On September 10, 1964, in Charlottetown, those in attendants at the Canadian Area Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association unanimously resolved to mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the meeting of the Fathers of Confederation by presenting, on behalf of the provincial and federal branches of the CPA, a Mace to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. To that end, a committee composed of the Speakers of the Senate, House of Commons, Ontario and Quebec was appointed to make arrangements for the design and presentation of a suitable Mace.
Fewer lawyers are being elected to Nova Scotia’s Legislative Assembly in recent years. In this article, the author traces the decline over the past decades, provides some hypotheses as to why this trend has occurred, and analyzes what the relative absence of lawyers in a representative legislative body may mean. He cites the 1970s as a turning point for the decline of MLA-lawyers and suspects the shift from part-time work to full-time duties as an MLA, the relatively low salary compared to professional fees, and the poor post-politics job prospects, contributed to making the role less of a draw for practicing lawyers. The author also highlights skills lawyers may bring to the role of an MLA in terms of writing legislation and helping constituents with casework. He concludes by examining the Attorney General and Minister of Justice roles and the potential legal/constitutional questions that may arise if and when this cabinet position and the deputy minister position are occupied by non-lawyers.
There is a common perception that lawyers dominate our elected assemblies. It was true at one time, but it is not true today.
The presence of a large number of non-partisan Senators, the work of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, and the growth of a more activist Senate has focused much attention on the Salisbury Doctrine. This convention of the United Kingdom’s Parliament holds that the appointed House of Lords should not reject a government bill passed by the elected House of Commons if the content of the bill was part of the government’s electoral campaign platform. In this article, the author outlines the Salisbury Doctrine, examines political consideration which may have influenced its development and use, and reviews whether it may be applicable in Canada’s bi-cameral Parliament. He contends Canada’s Senate should not be beholden to the Salisbury Doctrine. The author concludes that while the Senate should show deference to the elected Commons when necessary, it should not accept any agreement, legal or political, that hampers its ability to outright reject any bill it deems outside the apparent and discernable popular will. However, he suggests the Senate should exercise this power with restraint.
The recently more activist Senate has given rise to the consideration of the applicability of the Salisbury Doctrine, a convention of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, to Canada’s bi-cameral Parliament. At its core, the modern interpretation of the Salisbury Doctrine is that the appointed House of Lords should not reject a government bill passed by the elected House of Commons if the content of the bill was part of the government’s electoral campaign platform.1
As a former legislative intern, the author has had the opportunity to employ the knowledge of the legislative process he gained through his internship to great effect in his current role as a policy analyst with the federal public service. In this article he suggests this type of experience, if more widely available to public servants, could reinforce a sense of appreciation for the principle of parliamentary review, provide insight into how the legislative process can impact policy development, and allow them to develop their political acuity.
Canada’s federal Lobbying Act is focussed on the lobbyist rather than the lobbied. However, the lobbied can play an important role in contributing to a culture of compliance. Given lobbying rules focus on the lobbyists, the lobbied do not have a strong incentive to learn about lobbying regulations. Furthermore, training from the Commissioner of Lobbying’s office is not mandatory. Thus, it is expected that a knowledge gap on the Lobbying Act exists. A survey sent to ministerial Chiefs of Staff revealed such a knowledge gap – although factors like experience as a lobbyist have a positive correlation to knowledge of lobbying regulations. This gap is concerning and speaks to challenges with training in the unique context of the Hill.
Contrary to its negative public perception, lobbying is a legitimate and regulated channel through which organizations and individuals influence policy in a Parliamentary democracy. It requires two parties: the lobbyist who is asking for something and the public office holder who is being asked. Parliament created lobbying regulations which focus almost exclusively on the former. Although the public office holder being lobbied is an integral party to the act of lobbying, there is very little research on the participation of the lobbied in the Canadian federal context. A study of one such category of public office holders, chiefs of staff in Ministers’ offices, demonstrates some of the challenges with regulating lobbying in a Parliamentary democracy and areas where further research is essential.
The exposure of the remains of the Parliament of United-Canada in recent years by Pointe-à-Callière culminated in 2017 with massive archaeological excavations. Coinciding with Montreal’s 375th anniversary and Confederation’s 150th, the discoveries made at this important place in the political history of Montreal, Québec and Canada are significant; the site’s spatial extent and the wealth of material remains discovered have captured our imagination. All through the summer, visitors have been able to come close to archaeologists in an environment that promoted comprehension of a site characterized by the remarkable state of preservation of its architectural remains. But a number of surprises were awaiting: the richness of the artifacts recovered and documents thus far unknown challenge our understanding of this fundamental episode in Canadian history. Here are some highlights of this ongoing investigation.
A site rescued from oblivion
On September 15, 2017, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group convened a one-day conference where academics, journalists, parliamentary staff and parliamentarians were asked to share their thoughts on some of the changes that have occurred in the Senate over the past few years. Diverse perspectives prompted some animated discussions among presenters and audience members, but there was general agreement that we are experiencing a unique moment in parliamentary history.
Evolution of the Senate – Historical Perspective
New Nunavut Speaker
On November 17, Tununiq MLA Joe Enook was acclaimed as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. “Lets get to work,” Mr. Enook said, after assuming his duty as chair of the forum where the territory’s premier and cabinet were also selected. He formally took the Speaker’s chair on November 21 at the beginning of the first sitting of the 5th Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.
Formerly the Chair of the Baffin Divisional Board of Education, Vice-President of Nunavut Operations for the Nunasi Corporation, and Executive Assistant to the President of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Mr. Enook has also held positions in the travel and tourism industry.
Religion and Canadian Party Politics, David Rayside, Jerald Sabin and Paul E.J. Thomas, UBC Press, Vancouver, 2017, 429 pp.
In this monograph, the authors demonstrate that religious faith continues to be a relevant factor in Canadian party politics. They identify three major axes of religious contention: the historic division between Protestants and Catholics (especially English-speaking Protestants and French-speaking Catholics); the more recent division between moral conservatives and political and social progressives (especially over the issues of LGBT rights and the legality of abortion); and finally, the division between those willing to recognize minority religious practices and institutions in Canada (especially those of Canada’s growing Muslim population) and those who fear that such recognition would undermine Canadian values. The authors then provide multiple case studies – federal, provincial and territorial – to illustrate how these axes of contention are evident in Canadian party politics, primarily over the past 30 years.
A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (August 2017-October 2017)
Allan, James. “Time to clip the [Australian] Senate’s wings.” Quadrant, 61 (1): 66-70, October 2017. Continue reading “New and Notable Titles”