Creating and implementing guidelines that directly affect working relationships in a context where there are many separate employers, like Quebec’s National Assembly, presents some unique challenges. In this article, the author outlines how a multi-party Working Group examined best practices for preventing and managing situations involving workplace harassment and adapted them to suit the parliamentary context. In-depth, methodical deliberations by the Working Group resulted in a consensus policy that was proactively communicated to stakeholders.
The Mace currently in use in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was made in 1906 and used for the first time in March of that year at the opening of the First Session of the First Legislative Assembly. Purchased from Ryrie Bros. Ltd. of Toronto at a cost of $340.00, it is made of heavy gold-plated brass and is about four feet long. The head consists of a Royal Crown with the arches surmounted by a Maltese cross and bears the Royal Coat-of-Arms on the top indicating the Royal Authority. Each side is decorated with a sheaf of wheat, representing the province’s agricultural wealth, a beaver representing Canada and the monogram E.R. VII, representing the sovereign at the time, Edward VII. The shaft and base are ornamented with a shamrock, thistle and rose intertwined.
A Latin inscription around the Royal Coat of Arms reads in English, “Edward the Seventh, by the Grace of God of British Isles and Lands beyond the sea which are under British rule, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India”.
This article attempts to define the work of federal parliamentarians’ staffers so that their position, responsibilities, and ultimately their role can be better understood by parliamentary observers and the public at large. The author first discusses the role of an MP’s staff member in order to build a job description of common tasks and responsibilities. Then he explores and defines some possible organizational structures of Members of Parliament’s offices based on his own observations.
Much has been written about the roles of Members of Parliament and the operations of Canada’s Parliament in order to better understand how Canada is governed. Tragedy in the Commons, for example, endeavored to conduct “exit interviews” with Members of Parliament to discuss how they experienced elections, governing, party politics, dealing with constituents’ issues, and ultimately defeat or retirement from public life. But while the role of Members of Parliament may be becoming more well known, the same cannot be said for their right-hand men and women: Canada’s political staffers.
This article elaborates on the relationship between the Crown and prime ministerial power through the lenses of the confidence convention and royal prerogatives. The article highlights how the prime minister’s status as the Crown’s first councilor complicates the operation of the confidence convention, the means which the House ultimately determines who heads the governing ministry. The article then outlines how the prime minister’s discretionary authority to exercise key royal prerogatives serves as the foundation of the centralization of government around the first minister. Rather than seeing the centralization of power in the prime minister as a form of ‘presidentialisation’, the article argues that it is more accurately understood as a form of ‘regalisation’, owing to its source in royal authority.
Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria’s time on the throne on September 9, 2015. The Canadian government marked the occasion with a commemorative bank note, stamp, and coin. Monarchists celebrated the event and politicians made statements. But most Canadians probably shrugged. Polls indicate that Canadians are ambivalent toward the monarchy.1 If we were to rewrite the Canadian constitution from scratch, it’s unlikely that Canada would have a sovereign. There is no longer a deep affection for the Crown as an institution or unifying symbol of the nation. A notable number of Canadians hold these feelings, of course, but no honest monarchist can think that most people share these sentiments. The Queen herself is admired, and Will and Kate draw crowds and sell magazines, but the Crown is not revered.
While acknowledging the deep ambivalence on the part of the Indigenous political class about the desirability of greater representation in Parliament, based on a long history of settler colonialism and formal political exclusion, the author posits that it would be a mistake to leave parliamentary reform out of the broader exploration of reconciliation that is currently underway. Without prejudicing outcomes by advocating for particular reforms, the author outlines some historic models from Canada and aboard and some of the challenges that participants will face when restarting this conversation.
Indigenous peoples play an ever more central role in political life in Canada. Episodes like the Idle No More movement, or ongoing contention over resource extraction attract a new kind of attention and intellectual investment on the part of non-Indigenous peoples. The challenge of building a more consensual political community in the aftermath of settler colonialism is an entirely mainstream preoccupation, more now than ever before. But curiously, the question of reforming political institutions has rather receded from view. In particular, parliamentary reform and “decolonization” have existed in separate intellectual universes.
From backbenchers, to cabinet ministers to first ministers, parliamentarians rely on the assistance of political staff to fulfill their role’s many responsibilities. Yet staffers’ roles in parliamentary democracy are not well understood. Noting the growing number of ministerial staffers and a similar growth in the perception of their influence over government decision-making, on March 18, 2016, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group convened a seminar featuring two panels of current and former political staff, public servants and academics to examine the role of staffers and their interactions with the public service. Panelists were also asked if they believed reforms were required to address the unique position that political staff hold in relation to parliamentary government.
New Manitoba Speaker
On May 16, Manitoba’s MLAs elected Myrna Driedger as the new Speaker of the Assembly. Driedger succeeds former Speaker Daryl Reid who opted not to run in the most recent provincial election.
“I wish to thank the members for the high honour the House has conferred on me,” she said to the Assembly upon her election. “I leave the floor of this House to take the Speaker’s Chair. I leave behind all political and partisan feelings, and I intend to carry out the important duties of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly with impartiality and to the best of my ability.”
A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (February 2016 – April 2016)
Alford, Patrick Ryan. “War with ISIL: Should Parliament decide?” Review of Constitutional Studies – Revue d’études constitutionnelles, 20 (1): 118-44, (2015).
In keeping with the motto Je me souviens, the Parliament Building of Québec is like an open book, presenting us with a gallery of illustrious historical figures.
The Parliament Building is a fitting tribute to the women and men who shaped the history of Québec. Engraved on the wainscotting inside the building are the names of 84 historical figures.