Parliamentarians and Mental Health: A Candid Conversation

Parliamentarians and Mental Health: A Candid Conversation

One in five Canadians will experience symptoms relating to mental illness in their lifetime. Yet, despite strides to destigmatise mental health conditions, people experiencing acute symptoms or episodes often feel as though they must struggle through alone and in silence. High-stress occupations, including those in parliamentary politics, are often places where these conditions first manifest or reappear due to certain triggers. The very public nature of the job and the continuing need to seek re-election tend to make politicians reluctant to disclose their mental health issues. In recent years, however, more parliamentarians appear to be coming forward, while in office, to speak openly about managing their mental health on the job. In this roundtable, three parliamentarians who have publicly disclosed their mental health conditions came together to talk about their experiences serving as parliamentarians while dealing with mental health conditions. With astonishing candour, they shared their stories and took the opportunity to talk to others in the same unique position about how they’ve persevered during trying times. The participants, while acknowledging the challenges of managing the conditions while in office also spoke of its positive effects in terms of giving them compassion, realism, and great perspective that can be used to excel at aspects of their jobs.

This roundtable was held in November 2017.

Parliamentary Tour Guiding Around Canada

Parliamentary Tour Guiding Around Canada

Tour guides at federal, provincial and territorial parliaments serve an important role as educators; sometimes, they are the first point of contact for Canadians, newcomers and tourists who are seeking to learn more about Canada’s political system. In this roundtable discussion, chaired by Canadian Parliamentary Review intern Mariya-Kvitlana Tsap, seven tour guides and tour officers from British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and the Parliament of Canada shared insights into their typical day on the job, some memorable personal anecdotes and their take on the most intriguing facts about their respective building and programming that might be of interest to visitors.

CPR: How would you describe a regular day at your job?

Roundtable: Social Media Harassment of Women Politicians

Roundtable: Social Media Harassment of Women Politicians

For politicians, shaking hands, kissing babies, cutting ribbons and being on the receiving end of angry diatribes from unhappy members of the public, all come with the territory. But women parliamentarians have been speaking up and speaking out about a particularly gendered form of social media bullying, harassment and threats that appear to have become more prevalent. In this roundtable three current or former women parliamentarians discuss the abuse they’ve encountered, how they’ve responded to it, and what they believe needs to be done to combat it.

Editor’s note: This roundtable contains unparliamentary language and, in particular, a derogatory slur. Prior to publication, the editorial board had a fulsome discussion and debate about whether to run this slur uncensored. Proponents of running the term uncensored noted that Hansard policy is to run slurs in an unedited form. Moreover, as women parliamentarians have had to hear or read these terms while serving the public, there was a sense that it would be hypocritical to censor the words for other readers in an article of this type. Alternatively, some members of the board felt running the slur unedited would revictimize women by perpetuating it and that it was beneath the dignity of the magazine to do it. And, in a very practical matter, it was noted that publishing these terms unedited could influence Web search engines to lower the Canadian Parliamentary Review’s ranking on these pages. By way of compromise, we have opted to run the terms with an asterix in place of a vowel to clearly indicate the slur or language being used, but to blunt its impact and eliminate search engine concerns. However, we include this note to explain that our decision to censor was not done without careful consideration and it is a decision we do not take lightly. We invite anyone who disagrees with the decision to send a letter to the editor, and have given all participants in this roundtable the opportunity to write a response which we will print alongside this article if they disagree with our decision.

Roundtable: Daughters of the Vote

Roundtable: Daughters of the Vote

On March 8, 2017, coinciding with International Women’s Day, 338 young women between 18 and 23 filled every seat in the House of Commons. Marking the 100th anniversary of some women receiving the right to vote in federal elections, Equal Voice’s highly successful Daughters of the Vote (DOTV) program drew positive attention from media around Canada and the world. As DOTV delegates reveal in this illuminating roundtable discussion, the inspiration they drew from each other and the women parliamentarians they met on the journey to Ottawa and during their week in the capital will have far-reaching effects as they share what they’ve learned with their communities and apply it in their own future endeavours.

