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On the International Scene

Parliamentary Associations

Parliamentary associations promote Canada's interests abroad and are composed of members of the Senate and House of Commons. The Parliament of Canada belongs to five bilateral associations (including the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group) and seven multilateral associations (including the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association).

Interparliamentary Groups

Interparliamentary groups strengthen relations between Canadian parliamentarians and those in the partner country, and promote cooperation and understanding between the nations concerned. Canada's Parliament is involved in four official interparliamentary groups with Germany, Israel, Italy and Ireland, respectively. The activities of these groups are supported through the membership fees of individual parliamentarians.

Receiving International Visitors

Foreign visits enable parliamentarians from around the world to discuss common issues, share ideas and knowledge, and learn from each other's experiences. These exchanges also strengthen Canada's ties with other countries and promote cooperation.

Parliamentary democracy, international responsibilities, trade, visa and immigration issues are frequent topics of discussion between parliamentarians, as are electoral reform, Aboriginal issues and environmental concerns.

The Parliament of Canada hosted the following official visits of foreign Speakers and delegations during the year:

  • Chairman of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
  • President of the Senate of Malaysia
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Zealand
  • President of the Shura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Finland
  • Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Further to their diplomatic role of receiving world leaders and distinguished guests visiting the Parliament of Canada, the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons welcomed the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré; the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam, Phan Van Khai; and the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao. The Speakers also held courtesy calls with newly accredited Heads of Mission to Canada and Heads of Mission leaving the country. These meetings offer a unique opportunity to build direct parliamentary relations with representatives from other countries. The Speaker of the House of Commons held 68 courtesy calls in 2005-2006.

Promoting Canada's Interests Abroad

Parliamentary Exchanges

Exchanges enable parliamentarians to enhance relations with other countries and share ideas, knowledge and experience. These exchanges can take several forms: visits to Canada by speaker-led foreign delegations; delegations of Canadian parliamentarians abroad headed by the House of Commons Speaker; and the Parliamentary Officers' Study Program, which enables senior parliamentary staff from foreign legislatures and other Canadian legislatures to learn about the functioning of Canada's Parliament.

The Speaker, Members and Administration staff are regularly invited to visit other legislatures to discuss a variety of issues, foster links, and share knowledge and expertise. Over the past fiscal year, the Speaker of the House of Commons led official delegations to Australia, New Zealand, Scotland (as part of the G8 Speakers' Conference), the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Russian Federation and Portugal. The various parliamentary associations to which the Parliament of Canada belongs were also active during the year, attending conferences and seminars or receiving their counterparts at meetings in Canada. Reports on these meetings are available on the Parliament of Canada Web site under "Interparliamentary Affairs."

Former Senate Speaker Dan Hays and House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken welcomed many foreign dignitaries to parliament in 2005-2006 to discuss common issues

Former Senate Speaker Dan Hays and House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken welcomed many foreign dignitaries to Parliament in 2005-2006 to discuss common issues.

Photo: © C. Diotte

Hosting Conferences

The Parliament of Canada regularly shares its perspectives with other legislatures by hosting international conferences. In June 2005, the Speaker of the House of Commons hosted a professional development seminar for provincial and territorial Speakers in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Canadian Regional Council. The Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Acting Clerk of the House of Commons made presentations on the role of the Speaker, preparations for first-time Speakers, and tools and procedures to ensure the smooth functioning of a legislature.