Letter from the Editor: A Focus on Women Parliamentarians

Article 2 / 14 , Vol 40 No 3 (Autumn)

Letter from the Editor: A Focus on Women Parliamentarians

One hundred years ago, on June 7, 1917, voters in Alberta elected Louise McKinney to the provincial legislature. McKinney, who was sworn in the following year, was not only recognized as the first woman elected to a Canadian legislature, but also the first woman elected as a parliamentarian anywhere in the British Empire.

To mark this anniversary, the Canadian Parliamentary Review is pleased to present a theme issue focusing on the women who have followed (and hope to follow) in her footsteps.

The Relationships Between Parliament and the Agents of Parliament

Article 8 / 12 , Vol 40 No 2 (Summer)

The Relationships Between Parliament and the Agents of Parliament

Working relationships can be quite challenging at the best of times. But when there is debate or disagreement over the nature of work roles and who answers to whom, this relationship has the potential to be especially tense. A recent seminar (March 31, 2017) organized by the Canadian Study of Parliament Group explored this dynamic by asking stakeholders and observers to come together to discuss the roles played by agents of parliament and the parliamentarians they may variously serve, guide, guard, investigate and answer to.

Recent Seminars on Parliamentary Practise and Procedure

Article 7 / 11 , Vol 40 No. 1 (Spring)

Recent Seminars on Parliamentary Practise and Procedure

Running out the Clock: The Strategic Use of Parliamentary Time

From the moment that a new parliament is elected and a new government is formed, the clock is ticking until the next election. While governments try to move their agenda forward and pass their legislation as quickly as possible, opposition parties often use parliamentary tools to delay the process to scrutinize, oppose, and/or secure changes to government initiatives. On January 20, 2017, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group (CSPG) held a seminar to explore the strategic use of parliamentary time by the government and the opposition and how it has evolved in recent decades, as well as proposals for reform.

Letter from the Editor: Focus on Electoral Reform

Article 2 / 13 , Vol 39 No 4 (Winter)

Letter from the Editor: Focus on Electoral Reform

On June 7, 2016, the House of Commons created a Special Committee on Electoral Reform “to identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting.” This committee’s work contributes to discussions about electoral reform that have been occurring with some frequency across the country since the turn of the millennium. It has resulted in citizen committees and assemblies, commissions, and plebiscites or referenda in provinces such as New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

Drawing inspiration from a Canadian Study of Parliament Group conference on electoral reform held in spring 2016, in this theme issue we explore some aspects of this ongoing discussion in greater detail.

Canadian Study of Parliament Group Seminar

Article 6 / 10 , Vol 39 No. 2 (Summer)

Canadian Study of Parliament Group Seminar

From backbenchers, to cabinet ministers to first ministers, parliamentarians rely on the assistance of political staff to fulfill their role’s many responsibilities. Yet staffers’ roles in parliamentary democracy are not well understood. Noting the growing number of ministerial staffers and a similar growth in the perception of their influence over government decision-making, on March 18, 2016, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group convened a seminar featuring two panels of current and former political staff, public servants and academics to examine the role of staffers and their interactions with the public service. Panelists were also asked if they believed reforms were required to address the unique position that political staff hold in relation to parliamentary government.

First Panel

A Letter From the Editor Vol 39 No 1

Article 2 / 12 , Vol 39 No.1 (Spring)

A Letter From the Editor

In May 2015, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group (CSPG) held a one day conference exploring parliamentary reform of procedure and practice. Noting that reform “enables an ancient institution to adapt to a changing environment, including relatively new democratic values and expectations,” the conference surveyed aspects of Canada’s parliamentary evolution and “where it needs to go in order to maximize its contribution to Canadian political life.”

The event brought together scholars, parliamentary officials and other interested observers to hear four excellent panel presentations and to discuss and debate how Canada’s Parliament might continue to adapt to meet the needs of Canadians.

Letter from The Editor Vol 37 No 2

Article 1 / 14 , Vol 37 No 2 (Summer)

Vol 37 No 2Letter from The Editor

In this edition of the Canadian Parliamentary Review we turn our eye to what one contributor calls “the country’s most dramatic, if accidental, parliamentary reform”: constituency offices. With well over 1,000 constituency offices at the federal, provincial and territorial levels combined, many people across the country will have at least some familiarity with these institutions – whether simply passing by on a street or actively seeking assistance from their constituency office in person, by phone or by mail.

Parliamentary Bookshelf Vol 37 No 2

Article 12 / 14 , Vol 37 No 2 (Summer)

Parliamentary Bookshelf

Gendered News: Media Coverage and Electoral Politics in Canada by Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, UBC Press, Vancouver, 2013, 246p.

In early February, Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland rose to ask her first question in the House of Commons. For most new MPs, that initiation is usually a proud, if intimidating, milestone. For Freeland, who had won a tough Toronto by-election in November, it was a test of fortitude. The former business journalist was asking about the prospects for Canada’s economic recovery when the Conservative heckling commenced. The Speaker interceded twice but the mostly male voices jeered more loudly. On her third try, Freeland finished a truncated query. Shortly after a federal minister replied with a stock answer, Vancouver Observer journalist D. Matthew Millar offered his advice: “Put on your “big girl” voice for [for Question Period],” he tweeted, “the Hon. Members water glasses are shattering.”[sic]

Changing Times at the Canadian Parliamentary Review

Article 7 / 10 , Vol 37 No 1 (Spring)

Changing Times at the Canadian Parliamentary Review

The new editor of the Canadian Parliamentary Review introduces himself to readers in this article. He explains his approach to his new role and to the publication as being one which fosters discussion and debate about new ideas about parliamentary democracy while recognizing its distinguished past. Particular emphasis will be given to people and projects which seek to continue to make these institutions responsive and relevant to Canadians. A concluding section outlines some of the editorial board’s proposals for the Review during this time of transition and renewal.

As I begin my tenure as editor of the Canadian Parliamentary Review, I pause to consider and question my professional purpose and the kind of contribution I can make to this long-standing and well-regarded institution as it enters a period of immense change. I imagine many parliamentarians may have had similar thoughts as they first entered their respective legislatures.