Following the success of the first virtual Post-Election Seminar hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in Anguilla in July 2020, the CPA Headquarters Secretariat has hosted its second virtual seminar in the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region. The CPA Post-Election Seminar was due to take place in Dominica itself, however, since the start of the current Coronavirus global pandemic, the CPA has adapted to deliver its programmes virtually in order to ensure that its membership would continue to be supported during this time of uncertainty.

The CPA Post-Election Seminar for the House of Assembly of Dominica began with the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Joseph Isaac addressing the Members gathered in the Chamber and guests linked via video link across the Commonwealth. The Speaker welcomed the CPA Post-Election Seminar for Members and expressed his wish that as a result Dominica MPs will benefit from the sharing of knowledge and best practice.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Stephen Twigg speaking via video link said: “I know that Dominica plays a very important role in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and I’m delighted to use the opportunity of my opening remarks to reaffirm once again our collective commitment to the Commonwealth values that are more important today than perhaps they have ever been before.”

To see highlights of the CPA Secretary-General’s address please view below or visit https://youtu.be/gLmNe09ZmRE.

The keynote address at the opening of the virtual CPA Post-Election Seminar was given by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, who said: “I have always said that to be effective in politics you must first love people. It is critical that as Parliamentarians we remain guided by that basic tenant in all that we do in this House. It is therefore imperative that we as Parliamentarians gather over the coming days to learn and discuss the ways to improve the quality of life of the people whom we represent. When you have concluded the seminar on both the days concerned, I assure you that you will be equipped with a better understanding of what it means to be a Parliamentarian.”

To see highlights of the Prime Minister of Dominica’s address please view below or visit https://youtu.be/V5VRl52ZYKk.

The virtual CPA Post-Election Seminar in Dominica took place over the course of three days, from 23 to 25 September 2020. The workshops delivered within this programme sought to equip new and returning Parliamentarians with an in-depth understanding of parliamentary practice and procedure and the relevant skills required of them in their new roles as representatives. The contents of the programme, which was carefully tailored to the requirements of the Dominica House of Assembly, included the following topics: the role of Committee Systems, administration and financing of Parliaments, public outreach and engagement and much more. The programme was specifically designed for both new and existing Parliamentarians and two workshops were held for female Members of Parliament and for Government Ministers.

A key highlight of the seminar was the notable contribution from the Prime Minister of Barbados, Rt Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP, who joined the Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, the Premier of Anguilla, Dr Ellis L. Webster, and other delegates via video link at the workshop for Government Ministers on how to effectively balance important government business with parliamentary and constituency responsibilities.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Chairperson, Hon. Shandana Gulzar Khan, MNA also joined the virtual CPA Post-Election Seminar in Dominica at the workshop session on Empowering Female Voices in Parliament by sharing her personal experiences as a woman Member in the National Assembly of Pakistan and her role as the CWP Chairperson. She was joined in the session by guest speakers, Hon. Yasmin Ratansi, MP, Chair of the CPA Canada Federal Branch and Hon. Akierra Missick, MP from Turks and Caicos.

Further notable contributions to the seminar included:

  • Hon. Josephine Connolly, MP (Turks and Caicos) and Mr David Christopherson (former Member of Parliament of Canada) sharing the values and challenges in relation to raising issues around amending legislation and sharing best practice on how to maximise the opportunities.
  • A session on Committee Systems, with a special focus on Public Accounts Committees (PACs), was delivered by the PAC Chair from the Parliament of Bermuda, Hon. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, MP together with the PAC Clerk, Ms Jo Corkish from the Parliament of the Isle of Man and Hon. Akierra Missick, MP (Turks and Caicos).
  • Examples of good and bad practice in relation to the appropriate behaviours and standards expected in Parliament were outlined by the Speaker of the Parliament of Bermuda, Hon. Dennis P. Lister, JP, MP. The Clerk of the House of Representatives of Trinidad & Tobago, Ms Jacqui Sampson Meiguel similarly shared her perspective during this workshop.
  • Hon. Josephine Conolly, MP (Turks and Caicos), Deputy Robert Ward (Jersey) and Clerk of the Parliament of Bermuda, Mrs Shernette Wolffe each gave insights into the various services and resources utilised by their respective Parliaments, for the purpose of political research.

The CPA Headquarters Secretariat delivered the virtual CPA Post-Election Seminar in partnership with the House of Assembly of Dominica, with special thanks to the Speaker Emerita of Dominica, Hon. Alix Boyd Knights; the current Speaker of Dominica, Hon. Joseph Isaac and the Clerk of the House of Assembly, Mr Daniel James for their valuable contributions towards ensuring the success of the programme.