Elin Salome Halldorson was the first female elected from a rural riding and the second woman to be elected to the Manitoba Legislature. She was also the first female of Icelandic descent to be elected in Manitoba. Salome, as she was known, was born in Lundar, Manitoba in 1887, shortly after her parents emigrated from Iceland. Salome studied at Wesley College, the University of Manitoba and completed post-graduate studies in the United States and France. She taught languages at a private Icelandic school in Winnipeg where she was also the principal and dean.
Salome was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for St. George in the 1936 provincial election. During her campaign, she gained popularity by speaking in French, Icelandic, English or German, depending on her audience. A strong believer in the Social Credit movement, she was one of five candidates who won a seat; she later became the president of the Manitoba Social Credit League. She was defeated in the next general election in 1941 by Skuli Sigfusson.
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Many issues studied by parliaments cross borders and boundaries. Concern about a major data breach involving social media users prompted similar parliamentary committee studies in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Information exchanged between the two committees and their willingness to work together paved the way for the inception of an International Grand Committee (IGC) – a series of meetings held by existing national-level parliamentary committees where parliamentarians from other countries are invited to participate. In this article, the authors outline the process to create the IGC, summarize two IGC meetings, and present comments on the IGC’s work by three Canadian parliamentarians who participated in these meetings. They conclude by noting the IGC meetings enabled parliamentarians from various countries to work together on issues of shared concern and importance, using existing national parliamentary committees as hosts and conduits for these international meetings; this structure differs from the work of multilateral interparliamentary assemblies.
Alexandra Savoie and Maxime-Olivier Thibodeau
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She Should Run is a campaign schools initiative organized by the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Canada Region. The campaign aims to launch non-partisan “campaign schools” where women can come to learn about the processes of running for public office. These campaign schools, which usually take the form of short conferences, follow the CWP’s framework; they consist of various sessions and modules created specifically to support women entering the political sphere. The Canadian Parliamentary Review spoke with Laura Ross, Chair of the CWP Canada Region, to find out more about She Should Run.
Interview by Elena Senechal-Becker
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Interpreting and enforcing the rules of parliament is a central part of a Speaker’s responsibilities within an Assembly. However, it is certainly not the only part of the job. A Speaker is also an ambassador of the Assembly, and it is her or his responsibility to explain, educate and provide resources on parliamentary democracy. A Speaker is, therefore, an advocate and exponent of democracy and democratic institutions. In an effort to fulfill this role and communicate in a way that draws in a large audience, Alberta’s Speaker has created a new digital and social media campaign to engage with Albertans and visitors interested in the province’s parliamentary processes and traditions. In this article, the author outlines aspects of the campaign and explains why a Speaker’s neutral, non-partisan position makes him or her uniquely equipped to advocate and explain parliamentary democracy to citizens and visitors alike.
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How do Canadian parliaments determine the correct number of representatives required for their assemblies? There is really no objective answer. In this article, the author explains common reasoning used to promote or oppose proposals to reduce the number of seats in a legislature. He concludes that whether a person believes a legislative assembly warrants more or fewer private members, what matters is whether those members have a meaningful role. This article synthesizes information presented in “Fewer politicians and smaller assemblies: how party elites rationalize reducing the number of seats in a legislature – lessons from Canada,” an article the author published in a recent issue of the Journal of Legislative Studies.
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In this article, the author explains why people may not be better served by having fewer elected representatives. She outlines the multifaceted dimensions of constituency work and explains how geography – particularly in rural or northern areas – can challenge a politician’s ability to effectively reach constituents and hear their concerns. She notes that while technological innovations can help build connections with constituents, not all areas have adequate communications networks. The author notes that potential cost savings of having fewer politicians is not as straight forward as it may seem, that backbenchers are not all as underworked as people may believe, and having fewer seats in a legislature won’t necessarily make it easier for parties to run a full slate of candidates. She concludes by contending that changes to the system itself should be where efforts are directed and proposals to reduce or increase the number of representatives in the system should be examined in context.
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In this article, the author contends that Canadians need better supported parliamentarians, not more of them. While noting that there is no universal formula for determining the size of an assembly, many jurisdictions around the world function well with a higher per capita ratio of representatives who are adequately staffed and given the resources to be effective representatives. Suggesting that Canadians should ask whether their representatives are providing value for the taxes spent on their salaries and pensions, the author states that quality of services offered by parliamentarians should be privileged over the quantity of representatives. Using the intense research and labour required to draft legislation as an example, she notes that having enough staff to dedicate individuals to daily operations and special projects would likely offer a better return to Canadians than spreading these resources over more elected politicians whose limited resources cause them to rely on talking points from party offices.
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Education is a significant portfolio in any provincial or territorial cabinet. The Education Minister makes decisions and works with others to accomplish specific functions that affect individual students and society as a whole. They are widely seen to have a key role in shaping the future, and as such the pressure on them to perform well and succeed is immense. Surprisingly, for such an important position, new appointees often find they are unprepared for all that is expected of them. In this article, the author, a former territorial Education Minister, summarizes his doctoral research into education leadership. Employing interviews with other former education ministers from across the country and the political spectrum, he endeavoured to develop an interpretive understanding of the position through the lens of identity. Four common themes were developed from the stories of the former ministers: changing identity, voicing identity, educating identity, and trusting identity. He concludes by expressing hope that his analysis and research will help us do a better job of preparing people who assume these positions to understand their roles and responsibilities.
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A three-day global summit on open government brought a diverse group of legislators, stakeholders, activists, educators and government employees from around the world to Ottawa in May 2019. In this article, the author focuses on discussions emerging from the Parliamentary Track of the conference, explains how “open parliament” can mean different things in emerging or established democracies and notes how new technological advances are assisting parliamentarians with their duties in ways previous unimagined.
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The #MeToo movement has been a watershed moment for changes to workplace culture, particularly for women in fields traditionally dominated by men. On March 29, 2019, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group held a seminar to explore the impact of the #MeToo on parties, politics, and Parliament Hill.
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