Speaker's Forum

Speaker’s Forum on the Role of Members

The Speaker’s Forum brings in a variety of participants with different backgrounds to provide input on how the roles of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) can be enhanced in our parliamentary system. The Forum has adopted a non-partisan framework to explore how Members may empower themselves to be more effective representatives of their communities, and how political culture and dynamics may affect Members’ parliamentary responsibilities and their representative role. Discussions on how to provide MLAs with a strengthened voice to represent their constituents and thereby enhance public perception of the role of parliamentarians is at the forefront of the Forum.

The Speaker’s Forum is currently in its first year phase, which features a series of roundtable discussions. This phase provides the opportunity for those involved to discuss and identify, from their perspective, the challenges that Members face in the current political environment.

​British Columbians who are interested in contributing their thoughts and ideas on the topics being explored in the Speaker’s Forum are invited to send them to SpeakersForum@leg.bc.ca. ​

Backgrounder

The Speaker's Forum on the Role of Members was established by the Honourable Darryl Plecas, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, in December 2017. The purpose of the Forum is to bring in a variety of participants with different backgrounds to provide input on how the roles of MLAs can be enhanced in our parliamentary system. The Forum will adopt a non-partisan framework to explore how Members may empower themselves to be more effective representatives of their communities, and how political culture and dynamics may affect Members' parliamentary responsibilities and their representative role. Discussions on how to provide MLAs with a strengthened voice to represent their constituents and thereby enhance public perception of the role of parliamentarians will also be at the forefront of the Forum.

In its first year, the Forum will feature a series of various roundtable discussions. This phase will provide the opportunity for those involved to discuss and identify, from their perspective, the challenges that Members face in the current political environment. Forum roundtables will be held with academics and political scientists, media, educators, youth, former MLAs, and parliamentary officials, amongst others. Themes and findings emerging during earlier sessions will assist in shaping discussion topics in subsequent sessions. Roundtable discussions will not focus on topics of electoral reform, alternate electoral systems, or partisan issues of any kind.

A summary of the findings of each of the roundtable groups will be produced, which will highlight the key themes that have been identified during the Forum's first phase. These findings will be summarized and shared with other Forum participants, and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly will also share them with Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

In its final stages, the Forum will feature the publication and consideration of a final report, which is intended to foster a more broad discussion on its findings. It is hoped that the report will lead to consideration of potential Member-driven reforms at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. The findings of the Speaker's Forum may also be useful to other parliaments around the world to help identify best practices in enhancing Members' roles.

Phase One

Phase One is the preliminary ‘perception and information gathering’ phase of the Speaker’s Forum. It allows participants to discuss and identify, from their perspective, the challenges that Members face in the current political environment.

Roundtable discussions have been held with the following groups to date:

  1. Political Scientists
  2. Members of the Legislative Press Gallery
  3. Youth
  4. Educators
  5. 2018 B.C. Legislative Interns
  6. Former Members of the Legislative Assembly

A summary report of each roundtable discussion will be posted on this website soon.

A detailed report of Phase One will be available on this webpage by the end of 2018. This report will provide an overview of the common themes and matters identified by participants of all roundtable groups as to the challenges that exist in our parliamentary system. The report will not take a position on any of the matters it covers, nor will it advocate for any matters contained within it. Rather, the report is intended to be a wholesome summary of the comments made by participants during roundtable discussions.


Roundtable with Political Scientists

A roundtable with political scientists was held in Vancouver on February 9 and 10, 2018 in Vancouver. Political scientists were included as a Speaker’s Forum roundtable group given the vast academic knowledge that they possess of our system of governance and our parliamentary institutions.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:

  1. Dr. Jeanette Ashe, Douglas College
  2. Dr. Gerald Baier, University of British Columbia
  3. Dr. David E. Smith, University of Regina / Ryerson University
  4. Dr. Patrick Smith, Simon Fraser University
  5. Dr. Tracy Summerville, University of Northern British Columbia
  6. Dr. Hamish Telford, University of the Fraser Valley
  7. Dr. Paul Thomas, Carleton University
  8. Dr. Daniel Westlake, University of Victoria
Legislative Press Gallery 

