Debate of public issues is the heart and
soul of parliamentary life. The media prefer to treat politics in terms of
personalities. Federal-provincial conferences continue to pre-empt Parliament
and the rules of many assemblies leave much to be desired. But notwithstanding
these problems excellent debates do take place in Parliament, in provincial
legislatures and, to an increasing extent, in various committees of federal,
provincial or territorial legislatures. Good speeches or good debates often
receive little publicity. If reported locally they are rarely transmitted to
other parts of the country. Therefore the Canadian Parliamentary Review
proposes to publish more or less verbatim extracts from debates in various
legislatures on subjects likely to be of interest to our readers.
The first two articles, taken from the
Senate Hansard, deal with a classic subject of political debate in this country
the arguments for and against an elected Upper House. The Fathers of
Confederation wrestled with this question as have successive generations of
students and practitioners of the political art in Canada. In recent years
Senate reform has been the subject of a myriad of reports by Royal Commissions,
research institutions, pressure groups and journalists. But what do members of
the Senate have to say about their own destiny?
The case for an elected Senate is put
forcefully by Senator Duff Roblin who began his speech by acknowledging that he
was rising in a chamber where probably no more than a handful of members shared
his opinion. The debate was joined by a number of Senators, including Peter
Bosa, who said that while he used to think an elected Senate was a good idea,
as he looked further into the matter he came to the conclusion that there were
better ways to reform the Senate.
In this issue we are also featuring an
article on the Parliamentary Stone Carvers. Ottawa residents take great pride
in having one of the world's most attractive legislative buildings in their
midst. Alterations, however minor, to the building are followed with great
interest by the local citizenry, few of whom begrudge the not inconsiderable
sums required to maintain the building in its traditional splendor. Even those
who work in the Centre Block, however, rarely catch a glance of the sculptors
who have contributed so much to its uniqueness.
The article by Mary Peck on the 100th
anniversary of the New Brunswick legislature shows that Ottawans are not alone
in appreciating their legislative building.