The House of Commons cannot convene without its Mace. On February 3, 1916, when fire ravaged the Parliament Building, the original Mace was lost. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, the House used the Mace belonging to the Senate and then that of the Ontario Legislature until a temporary wooden Mace was fashioned. The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of London, upon hearing of its destruction, commissioned a replacement. A new Mace was crafted by the renowned Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company Ltd. of London. It is similar in design to the House of Commons Mace at Westminster and is made of sterling silver with an amalgam of gold and mercury. As the Mace was commissioned during the reign of George V, the Royal cypher GR was placed around the vase-shaped head. This cypher was altered in 1953 and replaced with ER for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The new Mace was presented to Prime Minister Robert L. Borden on March 28, 1917, and first used in the House on May 16, 1917. The wooden Mace was kept and since 1977 is used when the House sits on February 3 to commemorate the anniversary of the fire. Continue reading “Know Your Mace – The House of Commons”
In some ways, the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories has been a trailblazer in terms of diversity of representation in Canada. Since full responsible government returned in 1983, a majority of its MLAs have been Indigenous, as have all but two of its premiers. Moreover, Nellie Cournoyea became the first Indigenous woman to become premier of a province or territory in Canada and only the second woman ever to hold a premiership in the country. In terms of electing women to the Assembly, however, it has lagged behind many other jurisdictions. Currently only two MLAs are women (10 per cent of the Assembly) and since 1999 the Assembly has only surpassed this number of women MLAs once – three (or 15.8 per cent in 2007). In order to become a more representative body, the territorial Assembly unanimously adopted a motion to ensure at least 20 per cent of MLAs are women by 2023, and at least 30 per cent of MLAs are women by 2027. In this article, the author explains the concept of temporary special measures to achieve this goal. She outlines the experience of Samoa, another small jurisdiction with Westminster roots in which women were substantially underrepresented in parliament, to demonstrate how the NWT might reach these benchmarks. She concludes by noting that temporary special measures are one way of increasing women’s representation in assemblies, but others may work as well depending on the jurisdiction’s political culture and institutions. Continue reading “Temporary Special Measures: A Possible Solution to Get More Women Into Politics”
It’s undeniable that there are systemic barriers which prevent certain people from fully participating in society. Inside and outside of parliamentary politics, there has been much discussion and debate about the kinds of barriers women face. In this article, the author explores how a tendency for women to take on caregiving roles for children, and increasingly the elderly, is one such barrier to full participation – particularly for caregivers who are single. She writes that parliamentarians can and should lead by example by finding creative ways to eliminate these barriers in their own organizations and professional development activities. Continue reading “Inclusive and Diverse Leadership in Parliamentary Politics and Beyond”
Bill bundling – the reintroduction of all the substantive provisions of a bill without any modification in another bill – has been used on several occasions by the government during the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. In this article, the author notes that this method of packaging a legislative agenda is somewhat unusual and warrants further consideration from a legislative planning perspective. He explains that while combining or consolidating related matters into one bill maximizes efficiency, the introduction of government legislation carries with it a myriad of legal and practical consequences beyond the Senate and House of Commons, some of which are heightened when bills are bundled. The author suggests that the recent trend of bill bundling is linked to recognition of the limited time in the legislative calendar before the next scheduled election. However, if bill bundling becomes a more common practice in future parliaments, some questions about predictability and consistency of a legislative agenda should be considered.
Parliament has the ability to modernize aspects of the Senate without needing to resort to constitutional amendment. In this article, the author highlights some archaic provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867that could be updated without altering the Senate’s fundamental nature. These changes would arguably allow the Senate to better reflect contemporary Canada.
The Liberal government, elected in 2015, has chosen to renew the Senate by means of a one-step non-statutory reform. The change is limited to making only non-partisan, merit-based appointments and accompanying adaptations. All other features of the Upper House’s antiquated constitutional foundations continue, even though many of them serve no public purpose.
Canada has observed a ‘winner take all’ approach to making Senate appointments. Historically, the prime minister has made all appointments to the Upper Chamber. Even now, the current prime minister is making all the appointments, albeit from names submitted by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate appointments. In this article, the author suggests that a procedure for sharing appointments to ensure all leaders of parties are fairly represented. If the current process for selecting independent senators is maintained by future governments, all party leaders should still take turns in choosing senators from the nominees selected by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments.
The real problem with Senate appointments has been that the different party leaders since Confederation have not shared the appointments when they have become prime minister.1 Even now, the current prime minister is making all the appointments, albeit from names submitted by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate appointments. It’s the same problem whether independent senators are named or party-based ones. Sharing the appointments among the party leaders is the only solution. Interestingly enough, appointments to the House of Lords have been shared by the prime ministers of the United Kingdom.2
Ten years after commencing the initial round of exit interviews with departing Members of Parliament, the Samara Centre for Democracy has recently published three new reports based on a second round of interviews. These publications, and the best-selling book Tragedy in the Commons, have received tremendous attention in the media and amongst parliamentary observers who have been interested in the candid observations of former parliamentarians. In this article, the authors outline the organization’s evolving interview process and overall methodological approach and discuss tentative plans to make the individual long form interviews available to future researchers.
Ten years ago, as a brand new nonpartisan charity, the Samara Centre for Democracy launched a pan-Canadian project founded on the belief that a chasm was opening between political leaders and citizens, but that leaders themselves might hold some clues for how to begin to close it. So began the Member of Parliament exit interviews project.
For several years a group of legislatures have been working together to create guidance that will help similar organisations in considering business continuity planning necessary to maintain operations in the event of unexpected events or a crisis. In this article, the author outlines the progress of the work and explains how interested parties can get hold of the resulting guide which will be available from January 2019.
In May 2014, the Clerk of the Scottish Parliament, Sir Paul Grice, met with his counterparts in Ottawa where the topic of business continuity cropped up. It became clear during the discussion that there would be mutual benefit if the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament began sharing information on strategic plans, resources and approaches to business continuity.
Increasingly universities are embracing the use of experiential education as a way to improve employability skills, to better prepare participants for their transition to work and to give them “real world” experience. Many programs adopt such approaches and work to embed new pedagogy and learning into their curriculum. While most programs are moving quickly to experiential education models, we are only starting to consider how to measure the success of these efforts; more work needs to be done to evaluate such programs. In this article, the author reflects on 25 years of offering internships, practicums and experiential education. He uses the Ontario Legislature Internship Program (OLIP) as an example of a best practice and to inspire additional thinking about the improvement and sustainability of such programs.
In the year leading up to an anticipated federal general election in 2019, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group gathered together parliamentary officials, interested observers and parliamentarians to examine what has transpired in the current parliament and what may lie ahead. This well-attended conference included four panels which explored “the changes and challenges facing each Chamber in light of recent procedural and structural innovations.” In this article, the author provides summaries of each of these panels and some of the discussion that followed the presentations.
The Changing Bicameral Relationship