Canadian Speakers: Referees or Bystanders?: Jad El Tal (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: Research Question: To what extent should the Office of the Speaker become an Independent Office of the Legislative Assembly?
Thesis: This paper will argue that the Office of the Speaker should become an Independent Office of the Legislative Assembly to a fair extent, in order to expedite parliamentary democracy and make Question Period and debates more efficient, by way of giving the Speaker more power in order to intervene into the debates in a non-partisan manner.
Literature Review and Methodology: For this proposal, I have conducted preliminary secondary research. However, the main paper will rely on original primary research, where I shall interview current and past Speakers of Ontario and Canada and ask about their powers. In my literature review, I will consider the way that the Speaker’s role has evolved in other jurisdictions. Utilizing the Legislative Library database, I was able to gather sources from Britain, Australia, and Canada. Moreover, I have read all the past OLIP papers that had arguments related to the Speakership.
Outline of Possible Arguments (may change pending further research and analysis):
Point #1: the Speaker needs to use more power. Why? In order to enforce parliamentary democracy.
Point #2: the Speaker needs to be an Independent officer (not a Member). Why? The Speaker can then hold government of day and loyal opposition to account during debates and question period,
Point #3: the Speaker may still be elected, in lieu of appointment. Why? The most important person in our democracy (the Speaker) needs to be an elected official.
Toeing the Line: Balancing Party Discipline and Autonomy as an Elected Representative: Nikki Romano (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: In modern legislatures, the role of elected representatives is thought to be clear. That is, to serve members of the electorate by bringing forward policy that effectively responds to issues in the riding. However, there are limitations to this line of thought. All politicians are subjected to their party’s discipline which, in turn, put various constraints on their autonomy as an elected representative. This paper will examine the extent to which party discipline impacts the autonomy of a politician to represent their constituents without overstepping the political boundaries they align to. The research question driving this analysis is: does party discipline navigate the autonomy of an elected representative and negatively impact political decision making in Ontario? While there is literature on this topic, the discourse tends to be quite broad. As such, the methodology of this paper will consist of a literature review and a series of interviews with backbench Members of Parliament (MPPs) in the Ontario Legislature. The respondents will comprise of members from government, official opposition, and independents. There will be additional analysis on how party discipline impacts the autonomy of MPPs depending on the geographical location of their riding (i.e. Northern ridings). Overall, this paper will argue that party discipline has a significant impact on the autonomy of an elected representative because it constrains their ability to represent their constituents without going against their party’s values.
Redrawing the Lines: The Impacts of Electoral Boundary Readjustments on Returning MPPs and Their Constituency Offices: Linda Bui (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: In October 2017, the Ontario Representation Act (2015) was amended to increase the number of provincial electoral districts from 107 to 124, impacting the June 2018 provincial General Elections. This qualitative research study provides a historical and current review of boundary readjustment processes in Ontario. Additionally, it examines the impacts on the work of constituency offices for returning elected Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) in the aftermaths of the recent provincial elections. Drawing from one-on-one interviews with returning MPPs and secondary sources, the research calls for increasing financial resources, building formal channels for skill and knowledge exchange, and modernizing boundary readjustment processes to mitigate and address challenges faced by MPP constituency offices.
Seven’s a Crowd, Eight’s a Party; the Transition from Government to Independent Member: Nish Chankar (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: The topic was inspired by the recent move from the 41st Parliament, with a Liberal majority holding 55 seats, to the 42nd Parliament, with seven Liberal independents and no Liberal Party for the first time in Ontario’s parliamentary history. This essay seeks to examine the benefit that caucus services (including researchers, stakeholder relations experts, communications and media staff) provide to any MPP from an officially recognized party. It will make the argument that MPPs who are not part of officially recognized parties are disadvantaged by the lack of caucus support staff, as well as funding for their own staff and services. This disadvantage manifests itself in the weakened ability of an independent Member to represent the interests of their constituents, and their riding, to their full capacity - partisanship aside.
In order to collect information for this essay, interviews will be conducted with past and present Members who have had the dual experience of being in the House first as an officially-recognized party Member, and following this, as an Independent. This includes Members of the NDP Majority Government of 1990-95, and Members of the Liberal Majority Government of 2003-2018. In addition to Members, caucus services staff from both the current NDP and PC parties will be interviewed with regards to the work they usually perform for Members. Lastly, the experiences of current and former Liberal staffers will also be surveyed.
