Two Upcoming Conferences in Quebec

Article excerpt

In October two major conferences dealing with parliamentary government and representative democracy will be held in Quebec. The first is a Symposium in Quebec City organized by the Association of Former Members of the National Assembly. The other is a Conference on Global Governance to be held in Montreal under the auspices of the Montreal International Forum. In this article the Chairman of the Quebec Symposium describes the purpose of that Conference and the Secretary General of the National Assembly writes about the parliamentary component of the Conference on Global Governance.

The International Symposium on the Parliamentary System in the 21st Century

Parliament is the fundamental institution of democracy. The principle of legislative autonomy has underpinned political thinking since Montesquieu. But now, with this many-faceted phenomenon we call globalization, new powers are appearing that know no borders and question the prerogatives of both centralized and federal states. Cultural diversity is also threatened, as are certain laws and regulations, notably those dealing with environmental protection and free trade.

In 1978 the late political scientist Leon Dion declared that "the struggle to reestablish the value of Parliaments may be the most relevant and promising manifestation of the battle that democracy is facing today."

Legislative power has been undergoing an erosion that has tended to distance Parliament from what it should be--a place of fundamental debate and decision-making. Certain practices, such as towing the party line and answering to whips, have been imposed, and have enabled the executive branch to dominate the legislative branch.

The six plenary sessions of the symposium will focus on the following questions:

* What are the roots of the democratic malaise?

* Is the decline of Parliament irreversible?

* Is it possible to thwart parties and individuals who defend only a single cause--their own?

* Should we limit ministerial responsibility?

* Can Parliament be reinvented?

* Can the Internet lead to a resurrection of the role?

The international symposium entitled The Parliamentary System in the 21st Century will take place at the National Assembly of Quebec from October 9 to 12, 2002.(1)

The lecturers--thinkers, politicians, and political observers from North and South America, Europe, and Africa--will debate these questions and exchange views with some two hundred attendees. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in French, English, and Spanish.

This symposium, which will serve as the 25th regional conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, is presented by the Amicale des anciens parlementaires du Quebec with the enthusiastic cooperation of the National Assembly of Quebec. Mrs. Louise Harel, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Quebec and Member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, is the honorary president of the symposium.

The founders of the Amicale provided, in section 6 of their incorporating act of December 17, 1993, that their main function is to put the knowledge and experience of former Members to use in order to serve parliamentary democracy in Quebec and elsewhere. In section 7 the act specifies that the Amicale may form task forces and organize meetings, symposia, and conferences where former parliamentarians can share ideas with participants and get information on issues of common interest.

The 2002 Conference on Global Governance

The 2002 Conference on Global Governance: Civil Society and Democratization of Global Governance will take place at the Montreal Convention Centre from October 13 to 16, 2002. This event is organized by the Montreal International Forum (FIM)(2). The FIM is a worldwide alliance of individuals and organizations with the mission of increasing the participation of civil society within multilateral institutions in order to more effectively remedy global problems such as extreme poverty, war, human rights violations, and environmental degradation. …