Electoral Systems and Reform: The Canadian Experience

Article 5 / 13 , Vol 39 No 4 (Winter)

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?

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Roundtable: Parliamentary Reform

Article 3 / 12 , Vol 39 No.1 (Spring)

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?

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

Article 4 / 13 , Vol 38 No.4 (Winter)

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?

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

Article 3 / 10 , Vol 38 No 3 (Autumn)

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.

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

Article 3 / 11 , Vol 38 No 2 (Summer)

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.”

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Roundtable: Disability in Parliamentary Politics Vol 38 No 1

Article 3 / 12 , Vol 38 No 1 (Spring)

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?

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For and Against Lowering the Voting Age: A Round Table

Article 9 / 12 , Vol 36 No 2 (Summer)

For and Against Lowering the Voting Age: A Round Table

Under the Edinburgh Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government for a referendum on independence of Scotland it was agreed that the franchise could be extended to 16 and 17 year-olds for this vote. On January 24, 2013, the British House of Commons voted by 119 to 46 for a motion to rationalise the extension of the franchise in this respect throughout the United Kingdom. A month later the House of Lords debated the issue of voting age, a topic of interest to legislators in Canada and elsewhere who are concerned about ways to engage youth in politics. The following is an abridged version of some of the interventions for and against lowering the voting age. For the full text of all speeches see Debates of the House of Lords, February 27, 2013.

Lord Tyler: It would be patently inequitable, irrational and absurd to limit this reform of the franchise to one part of the country for one occasion only. As things stand, the same cohort of the Scottish population that will be added to the register for the referendum will then be refused a vote in the general election a few months later. That makes no sense. What if a Westminster, Holyrood or local government by-election poll takes place in Scotland on the same day as the referendum? Are 16 and 17 year-olds to be issued with only one ballot paper for the referendum, but excluded from choosing their representative? Would 16 and 17 year-olds be refused a vote in any subsequent referendum, such as on our continuing membership of the European Union? Quite apart from the issues of principle, let us imagine the complex bureaucratic nightmare of such markedly different registers for different purposes if these inequities are allowed to continue.

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Roundtable: Managing the House in Fiscally Challenging Times

Article 5 / 10 , Vol 35 No 1 (Spring)

Roundtable: Managing the House in Fiscally Challenging Times

The final session of the 33rd Canadian Regional Seminar held in Fredericton on November 4, 2011, was devoted to the issue of financial restraint. The following extracts are based on the transcript. Dale Graham is Speaker of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly, Bill Barisoff is Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Alfie MacLeod is Deputy Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Steve Peters is a former Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, David Smith is a member of the Senate of Canada, Gordie Gosse is Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Fatima Houda Pepin is Deputy Speaker of the Quebec National Assembly, Hunter Tootoo is Speaker of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.

Dale Graham (New Brunswick): Fiscal management during difficult economic times is becoming a common theme in many jurisdictions. As Speakers, it is important that we gain an understanding of the financial workings of our respective parliaments to ensure that we can continue to deliver core services. In New Brunswick, we have been through a number of cost-cutting exercises since the early nineties, and we anticipate more cost-cutting in the next few years. We know that difficult times are ahead, and, while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, some common considerations can be applied to our respective Legislatures.

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