The current Mace of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly has been in use since it was gifted to the House on March 5, 1930 by Chief Justice Robert Edward Harris, the fourteenth Chief Justice of the Province and his wife. It is silver gilt, measuring four feet in height and weighs approximately 18 pounds. The four sides of the Mace depict the Royal Crown, the Armorial Achievement of Nova Scotia, the present (before Confederation) Great Seal of the Province, and the Speaker in his robes of office. Also found on the Mace is the floral emblem of Nova Scotia, the mayflower and the Scottish thistle. The Mace was manufactured in England by Elkington and Company, Limited.
A founding organizational conference for a proposed Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities was held in Halifax from August 30 to September 2, 2017. Following this successful gathering of 24 delegates, a proposal to establish this group under the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was accepted by the CPA’s executive committee for further review and discussion at the association’s upcoming meeting in Mauritius.
For a democracy to adequately represent and serve its people, it stands to reason that the elected officials within that democracy would need to be as diverse in background as the people they serve. When done correctly, this allows for the wide range of experiences and expertise found within a community to have a place at the table where policy is made, leading to the development of policy that better reflects the needs of the community. Through my experiences as a person with a disability, both as a private citizen and as an elected official, I have witnessed firsthand how a diverse government can have a significant impact not only on what policy is put forward, but on the procedures and practises of government itself, leading it to become more inclusive.
What should democratic reform look like in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador? In advance of the provincial government’s plan to strike an all-party committee to study this question, two Memorial University professors used a public engagement grant to create a first-of-its kind, independent grassroots initiative in hopes of supporting this committee’s work. The Democracy Cookbook explores many options for better democratic governance in a way that is accessible to the public and in a manner that promotes greater public awareness of the committee’s mandate. In this article, the authors inform readers about how this initiative was designed, why it may be an effective model for other small jurisdictions, and some of what people will find in the open-source publication that resulted.
Conversations about democratic reform are stirring in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2015, the provincial Liberal Party’s election platform made the following commitment:
Canadian universities have recently emerged as important centres in applied parliamentary research and training, joining universities in Australia, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This article reviews the growth of these research and training programs at three institutions – McGill University, Université Laval and the University of Ottawa – over the past five years. It also points to possible future areas of work, which will allow parliaments elsewhere to learn from Canada’s experience, and vice versa.
In the Canadian parliamentary context, there are numerous contemporary and historical examples of dynastic politicians, but there has been curiously little academic study of this phenomenon. Many questions pertaining to kinship in parliaments remain unanswered. What is the rate of kinship in the Canadian parliament? What has been the rate of change in political kinship over time and can this change be explained? What advantages may dynastic politicians possess and what constraints do they face? This article measures the prevalence of kinship within the lower house in Canada’s federal parliament and presents data on kinship since Canada’s first parliament. After looking at economic and electoral data, it argues that change to make the electoral system more open and socially inclusive offers an explanation for the observable drop in rates of kinship over time. Finally, the paper will conclude with suggested courses for future research.
Rates of Kinship since Canada’s First Parliament
Lobbying is a legitimate activity within a democratic society. But lobbyists, like politicians, are quite aware that their profession is not always held in high regard by the general population. As one consultant lobbyist joked during her presentation at a recent seminar of the Canadian Study of Parliament Group, “I am the root of all evil.” A recent Canadian Study of Parliament Group seminar explored attitudes toward lobbying in Canada, explained how lobbying legislation and regulations have influenced its development since the 1980s, and asked whether the current system is effective. A final panel of lobbyists discussed how their job is often misunderstood and why their much-maligned reputation is based on outdated notions of influence-peddling and the unethical actions of a few practitioners.
Regulation of Lobbying in Canada
New Saskatchewan Speaker
On March 12, Saskatchewan Party MLA Mark Docherty was elected Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. Speaker Docherty replaces Corey Tochor who resigned in January to seek the federal Conservative Party’s nomination in the Saskatoon-University riding.
Seven MLAs (including Glen Hart, Delbert Kirsch, Warren Michelson, Eric Olauson and Colleen Young of the Saskatchewan Party, and Danielle Chartier of the NDP) sought the Speaker’s role. Docherty, who represents Regina Coronation Park, won on the fifth ballot.
The Senate and the People of Canada – A Counterintuitive Approach to Reform of the Senate of Canada, James T. McHugh, Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland, 2017, 296 p.
James McHugh’s addition to the parliamentary bookshelf is extremely ambitious in scope. It undertakes to provide a comprehensive survey and assessment of historical, philosophical, methodological, constitutional, institutional and political considerations relevant to Senate reform – and that’s just in Part I. In Part II, McHugh proposes a Senate closely modelled on the British House of Lords. He provides draft constitutional amendments that would accomplish this along with detailed supportive argument. Part III examines non-constitutional options and recent history, including the Trudeau reforms of 2016, and concludes by calling for reform that would enable Canada’s appointed upper House to achieve its full potential.
A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (November 2017-February 2018)
“Cracking the whips – Parliament’s whips have lost their edge, just as their role becomes vital.” Economist 425 (9066), November 9, 2017, pp. 40-1.