Abstract: In 2012, the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) celebrates the 100th year of its affiliation with the Union. To mark the event, the Group commissioned the Library of Parliament to prepare this commemorative book. The book chronicles Canada’s long history with the Union and showcases key areas in which Canadian parliamentarians have taken an active role in IPU initiatives.
The book has four parts. Part 1 recounts the Group’s participation in IPU assemblies over the years. Part 2 highlights some of the key themes addressed by the Group in IPU assemblies. Part 3 presents all presidents of the Group, with their photographs. Part 4 lists the names of all Canadian parliamentarians who have attended IPU assemblies.
16 December 2010
Abstract: In October 2010 the Library of Parliament held a seminar at which four internationally recognized speakers discussed the future of the conflict in Afghanistan and international intervention in that country, with particular emphasis on the evolution of Canadian policy toward Afghanistan. This paper summarizes the speakers’ main points, which covered the issues of security and security-sector reform; development assistance and reconstruction; and governance and prospects for democracy in the wake of fraud-plagued elections. Canada’s Afghan mission was seen to be at a critical juncture. So too was the situation in Afghanistan as a whole, as assessed by American Anthony Cordesman.
The second section of the paper follows up a background paper that was prepared for the seminar,
Canadian Policy Toward Afghanistan to 2011 and Beyond: Issues, Prospects, Options. This section summarizes chronologically a number of significant developments in Afghanistan and Western policy from early October to December 16, 2010, when the U.S. released its annual review of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The last section provides main findings from some of the most significant studies of the Afghan situation published between September and December 2010.
Abstract: On 25 September 2009, the Library of Parliament hosted some of Canada’s leading thinkers in the areas of civic and democratic engagement and youth, and invited them to discuss the trends and challenges that characterize the issue of youth engagement in Canada. Participants were also asked to envision a future in which young people are fully engaged with their democratic institutions, and to identify the steps required to achieve this level of engagement between now and 2017 (the 150th anniversary of Confederation). The report provides a summary of the discussion that ensued at the dialogue session, and includes a list of the participants who contributed to this discussion. The report concludes with an outline of the major recommendations which flowed from the day’s discussions, including the need for more comprehensive research on youth and youth-directed programs, the importance of core and community-focused funding, and finally, the need for greater collaboration between the various federal, private and non-profit agencies that address the topic of youth engagement in Canada.
Abstract: This report summarizes a roundtable discussion of experienced parliamentarians organized to talk about the functioning of the House of Commons and to propose reforms. Suggestions were made in the context of significant procedural changes in the House of Commons that have been made over the last 30 years. Key subjects discussed included electronic voting, strengthening the committee system, use of time, Question Period and the estimates process.
Parliamentarians who participated were generally in agreement on the need for adjustments in the areas discussed, reflecting common frustrations felt by the members of all parties. In particular, there was agreement that electronic voting is desirable, despite some hesitation about the effect that it could have on parliamentary culture. More permanent membership of committees was also emphasized as a way to strengthen the independence of Members and to increase the expertise on as well as the efficiency of committees.
Abstract: With the commencement of the 38th Parliament, the House of Commons welcomed 107 newly elected Members of Parliament. This surge in new Members and the prospect of a minority government heightened expectations among parliamentarians for changes in the conduct of House of Commons business and raised questions regarding institutional reform. To support the needs of the new Members, a series of seminars were designed to assist MPs to develop their skills and share ideas on how to make Parliament more responsive to Canadians. The purpose of this report is to summarize and highlight some of the key points discussed at each of the four seminars: “Effective MPs in an Effective Parliament”; “Committees: Working for Better Policy and Legislation”; the “Art and Science of Engaging Canadians” (through communication and consultation); and the “Estimates Process” (to improve scrutiny of governmental plans and estimates). There was no shortage of constructive ideas on how to improve the effectiveness of Parliament. The precarious nature of a minority government notwithstanding, MPs acknowledged their interest in professional development and opportunities to improve the effectiveness of the institutions in which they serve.
Abstract: In 2003, under the auspices of the co-chairs and vice-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, a report was prepared on parliamentarians’ views on parliamentary reform. When asked whether Parliament is in need of reform, parliamentarians universally gave the answer that the institution has lost its way. The report explores why parliamentary reform is a relevant issue and highlights the possibilities for such reform in 21st-century Canada. Through consultations and a round-table discussion, parliamentarians reflected on and discussed how they perform their day-to-day tasks and suggested ways in which change should take place. The report summarizes these discussions and lists the eight major recommendations made by Senators and Members of Parliament. It was felt that reform should aim to create more meaningful work for individual parliamentarians; look to the future, not the past; enhance Parliament’s oversight of government activity; enhance Parliament’s contribution to policy debates; strike a balance between the adversarial and the consensual aspects of our democratic system; focus on committees as an immediate priority; make parliamentarians knowledge-brokers; and strike a new bargain between Parliament and public servants. With these recommendations, the report offers a clearer focus on the changes that should be made to important parliamentary functions like committee work, policy-making, and maintaining government accountability.
