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> Parliamentary Democracy and Good Governance
   
 
Round Table Discussion with the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation
January 11, 2005
Hotel Serena, Islamabad


Discussion with the Canadian House of Commons, Mr. Peter Milliken | 
   

PILDAT-Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, in association with the Canadian High Commission at Islamabad, held a Roundtable Discussion in honour of the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons on January 11, 2005 at Hotel Serena, Islamabad. A delegation of Canadian Members of Parliament led by the Honourable Speaker is visiting Pakistan. Members of the Canadian Delegation include the Honourable Speaker, Mr. Peter Milliken, Ms Jean Augustine, M.P, Mr. Gurmant Grewal, M.P, Mr. Wajid Khan, M.P., and Mr. Sebastien Gagnon, M.P. PILDAT wanted to use this opportunity to discuss issues of mutual importance and enable Pakistani Legislators to benefit from Canada’s parliamentary practices relating to good governance. H.E Ms Margaret Huber, the High Commissioner of Canada  also attended the Roundtable Discussion.

 

Speakers at the Discussion included the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, Mr. Peter Milliken, Deputy Speaker Ms Jean Augustine, Ms Sherry Rehman, MNA, Mr. Imran Khan, MNA, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and Senator Prof. Khurshid Ahmed. The Roundtable was attended by H.E Ms Margaret Huber, the High Commissioner of Canada, Senator S.M Zafar, Mr. Ashraf Choudhary, Member of Parliament New Zealand amongst approximately 40 discussants, including parliamentarians and other civil society representatives. Members of the Canadian Delegation included the Honourable Speaker, Mr. Peter Milliken, Ms Jean Augustine, M.P, Mr. Gurmant Grewal, M.P, Mr. Wajid Khan, M.P., and Mr. Sebastien Gagnon, M.P. The roundtable discussion was conducted in order to exchange information and views on Parliamentary practices and good governance.

 

Some of the broad conclusions of the roundtable were as follows:

 
  • Accountability and Transparency are crucial features in a parliamentary democracy which need to be strengthened in order to ensure good governance in Pakistan.

  • Politics of inclusion through providing equal opportunities to all groups is the key to good governance.

 

Talking at the roundtable, Ms Sherry Rehman stated that there were a number of dissonances in Pakistan’s political system which were undermining democracy and as a result the governance system. According to her these included the conflict between the federal government and provinces and provinces and local governments. She said that Pakistan lacked an accountable, participatory political system which undermined prospects for good governance. In his speech, Mr. Imran Khan said that nothing destroys democracy more than a military dictatorship trying to legitimise itself through a democratic façade. According to him General Musharraf’s rule has destroyed every democratic institution in Pakistan, including the Election Commission, the Judiciary, and the Parliament. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Pakistan has a well established culture of dissent and a strong democratic ethos. He said we have a vibrant media and civil society, which are important components of a free democratic society. He added the debate on Kashmir is far more open in Pakistan than it is in India. Senator Professor Khurshid Ahmed was of the view that Canada represented a successful model of accommodating the diversity of its population. He said that the Canadian experience provides ample guidance for Pakistan.

 

In her comments, Ms Jean Augustine, Deputy Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons said that the accountability and transparency were crucial features of the Canadian political system. She said Canada practised politics of inclusion in terms of age, religion and ethnic background.

 

Talking about parliamentary practices in Canada, Mr. Peter Milliken said that the House of Commons has a parliamentary calendar, which is adopted in the fall of the previous year. He said that the Canadian Parliament was scheduled to meet for 133 working days in 2005. He stated that working hours of the House were from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The Speaker explained that committees in Canada played a crucial role in legislation and oversight of the Executive. He said that four committees in the Canadian Parliament were required to have members of the opposition as chairpersons.

 

Talking about parliamentary practices in Canada, Mr. Peter Milliken said that the House of Commons has a parliamentary calendar, which is adopted in the fall of the previous year. He said that the Canadian Parliament was scheduled to meet for 133 working days in 2005. He stated that working hours of the House were from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The Speaker explained that committees in Canada played a crucial role in legislation and oversight of the Executive. He said that four committees in the Canadian Parliament were required to have members of the opposition as chairpersons. Earlier, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT, initiated the roundtable discussion by welcoming the speakers and participants. He also threw light on the background paper produced by PILDAT on the comparison of Pakistani and Canadian Parliamentary systems with respect to good governance. The roundtable concluded with the address of Dr. Ashraf Chaudhry, Member of New Zealand Parliament, who is also a member of the PILDAT-initiated International Network of Legislators of Pakistani Origin – INLPO. Mr. Wajid Khan, Canadian MP of Pakistani origin is also a member of INLPO. Ms. Margaret Huber thanked participants at the end for their valuable time and interaction at the end on behalf of Canadian High Commission.