Small Countries Conference
The 24th Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association Conference for Members from Small Countries took
place in Quebec City
from August 31st to September 1st.
The Official Opening took
place in the Legislative Council Room of the Quebec National Assembly. Mario
Galea, Government Whip and Head of the Malta Delegation, chaired the
Session. Delegates were welcomed by Speaker Ted Staffen of the
Yukon Legislative Assembly, on behalf of the Canadian jurisdictions hosting the
conference. Several members of the CPA Executive Committee which was meeting simultaneously in Ottawa participated in the opening via
The first plenary session was
chaired by Arabella Smith of the Turks and Caicos. The topic was
the Role of Parliament in Regional Economic Integration of Small Countries and
it featured a presentation by Elma Gene Isaac of the CARICOM
The second plenary session,
chaired by Reginald Farley of Barbados dealt with the role of
parliamentarians in implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action on the
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. There were
presentations by Professor Lino Briguglio of the University of Malta and Dr. Eliawony
Kisanga of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The third plenary session
chaired by Jennifer Smith MP of Bermuda
featured a presentation by William McCloskey, Chair of the OECD
Committee on Fiscal Affairs, who looked at the dialogue between the OECD and
offshore financial centres over the issue of tax and fiscal sovereignty. Other
presentations were made by Linford Pierson MLA of the Cayman
Islands and Professor Andreas Antoniou of the Commonwealth
The final plenary session
chaired by Elizabeth Zabaneh of Belize
dealt with holding the Executive to Account and featured a presentation by Connétable
Frederick Gray of Jersey.
In addition to the plenary
sessions there were also three workshops on: Economic Vulnerablilty and
Resilence of Small States chaired by Denis Burke MLA of Northern
Territory of Australia, The Trade Agenda on Small
States, chaired by Leota-Suatele
Mausegi MLA of Samoa and Sustainable Tourism chaired by John Birmingham
MLC of the Falkland Islands.
Since its establishment in
1981 for Commonwealth jurisdictions with populations less than 400,000 the
Small Countries Conference has provided a unique forum for the discussion of
global issues of particular important to small states. The Speakers of
the four participating Canadian jurisdictions Greg
Deighan of Prince Edward Island, Jobie
Nutaraq of Nunavut, Ted Staffen of Yukon and Paul Delorey of the Northwest Territories, hosted a reception
and dinner for the approximately 100 delegates and observers.
New Speaker in the NWT
On June 1, 2004 Paul
Delorey was elected as Speaker of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly He was first elected to the 14th Legislative
Assembly as the Member for Hay River North on December 6th, 1999. Mr. Delorey
was then acclaimed to the 15th Legislative Assembly for a second term of office
in the fall of 2003.
During his tenure in the 14th
Legislative Assembly, Mr. Delorey was a Member of the following Standing
Committees: Governance and Economic Development, Rules and Procedures,
Accountability and Oversight and served as the Deputy Chair of the Committee of
the Whole. In addition, he was a member of the Special Committee on the
Implementation of Self-Government and the Sunset Clause. During his current
term, Mr. Delorey was the Chair of the Standing Committee on Governance and
Economic Development, and a member of the Standing Committee on Accountability
and Oversight and the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures.
Prior to his first term of office, Mr. Delorey
worked as a locomotive engineer for Raillink Canada. Born in Guysborough,
N.S., as the second youngest child in a family
of 13, he moved to Hay River in 1968. Two
years later, he began work for the Canadian National Railway as a trainperson
before advancing to a locomotive engineer. Mr. Delorey has an extensive
history of volunteering and community service. He currently serves as the
District Deputy for the Knights of Columbus for the Northwest Territories. He has a total of 22
years of service to the Knights of Columbus organization in the North.
The Opening Ceremony took
place on September 3, 2004 in the Ballroom of the Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City. The
President of the Association, Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of
Commons, read a message from Her Majesty the Queen and offered words of
welcome. He then called upon the Governor General of Canada, Adrienne
Clarkson, to address the delegates.
This was followed by remarks
from the Chair of the Canadian Region of the CPA, Claude
Richmond, Speaker of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. The
closing remarks were by Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Speaker of the House of
Representatives of Fiji Islands and Vice-President of the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association. Other members of the official party included: Alvin
Curling, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Michel
Bissonnet, President of the Quebec National
Assembly, and Sarmite Bulte, Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Canadian Heritage and President of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians.
The Master of Ceremonies was
the Executive Secretary of the Canadian Region, Paul
Bélisle. During the opening ceremony a musical interlude was
provided by the choir Maîtrise des petits
chanteurs and the band of the Royal 22nd Regiment.
The first business session
took place in Quebec City
on September 4, 2004 with addresses by the Secretary General of the CPA, Denis
Marshall and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Donald Mckinnon.
The first plenary session dealt with the Commonwealth Action Plan for Gender
Equality. There were presentations by Senator John Hogg of Australia, Senator David Smith of Canada, Adi Teimuma Tuisawau Vuikab Kepa
MP of Fiji
and Thandi Modise MPL of North-West Province of South Africa. The
following day all members travelled to Toronto
where the Conference resumed on September 6.
The plenary session in Toronto was Chaired by Speaker Milliken. The topic was Responsibilities
and Rights of People and Parliaments in a Global Community. In the
morning the speakers were Scott Hubli of the National Democratic
Institute, Serguei Lazarev of UNESCO and Rick Staphenhurst of the
World Bank Institute. In the afternoon the speakers were Senator Marcus
Bethal of The Bahamas, Somnath Chatterjee MP of India and Yatiman Yusof of Singapore.
Each speaker then acted as
moderator for a smaller workshop on a related topics.
Discussion leaders for these workshops were:
- A) Robert Miller of the Parliamentary Centre
and Betty Mould-Iddrisu of the Commonwealth Secretariat
- B) Sarmite Bulte MP of Canada, Shri K. Rahman Khan MP of India
- C) Colin Ball of the Commonwealth Foundation
and Thomas Dorsey of the International Monetary Fund.
- D) Alaso Alice Asianut MP of Uganda and Nigel Evans MP of the United Kingdom
- E) Rick Stapenhurst of the World Bank
Institute and Charmaine Rodrigues of the Commonwealth Human Rights
- F) Senator Raynell Andreychuk of Canada and Dianne Yates of New Zealand
The final plenary session
dealt with the Trend Towards Supra-national
Parliaments. The lead speakers were Mary M. Nagu MP of Tanzania, S. Enioch Motanyane of Lesotho, Mario Galea MP of Malta and Andrew
Welsh MSP of Scotland.
The 50th Conference was one of
the largest every held with more than 600 delegates, observers and accompanying
persons from more than 170 jurisdictions. In keeping with tradition
delegates were afforded ample opportunities before, during and after the
conference to acquaint themselves with various aspects of the host country.
While in Quebec
they were given a pre-conference tour of the Charlevoix area. After the
Official Opening the Governor General hosted a luncheon at the Citadelle.
Following the conference there was a tour of the Niagara Region.
The organisation of such an
ambitious conference required a co-ordinated effort of the Secretariat in London and more than one hundred support staff drawn
mainly from the legislatures of Quebec, Ontario and Ottawa,
including help from every provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The
years of planning and co-ordinated efforts resulted in a successful and
memorable conference for all who took part.
A meeting of the Steering
Committee of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Steering Committee was
held on September 1, 2004. As a result of several years work by the
Association the constitution of the CPA was amended to provide for
representation on the Executive Committee of a representative elected by the
CWP. The first person to hold this position is Lindiwe Maseko,
MPL, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the South African province of Gauteng.