Our Canadian Friend

Disclaimer:  These session notes will be sketchy at best, just noting some interesting comments or points, rather than attempting to capture all of the content!

The Library Roundtable session is a perennial favorite at LRL Professional Development Seminars, and it was a great way to kick off the conference get to know our colleagues and their institutions.

Leslie Polsom started the hour with a description of the the Saskatchewan Legislative Library, which is the oldest library in the province, and their services.  She joked that she comes from the easiest-to-draw province in Canada.  They have 18 FTE.  They provide a weekly Table of Contents  service,  and new book listings, tailored to the subjects of interest to the  members.  The Member Services Librarian is responsible for working with the 58 members of parliament and creating custom searches for them. The Library has developed an interesting annual workshop for social studies in the province, to teach them about the parliamentary process.

The Saskatchewan Parliament, which is unicameral, meets twice each year, from late October to the beginning of December, and another session beginning in March, approximately 70 days in all.  The spring session begins with an opening day tea and a very formal  presentation of the executive branch agenda (we thought it seemed similar to a “State of the State” speech) called the “Speech from the Throne.”  The Speaker of the House is not the leader of the majority party, but elected by the entire body.  The speaker votes only in the case of a tie; the position is a nonpartisan administrative post.

Two versions of the journal are published.  The minutes are bare-boned, and Hansards, verbatim gavel-to-gavel transcripts, are published for meetings of the full body and committee hearings.

Leslie was asked about the references to the Queen’s Printer and Speeches from the Throne; it seems so British.  Of course Canada is a separate country, she said, but still part of the Commonwealth.    “We just never had the revolution.”

Robbie LaFleur

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