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Provincial and Teritorial Legislatures I

Provincial and Teritorial Legislatures I

Gary Levy
Graham White
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 244
  • Book Info
    Provincial and Teritorial Legislatures I
    Book Description:

    Although they are central to the democratic process in Canada, surprisingly little has been published about some of the provincial legislatures and those of the Yukon and Northwest territories. In this volume, scholars and legislative staff members provide an overview of the role of provincial and territorial legislatures in governmental processes and in shaping their respective societies.

    A number of common themes are addressed: the historical development of the individual legislatures; the influence of political culture; the social backgrounds of the members; the structure and effectiveness of the committee system; the influence of political parties and of local customs on members' behaviour; mechanisms for enhancing government accountabiolity; members' services and facilities; and recent reforms.

    Together these papers offer an accessible and straightforward guide to key political institutions, revealing both the elements they share and those that make each legislature distinctive.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7887-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Gary Levy and Graham White
  4. INTRODUCTION: The comparative analysis of Canadian provincial and territorial assemblies
    (pp. 1-12)

    Canada is a veritable laboratory of parliamentary government with no less than fourteen legislative assemblies and over eleven hundred legislators. The Senate, by virtue of its non-elected nature, is somewhat of a nonpareil and there is no dearth of material on the House of Commons. But the other twelve legislative assemblies, ten provincial and two territorial, have received less interest.¹ They are the subject of this collection.

    Our aim is twofold: to make available recent information about provincial assemblies for students of individual provincial political systems, and to provide the basis for a comparative analysis of a key set of...

  5. PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: ‘A damned queer parliament’
    (pp. 13-28)

    The first election on Prince Edward Island occurred in 1773. Surveying the elected members, the sergeant-at-arms remarked: ‘This is a damned queer parliament’ For his outburst, he was fined and fired.¹ Today many Canadians might echo the ill-advised opinion of that unfortunate gentleman, as the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly has retained a variety of idiosyncratic characteristics. Nevertheless, this chapter will demonstrate that the PEI legislature operates in a fashion entirely consistent with the fundamental orientations of the provincial political culture.

    Prominent in the explanatory battery of any political scientist are the concepts of political culture and political institutions. To...

  6. ONTARIO: A legislature in adolescence
    (pp. 29-46)

    We often think of political institutions in terms of human development. From this perspective, the Ontario Legislature might best be thought of as a teenager. With the growing pains of childhood behind it, it possesses the physical attributes of adulthood, but remains emotionally and psychologically immature. Though capable of sophisticated, responsible behaviour, and of powerfully influencing the world around it, its range of experience is limited and it often lacks confidence in its own abilities. Like the typical teenager, the Legislature is uncertain of its role and looks to others for guidance. Yet whatever ideas and advice others may offer,...

  7. SASKATCHEWAN: Approximating the ideal
    (pp. 47-67)

    Perhaps parliamentary tradition is too inflated an appellation for what has gone on in the Legislative Assembly in Regina. Now that there is an opportunity to see complete television coverage of proceedings in the Chamber, the comic and sometimes mordant picture transmitted often seems to belie so grand a description.

    And yet, if within their sphere of jurisdiction the legislatures of the provinces are sovereign, why should the description of a parliamentary tradition fit uneasily with the Saskatchewan legislature? Is it because the members appear uninterested in playing the roles that political theory assigns them? More generally, is it the...

  8. QUEBEC: The successful combination of French culture and British institutions
    (pp. 68-89)

    Those who believe that the obvious distinctiveness of Quebec society, officially acknowledged by Canada’s first ministers in 1987, must unavoidably result in distinct parliamentary institutions will be disappointed by the results of an in-depth exploration of the historical evolution, structures, and working of the Assembly. The National Assembly does not differ markedly from other Canadian elected assemblies. What some persist in denouncing as an unmistakable sign of collective alienation, others perceive as a shrewd borrowing that successive generations have adapted to the needs of their society and which, so adapted, today represents the least questionable part of its colonial heritage....

  9. MANITOBA: The role of the legislature in a polarized poliical system
    (pp. 90-109)

    For three decades the Manitoba Legislative Assembly has been undergoing a process of institutional adaptation in response to changes in the political system, particularly the increased demands being placed upon it. Legislatures are always subject to outside influences, but they vary in the extent to which they to are open to change. The pace of change within Manitoba has quickened in recent years as the institution has begun a process of modernization. However, adaptation to changing conditions within the political system has been made more difficult by the polarized nature of the province’s party system since 1969 and by the...

