At the time this article was
written Gordon Barnhart was Clerk of the legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
Several hundred years ago in
Britain the Crown and the House of Commons engaged in a struggle for control of
the Realm. The Commons emerged victorious and to symbolise their independence
the Monarch never sets foot in that Chamber. She reads the Throne Speech from
the House of Lords. The same principle is followed in Canada where her
representative, the Governor General meets the Commons only in the Senate.
In provincial legislatures the
situation is somewhat different. They are all unicameral and the Queen's
representative does actually deliver the Throne Speech in the Chamber. It is
unusual, however, for the Queen to make any speeches in the legislative
chamber. Such an event occurred last October in Saskatchewan. During the course
of a five-day visit the Queen was invited to speak to legislators and guests in
the Chamber although the House was not officially in session.
The theme of the Royal Visit was
"Parliamentary Government and Constitutional Monarchy." In her speech
the Queen directed her remarks particularly toward the youth of the province
and the country. The ceremony was broadcast live nation-wide through the
Legislative Broadcast Services and the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Her
remarks, dealt with the democratic way of life under the Canadian Crown. She
Saskatchewan has a tradition of
respect, indeed enthusiasm, for cultural diversity. This tradition is protected
and extended through the historic institutions of Crown and Legislature. The
Commonwealth, from whose meeting of Heads of Government in Vancouver I have
just come, also provides an example of free nations coming together to promote
the interests of a wide diversity of people, cultures and religions. The
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which met here in Conference under the
Presidence of your Speaker only two years ago, must have found in your city a
This talk of Parliament and Crown may
seem somewhat remote to the children watching this ceremony on television.
However, I can tell you all that it is these very things which enable you to
learn freely about what is going on in the world, and to hold and express your
opinions without fear. I hope you will all take an active interest in your
Legislature and your government, either as well-informed voters or even,
perhaps, as Members of the Legislature.
The Crown represents the basic
political ideals which all Canadians share. It stands for the idea that
individual people matter more than theories; that we are all subject to the
rule of law. These ideals are guaranteed by a common loyalty, through the
Sovereign, to community and country.
Only of you give them your active
support, will Parliamentary institutions continue to flourish in this Province
as a guarantee of tolerance, diversity and freedom under the Crown.
The Royal Visit also marked the
75th Anniversary of the Official Opening of the Legislative Building which was
opened in 1912 by the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada.
Construction on the Legislative
Building started in 1906 with some departments moving into the Building as
early as 1910. The Legislative Assembly held its annual session in the Reading
Room of the Legislative Library in 1911 because the Chamber was not finished.
The Assembly was able to move into its new Chamber in January 1912.
By the fall of 1912, the
construction of the Legislative Building was advanced enough to be ready for
the opening ceremonies. The Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert said on that occasion:
I am glad thus to be identified
with the Province of Saskatchewan and desire to congratulate all those
concerned on the dignified building they have erected here.
In declaring this legislative
building open and dedicated to the purposes of the Executive Government and the
Legislatures of the Province, I do so with the prayer that the decisions
arrived at, and the administrative work carried out under the roof, may, under
the blessing of Providence, always be for the lasting benefit of the Province
Unfortunately, the Honourable
Walter Scott, Premier and Minister of Public Works, and the main force behind
the construction of the Legislative Building, became ill and could not witness
the opening of a Building that represented his vision for the future of the
Province of Saskatchewan.
Seventy-five years and four days
later Queen Elizabeth, in the Legislative Chamber, unveiled a plaque marking
It is perhaps characteristic of
relatively new provinces such as Saskatchewan, to celebrate the anniversaries
of buildings rather than paying recognition and honour to the institutional
cornerstones of our society such as the Crown and Parliament. It is these
institutions that have developed, matured and survived over the centuries to
serve and protect our way of life and our right to free elections and free
speech. The citizens of Saskatchewan were pleased and honoured to have Their
Majesties visit their province. In many countries of the world the freedoms we
enjoy under a Parliamentary Government and Constitutional Monarchy do not exist