Speaker and Deputy Speaker to Attend Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in London

Speaker and Deputy Speaker to Attend Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in London

(YELLOWKNIFE) December 2, 2016 – The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) is an organization of more than 150 national and sub-national parliaments that trace their democratic roots to the British Parliamentary system. Its purpose is to “connect, develop, promote and support parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The values include just and honest government, the alleviation of poverty, fundamental human rights, international peace and order, global economic development, the rule of law, equal rights and representation for all citizens, the separation of powers among the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) and the right to participate in free and democratic political processes.” Canada became a founding member of the CPA in 1911.  

All Canadian provinces and territories, as well as the Parliament of Canada, are members in good standing of the CPA and play an equal and active role in its activities in Canada and internationally. The Executive Committee of the CPA includes three representatives of Canada. The Parliament of Canada is a permanent member of the Executive Committee. The remaining members of the executive are appointed from the provinces and territories on a rotational basis. In 2016, the Northwest Territories commenced its two-year appointment. “I’m honoured to represent both Canada and the Northwest Territories on the Executive Committee of the CPA,” stated Speaker Jackson Lafferty. “Although our system of consensus government has its roots in Great Britain, we have put a uniquely northern spin on it in the North. I plan to use this opportunity to showcase how we conduct parliamentary democracy in the NWT, specifically in the way we have balanced the authorities of both the executive and legislative branches of government.”  

In addition to regular regional meetings, the CPA plenary conference is hosted by a member nation each fall. This year’s conference was scheduled to take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh in October, but was postponed due to emerging security concerns in that country. A decision was subsequently made to host a shortened and smaller conference in London, England from December 12-17. The Canadian Region’s representation was limited to one delegate per province and territory. As a member of the Executive Committee, the costs for Speaker Lafferty’s attendance at the conference are paid by CPA headquarters. Deputy Speaker, RJ Simpson, will attend the conference as the NWT’s official delegate. The annual CPA membership fee paid by each Canadian province and territory covers the conference costs for its official delegate. The annual membership fee for each province and territory is £7,524  or approximately $12,000 CAN.  

In addition to the CPA main conference, the NWT, Nunavut, Yukon and Prince Edward Island branches are invited to attend a two day business program targeted specifically to small jurisdictions. Deputy Speaker Simpson will serve as chair and discussion leader for the Small Branches Conference business session on “The Role of Parliament in the protection and safeguarding of children.” Other agenda items for the Small Branches Conference include “The Role of the Commonwealth in supporting the outcomes of the COP21 Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” and “Eliminating barriers to women’s leadership in politics in small branches.” “As a first term Member of the Legislative Assembly, I’m eager to participate in the excellent business program put together by CPA,” noted Deputy Speaker Simpson. “A common feature of British-style governments is the increasing role and authority of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch. The great strength of our consensus system is in the ability of all Members, whether they are in Cabinet or not, to effectively represent their constituents and have a meaningful impact on public policy.  I look forward to learning from other consensus-style parliaments in the Commonwealth as to how we can protect and improve upon this.”  

All provinces and territories, with the exception of Nunavut and New Brunswick, will be in attendance at the CPA meetings. In addition to the Executive Committee, Small Branches, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian (CWP) and Main Conference workshops, the Canadian delegation will meet with Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom on December 12 and attend a reception at Canada House with representatives of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), who will be in the United Kingdom to study the Welsh experience of language revitalization.  A complete program of events and business sessions is attached to this release. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker will participate in the following business sessions:

•    All Executive Committee and Finance Subcommittee Meetings (Speaker only)
•    All Small Branch Conference Business Sessions
•    Canadian Regional Group Meeting
•    CWP Session on Violence and Intimidation of Women during Elections (observer only)
•    CWP Session on Parliament’s Role in Raising Awareness of Political Violence Against Women (observer only)
•    Tobacco Control Frameworks and Effective Parliamentary Oversight
•    CWP Session on The Role of Civil Society and Media in tackling political violence against women (observer only)
•    The role of the Commonwealth in fostering freedom of religion or belief
•    Ending Violence against women and girls:  The impact of social media and the internet in perpetrating violence
•    The role of the media in promoting public mistrust of Parliamentarians 
“We sometimes take for granted things like freedom of expression and assembly, the rule of law, fundamental human rights, the right to free and fair elections, effective, independent and representative public institutions, and, notwithstanding all its shortcomings, the right to a democratic, representative and accountable system of government. The NWT has much to learn from and offer other parliaments that share a common democratic tradition. I look forward to a productive sharing of ideas with my counterparts from across Canada and the World,” says Speaker Lafferty.

For more information, please contact:

Tim Mercer, Clerk
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
E-mail: tim_mercer@gov.nt.ca

Jackson Lafferty, Speaker
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
E-mail: jackson_lafferty@gov.nt.ca 

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