  10. ALBERTA: From one overwhelming majority to another
    (pp. 110-125)

    The story of the Alberta legislature, like that of the society itself, is one of oneparty dominance and of second-party weakness. Since the Second World War there have been only four oppositions worthy of the name. The first was the Liberals under Harper Prowse, elected in 1955 with fifteen members. It did not survive its leader’s resignation. The second was the six Progressive Conservatives under Peter Lougheed, elected in 1967. The third was Social Credit, saving twenty-four seats after its defeat by the Progressive Conservatives in 1971. It also failed to survive the resignation of the opposition leader. The fourth...

  11. BRITISH COLUMBIA: A unique blend of the traditional and the modern
    (pp. 126-138)

    The government perspective on Parliament is always characterized by a certain degree of ambivalence. On the one hand most governments will, at one time or another, feel some impatience with Parliament. Indeed, this may be an understatement – the attitudes of many government members seem dominated by resentment of its ‘talkshop’ qualities. On the other hand all governments appreciate the symbolic importance of Parliament, and recognize that many voters will take cavalier treatment of parliamentary traditions as an indication of disdain for democracy itself. Governmental impatience may also be tempered by empathy for the position of the opposition or by a...

  12. NOVA SCOTIA: The wisdom of their ancestors is its foundation
    (pp. 139-155)

    One of the oldest traditions of our parliamentary democracy is that our institutions are in a constant process of change. Yet in 1841 Charles Dickens attended the opening of the 1841 Legislative Assembly in Nova Scotia and one wonders how different his comments would have been if he attended a similar opening one hundred and forty-eight years later.

    It happened to be the opening of the Legislative Council and General Assembly, at which ceremonial the forms observed on the commencement of the new session of Parliament in England were so closely copied, and so gravely presented on a small scale,...

  13. NEW BRUNSWICK: A bilingual assembly for a bilingual province
    (pp. 156-165)

    The political institutions in the Maritime provinces have much in common. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of New Brunswick’s Legislative Assembly is its bilingual nature – as befits Canada’s only bilingual province. The relationship between French and English in the Assembly is all the more noteworthy because, generally speaking, the cultures live ‘together, yet apart.’¹ Of course, New Brunswick became distinct in another respect following the 1987 election when the Liberal party led by Frank McKenna won all the seats in the legislature. It is, for the moment, the only province in Canada with no official opposition. Parliamentarians, political scientists, and...

  14. NEWFOUNDLAND: Personality, party, and politics
    (pp. 166-188)

    The legislative history of Newfoundland is unique in at least one particular: Newfoundland is probably the only country in the world that voluntarily gave up self-government. The date was 1934 and the word ‘voluntarily’ should be put in quotation marks. The Great Depression really left the political leaders of the colony with little choice. The population was small and dependent on the export of a single commodity. When the world price of fish dropped sharply, it added the final straw to a debt burden inherited from the building of a railway at the turn of the century and the costs...

  15. THE YUKON: Parliamentary tradition in a small legislature
    (pp. 189-206)

    It may seem incongruous to speak of parliamentary tradition in a jurisdiction which has possessed responsible government for only a decade. A serious examination of the history of the Yukon must lead, however, to the conclusion that the territory has a long and powerful attachment to the parliamentary model as received from Britain and as adapted in the Canadian context. That attachment existed when the Yukon Territory was carved from the North-West Territories by act of the Parliament of Canada in 1898 and it has continued unabated to the present.

    The struggle to obtain a representative legislative body culminated with...

  16. NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: Accommodating the future
    (pp. 207-220)

    Changes in the political and geographical definition of Canada since Confederation have had a tremendous impact on the nature of government in the Northwest Territories. Most of the western provinces trace their history back to Rupert’s Land and the original North-Western Territory, a vast tract of land more than two million square miles in size. Although these provinces evolved with traditional parliamentary institutions and as partners in Confederation, the modern-day Northwest Territories took a much different route.

    Occupying over one million square miles, a full third of Canada, the Northwest Territories has a population of only fifty-two thousand. The majority...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 221-242)
    (pp. 243-245)