Manitoba’s original Mace was carved out of the hub of a Red River cart wheel by a soldier with the Wolseley Expedition Force (sent out to deal with the Riel Rebellion in 1869). This Mace was used for a period of 13 years between March 15, 1871 and March 12, 1884.
Political knowledge – there’s an app for that. In fact, there are many. But are they a truly effective way of engaging prospective voters? In this article, the author explores the trend towards creating digital applications designed to raise interest and understanding of our democratic systems. Commentators suggest that these applications will be most effective when widely promoted, and are only one part of broader engagement strategies which will focus on open data initiatives and fostering two-way communication between politicians, governments and the public.
A growing number of digital developers are using their skills to create applications to foster greater engagement in politics among Canadians, and particularly among youth. Yet, while citizen engagement advocates agree that social media and emerging digital technologies can play an important role in reversing a decades-long decline in Canadians’ interest and involvement the country’s formal political institutions, it hasn’t happened yet and may not happen for quite some time.
Canada’s recent run of hung parliaments (2004‐2011) gave rise to a number of proposals intended to stabilize minority government. One such proposal recommends fixing the confidence convention by adopting a constructive vote of non‐confidence that requires non‐confidence votes to simultaneously elect a new head of government. Aucoin, Jarvis and Turnbull suggest that constructive non‐confidence will increase parliamentary stability, legitimize mid‐term transitions and reduce executive dominance. Yet, a cursory investigation of research on the constructive non-confidence votes demonstrates a dearth of evidence on the rule’s effects. This article fills this gap by reviewing other jurisdictions’ experiences with constructive non-confidence in order to unpack how the rule might work within the Canadian context. The comparative research demonstrates that though constructive non-confidence will enhance parliamentary stability, it will do so at the cost of decreasing the legitimacy of mid-term transitions and bolstering executive dominance over parliament.
The future of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was sealed in the Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Basic Law of 1990 between the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China. Was the United Kingdom genuine and realistic when it publicly defended Hong Kong’s right to complete and universal democratic elections in the 1990s and in the last few years? The legal rights and obligations set out in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, a legal document in Hong Kong with legal standing equivalent to a national constitution, tend to support a different approach. In this article, the author argues that the terms agreed upon in those two fundamental documents established Hong Kong as a region with greater socio-economic and political autonomy, while setting obstacles to the development of a government elected through universal suffrage.
Now in its 18th year, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy has given nearly three hundred teachers from across province the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the political system by observing it in action. Through meetings with the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, Ministers, Caucus leaders, Whips, and Chairs, as well as with Private Members, media and the judiciary, the non-partisan professional development program provides teachers with an all-encompassing overview of the realities of democracy and its importance in our society, thereby equipping them with valuable knowledge to convey the issues and intricacies of modern Parliament to their students. The Institute also promotes the sharing of ideas, resources and methodologies for teaching about parliamentary democracy with fellow participants. In this article, the author recounts his experience as a teacher-in-training who participated in a recent edition of the program.
When former Speaker Glenn Hagel launched the first Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute (SSTI) on Parliamentary Democracy in 1999, he created an opportunity for teachers to gain an unparalleled view into the parliamentary process. Prior to my own participation in the program, I had an avid interest in politics for years and had been to the Saskatchewan Legislature several times before; but the SSTI was an eye-opening experience for me.
In its 200-year history Ontario’s Legislative Library has operated in numerous locations, survived many fires, and is currently embracing the digital age. In celebration of this significant milestone, the author briefly traces the library’s development, examines the challenges it and other legislative libraries have encountered as they fulfill their non-partisan role to support the work of parliament, and finally notes recent trends in their operations.
New Yukon Speaker
Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod was elected Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on May 10, 2016, following the resignation of David Laxton earlier in the day. Laxton had served as Speaker since 2011, the same year McLeod was first elected to the legislature.
Made in Nunavut: An Experiment in Decentralized Government, Jack Hicks and Graham White, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 2015, 375 p.
When Jack Anawak publicly spoke out in 2003 against a Cabinet decision to transfer public service positions from his community of Rankin Inlet to Baker Lake, he was a minister in the Government of Nunavut (GN). His statement was a clear breach of the convention of Cabinet solidarity; Anawak was subsequently stripped of his ministerial portfolios and removed from the Executive Council. I was then in my first professional job, working in the GN’s Cabinet office. The incident remains, for me, a live example of Canadian constitutional conventions applied and debated in public. It is also a striking example of two decades of political quarrels in Nunavut over the policy of ‘decentralization’.
A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (May 2016 – July 2016)
Atkinson, Michael, Rogers, Dustin, and Olfert, Sara. “Better politicians: If we pay, will they come?” Legislative Studies Quarterly, 41 (2): 361-91, May 2016.