Continuing the Generalist vs. Specialist Debate: Analyzing the Correlation Between Portfolio Assignments and Past Experience for PA and Critic Roles in the Legislature: Munisha Basiram (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: Parliamentary Assistants (PA) and opposition critics, are essential to the democratic fabric of the legislature, as they inform decision making and hold cabinet ministers to account. These elected officials are strategically chosen to deepen the conversation about the complexities of their respective portfolios. However, as the exclusive advocate for a particular interest group, what makes them qualified? What factors do party leaders consider when selecting for this role?
To what extent does one's academic, professional or personal background play, in determining their critic or PA posting? Are issue aficionados more qualified to champion a cause than an individual who possesses an unmatched level of policy knowledge and political acuity?
These questions will be explored through first hand semi-structured interviews from past and present ministers, parliamentary assistants and critics. The primary informat groups will include new MPPs in the Ontario Legislature who are currently serving in their first and only PA or critic role and existing MPPs who have served multiple, throughout their time at the legislature. Finally, the last group will consist of former party leaders and decision makers who, in their political careers, both represented portfolios in progressive capacities and selected portfolio roles for their party.
These interviews will inform my paper to argue that although the correlation between one’s background and their assigned PA or critic portfolio aims to guarantee unparalleled expertise, only a balanced generalist and specialist approach, consisting of subject matter expertise and process knowledge can result in robust public policy.
Enter Stage Left, Right and Centre: An Analysis of Queens Park Through a Theatrical Framework: Braelyn Guppy (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: Politics and theatre are intertwined in subject matter, discourse, and engagement. The difference between the two being that politics aims to reflect and maintain a stable society and theatre aims to disrupt and comment on it. Although it is mutually agreed upon that theatre as an art form is inherently political, rarely are politics assumed to be inherently artistic. This paper will investigate how analyzing politics through a theatrical framework informs our understanding of a politician's role and the policy making process. By using theatre as the context to analyze Ontario’s Provincial Legislature, we can develop a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between our elected provincial performers and the public’s role as Queen’s Park’s audience. This paper will argue that to be eminent politicians, successful policy creators and trusted elected servants for Ontario, Members must also be strategic performing artists.
This research will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a proportional number of new and seasoned MPPs from both recognized parties and independent Members, as well as members of the media. Additionally, this Parliament’s Hansard, primarily Question Period, will be reviewed and analyzed as a dramatic text. This paper will recommend that the most successful policy makers, political strategists, and politicians are those that leverage dramatic tools and utilize artistry in their politics. It will challenge current elected officials to consider their role as performing artists within their duties as parliamentarians.
Hurry Up and Wait: Consequences of the Procedural Chess Game in the Ontario Legislature: Clara Pasieka (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: Standing Orders. Time Allocation. Reasoned Amendments. The rules of the game can become weapons or shields to the players. Know how to plan your moves well, and you can often correctly predict the date of your checkmate. However, throughout the history of the Ontario Legislature, various procedural events involving Members have made the history books precisely because of their unpredictable manifestations. More than tales for political scientists and seasoned politicians to share with newcomers, many have left their mark through Standing Order changes aimed to curtail similar moves, in some cases, permanently. Over the last thirty years, every government has made changes to the rule book for political gain. Some, concede that their own moves hampered their future participation following an election loss. Other MPPs cite regrets years later at having successfully rushed a weaker Bill through, bypassing critical feedback from citizens, stakeholders and MPPs on both sides of the aisle. This research paper examines the long-term consequences of changing the Standing Orders for MPPs of both the governing and opposition parties, as well as, for civic engagement. Through research rooted in the Constructivist paradigm, the researcher’s methods involved: engaging in hermeneutical dialogue and interviews with current and past clerks and politicians from across the political spectrum, observation of Legislative proceedings as a member of the public and then as a Legislative intern, and finally, an analysis of Hansards and all significant Standing Order changes over the last thirty years.
Getting Things Done Right: A Look at the Ontario Legislature’s Relationship with the Its Bureaucracy: Janessa Duran (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: The Canadian and provincial parliaments have systems in place to keep the government of the day accountable for their actions, to make certain that legislation passed benefits Canadians. The Ontario Public Service (OPS), the branch of government that executes legislation has a duty to inform the government of the day best practices in implementing legislation.
In October 2018, the Select Committee on Financial Transparency was struck to understand the discrepancies in auditing practices that the Ontario Auditor General uncovered during the previous Wynne Government. Three top bureaucrats were interviewed for this committee, and, having worked closely with the government on developing legislation, revealed that they were in disagreement with the government on the legislation, but proceeded to develop as the government saw fit.
This paper will discuss the working relationship between the Legislature and the OPS. It will argue that the OPS should have more power in influencing the government when it comes to implementing policies. This has become increasingly evident during the Select Committee’s interviews with top bureaucrats.
