Hosting the World Leaders of Tomorrow

2014-2015 Issue 2

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The summer of 2015 marked the fourth time McGill University hosted the World Bank – McGill International Professional Development Program for Parliamentary Staff. Founded by the World Bank and McGill University in collaboration with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the program is designed for international government personnel to strengthen their skills on parliamentary procedure and practice. Participants came from all over the world, representing 16 countries.

“I’ve seen so much progress this week,” says Paul C. Belisle, a former Clerk of the Canadian Senate now serving as a specialized consultant in the field of parliamentary corporate governance. “Participants come here to learn from each other, discuss best practices, and share what works in our own countries. It’s all in the public interest.”

Phase one was a five-day residency seminar held on McGill campus, which discussed topics such as parliamentary oversight, accountability, and legislative-executive relations. It also featured special events, such as a visit to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill and a luncheon featuring guest speaker Kevin Page, the former Parliamentary Budget Officer for Canada. Phase two will require participants complete five online courses from their countries of residence.

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Jocette Bacchus, a Clerk of Committees in Guyana, was one of those who attended the courses on McGill campus. “My expectations of the program were to learn best practices from other countries and implement them in my parliamentary system,” says Bacchus. “I want to improve my knowledge and improve my government, and I’ve already seen ways to improve our system,” says Bacchus, citing the Canadian parliament’s procedure of setting timeframes for members to consider legislation. “There are economical constraints, but there are modest changes we can make.”

“The School of Continuing Studies has been really fantastic, as has the participants’ feedback,” says Belisle. “When everyone returns to their countries, participants will share their new knowledge. We’re building stronger democracies around the world.”

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