A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (March 2022 – May 2022).
Feldman, Charlie. “Much ado about parliamentary review.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 16 (1): 105-38, 2022.
While there are many tools in the parliamentary toolbox, a crystal ball is not among them. How legislation might operate once in force may be radically different than what is envisaged at enactment and may be impacted by circumstances far beyond imagination. As such, legislators sometimes enact provisions intending for the review of a statute or portion thereof. Broadly speaking, this is known as statutory review…this article will begin by providing its working definition for parliamentary review provisions and illustrating their common elements. It will then present statistics and observations on reviews before discussing challenges with parliamentary review provisions from a legal and parliamentary perspective. Finally, it will conclude with reflections on parliamentary statutory review more generally.
Fleming, Tom and Meg Russell. “The House of Lords amendment to the ‘Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill’ returns appropriate power to MPs: they should accept it.” The Constitution Unit, 6p., March 9, 2022.
The House of Lords has amended the government’s Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill to require House of Commons approval for early general elections. The authors explore what MPs should consider when the bill returns to the Commons. They argue that the Lords’ amendment deserves support, as it provides an important limit on Prime Ministers’ power to call early elections, and avoids drawing either the monarch or the courts into political controversy.
Gaudreault-DesBiens, Jean-François and Noura Krazivan. “Dissipating normative fog: revisiting the POGG’s national concern test.” Revue Juridique Themis 55 (1): 103-36, 2021.
This article argues that the test used to determine the constitutional validity of a federal statute on the basis of the national concern branch of Parliament’s power to legislate for the peace, order and good government of Canada should be revisited…
Hargrave, Lotte, and Tone Langengen. “The gendered debate: do men and women communicate differently in the House of Commons?” Politics & Gender 17 (4): 580-606, December 2021.
It has long been claimed in gender and politics literature that male and female legislators have different communication styles. The evidence for this claim has come mostly from interviews with legislators as the key informants on gendered differences. The authors contribute to this literature in two ways: First, they empirically examine speeches by Members of Parliament to establish whether gendered differences are observable in parliamentary debates. Second, they advance existing measurement approaches by testing for multiple dimensions of communication style, providing a more systematic approach to studying gendered speech behaviour. Communication style is examined through a content analysis of almost 200 speeches in three parliamentary sessions of the British House of Commons. We find compelling evidence for differences in communication style: women evidence arguments with personal experience, discuss policies in a concrete way, and are less adversarial than men. The findings have important implications for how political communication styles might improve public engagement with politicians, offer a different focus to the discussion, and improve democratic legitimacy.
Mason-Cox, Matthew and Jonathan O’Dea. “Appointment of the first Aboriginal Liaison Officer at the Parliament of New South Wales.” The Parliamentarian 103 (1): 46-8, 2022.
It has been 12 months since the Parliament of New South Wales employed its first Aboriginal Liaison Officer, to ensure the Parliament is better placed to engage with Aboriginal communities across New South Wales. This historic and deeply significant appointment, only the second to be made in Australia, was a huge step towards making the Parliament of New South Wales a more welcoming place for Aboriginal communities.
McKeown, Deirdre and Mchael Sloane. “Parliamentary codes of conduct: a review of recent developments.” Parliamentary Library – Parliament of Australia, Research Paper Series, 2021-22: 48p., 30 March 2022.
Allegations of misconduct in a number of Australia’s parliaments have drawn attention to the adequacy of existing frameworks intended to regulate the conduct of those who work in this environment—including members of parliament and their staff, ministers and their staff, and parliamentary support staff. Members of the federal Parliament are not currently subject to a code of conduct, while various codes do apply to ministers, ministerial staff and parliamentary support staff. This contrasts with Australian state and territory parliaments, which all have codes of conduct, and with national parliaments overseas such as the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, which also have codes in place. This paper outlines the variety of enforcement mechanisms these existing parliamentary codes of conduct exhibit, the findings of the reviews that have been conducted into the effectiveness of these arrangements in preventing bullying and harassment and discusses how these might inform debate about a response at the federal level.
Otjes, Simon. “What explains the size of parliamentary staff?” Western European Politics Forthcoming: 1-27, 2022.
Little is known about the staff who support MPs in their work. The literature suggests that these staff serve different important roles in democratic systems. This article compares the size of parliamentary staff in 48 countries and in 66 Houses over an eight-year period. It compares three explanations of staff size, which reflect different roles staff can have: firstly, that these staff serve MPs as compromise facilitators, planners and scribes. In that case, their number reflects the number of MPs. Secondly, that staff members function as information brokers and advertisers and act as intermediaries between the population and MPs. In that case, staff size reflects population size. And thirdly, that these staff primarily serve as a source of independent advice for MPs. In that case, staff size reflects the strength of the House they serve. Population size is found to be the dominant driver of the size of parliamentary staff.
Raney, Tracey and Cheryl N. Collier. “Privilege and gendered violence in the Canadian and British Houses of Commons: a feminist institutionalist analysis.” Parliamentary Affairs 75 (2): 382-99, April 2022.