CPR: What have you taken away from this experience as young women who may have had an interest in politics but perhaps had little or no experience with parliamentary politics or partisan politics?

Electoral Systems and Reform: The Canadian Experience

Electoral Systems and Reform: The Canadian Experience

In this roundtable discussion, panellists from a Canadian Study of Parliament Group session on the history of voting reform tackle why Canada has its current single-member plurality system, what other alternatives or experiments some jurisdictions in the country have tried, and comment on the perceptible shift in who is driving electoral reform and why expectations for how the process is conducted may have changed.

CPR: How did Canada come to have its current electoral system?

Roundtable: Parliamentary Reform

Roundtable: Parliamentary Reform

In May 2015, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group held a conference in Ottawa to discuss parliamentary reform initiatives of the past, present and future. In this roundtable, some of the presenters from that conference discuss reforms from recent history and the prospects for change in parliament in the near term and whether they are optimistic or pessimistic that positive change will occur.

CPR: The Canadian Study of Parliament Group’s conference programme was loosely structured on where we’ve been, where we are now and where we’re going, and I’d like to adopt a similar structure here. Can you tell us a bit about how parliament has changed and evolved over the past 20 to 30 years?

Roundtable – New Parliamentarians Share Their Initial Thoughts About Parliamentary Life Vol 38 No 4

Roundtable – New Parliamentarians Share Their Initial Thoughts About Parliamentary Life Vol 38 No 4

At some point in their career, all parliamentarians are new parliamentarians. They come from diverse walks of life and assume their role with different levels of familiarity with parliament and expectations about their new roles. In this roundtable discussion, the Canadian Parliamentary Review spoke with seven recently elected MLAs from Alberta and Prince Edward Island to ask about their initial impressions of parliamentary life and how they were able to learn about the many facets of their work.

CPR: How did you first become interested in running for office and what road led you to becoming a parliamentarian?

Roundtable – Life After Parliament: The Role of Associations of Former Parliamentarians Vol 38 No 3

Roundtable – Life After Parliament: The Role of Associations of Former Parliamentarians Vol 38 No 3

At some point in time every current parliamentarian will become a former parliamentarian. In recent decades associations representing former parliamentarians have formed to provide transitional assistance to and maintain and foster social links that developed among these men and women during their time in legislatures. In this roundtable the Canadian Parliamentary Review brought together members of several provincial associations of former members who spoke of their organizations’ work and how they might be able to offer their wealth of parliamentary experience to assist current research and outreach projects of legislatures.

Roundtable: Some Editing Required: Producing Canada’s Hansards Vol 38 No 2

Roundtable: Some Editing Required: Producing Canada’s Hansards Vol 38 No 2

As producers of the official transcripts of parliamentary debates, Canada’s Hansards are responsible for ensuring parliamentarians and Canadians have a fair and accurate report of what happened on any given day on the floor of a legislature. In this roundtable, four directors/editors of Canadian Hansards discuss how their teams work to make the transition from “the colourful theatre of debate to the black and white specifics of text.”

Roundtable: Disability in Parliamentary Politics Vol 38 No 1

Roundtable: Disability in Parliamentary Politics

Although parliamentarians and public figures with disabilities have attained a heightened profile in Canada over the past decade, new research suggests that people who identify as having a disability are not seeking public office in numbers representative of their place in the general population. In this roundtable the Canadian Parliamentary Review gathered scholars, parliamentarians and public officer holders who have an interest in disability and politics to discuss the state of parliamentary politics for persons with disabilities and strategies for making political life more accessible to Canadians.

CPR: Prof. Levesque, your recent research suggests persons with disabilities are not seeking elected office in numbers representative of their place in the general population. Why is participation in elected politics among persons with disabilities so low?