In an age when parliaments are often criticized for being too partisan in nature, it is still possible for legislatures to serve as exceptional forums to conduct in-depth examination of major social issues and foster broad-based consensus. Using the process employed when considering Quebec’s recent Act respecting end-of-life care as an example, the author shows how important and contentious social matters can be debated and examined in a constructive way by legislators, along with extensive participation from civil society. He concludes by proposing that Canadian parliaments may want to investigate whether to follow the examples of Finland and France by creating special committees to review such issues.
Continue reading “The Importance of Debating Major Social Issues in Parliament: The Example of Québec’s Act respecting end-of-life care”
This article starts by looking at how the National Assembly has harnessed communications technologies to engage the public and get them involved in democratic life. It then focusses on the various technological tools available to members and the President to support them in their work. The article concludes with a few thoughts about how communications technologies have a tangible impact on parliamentary business.
Continue reading “Adapting New Communication Technologies at the Quebec National Assembly”
In Québec, as of the election on December 8, 2008, around thirty percent of MNAs are women. In fact, women have not been a part of Québec’s political landscape for long. Marie-Claire Kirkland was the first woman to win a seat in the National Assembly, and that was not until December 14, 1961. She was the lone female voice among hundreds of men for 12 years until she left politics in 1973, at which time Lise Bacon was elected. In 1976, Ms Bacon was re-elected, and four new women also won seats, under the Parti Québécois banner: Lise Payette, Louise Sauvé Cuerrier, Jocelyne Ouellet and Denise Leblanc-Bantey. In the Fall of 2012 a statue on the grounds of the National Assembly will honour all women in political life.
The role of women in politics is a subject that comes up often during elections. How many women are running? What do they do? Do they approach politics differently than men? Do they truly represent women’s interests? There are so many good questions being asked that we often forget that the fight for equality in politics is not yet won. There is still room for many more women in the political world, which has favoured men for far too long. As of October 31, 2011, only 19.5% of people elected to parliaments around the world were women.
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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.
Continue reading “Roundtable: Managing the House in Fiscally Challenging Times”