Abstract: In 2002, the Centre for Collaborative Government, on behalf of the Library of Parliament, organized a program on the political impacts of globalization on Canadian society. The initiative was intended to examine the policy challenges that globalization poses for Canadian society as a result of the revolution in information and communications technologies; to identify important public administration and political issues raised by the transition to a knowledge-based society; and to discuss what parliamentarians can do to help ensure that Canadians have the right policies, programs and services to support them in this transition. The seminar series brought together parliamentarians, public servants and members of the policy community. The report summarizes the discussions on managing the impact of globalization, identifying and exploring the policy challenges that ensue, and helping parliamentarians identify the roles they can play as local and global issues increasingly merge.
Abstract: This study, commissioned by the Library of Parliament, emanated from discussion at the Dialogue Session on Youth Engagement organized by the Library in 2009. Conducted through a literature review and key stakeholder interviews, the study explores how the experience of voting for or serving on Canadian student councils can be used to demonstrate the importance and relevance of broader democratic participation. The structures, purpose and roles of student councils, the practice of representation by student councillors, and the connection between these elements of student council and wider civic engagement are all examined. Several key findings and challenges are emphasized throughout the analysis.
The study highlights that, while Canada lags behind in many aspects of civic education and its evaluation, there are programs, principally the Parlements au secondaire program in Quebec, that provide examples of Canadian best practice. While student council participation has the theoretical potential to be linked with citizenship education and broader democratic engagement, its inconsistent practice in Canada suggests that this link is not yet developing naturally. While the potential exists, there remain many limitations because of variations between schools and provinces, curriculum implementation, coordination, teacher support, resources, and training. To become effective mechanisms for connecting youth with their broader communities, teachers, students, and education stakeholders must take on more active roles in establishing greater relevance for Canadian student councils. The study concludes with the acknowledgement that more research into the student body as a stakeholder group, existing best practices, and alternative mechanisms of experiential learning are needed to complement its own preliminary findings.
Abstract:The aim of the Parliament 2020 project, a comparative study of five nations led by the UK Hansard Society, is to envision how evolving communication technologies could support a more effective Parliament and a more engaged public in the future. As part of the Canadian component to the Parliament 2020 project, the Library of Parliament retained Nanos Research to consult with a range of stakeholders, including parliamentarians, senior parliamentary staff, and first-time voters, to gather ideas and feedback on the implications of a digitally enabled Parliament. The consultations dealt with the following topics: communication; engagement; information needs; resources and culture; and transparency and accountability.
The questions for the Canadian consultations were designed to be comparable to those used in the UK study. A new section on transparency and accountability was added to address specific issues in Canada. Readers should note that the findings of qualitative research cannot be projected to the populace or to a group, but they do provide an understanding of the potential context and nuance of opinion. This research project was completed in accordance with the standards of, and was registered with, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, of which Nanos is a Corporate Gold Seal member.
Abstract: The Library of Parliament commissioned Professor Sharon Sutherland to undertake this study in 2008 into the state of research on the Parliament of Canada. During the course of her research, covering the period from 1998 to 2008, the author discovered a marked lack of interest among academics in the functioning of Canadian representative institutions. For instance, there has been an almost total silence over the past 30 years about changes to the federal budget process. When academics do publish papers on parliamentary activities, the main focus is on the behaviour of the players, rather than the institutions or processes. The author believes that this gap is disturbing.
The paper is divided into three sections: academic publishing, research bodies and academic activity apart from publishing. Each section presents observations, lists all existing resources, and discusses strengths and weaknesses.
The merit of this study is that it brings together in one document all academic research activities over the past decade and provides insights into scholars’ lack of interest in an institution that is at the centre of Canadian democratic life.
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Abstract: This study is an environmental scan of trends in citizenship and democracy occurring in emerging and established democracies. It is based on a review of files within the Parliamentary Public Programs section of the Library of Parliament, a search of more than 100 websites, interviews with experts in the discipline, and a review of documents published by organizations working on issues of democracy and development.
The paper identifies the spread of democracy following the end of the Cold War and the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial society as two societal-level trends that underlie changes in democracy and citizenship. It finds that trends involving institutions (“structural trends”) and those involving citizens in emerging and established democracies are significantly different. Conceptualizations and practices of citizenship and democracy which stress voting are prominent in emerging democracies, whereas widespread citizen disengagement in established democracies has resulted in a focus on institutional reform and involvement in alternative political forums. The paper suggests that in response to these trends, “enabling technologies,” such as electronic voting and the wider use of the Internet, have become prominent in both types of democracies. It also concludes that the educational system and news media have important roles to play in addressing the trends discussed in the paper.