Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Life after Parliament: The Role of Associations of Former Parliamentarians

Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Life after Parliament: The Role of Associations of Former Parliamentarians

Article excerpt

At some point in time every current parliamentarian will become a former parliamentarian. In recent decades associations representing former parliamentarians have formed to provide transitional assistance to and maintain and foster social links that developed among these men and women during their time in legislatures. In this roundtable the Canadian Parliamentary Review brought together members of several provincial associations of former members who spoke of their organizations' work and how they might be able to offer their wealth of parliamentary experience to assist current research and outreach projects of legislatures.

CPR: When and why did your organizations form?

RDM: We date back to 1994. There was a big change in government and former parliamentarians wanted to keep in touch with each other. The purpose of the association is really to bring together former colleagues in a non-partisan entity where they can keep in touch and share experiences. And we also have recreated committees. We have a communications committee that publishes a bulletin twice a year. We also have a committee we call Objects of Memory that focuses on getting all the artifacts and all the documentation of former parliamentarians. The objective is to create archives that will allow research and will keep the memories of these former members of the assembly. That's a pretty active committee. Since 1792, more than two thousand Quebec parliamentarians have participated in parliament. In 2002, when the committee was formed, there were only 180 archives. To fill that gap and to document the past of the history of the Quebecois parliamentarians Marcel Masse created a committee. It now contacts the parliamentarians when they leave office. Whether they're defeated or they just leave. They've increased the archives substantially. We also have a committee which developed an internet site where our members can send articles or comments and have access to information. We also have a confidential assistance program for former parliamentarians who might find themselves in difficulty. It exists for current parliamentarians but for the last five or six years it's been available for retired parliamentarians as well and it has proved helpful. And we have a committee that I chair called the parliamentarianism and democracy committee that keeps a relationship with other associations, including French-speaking associations in France and Belgium, and of course our Canadian counterparts.

CE: In 2001, the speaker contacted some former parliamentarians and put us together in a group. We organized at large kind of and made some appointments within ourselves. From 2001 until 2006, when we were legislated, we basically were trying to get everybody involved. We sent out surveys and letters asking for input from former legislators about what they wanted to see in the organization. We were successful enough by 2006 to put everything together and we were legislated in 2006. There was an outreach around 2010 and that's when we came together with the other two provinces in 2011 for the first tripartite session. We developed a speakers program and a youth parliament program. I think since we became part of this tripartite group we've picked up many of our ideas from Quebec and Ontario: the legacy and service awards and a few others. Right now I think we're trying to promote more involvement among our former members.

LA: I wasn't involved in the beginning in a way Cliff was, but the law that was developed as a part of our creation included an item about liaison with current MLAs. In that light we invite them to everything we can and try to maintain a contact. We don't have any hostility that could exist. I remember when I was in caucus and the bill was first being discussed there was a feeling that this would be a rival group, but none of that materialized so there's a good relationship there. And then, of course, promoting democracy in our province and programs, we thought of youth parliament. …

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