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Speaking Tours

Post-Secondary Speaking Tours

In 1988, the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada and the Canadian Study of Parliament Group first joined forces to engage the clerks of federal, provincial and territorial legislative institutions to reach out to students at Canadian universities and colleges to speak with them about the role of the legislative branch in the Westminster system of government. Since then, many engagements across the country have led to interesting and productive discussions.

Both organizations are pleased to collaborate on this initiative because they believe it represents a unique opportunity for students to gain a better appreciation of the dynamics of the parliamentary system at a crucial time in its evolution. We hope that professors and students will find this program featuring experienced, professional parliamentary staff to be highly beneficial.

Role of clerks

Members of legislative bodies are supported in their parliamentary functions by “Clerks-at-the-Table.” Clerks provide non-partisan procedural advice to the Speaker and all members of their legislature. Clerks also have extensive duties related to the overall administrative management of their respective legislative bodies. These individuals have first-hand knowledge and a unique perspective about many aspects of Canadian parliamentary democracy.

Why invite a clerk?

Both professors and students have expressed the value of having a seasoned, expert practitioner in parliamentary procedure discuss the nature, role and function of parliament and our system of parliamentary democracy. The unique program provides students with an opportunity to engage with a senior parliamentary official and gain a better understanding of the workings of modern democratic institutions.

How does the speaking tour work?

This activity is a joint venture with the university or college concerned. Subject to operational and budgetary considerations, the two sponsoring organizations (the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada and the Canadian Study of Parliament Group) provide a speaker, either a federal, provincial or territorial clerk, and the university or college is responsible for organizing the event. The Clerk’s travel and related costs are covered by the federal, provincial or territorial legislature with support from the sponsoring organizations, if necessary.

The presentations can be offered in various formats, such as a special presentation to a group of students, a lecture during regular class time, or a seminar to graduate students (or undergraduate students with relevant majors). The most common approach is to use scheduled class time and invite additional guests, as desired.

What topics can be addressed?

Topics will generally relate to the Canadian system of governance, parliamentary democracy, and parliamentary procedure. Some of the matters covered may be:

  • The history and development of our parliamentary system;
  • The work of a legislature and its members;
  • Introduction to parliamentary procedure and its rules;
  • The roles of the government and of the opposition;
  • The role of clerks and career opportunities at a legislature;
  • Rulings by the Chair/Speaker and parliamentary precedent.

How to participate in the program

Professors may indicate their interest in this program by providing relevant details using our request form pdf (137 kB, 1 page).

Requests will be considered on a first come, first served basis. As a best practice, requests for presentations in the fall (October to December) should be submitted no later than October 10, and requests for presentations in the winter (January to April) should be submitted no later than January 31. Requests received outside of these timelines will be accommodated whenever possible.

Need more information?

Contact the CSPG for more details.

© 2015 Canadian Study of Parliament Group