The 58th Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association – Canadian Regional Conference
From July 16 to 22, 2022, the 58th Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) – Canadian Regional conference drew more than 80 delegates and 36 other guests to Charlottetown.
Following two years of virtual meetings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, host Prince Edward Island provided a welcome return to in-person gatherings with an enjoyable programme of business sessions and other activities.
Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP)
Following a day of business meetings for steering committee members, on July 18 CWP Canadian Regional Chair Lisa Thompson welcomed attendees to the first business session. The session covered a review of the organization’s previous activities, approvals for its 2022-2023 budget and strategic plan, and a discussion about strengthening funding.
In a session chaired by Nova Scotia MLA Susan LeBlanc titled “Women in Politics – Are We There Yet?”, Manitoba Speaker Myrna Driedger surveyed the changes in our politics and sense of community as the world is gripped by the pandemic. Speaker Driedger, who is currently International President of the CWP, noted that women parliamentarians are looked upon to lead by example, energize people to be involved and inform policy. They must also be mindful of forging a path for others to follow so more women can build capacity and experience that will enable them to realize they too can make a difference at any level of government. Her presentation examined what the future could look like and what doors need to be opened to get there.
Sweta Daboo, executive director of the PEI Coalition for Women in Government, examined how COVID-19 changed the workplace for many women and what virtual meetings mean for networking opportunities. The session, chaired by Quebec MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau, sought to discuss how balance can be achieved in the new hybrid reality where in-person and virtual meetings co-exist.
A final session on “Improving Future Outcomes,” saw Sheryl MacAuley, chief executive officer of Startup Zone, ask attendees what they imagined life would be like for women in politics five years into the future. Subgroups then discussed the question and presented their answers.
CPA Canadian Regional Conference
On the evening of July 18, Prince Edward Island’s Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry and Speaker Colin LaVie officially welcomed attendees to the conference.
The following morning, Speaker LaVie chaired the first two business sessions where delegations from the CPA’s Canadian branches provided jurisdictional updates.
Alberta’s Deputy Speaker Angela Pitt chaired a panel on “Private Members’ bills: the PEI perspective,” featuring MLAs Cory Deagle and Lynne Lund, and PEI’s Deputy Speaker Hal Perry.
The final session of the day, chaired by Quebec Senator Tony Loffreda, saw Quebec Speaker François Paradis present on how Quebec’s Citizens’ Roundtable has been used to promote innovation in a modern legislature.
On July 20, in a session chaired by New Brunswick Speaker Bill Oliver, British Columbia Speaker Raj Chouhan spoke about his Assembly’s new governance framework (see Canadian Parliamentary Review Volume 45, No. 1).
The second session of the day found Speaker Paradis chairing a talk on “Unparliamentary language and behaviour and changing expectations,” by Alberta Speaker Nathan Cooper. The presentation is being revised for publication and should appear in our next issue.
On July 21, the final two business sessions took place. First, in a session chaired by Newfoundland and Labrador Speaker Derek Bennett, Yukon’s Environment Minister Nils Clarke delivered a presentation titled “Climate change: creating resilient infrastructure, reducing GHGs, and green energy” that illustrated actions taken in one of Canada’s northern territories to combat the effects of climate change.
Manitoba Speaker Myrna Driedger chaired a session on restoration projects at legislatures, featuring host jurisdiction PEI Deputy Clerk Emily Doiron speaking about PEI’s recent heritage restoration work at Province House.
As the conference concluded, the countdown began to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association international conference in Halifax
Editor, Canadian Parliamentary Review
65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference
The end of August 2022 saw the City of Halifax welcome more than 600 parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, and decision makers from across the Commonwealth who came together for the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC). It was the first opportunity for members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to gather at an in-person conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As CPA president during the time of the conference, I was honoured to be part of this important event.
Over the course of the conference parliamentarians networked, discussed important issues, shared best practices, and provided guidance to the secretariat of the General Assembly. Three special networks: CPA Small Branches; Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP); and Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities allowed members the chance to discuss critical topics and, as necessary, to hold elections. Parallel to the CPC, the Society of Clerks-at-the-Table in Commonwealth Parliaments discussed procedural and administrative best practices.
Canadians participated actively in the work of all three networks. For example, Jeanie McLean of the Yukon spoke about well-being indicators for small branches and Mark Monaghan of the Northwest Territories gave a presentation on building sustainable economies in small branches. Myrna Driedger, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and the CWP President, chaired a workshop on how to combat all forms of abuse and harassment in Parliament, while Iqra Khalid of the House of Commons, spoke about promoting gender-sensitive parliaments post-pandemic. Carla Qualtrough, the federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, gave a presentation during the conference itself on the implementation of standards respecting assistive technologies across Commonwealth parliaments.
Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada and Vice-Patron of the CPA, officially opened the 65th CPC. At the opening ceremony, I provided welcoming remarks and George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate of Canada read the goodwill message to the conference from the then patron of the CPA, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As hosts of the 65th CPC, the CPA Canada Region showcased Canada and the beautiful city of Halifax. Through the cultural program, delegates explored Halifax and Lunenburg, including the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, and learned more about our country and cultures.
Inspired by the conference theme of “Inclusive, Accessible, Accountable and Strong Parliaments: the Cornerstone of Democracy and Essential for Development,” workshops brought together participants, including Canadians who made valuable contributions. Chris d’Entremont, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Nathan Cooper, Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly and Catherine Fife, member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, spoke about how parliaments remained relevant during the pandemic response. Susan Leblanc of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly participated in a youth roundtable on cyberbullying and mental health. Speaker Driedger and Julie Green of the Northwest Territories participated in a panel discussion on how to build gender-sensitive parliaments. Keith Bain, Speaker of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia, chaired a panel on the role of parliaments in achieving sustainable development.
During the General Assembly members approved several constitutional amendments, including ones to guarantee an increased representation of women in CPA delegations and governing bodies.
The conference provided a superb networking and learning opportunity for all. I wish to congratulate my colleagues and fellow members of the CPA Canada Region including federal parliamentarians and provincial/territorial speakers and members for hosting a successful 65th CPC. I am sincerely grateful to the staff who worked so hard to organize the conference and to delegates for travelling from across the world to participate in the 65th CPC in Halifax. I know we are all looking forward to future opportunities to gather in person at upcoming CPA events, including the 66th CPC in Ghana in 2023.
It was with great sadness that we learned of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing shortly after the CPC. Her Majesty served Canada and the Commonwealth with great distinction and dedication. Throughout her reign, the Queen supported the CPA, serving as patron of the CPA since 1989. I look forward to the involvement of her successor King Charles III in the coming years.
Hon. Anthony Rota
Speaker of the House of Commons