When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many workplaces shut down. Some parliamentary committees didn’t or couldn’t. With physical distancing measures in place, some committees opted to use videoconferencing platforms to help continue operations. In this roundtable discussion, parliamentarians and committee clerks explain how the system has worked, where there have been issues that needed to be addressed, and what this technology may mean for the future of their work.
Participants: Richard Gotfried, MLA, Laura Mae Lindo, MPP, Valerie Quioc Lim, Shannon Philips, MLA, Aaron Roth
As one of the principal clients of Parliamentary Libraries, many parliamentarians see the inherent value in these institutions – even if their own jurisdiction doesn’t have one. In this modified roundtable discussion, the Canadian Parliamentary Review has compiled interviews with four parliamentarians discussing how and why they use their Parliamentary Library, or what they do when they don’t have access to one.
Participants: Shane Getson, MLA, Liz Hanson, MLA, Nathan Neudorf, MLA and Kevin O’Reilly, MLA
Continue reading “Parliamentarians Discuss Parliamentary Libraries”
The Canadian Study of Parliament Group’s annual conference explored the important, intricate and evolving relationship between Parliament and the Courts. Increasingly, Courts turn to the parliamentary record to inform
their decisions, while parliamentarians cite judicial pronouncements as the reason for action or inaction. Four panels were organized to examine when and how Parliament seeks to inform the Courts, how the Courts understand
Parliament, the role each institution plays within Canada’s constitutional architecture, and the many facets of this relationship – from reference powers to the notwithstanding clause.
In their legislative role, parliamentarians propose and amend laws, and review regulations. This seminar discussed the practical realities of law-making within the parliamentary context and provided an overview of shifts in Parliament’s legislative practices as a result of developments that have seen, among other things, an increase in Senate-initiated legislation and amendments, and the increased consideration of messages in the House of Commons. Whether parliamentarians are experienced
lawyers or persons with no legal background, they all participate in the legislative process; this seminar aimed to analyze how they go about that task and what it means for our democracy.
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.
As a part of a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Parliamentary Internship Programme, a panel was organized to discuss the historic and emerging roles of Indigenous People within the federal government and Parliament. Although unforeseen circumstances prompted a last-minute change in the line-up, a panel of current and former MPs, an academic and a public servant offered insightful commentary based on several perspectives. The panel particularly focused on the challenges and opportunities involved in respectfully engaging a diverse population, creating self-government structures and building on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The following text has been edited and revised for length and clarity and is not a verbatim report.
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.
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?
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.