New Hebrides. This condominium administered jointly by, Britain and France since 1906, became independent on 30th of July. under the new name of VANUATU. It is the forty-fourth member of the Commonwealth. Some 70 islands make up the archipelago. The population of 120,000 is mostly of Melanesian origin, and the capital of Vanuatu is Port Vila on Efate Island. Copra and fish are the main exports but cattle farming is being expanded. The Parliament is unicameral and the Cabinet is led by 38-year old Prime Minister Father Walter Lini, an Anglican priest. He has been in the Assembly since 1975 and Chief Minister since 1979. The Head of State of Vanuatu is President Ati George Sokomanu.

Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Clerks-at-the-Table

From September 21 to 24 the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table held its annual meeting in Prince Edward Island. Delegates were treated to the traditional island hospitality which this time seemed in inverse proportion to the nasty weather which lasted throughout the conference.

The agenda contained several subjects, all of which gave rise to lively discussion. Among the topics were: The Senate – A Vital but Unknown Element of Parliament, The Alberta Heritage Savings Fund Act and the Standing Committee pertaining thereto; the Symbols of Sovereignty in Legislative Assemblies, unparliamentary language: Wiretapping as a Breach of Privilege; New Developments in the Administrative Reorganization of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly; and The Motion of Censure against the Speaker in Saskatchewan.

In addition to representatives from Parliament, the Territories, and most provincial legislatures several special guests were invited and took part in the proceedings including former Clerks from the British and Canadian Houses of Commons, Sir Richard Barlas and Allistair Fraser, Patrick Flahaven, Secretary of the Minnesota Senate and Vice-President of the National Conference of State Legislatures was also in attendance.

The meeting ended with the election of a new executive consisting of Pierre Duchesne, Deputy Secretary-General of the Quebec National Assembly, who was elected President for a second term; Gwenn Ronyk, Clerk Assistant in Saskatchewan, who was elected Vice-President, also for a second term and Elizabeth Duff, Clerk of the Newfoundland House of Assembly who was elected secretary.

Sixth Conference of Commonwealth Speakers & Presiding Officers – April 1981

Next year, from April 23 to April 25, the Canadian Parliament will be host to the Sixth Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers. Although this Conference is a fairly, recent innovation – the first conference took place in 1971 in New Delhi it will not be the first time Canada receives the Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers. In 1969, an organizing conference took place in Ottawa on the initiative of the then Speaker of the House of Commons, Hon. Lucien Lamoureux, which set the rules for future such meetings. These high officials of Parliaments of the Commonwealth meet biennially to discuss various matters of purely parliamentary interest with a particular accent on the speakership and other related aspects of parliamentary responsibilities. Next year's agenda mill include such topics as the Speaker's control of debate and question period, the security within Parliament, procedural innovations, facilities for Members, the sud judice rule, the parliamentary committees and their relations with the public and witnesses, and the Speaker and party politics.

It is expected that some 120 participants will attend this important parliamentary event, including the Speakers and Clerks of the Canadian Provincial Legislatures and the Clerks of the various Commonwealth Parliaments who have been invited to attend as observers. The Official Opening will take place in the morning of Thursday, April 23, and as is customary all the parliamentary participants will attend dressed in their ceremonial robes. The agenda items will be discussed over five half-day, sessions, the last one being held on Saturday, afternoon, April 25. The two following days will be spent in Toronto and Niagara Falls.

Quebec-Saskatchewan Visit To Newfoundland

During the week of August 17-24 the Newfoundland Branch of the Common wealth Parliamentary Association hosted a joint parliamentary delegation from Saskatchewan and Quebec. The Quebec delegation was headed by Adrien Ouellette MNA and included MNA's Mme Thérèse Lavoie-Roux, John O'Gallagher, Yvon Brochu and Paul Trotier. Speaker John Brockelbank led the Saskatchewan delegation which consisted of MLAs Gerald Muirhead, John Skoberg, Graham Taylor, Fred Thompson, John Kowalchuk and Mr. Gordon Barnhart.

The parliamentarians began their tour of the Province in Corner Brook, where they spent two days. They then continued on to Grand Falls, Gander and St. John's. During tile week they had the opportunity to meet with several of their Newfoundland counterparts and were able to experience many facets of Newfoundland life. In August 1981 the Newfoundland Branch will host the CPA Regional Conference.

New Speaker in the Northwest Territories

On October 22. the legislature of the Northwest Territories elected Hon. Donald Morton Stewart as its new Speaker. Born in 1923, Speaker Stewart worked for various airlines in the radio operations field and has been a district supervisor for the Department of' Fisheries for a number of years. He became Mayor of Hay River in 1964and served in this capacity, to the present, except between 1967 and 1970. Speaker Stewart is in the building supplies business and a director of the Northern Canada Power Commission and the Freshwater Fish Marketing Board. A member of the legislature since 1967, except for the period from 1970 to 1975, he was Deputy, Speaker between 1975 and 1979. Mr. Speaker Stewart replaces former Speaker Robert MacQuarrie who resigned last summer, indicating he wished to participate actively in debates of the legislature.

New Speaker in Nova Scotia

The Premier of Nova Scotia announced, on July 4, the appointment of Mr. Speaker Ronald Russell, as Minister for Consumers' Affairs. The administrative duties of the Speakership are presently being carried out by Deputy Speaker Arthur Richard Donahoe, who is also the Speaker designate. The formal election of a new Speaker will take place when the Nova Scotia Legislature reconvenes.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 3 no 4

Last Updated: 2020-03-03