Spotlight on 42: Changes, Challenges and Concussions

Spotlight on 42: Changes, Challenges and Concussions

In the year leading up to an anticipated federal general election in 2019, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group gathered together parliamentary officials, interested observers and parliamentarians to examine what has transpired in the current parliament and what may lie ahead. This well-attended conference included four panels which explored “the changes and challenges facing each Chamber in light of recent procedural and structural innovations.” In this article, the author provides summaries of each of these panels and some of the discussion that followed the presentations.

The Changing Bicameral Relationship

Purrliament Hill: The Capital Cat Colony

Purrliament Hill: The Capital Cat Colony

There are certain “must see” attractions on Parliament Hill: the Peace Tower, the Parliamentary Library, statues of prime ministers and other famous people in Canadian History… and the cats. For decades the Parliament Hill Cat Colony drew hundreds of curious onlookers and devoted fans of felines every day. Initially brought to the Hill for pest control, the cats eventually enjoyed a life of relative leisure. These well-fed and well-cared kitties spent their time sunning themselves and capturing the hearts of parliamentarians, staff, and visitors and tourists. In this article, we celebrate the Cat Colony (and Sanctuary) of Parliament Hill. Although no longer in existence, memories of these friendly, furry felines will not soon fade away..

During a vigorous debate on the floor of the House of Commons or Senate, parliamentarians might verbally fight like cats and dogs. But for almost a hundred years (or more), actual cats enjoyed a peaceful existence just a short distance away from these chambers.

CPA Activities

CPA Activities
New Ontario Speaker

On July 11, 2018, Ontario MPPs elected Progressive Conservative MPP Ted Arnott as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Elected on the first ballot, Arnott sought the role alongside Progressive Conservative MPPs Randy HillierJane McKenna and Rick Nicholls.

The MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills was first elected to the Assembly in 1990 and has served continuously since. A former Deputy Speaker, Arnott has been on the Assembly’s Presiding Officers team for 13 of the past 15 years.

Seminar: Members and Their Constituency

Article 6 / 10 , Vol 41 No. 2 (Summer)

Seminar: Members and Their Constituency

Every Member of Parliament represents a constituency. Yet the amount of attention paid to the Member-constituency relationship by scholars is quite small compared to its importance in our democratic system. Members must spend time building connections to their constituencies, understanding concerns, and mediating these tensions within a party caucus if party policy conflicts with what an MP is hearing locally. Additional responsibilities such as being in cabinet or having a constituency far from Ottawa where travel is difficult can create other challenges. The Canadian Study of Parliament Group organized a seminar on March 16, 2018 which brought parliamentarians, academics, parliamentary staff and journalists together to explore ideas of constituency representation and engagement. This article summarizes the seminar’s sessions and provides some insight into how these various groups of stakeholders think about the nature of constituencies.

Connecting with Constituents: Observations on how MPs engage at home

CSPG Seminar: Regulating Lobbying in Canada

Article 7 / 11 , Vol 41 No. 1 (Spring)

CSPG Seminar: Regulating Lobbying in Canada

Lobbying is a legitimate activity within a democratic society. But lobbyists, like politicians, are quite aware that their profession is not always held in high regard by the general population. As one consultant lobbyist joked during her presentation at a recent seminar of the Canadian Study of Parliament Group, “I am the root of all evil.” A recent Canadian Study of Parliament Group seminar explored attitudes toward lobbying in Canada, explained how lobbying legislation and regulations have influenced its development since the 1980s, and asked whether the current system is effective. A final panel of lobbyists discussed how their job is often misunderstood and why their much-maligned reputation is based on outdated notions of influence-peddling and the unethical actions of a few practitioners.

Regulation of Lobbying in Canada

Canadian Study of Parliament Group: The New Senate

Article 7 / 12 , Vol 40 No 4 (Winter)

Canadian Study of Parliament Group: The New Senate

On September 15, 2017, the Canadian Study of Parliament Group convened a one-day conference where academics, journalists, parliamentary staff and parliamentarians were asked to share their thoughts on some of the changes that have occurred in the Senate over the past few years. Diverse perspectives prompted some animated discussions among presenters and audience members, but there was general agreement that we are experiencing a unique moment in parliamentary history.

Evolution of the Senate – Historical Perspective

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.