The Canadian and British Houses of Commons have both recently adopted formal rules to address the problem of sexual misconduct in their parliaments. Using Feminist Institutionalism, we examine how these rules have been constrained or enabled by parliamentary privilege in both countries. As a result of their divergent historical approaches to privilege, we argue that the British House of Commons’ new rules are better suited to address this issue relative to their Canadian counterpart. This outcome has differential consequences for women and minorities who are the most vulnerable to abuse in each parliament.
Sawer, Marian. “Dealing with toxic parliaments: lessons from elsewhere.” Australasian Parliamentary Review 36 (1): 7-22, Winter 2021.
In February 2021, Brittany Higgins set in motion a wave of protest in Australia concerning women’s experience of Parliament as a workplace. The way her claim of rape in a Minister’s office was treated made it clear the Parliament of Australia was lagging behind reforms taking place elsewhere. In the wake of the 2017 #MeToo movement, women have been emboldened to reveal their experience of Parliament as an unsafe workplace. The problems are widespread due to the unique structure and nature of parliamentary employment coupled with partisan dynamics. This article examines steps taken by other Parliaments, including those in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to deal with issues of bullying and sexual harassment and the pitfalls encountered. It ends with some recommendations flowing from lessons learned.
Tardi, Gregory. “Election 44: Connecting the dots.” Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law / Revue de droit parlementaire et politique 16 (1): 1-5, 2022.
In Canada, the constitutional standard for the duration of Parliaments is five years. Pursuant to legislation on fixed-date elections that was enacted in 2008, the statute law now says four years, subject to the discretionary powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament. The 43rd federal general election, which was held on October 21, 2019, produced a minority Liberal government. In 2021, that government was not in danger of being voted out of office. Yet, on August 15, 2021, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament so that the 44th election could be held on September 20, 2021.
VandenBeukel, Jason and Robert, Cochrane, Christopher, Godbout, Jean-François. “Birds of a feather? Loyalty and partisanship in the reformed Canadian Senate.” Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique 54 (4): 830-49, December/décembre 2021.
Since 2015, the Canadian Senate has undergone a series of reforms designed to make it more independent, ideologically diverse, and active in the legislative process. The authors use loyalty scores and vote scaling algorithms to situate the voting behaviour of senators, focusing primarily on the 41st and 42nd Parliaments (2011–2019), the period just before and after the changes, respectively. The authors find that the reforms have led to a loosening of party discipline across all parties and caucuses but that independent senators appointed under the reformed process are the most likely supporters of the government’s agenda. The authors also find that the Senate has become more willing to use its formal powers.
Wall, Acacia and Clive Barker. “Parliamentary workplace equality & diversity networks: case studies from the Commonwealth.” Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Case Studies from the Commonwealth: 34p., 2022.
The report showcases the work that thirteen Parliaments throughout the Commonwealth are doing to facilitate their inclusion and equality agendas with internal networks.
Feldman, Charlie. “Examen judiciaire des dispositions en cours de révision par le législateur.” Revue générale de droit 51 (special issue): 15-46, 2021 [AVAILABLE IN FRENCH ONLY].
This article explores how courts proceed when a statutory provision at issue in litigation is the subject of legislation before the legislature. The text documents practices in relation to judicial notice of bills before Parliament and discusses the judicial understanding of parliamentary activities as revealed in court decisions. It provides several case studies of instances where courts have been seized of litigation that would be impacted by parliamentary developments. It concludes that a myriad of approaches exist, some of which reflect potentially problematic understandings of the legislature by the judiciary.
Feldman, Charlie and Vanessa MacDonnell. “Introduction : le Parlement et les tribunaux.” Revue générale de droit 51 (special issue): 7-14, 2021 [AVAILABLE IN FRENCH ONLY].
In 2019, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group’s annual conference was entitled “Parliament and the Courts.” It brought together Canadian researchers and practitioners, some of whom came from the United Kingdom and Australia, and welcomed a record number of participants. A common refrain after each presentation was, “We are out of time, but there is still so much more to say!” Of course, it is impossible for one single conference, or one single issue of a law review, to cover the extent of the involvement, intersection and interaction between Parliament and the courts.
Keyes, John Mark. “Examen parlementaire et contrôle judiciaire de la législation exécutive : évaluation de l’expérience canadienne.” Revue générale de droit 51 (special issue): 129-71, 2021 [AVAILABLE IN FRENCH ONLY].
Executive legislation is a form of law made by government bodies or officials to whom primary legislators (parliaments and legislatures) have delegated legislative authority. The exercise of this authority is subject to both parliamentary scrutiny and judicial review. This article looks at the relationship between these functions and considers whether they are being performed sufficiently to ensure democratic accountability for executive legislation. It concludes that although these functions do not conflict, there are serious concerns about whether they ensure democratic accountability for executive legislation in Canada.