It has been almost 10 years since the National Assembly and Universite Laval joined forces to set up the first university course on parliamentary procedure in a legislative assembly. The course, Law and Parliamentary Practice, was offered for the first time during the 2005 winter semester by the university's Law Department, as part of its undergraduate program. In January 2014, the course will be welcoming its 10th cohort of students!
The Assembly's objective of several years standing--to make people more aware of its activities and operations--provided the initial impetus for the project, but another objective was to train a pool of potential employees for the Assembly, thus ensuring future stability and a certain continuity of the Assembly's heritage. Collaboration between the Assembly and the university-both with deep roots in Quebec City-seemed as necessary as it was inevitable, and the two institutions signed a formal partnership agreement in 2005.
Intended initially for undergraduate law students, Droit et procedure parlementaires has for some years now been attracting students from a variety of backgrounds, in particular those majoring in political science or doing a double major in public affairs and international relations. In the 10 years since it was established, it has provided some 250 students with a quality learning experience and given them a deeper understanding of how the National Assembly works. The varied profiles of the people who have taken it--university students, National Assembly administrative personnel, political advisors, parliamentary interns, civil servants, senior officials of the public administration-testifies to its ongoing appeal and relevance.
The overall objective of the course has remained the same over the years: to give students an understanding of the rules and principles that characterize the structure and proceedings of a deliberative assembly, with special emphasis on the National Assembly of Quebec. Given this emphasis, who better to teach the course than the experts on parliamentary procedure from the Assembly itself? At first it was taught by the Assembly's Associate Secretary General for Parliamentary Affairs, Michel Bonsaint. When he was appointed Secretary General in 2010, these teaching duties were taken over by the Coordinator for Parliamentary Affairs, Siegfried Peters, who had been in on the design stages of the course from the very beginning. Students thus receive high...