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Canada needs a Commissioner for Indigenous Relations

In today’s Ottawa Citizen, my colleague Michael Morden and I argue that Canada needs a new officer of Parliament – what we call a Commissioner for Indigenous Relations – with a mandate to investigate and report on the government’s performance on indigenous affairs.

We fully understand that creating a new officer risks duplicating existing scrutiny by the Auditor General and adding still more reports when what is desperately needed is action. However, we believe that such a position would ensure that all government departments, and not just Indigenous and Northern Affairs, are examined for their engagement with indigenous peoples. Moreover, having a dedicated Commissioner tracking the government’s performance on a regular basis would help to maintain political pressure on indigenous issues and provide reliable data with which to evaluate the government’s actions.

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Evaluating provincial legislatures

51frgiOsoXL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_Do Canada’s provincial legislatures all have the capacity they need to represent citizens, review legislation, and scrutinize government actions? These are the questions that Graham White and I tackle in our chapter in the 3rd edition of Provinces, edited by Chris Dunn.

The provincial assemblies all have the same basic institutional structure, the same constitutional powers, and pass roughly the same number of government bills each year (around 50). However, each legislature also operates differently from the others, with drastic variations existing in terms of the hours spent in session, the size of the executive, the resources available to members, the use of standing committees, and legislative procedures.

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