Many Canadians have never seen their federal, provincial or territorial parliaments in person. As a result, when asked to picture what goes on in these buildings, the image that may come to mind is most likely what they may have seen on television or the Internet: a fiery Question Period exchange, a recorded vote on contentious legislation, or perhaps scenes from a budget address or Speech from the Throne.
People who work in these buildings know there is much more happening than what short televised clips would suggest, and it takes a finely tuned administrative system to keep all the moving parts working smoothly.
In this edition of the Canadian Parliamentary Review, we’ve collected articles exploring the inner workings of Canadian parliaments: the programs, processes and people that keep the cogs in the parliamentary machine turning.
Jennifer Ruff and Kim Hawley George offer insights into the auditing process at the House of Commons and Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly, respectively. Ms. Ruff describes how “audit” need not be a scary word and outlines ways internal audits with buy-in from stakeholders can help organizations refine their operations. Ms. Hawley George recounts Newfoundland and Labrador’s experience with a spending scandal that transformed the way the House of Assembly manages its internal finances to provide better protection and transparency.
Artour Sogomonian writes about the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia’s first-of-its-kind governance framework for a parliamentary institution. He explains why the framework was established, details the principles informing it, and outlines its general structure. He notes that when parliaments are proactive in establishing and maintaining good governance internally, they help create and sustain public confidence in these institutions.
Returning to the House of Commons, Ismail Albaidhani and Guillaume LaPerrière-Marcoux illuminate the Members of Parliament Capability Development Framework (MP-CDF). This framework is designed to offer an agile and adaptable approach to support MPs’ continuing development as individuals and as organizations to meet their evolving objectives as legislators, employers, and representatives of their constituents.
Rachel Nauta and Ontario Speaker Ted Arnott contribute a gripping account of how the Ontario Assembly’s Legislative Protective Service Unit handles incidents arising in or near parliament buildings. The authors describe how the LPS functions within the broader management of the Assembly and outline recent changes to how the service is constituted and operates.
Finally, in a roundtable discussion, we gather six former participants of McGill University’s two parliamentary professional development programs. One is tailored toward staff (the professional development certificate in Parliamentary Management) and the other focuses on newly elected MPs (the professional development certificate in Parliamentary Governance). The participants describe how the programs help them build or advance existing knowledge of parliamentary administration and governance.
If you would like to see a future theme issue on a subject we have not covered recently, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or suggestions.
Will Stos, Editor