CPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

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

CPA Activities: The Canadian Scene

Forty-Ninth Canadian Regional Conference

The 49th Regional Conference was held in Charlottetown, PEI from July 13-19, 2011. More than eighty federal, provincial, territorial and international delegates attended the conference which was host by Speaker Kathleen Casey of Prince Edward Island. Other Speakers in attendance included George Hickes (Manitoba), Roger Fitzgerald (Newfoundland and Labrador), Bill Barisoff (British Columbia), Dale Graham (New Brunswick), Ken Kowalski (Alberta), Don Toth (Saskatchewan), Steve Peters (Ontario), Gordie Gosse (Nova Scotia), Paul Delorey (Northwest Territories) and Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut).

Special guests included David Jones, Deputy (Guernsey), Greg Aplin MP (New South Wales), Speaker M.R. Polley (Tasmania), Senator Danny Maharaj (Trinidad and Tobago), John Hyde, MLA (Western Australia), Shakila Abdalla MP (Kenya) and Waruna Bandara Dhammika Dasanayake, Deputy Secretary General of Parliament in Sri Lanka.

The first business session featured a presentation by Preston Manning, President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. His topic was “A Model Parliament for Canada: a national institution for training future parliamentarians and a laboratory for testing parliamentary reforms”.

Fatima Houda-Pepin (Québec) addressed the topic of “How to give more value to the role of elected members and parliamentary institutions in the face of growing cynicism among citizens”.

The third session focussed on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and consisted of presentations by Blair Armitage, Executive Secretary of the Canadian Regional and Raynell Andreychuk, Canadian Representative on the CPA Working Party.

In other sessions David Faurschou (Manitoba) spoke about the 1-in-300-year flood experience of Manitoba in 2011; Linda Reid (British Columbia) gave a presentation on Committee reform and the estimates process; Randy Weekes (Saskatchewan) spoke about The Role of the Whip in the Westminster Parliament and John Betts (New Brunswick) looked at Government Reform: Increasing the Role of Caucus

The final business session consisted of a presentation by former House of Commons Speaker, Peter Milliken. He reflected upon presiding over minority parliaments and on his tenure as the longest serving federal Speaker in Canadian history.

Aside from the business sessions several optional tours were organized to give delegates an opportunity to visit various sites on the Island. On the final evening everyone was invited to a lobster dinner at the Stanhope Beach Resort followed by a dance with the Rogers Jones Band.

Delegates thanked Speaker Casey and her team for the very successful business programme and for the traditional Island hospitality which is second to none in Canada.

Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Canadian Region

The annual conference of the Canadian Region of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians was held in Charlottetown on July 14, 2011. In the absence of the CWP Chair Myrna Dreidger of Manitoba the meeting of the Steering Committee was chaired by Speaker Kathleen Casey of Prince Edward Island. The Committee looked at the activities report for 2010-2011 and adopted a work plan and budget for 2011-2012. It also elected a Vice Chair, Charlotte L’Ecuyer MNA of Québec.

Following the Steering Committee meeting three business sessions were held. Jennifer Watts, Councillor for District 14, Halifax Regional Municipality spoke about the upcoming Engaging Women, Transforming Cities Conference that will take place in Vancouver in 2013.

There was also a panel discussion featuring four of Prince Edward Island’s Famous Five women who held office at the same time during the 1990s. Former Lieutenant Governor Marion Reid, former Opposition Leader Pat Mella, former Speaker of the House Nancy Guptill and former Deputy Speaker Elizabeth Hubley spoke about their unique experience and the experience of women in politics generally. Unfortunately the fifth member of the group, former Premier Catherine Callbeck, was unable to attend.

The final session was devoted to considering how politicians can effectively use social media to reach out to their constituents. The lead speaker was Cynthia Dunsford MLA of Prince Edward Island.

New Speakers

The new Speaker of the House of Commons is Andrew Scheer. He was elected on the sixth ballot defeating seven other candidates. He replaces Peter Milliken who did not run in the May 2, 2011 federal election. Born in Ottawa in 1979, he becomes the youngest Speaker of the House in Canadian history.

Mr. Scheer studied history and politics at the University of Ottawa and the University of Regina, where he received a Bachelor of Arts. He worked for the Leader of the Opposition while he was still a student in Ottawa and shortly after graduation, joined the constituency office of Canadian Alliance MP Larry Spencer.

Mr. Scheer was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Regina-Qu’Appelle. He was re-elected in 2006, 2008 and 2011. During the 39th Parliament he served as the Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole. During the 40th Parliament he was named Deputy Speaker.

In Nunavut the new Speaker is Hunter Tootoo. He has represented the constituency of Iqaluit Centre since 1999. Mr. Tootoo was born in Rankin Inlet and has lived in a number of different communities across Canada. Prior to being elected to territorial office, Mr. Tootoo held a variety of positions, including Chair of the Padli and Kisarvik Co-ops in Arviat and Rankin Inlet, member of the Northwest Territories Co-op Business Development Board, member of the Board of Directors of Sport North, member of the Board of Directors of Arctic Co-operatives Limited and as a member of the Municipal Council of Rankin Inlet.

He has served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Accountability, the Standing Committee on Health and Education, the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges, the Striking Committee and the Management and Services Board. In 2008 he was appointed Minister of Education and Minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation. He has also been the Minister responsible for Nunavut Arctic College, Minister responsible for Homelessness and Minister responsible for Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.

He was elected Speaker on May 31, 2011 replacing Paul Okalik who had resigned to run in the May 2, 2011 federal election.

Staff Changes

On June 1 Elizabeth Kingston became Secretary of the federal Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. She has been with the House of Commons for 26 years in various capacities including Clerk of the Finance Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

She has also served as Executive Secretary of several parliamentary groups and associations including Canada-United States, Canada-Japan, and Canada-China. She replaces Stephanie Bond who moved to the Journals Branch of the House of Commons.

The new Executive Secretary of the CWP is Jolène Savoie who replaces Julie Pelletier in this position.

New Clerk and Deputy Clerk in British Columbia

On September 1, 2011 Craig  James became Clerk of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. He replaces George MacMinn who will remain in a consulting capacity for two years. The new Deputy Clerk is Kate Lloyd Ryan who replaces Robert Vaive in that position.