Are E-petitions a Viable Tool for Increasing Citizen Participation in Our Parliamentary Institutions?

Article 1 / 9 , Vol 37 No 4 (Winter)

Vol 37 No 4Are E-petitions a Viable Tool for Increasing Citizen Participation in Our Parliamentary Institutions?

Although some experts have suggested legislatures should be cautious about moving to internet voting until challenges with secrecy and security, voter verification, auditability and cost-effectiveness are addressed, the author suggests that electronic petitions may offer an incremental step toward broader engagement with voters online. This article reviews current e-petitions systems, the difference between qualitative and quantitative systems, technical challenges and the potential benefit of encouraging voter participation. The author concludes by listing the best practices to consider when developing an e-petitions system.

A Blueprint for Parliamentary Reform in British Columbia

Article 2 / 12 , Vol 34 No 3 (Autumn)

A Blueprint for Parliamentary Reform in British Columbia

Several years have passed since institutional reforms were last undertaken in British Columbia. Most recently, changes were made in 2005 to lengthen question period from 15 to 30 minutes, allow more Private Members’ Statements, and create an Opposition-held position of Assistant Deputy Speaker. Before that, notable changes were made in 2001. These included the establishment of set dates for general elections and budget day, a legislative calendar, and the introduction of Private Members’ Statements. This article looks at other areas for potential reform in BC and other legislatures. It focuses on legislation, estimates and parliamentary committees.

Oversight of Regulations by Parliamentarians

Article 3 / 11 , Vol 33 No 4 (Winter)

Oversight of Regulations by Parliamentarians

Regulations sometimes referred to as delegated legislation or subordinate legislation are a common feature in modern parliamentary democracies in Canada and throughout the world. They give specific form and substance to laws and set out the finer details of an act’s operation. The common characteristic is that the parent statute must specify that such orders can be made and for what purpose. This article examines some of the advantages and disadvantages that have arisen from their use. It also discusses those jurisdictions that have developed processes for the review of regulations. Lastly, it will provide some suggestions on how to increase the role of parliamentarians in the review process.

Practical considerations and the administrative needs of modern states have made it unavoidable that legislatures shift some of their lawmaking authority to the executive branch. Governments typically pass hundreds–if not thousands–of pieces of delegated legislation each year in order to function effectively and efficiently. Obviously, legislative assemblies are simply incapable of processing every regulation in the same manner as a bill. Parliamentary time and resources are simply too scarce. Furthermore, many regulatory initiatives are specific in scope, and would be unlikely to warrant the full consideration of the House.