Every Member of Parliament represents a constituency. Yet the amount of attention paid to the Member-constituency relationship by scholars is quite small compared to its importance in our democratic system. Members must spend time building connections to their constituencies, understanding concerns, and mediating these tensions within a party caucus if party policy conflicts with what an MP is hearing locally. Additional responsibilities such as being in cabinet or having a constituency far from Ottawa where travel is difficult can create other challenges. The Canadian Study of Parliament Group organized a seminar on March 16, 2018 which brought parliamentarians, academics, parliamentary staff and journalists together to explore ideas of constituency representation and engagement. This article summarizes the seminar’s sessions and provides some insight into how these various groups of stakeholders think about the nature of constituencies.
Connecting with Constituents: Observations on how MPs engage at home
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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.
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New British Columbia Speaker
On June 22, Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson was acclaimed as the new Speaker of British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly, replacing Linda Reid.
A former executive director of the BC Agriculture Council, he also spent time as general manager of the BC Fruit Growers’ Association and the BC Milk Producers Association, and was director of the Kelowna Museum, the Okanagan Innovation Fund and the BC Bioenergy Network.
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New Yukon Speaker
On January 12, 2017, the 34th Yukon Legislative Assembly convened for the first time since the November 7, 2016 general election. The first order of business on the one-day Special Sitting was the election of a Speaker. On motion of Premier Sandy Silver, seconded by Leader of the Official Opposition Stacey Hassard and Third Party House Leader Kate White, the Assembly elected Nils Clarke, the Member for Riverdale North, as its Speaker. Mr. Clarke was the sole nominee for the role.
The Premier had announced his intention to nominate Mr. Clarke on December 3, 2016 at the swearing-in ceremony for Cabinet.
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Commonwealth Youth Parliament
From November 6 to 10, 2016, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia hosted the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament, the first time that this event has been held in Canada.
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New Yukon Speaker
Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod was elected Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on May 10, 2016, following the resignation of David Laxton earlier in the day. Laxton had served as Speaker since 2011, the same year McLeod was first elected to the legislature.
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New Manitoba Speaker
On May 16, Manitoba’s MLAs elected Myrna Driedger as the new Speaker of the Assembly. Driedger succeeds former Speaker Daryl Reid who opted not to run in the most recent provincial election.
“I wish to thank the members for the high honour the House has conferred on me,” she said to the Assembly upon her election. “I leave the floor of this House to take the Speaker’s Chair. I leave behind all political and partisan feelings, and I intend to carry out the important duties of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly with impartiality and to the best of my ability.”
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New Speaker – Northwest Territories
Jackson Lafferty was elected Speaker of the Northwest Territories’ Assembly on December 14, 2015. Lafferty, who was the sole nominee for the position, replaces Jackie Jacobson.
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New Senate Speaker
On December 3, Governor General appointed George Furey as Speaker of the Senate, replacing Conservative Senator Leo Housakos.
Furey, who sits as an independent Senate Liberal, is a lawyer from St. John’s who was appointed to the Senate in 1999 to represent Newfoundland and Labrador on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
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53rd Canadian Regional Conference
More than 100 delegates were welcomed to Victoria by host jurisdiction British Columbia for the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Canadian Regional Conference from July 19-25, 2015. The conference theme focused on parliamentary security.
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