On June 30, 1889, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was established as the global organization of national parliaments. Since then, the IPU has empowered parliaments and parliamentarians around the globe to promote peace, democracy and sustainable development.
In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the role of parliaments as a cornerstone of democracy. The resolution also designated June 30th, the day the IPU was founded, as the International Day of Parliamentarism.
Today we celebrate parliaments around the globe as the foundation of democratic governance, the representation of people’s voices and the space for dialogue and cooperation.
In Canada, we are fortunate to have a parliament that promotes respect for the democratic process and preserves institutional continuity while adapting to change as the institution evolves. A parliament that works together to provide effective, accountable and non-partisan support to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
In the 2019 election, Canada elected 98 women as Members of Parliament, a record-breaking number in Canadian history. In the most recent election, the number of visible minority Members of Parliament also increased from 47 (13.9 per cent) in 2015 to 51 (15.1 per cent) in 2019.
Although these steps towards the right direction show cause for hope, there is more to do to make our parliament more gender-balanced, inclusive and diverse so that every Canadian feels truly represented.
The International Day of Parliamentarism also provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced in our society and to identify ways parliamentarians can address them effectively.
Particularly in a time of crisis, parliaments around the world play a critical role in providing the people it represents the supports necessary to help them get through challenging times. In Canada, it’s no different.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Parliament modified its procedures to allow parliamentarians to continue to work for Canadians while practicing social distancing measures.
The COVI Committee provided parliamentarians with the opportunity to regularly to receive updates on the pandemic from Cabinet, hold the government accountable and discuss the government’s response to the outbreak of the virus. A number of House of Commons committees have also met during this time to hear directly from Canadians about the impacts of COVID-19 on their lives.
Through dialogue and cooperation, our government has put forward a number of emergency laws to assist people’s day-to-day lives as we continue to face this pandemic. I am proud of our ability to take the necessary steps to support those who need it most.
When Newmarket-Aurora elected me as their parliamentarian, I never imagined that eight months later we would be in the middle of a pandemic that has deeply affected so many of us. It is encouraging to see how well we have adapted to a new way of working to continue helping Canadians get through these challenging times.
Today, I join parliamentarians around the globe and renew my commitment to listen and to learn about what I can do, as a parliamentarian, a friend and a neighbor, to improve the lives of the people I am honoured to represent, especially those most vulnerable.
Today and every day, I am proud to serve Newmarket—Aurora.
Tony Van Bynen
Member of Parliament