Research for this paper will consist primarily of interviews with current and former ministers. The interviews will entail a set of standard questions about the extent to which the OPS is involved in ministries’ development of legislation, and what instructions for implementing policies looks like once legislation is passed. In addition, I will interview deputy ministers to gain insight into their consultations with ministry staff in implementing policies.
Depth and Diversity of Partisanship across Party Lines at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: Hudson Manning (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: After one of the most divisive elections in Ontario’s electoral history, this current parliament has been dubbed by many outside observers as among the most partisan in living memory. Ideological rifts are no doubt apparent during the public spectacle of question period, however when the focus of parliament redirects back towards the routine process of governing, cross-partisan courtesy and cooperation quietly begin to emerge again. Having conducted 49 placement interviews with currently sitting MPPs across all four represented parties as part of the OLIP program, I was struck by the emphasis members across all party lines placed on the primacy of their roles as non-partisan representatives of their constituents, rather than as agents of their parties’ mandates. This paper seeks to argue that the current perceived climate of partisanship veils the diversity of political self-identification of both government backbenchers and opposition members. I seek to demonstrate that rather than being the cohesive ideological blocs that they are often portrayed as being, both major parties are in reality diverse coalitions of individuals whose relationships with their parties are often incidental rather than ideological. I intend to conduct interviews extensively with MPPs across all parties to establish trends in political self-identification and personal emphasis on constituent representation against party politics. I hope to utilize the metrics of member’s age, sex, represented region of Ontario, traditional voting trends of their respective ridings, and stated reasons for getting involved in politics to further identify and delineate trends in the partisan self-identification of elected MPPs.
La peur des ascenseurs ou comment aborde-t-on la question du harcèlement sexuel au Parlement canadien: Rose St-Pierre (Programme de stage parlementaire) Abstract: Au mois de février 2018, plusieurs journalistes du Hill Times, publication bihebdomadaire couvrant l’actualité politique fédérale, coécrivent un article revenant sur les bouleversements causés par la vague #MoiAussi au Parlement canadien. L’article suggère que suite au mouvement de dénonciation populaire et à de récentes allégations de harcèlement sexuel, on assisterait à un « moment transformateur »; un vrai « changement de culture ». Ces changements seraient « dramatiques », voire « terrifiants » et représenteraient le « le début d’une nouvelle ère ».
Mais qu’en est-il vraiment de cette transformation? Vit-on vraiment un bouleversement au sein du milieu de travail parlementaire? Observe-t-on véritablement un changement de mentalités, d’attitudes et de comportements à l’égard de la question du harcèlement sexuel au sein de ce milieu politique?
Au courant du mois d’avril, de mai et de juin 2018, j’ai interviewé 26 parlementaires de tous les côtés de la Chambre des Communes. 200 membres du personnel parlementaire ont pris part à un sondage en ligne ou à des groupes de discussions. J’ai également consulté des journalistes, avocats, professeurs et des membres du personnel des ressources humaines. Mon objectif : tenter de savoir si, oui ou non, les mouvements de contestations comme #MoiAussi et l’attention médiatique récente avaient mené à une véritable prise de conscience, un changement de culture et une transformation au sein du milieu de travail parlementaire.
Millennials in the Legislature: A Generation to Challenge Tradition: Peter Supierz-Szczyglowski (Ontario Legislature Internship Programme) Abstract: Millennial. It’s become a catchword to describe a generation of young adults born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, the first generation to come of age in the new millennium. In some circles it’s akin to a dirty word, synonymous with laziness, entitlement, over-sensitivity, and self-obsession. It’s conversely used to describe a demographic that is innovative, fast-paced, purposeful, and idealistically motivated. Millennials are the most analyzed generation in recent history, their actions and attitudes responsible for changing a spectrum of social, political and economic behaviours. It is to be expected that these ripples of change should permeate into legislatures as well, especially where there are increasing numbers of Millennial MPPs. This paper endeavors to question and analyze the effect of the Millennial generation of MPPs within the Ontario Provincial Legislature, identifying in particular their effect on its organizational, procedural and communicative dimensions. The 42nd Session of Parliament brings with it an unprecedented number of Millennials, providing for a new breed of politician that this paper studies through a number of in-person interviews with both veteran and Millennial MPPs. In its inquiry, this paper challenges common conceptions of Millennials, while identifying the cultural consequences of patterns in behaviour unique to them. Ultimately, this paper argues that as politicians, they help to bridge the divide between the legislature, an institution steeped in history and tradition, and the politically disengaged youth of today. Their induction into the halls of the legislature signals a new potential for change in the years to come.me.