Roundtable with Members of the Legislative Press Gallery

A roundtable with members of the Legislative Press Gallery (accredited media) was held in Victoria on March 9, 2018. Members of the Press Gallery were included as a Speaker's Forum roundtable group given the unique perspective that they have of the work of elected representatives, of political and parliamentary operations, and of proceedings of the Legislative Assembly.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:
  1. Keith Baldrey, Global News
  2. Tom Fletcher, Black Press
  3. Andrew MacLeod, The Tyee
  4. Vaughn Palmer, Postmedia
  5. Bhinder Sajan, CTV News
  6. Rob Shaw, Postmedia
  7. Richard Zussman, Global News
Roundtable with Members of the Legislative Press Gallery

Roundtable with Youth

A roundtable with youth was held in Victoria on April 21, 2018. Youth were included as a Speaker’s Forum roundtable group because of the important role that they must play in our democratic process and institutions. Engagement with the next generation is essential if the next generation is to remain engaged in our political process and parliamentary institutions.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:

  1. Leah Bae
  2. Kayla Brent
  3. Caelen Cook
  4. Kyle Dow
  5. Sheridan Hawse
  6. Delphina Kejo
  7. Alexa Lewis
  8. Sky Losier
Youth

Roundtable with Educators

A roundtable with educators was held in Vancouver on May 12, 2018. Educators were included as a Speaker’s Forum roundtable group given the hands-on knowledge that they possess of B.C.’s education system. The group of educators selected were all former participants of the British Columbia Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy. Roundtable participants therefore had a unique understanding and appreciation for the work of the Legislative Assembly, and well as hands-on experience with the social studies curriculum in the province.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:

  1. Christa Barberis, Secondary teacher, Langley
  2. Jonathan Boone, Secondary teacher, Smithers
  3. Sukaina Jaffer, Elementary teacher/administrator, Richmond
  4. Kirk Longpre, Secondary teacher, Victoria
  5. Beverley McEwan, Secondary teacher, Sechelt
  6. Neil Powell, Secondary teacher/administrator, Langley
Youth

Roundtable with the 2018 B.C. Legislative Interns

A roundtable with the 2018 B.C. Legislative Interns was held in Victoria on June 27, 2018. The Interns were included as a Speaker’s Forum roundtable group given the unique perspective that they have of the Legislative Assembly. Interns spend part of their term in ministries, and are also assigned to work in a caucus. This experience allows them to develop an understanding of the mechanics of government and the mechanics of political operations within a parliamentary caucus.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:

  1. Celina Bell
  2. Matthew Creswick
  3. Kayla Phillips
  4. Barbara Szymczyk
  5. Cate White
Roundable with Interns

Roundtable with Former Members of the Legislative Assembly

A roundtable with former Members of the Legislative Assembly was held in Victoria on September 21, 2018. Former MLAs were included as a Speaker’s Forum roundtable group given that they have firsthand experience of the political system, of caucus dynamics, and of the operation of parliamentary democracy in British Columbia. This makes them particularly well-suited to address the key themes of the Speaker’s Forum.

The following individuals participated in this roundtable:

  1. Bill Goodacre (Bulkley Valley–Stikine, 1996-2001, B.C. NDP)
  2. Jim Gorst (Esquimalt, 1969-1975, B.C. NDP)
  3. Dave Hayer (Surrey–Tynehead, 2001-2013, B.C. Liberal)
  4. Ken Jones (Surrey–Cloverdale, 1991-1996, B.C. Liberal)
  5. Penny Priddy (Surrey–Newton, 1991-2001, B.C. NDP)
  6. Cliff Serwa (Okanagan West, 1986-1996, Social Credit)
  7. Doug Symons (Richmond Centre, 1991-2001, B.C. Liberal)
Roundtable with Former MLAs
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