As part of their orientation to Queen’s Park, the OLIP interns were fortunate enough to meet with Todd Decker, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. The interns were able to draw on Mr. Decker’s thirty-four years of experience at the legislature and enjoy a wide-ranging discussion on the nuances of his role and the changes at Queen’s Park during his tenure.
The interns learned about how Question Period, time allocation, and the work of standing committees have changed over time. Of particular note was the change in Standing Orders and legislation such as the Executive Council Act. Like cohorts before them, the interns were also fascinated by the now rarely used Committee of the Whole House. Mr. Decker contrasted the role of committees in provincial legislatures across Canada as well as the federal legislature. The Clerk’s perspective on the procedures and dynamics in Westminster-style legislatures around the world proved extremely interesting.
A recurring theme of interest throughout the orientation period is the interplay between nonpartisan and partisan actors within the legislature. As Clerk, Mr. Decker is both the procedural expert for the legislature as well as the Secretary of the Board of Internal Economy. Learning about the evolution, composition, and mandate of the Board allowed the interns to better understand the day-to-day functioning of the legislature.
The interns have enjoyed all of their meetings with nonpartisan staff. Understanding the behind-the-scenes work and processes that allow the legislature to run smoothly has proved an invaluable learning experience and will provide dividends for the interns as they begin their placements with MPPs. Thank you, Mr. Decker for making time for us, answering our many questions, and offering your knowledge of the legislature.