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C P A - Alberta
Branch 1999 Annual Report
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) is an association of members of Commonwealth parliaments who, irrespective of race, religion, or culture, are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law, and individual rights and freedoms, and by pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy. Canada was one of the six original member countries of the CPA when it was formed in 1911 under the name of the Empire Parliamentary Association. Association branches now exist in 134 national, state, provincial, and territorial parliaments with a total membership of over 14,000 parliamentarians. Each provincial and territorial Legislative Assembly in Canada as well as the federal Parliament comprises a branch of the CPA. All Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta are members of the Alberta branch of the CPA.
Speaker Ken Kowalski, President of the Alberta Branch of the CPA
In 1999 the Alberta branch of the CPA moved one step closer to my goal of having all private members of the Legislative Assembly participate in at least one interparliamentary conference or exchange during the term of the 24th Legislature. All MLAs who have participated so far have benefited considerably from the experience. Of course, the ultimate beneficiaries of these MLAs' experiences are the people of Alberta who, in the long run, will be better represented and the parliamentary process, which will be able to evolve to better suit the ever-changing demands of society in the new century.
As one of the following MLA reports notes, all of us parliamentarians obtained our positions by selling ourselves to our constituents; none of us became MLAs by graduating from a training program. The need for MLAs to have professional development should therefore be obvious. The primary way to meet that need is through the CPA and other related interparliamentary functions. These experiences enable members to share experiences and points of view with their counterparts across Canada and around the world. The nonpartisan environment affords everyone involved an opportunity for open sharing and engenders a collaborative approach to issues and parliamentary processes that can rarely be achieved in any other forum.
Even after being an MLA for 20 years, I am continually learning how to be a more effective member whenever I participate in interparliamentary functions. In addition to CPA conferences, in 1999 I had the privilege to participate in Alberta's first delegation to Germany under the Partnership of Parliaments program. Alberta hosted a group of German parliamentarians in 1998, and in 1999 it was Alberta's turn to send a delegation there. I witnessed the work of a nation still trying to reintegrate itself after over 50 years of division into east and west. I saw how despite our differences in language, history, geography, and population density I could apply to my work the insights and experiences of our German counterparts. Even though German democratic institutions did not develop along the lines of the British model followed in the Commonwealth, the differences between our two traditions helped me appreciate the best features of both systems and enabled me to think about how ours can be improved.
I also was honoured in 1999 with an invitation to attend the National Speakers Conference in San Antonio, Texas. A Speaker from Germany and I were the only two participants from outside the United States. Alberta has nurtured connections with the United States in various ways over the last many years, primarily in order to enhance our economic links with our most important trading partner. My experience at this conference underlined the importance of understanding the legislative and social issues in the United States and maintaining contact with our counterparts there.
All Albertans should be proud of the leading role Alberta continues to play in interparliamentary relations through the work not only of Alberta MLAs but of support staff as well.
W.J. David McNeil, Secretary of the Alberta Branch of the CPA and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
The Alberta branch participated in 13 interparliamentary activities in 1999, three of which were with countries outside the Commonwealth. This was Alberta's first opportunity to send a delegation to Germany as part of the Partnership of Parliaments program, after having hosted a group of German parliamentarians in 1998. Alberta's commitment to this program will involve hosting German guests in even-numbered years and sending a delegation to Germany in odd-numbered years.
Alberta's connection with the francophone parliamentary association Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) grew closer in 1999 to the point that the association expressed interest in having its international conference in Alberta in 2001.
Staff of the Legislative Assembly Office provided excellent support to Alberta MLAs participating in interparliamentary functions. Staff also represented Alberta well in interparliamentary activities at the staff level. They collaborated with each other and with their counterparts in other jurisdictions to share knowledge and expertise and develop contacts from which all participating parliaments are sure to benefit.
I was pleased to be asked by the CPA to co-ordinate the development of the first of a series of training modules for Commonwealth parliamentarians. This module, entitled Fundamentals of Parliamentary Democracy, is being developed in co-operation with Athabasca University, the Commonwealth of Learning and the CPA.
I was privileged to support members in their attendance at the National Conference of State Legislators in Indianapolis and the CPA Canadian Regional Conference in Quebec.
electronic copy of the CPA - Alberta Branch 1999 Annual Report is UNOFFICIAL