Parliamentarians are rarely forthcoming about the furtive phenomenon of party discipline. A recent public event at Memorial University of Newfoundland brought together four political mavericks to discuss their experiences with the constraints of party discipline. Two of them were sitting members of parliamentary assemblies who in 2019 accomplished the rare feat of being elected as an Independent. The discussion was moderated by the Samara Centre for Democracy.
On February 6, Memorial University hosted a public discussion called “Navigating Party Discipline,” sponsored in part by the Royal Society of Canada. Moderated by the Samara Centre for Democracy’s Michael Morden, the St. John’s event brought in a 300-person audience for a frank discussion with four politicians who have experienced first-hand the harsh reality of party discipline in Canada.
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Manitoba celebrated its 150th anniversary as a province in 2020. The year also marked the 100th birthday of the province’s legislative building. In this article, the author outlines the planned year-long festivities – which were postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and other projects in celebration of these anniversaries.
December 14, 2019 officially kicked off what was to be a year of celebration for Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the Manitoba Legislative Building’s 100th birthday. Manitoba 150 hosted a free family friendly event outside the Legislative Building that featured snowmobile acrobatics, entertainment for families, and over 300,000 LED lights on and around the Manitoba Legislative Building.
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In a place known for asking “who’s your father?” in order to determine where you fit in the fabric of the province, it’s no wonder that our House of Assembly has seen so many examples of family ties between Members since the first sitting in 1833. The present Assembly alone has at least 9 out of 40 Members who have familial relationships to current or past Members. One of our earliest post-Confederation relationships was between the Smallwoods.
Across Newfoundland and Labrador, the surname Smallwood brings a clear image to mind – complete with dark-rimmed glasses and a colourful bowtie. Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador from 1949 to 1972, Joseph R. Smallwood remains a household name and a pop culture icon. What may not be as well-known is that his son William R. Smallwood followed in his father’s footsteps in 1956 when he became a Member of the House of Assembly at the age of 28 in Smallwood’s Liberal government.
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One hundred years ago, the world was gripped by an influenza pandemic. Many Canadians succumbed to the disease, including Alberta’s first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. In this article, the author traces his political career and explains how a virulent and novel strain of the flu cost him his life.
Charles Wellington Fisher, the first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, was eminently suited for this historic role both by temperament and because of his prior service in the Legislative Assembly of the North-West Territories. Fisher presided over the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for over 13 years as this new province shaped what was to become its legislative legacy. During Fisher’s tenure as Speaker, the number of Members in the Legislative Assembly more than doubled from 25 in 1906 to 61 in 1919.
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A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (June 2020 – August 2020)
Cameron, Scott. “Policy Forum – Independent platform costing—Balancing the interests of the public and parties.” Canadian Tax Journal / Revue fiscale canadienne 68 (2): 491-504, 2020.
Continue reading “New and Notable Titles”
Unplanned business interruptions can occur at any time. Having a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) helped the Legislative Assembly of Ontario ensure that it had the resources and information required to mitigate and respond to the COVID-19 emergency and to enable resilience and resumption of on-site service delivery. In this article, the author(s) explain how the Assembly’s business continuity planning helped staff navigate the challenging circumstances around the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and how resumption planning is being used to return to more normal operations.
Hugh McGreechan, William Short and Wendy Reynolds
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When the pandemic was declared, the Library of Parliament reacted quickly to identify ways to serve clients and contribute to parliamentary democracy, while respecting public health guidelines and safeguarding employees’ health. With the strategic priorities of relevance, agility and a healthy workplace, and a strong foundation when the pandemic started, the Library launched new and enhanced products while continuing to deliver most existing services. In this article, the authors note the institution’s success mainly reflects three factors: committed, adaptable and resilient employees; collaboration with Parliament Hill partners; and a workforce largely equipped to telework.
They explain that the Library continues to evaluate what has worked well and what has not, and where additional investments would help ensure and enhance its ability to serve clients, regardless of their – or the Library staff’s – work location or of public health or other conditions. They conclude that the Library is confident that the innovation, creativity and flexibility engendered by this crisis will be a lasting legacy.
Continue reading “Canada’s Library of Parliament: Serving Through the COVID-19 Pandemic”
The National Assembly of Quebec was one of many Canadian parliaments that had to confront the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, the author outlines the steps taken to ensure parliamentary activities could continue and what temporary – and longer-term – changes were made to respond to the directives of public health officials.
Continue reading “The National Assembly in the Time of COVID-19”
This research note compares the responses of Canadian provincial cabinet governments to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic health crisis with a focus on New Brunswick’s unique and somewhat exceptional formation of an all party cabinet committee on COVID-19 in March 2020. The article reviews the responses of provincial cabinets to the pandemic with special attention to their relationship to opposition parties and leaders. While the Savoie thesis has dominated Canadian understanding of cabinet governance, we suggest that centralization of power is only one likely feature and not the dominant feature of cabinet government. With our findings of the current cases, we argue that the defining characteristic of cabinet government in Westminster systems is its “flexibility of method”1
and “capacity for change”.2
Continue reading “External Shocks and Westminster Executive Governance: New Brunswick’s All-Party Cabinet Committee on COVID-19”