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CPA Activities: The Canadian SceneCPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers, Ottawa, April 1981

Although not formally part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association the Commonwealth Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers is, by virtue of its membership. closely related to CPA.

The sixth conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers took place in Canada from April 20 to 28, 1981. Some 27 countries represented by their presiding officers and clerks attended the meeting. There were also speakers or clerks from most Canadian provinces in attendance as observers.

After two days in Montreal where delegates had the opportunity to become acquainted, the actual meetings began in Ottawa on April 23. A number of last minute details had to be changed since the Senate and the House of Commons were still sitting at this time. However, this gave visiting speakers an unexpected opportunity to attend question period and watch debates in both houses on the final stages of the constitutional resolution.

Following the ceremonial opening by the Governor-General, HE Edward Schreyer, the conference took up a number of items relating to the role of Speaker including: The Speaker and Party Politics", the Speaker's Control of Debate, The Sub Judice Rule, Parliamentary Security". "Facilities of Members" and other subjects. Before adjourning delegates accepted an imitation of New Zealand to host the next conference, tentatively scheduled for January 1984. A new Standing Committee was also elected. It consists of Speakers from New Zealand, Gambia, Canada, Barbados, Malawi and Australia. They will begin preparations for the next conference at their meeting in Gambia in February 1981.

Canadian Regional Council Meeting, March 1981

The Canadian Regional Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is composed of the Speakers of all provincial and territorial assemblies, the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Chairman of the Canadian Branch of CPA and the two regional representatives on CPA's international executive committee. At the 1981 meeting all jurisdictions were represented except the Yukon. Speakers from British Columbia and Quebec were unable to attend but they were represented by officials from their legislatures.

The two regional representatives, Maurice Foster and Gerald Ottenheimer presented reports on Canada's participation in CPA and transmitted details of a Commonwealth Essay Contest that may be organized by the CPA Secretariat in London. Speaker Len Simms then outlined the program for the Twenty-first Canadian Regional Conference in Newfoundland. Speaker Don Stewart confirmed that the Northwest Territories was prepared to host the 1982 conference. As a result of changes in their contributions both the Yukon and the Northwest Territories will henceforth be entitled to six delegates to CPA regional conferences. A motion by Speaker Stewart to provide for simultaneous translation into Inuit of future CPA regional conference proceedings was accepted.

Keith Penner, Chairman of the Canadian Branch, reported on the Sixth Canadian Regional Seminar on Parliamentary Procedure held in Ottawa in November 1980. Speaker Arthur Donaboe proposed that the 1981 seminar be held in Nova Scotia, also in November. Reports on past and upcoming Atlantic Parliamentary Conferences were also presented by Speakers James Tucker of New Brunswick and Daniel Compton of Prince Edward Island.

Finally the Speaker of the House of Commons, Jeanne Sauvé, informed the Council of steps she had taken to see that the federal list of precedence was revised so that provincial Speakers come before provincial cabinet ministers. She also confirmed that henceforth special green passports will be available from the Department of External Affairs for provincial Speakers travelling abroad.

Twenty-first Regional Conference, August 1981

The Newfoundland Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will host the 1981 Canadian Regional Conference from August 28. Subjects on the agenda will deal with electoral reform, constitutional reform, transportation problems, recent developments in the committee system and the protection of confidential communications of members. As usual the conference will provide an opportunity for legislators from Ottawa, the provinces and the territories to get together to discuss matters of common interest. Delegates will also have ample opportunity to sample traditional Newfoundland hospitality including a ride on the famous "Newfie Bullet railway, cod-jigging and a lobster boil.

New Speaker in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario

Since February three new Speakers of provincial legislatures have been elected. In two cases the former Speakers resigned, Ronald Russell to become a cabinet minister in Nova Scotia and Robert McCready to sit as a private member in New Brunswick. In Ontario a new Speaker was named following the provincial general election although the former Speaker, Jack Stokes, continues to sit as a member of the legislature. In Quebec, where there was also an election, the former Speaker, Claude Vaillancourt was once again elected as Speaker of the National Assembly.

The new Speaker in Nova Scotia is Arthur Donahoe. Speaker Donahoe is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School. In 1967 he served as Executive Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He is a former lecturer in commercial law at St. Mary's University and has been active in many community organizations in the city of Halifax. A president of the Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives from 1970-1972 Mr. Donahoe was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1978. He was elected Deputy Speaker in December of that year and became Speaker on February 19, 1981.

In New Brunswick the new Speaker is James N. Tucker, member for the electoral district of Charlotte-Fundy. Mr. Tucker is a former teacher and principal. He is a past president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association. Mr. Speaker Tucker has been a member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly since 1972. He has served on numerous committees of the legislature and was chairman of the Standing Committee on Rules and Privileges, and the Select Committee on Fisheries. The election of Mr. Tucker left the Conservatives with a working majority of one in the 58 seat Legislative Assembly.

The new Speaker in Ontario is John M. Turner, member for Peterborough. A businessman and former alderman in Peterborough, Mr. Speaker Turner was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1971. He was defeated in the 1975 election but was re-elected in 1977 and 1981. As in the other provinces the Speaker's nomination was moved by the Premier and seconded by the Leader of the Official Opposition. In Ontario, however, the Leader of the New Democratic Party opposed the nomination because he claimed he was not consulted about the choice of Speaker. He said this was a breach of a resolution of the Legislature which had been unanimously adopted in April 1980. Premier William Davis rejected the idea that the nomination differed in any way from the customary practice in the Assembly. Mr. Speaker Turner was then elected without a recorded division.

Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 4 no 2

Last Updated: 2020-03-03