Blog 28 Apr 17What’s the famous line from the Lord of the Rings? – “I am going on an Adventure”…….

This week’s Blog starts from last Saturday and not the usual Monday through to Friday, along with giving details of any activities being undertaken at the weekend.

I know when people read this Blog their first thoughts will be of ‘another jolly for MHKs’. Hopefully this write up will actually show the amount of work being undertaken during this type of trip, which is a vital part of being a parliamentarian representing the Isle of Man on the wider platform beyond our own shores.

Over the last couple of months I have been undertaking a course called the Introduction to Commonwealth Parliamentary Governance as part of my continuing professional development in my political role. The first part has been online learning, and the cost in respect of the travel and accommodation to attend the main part of the course in McGill University, Montreal are being funded directly by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

It was certainly an early start on Saturday, I was wide awake from 5am – it is always the same when I travel away. With my bags packed Ellen dropped me off at the airport for 8.45am, the first leg of this journey was to Manchester. At the Airport I met up with a couple of other MHKs who were also travelling to Montreal, Canada with me, but we were travelling in different directions today. I was flying to London Heathrow via Manchester and my colleagues were flying directly to London City.

We flew Economy Class but I chose to upgrade my seat at my own personal expense to be near an emergency exit and to gain access to couple of airport lounges.

I arrived in Manchester for 10.30am and the flight to London Heathrow left Manchester at 14.15. I finally arrived at my hotel for 16.30.

I didn’t sleep well at the hotel that night, the rooms are always too warm. Anyway, I was down for breakfast for 8.30am on Sunday morning and I arrived for 9.45am at Terminal 2 in London Heathrow, which is truly a fantastic airport. I met up with my Tynwald colleagues who had travelled up from London City this morning.

The flight with Air Canada (A330-300) left on time at 13.00 and arrived in Montreal for 15.10 (20.10 UK time). Montreal in Canada is five hours behind the UK, which could make next week interesting, working with jet lag……..

I was wide awake for 2.30am local time (7.30am UK time) on Monday morning, which gave me an opportunity to answer any e-mails and messages before trying to get some extra sleep. Downstairs for 6.30am (local time) and met up with several other people who are also on the course this week.

At 7.45am after breakfast everyone met in reception before heading over to McGill University for the first day on this week-long programme. The weather was dry, but taking in account the windchill factor outside it certainly felt more like minus five.

Montreal is still coming out of its winter season, and boy does it feel cold…..

There are delegates here from Jersey, Guernsey, Turks & Caicos, Trinidad & Tobago, Wales, Australia, Tasmania, Canada, Northwest Territories and Samoa.

We started with a meet and greet at the University before the delegates got into the course programme from 9am (local time). This morning after the introductions we presented our final assignments to other course delegates. These assignments were prepared before we travelled and it gave an oversight of our own Legislative and Committee Systems, along with explaining Tynwald as the Isle of Man parliament.

After lunch we were given a presentation, along with having a round the table discussion on the challenges facing newly elected members and a debate on the core function of representation. There was an interesting discussion as to whether voting should be taken in secret or taken in an open and transparent process.

After today’s programme there was also a welcome reception for the delegates, which included local political members and University representatives.

I finally got back to the hotel for 19.10 local time (0.10am UK time).

Still not sleeping well, I was again wide awake for 3.30am local (7.30am UK time) on Tuesday morning. A Manx Radio article yesterday reported that five MHKs were in Canada this week, so I spent an hour or so responding to messages and postings before going for a walk around Montreal.

I think I have given up trying to sort out my sleep patten and jet lag on this trip, hopefully things will sort themselves out when I get back home.

Again the weather in Montreal was dry but extremely cold taking into account the wind chill factor but took the opportunity to go for a walk around the city at 4.45am. I got back to the hotel for 5.45am local time, which gave me some time to write this week’s Blog.

After breakfast, we arrived at the University for 8.30am local time and this morning we started with a presentation and discussion on accountability, along with looking at the core functions and oversight in a parliamentary environment. The rest of the morning was given over to the remaining delegates to make their presentations.

At lunchtime there was a formal lunch with Senator Wade Mark, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Trinidad & Tobago, who gave a very passionate speech on government oversight and accountability.

After the working lunch the delegation started to look at the administration and finance of Parliaments. The second half of the afternoon was taken up with the Legislation and Executive Relationships, along with a presentation on Corporate Parliamentary Governance (Part 1).

Today’s course finished at 17.40 local time (22.40 UK time). At 19.00 a few delegates went out for dinner and we got back to the hotel 22.00 local (3am UK time). It was a wonderful evening with my colleagues from the Isle of Man and our new friends from Guernsey and Turks & Caicos.

Like the previous few days, I was up and about for 3.30am local time (8.30 UK time) and I don’t believe people back home actually know that I am responding to messages etc in the middle of night from Canada.

Straight down to breakfast at 7am before jumping on a coach at 9am on Wednesday morning, no classes today as the delegates were invited to Quebec for lunch and to look round their fabulous Parliament building. I was very fortunate to have been in Quebec in 2009 during a holiday. It was a wonderful opportunity to go back, however brief the tour might be.

The coach ride from Montreal to Quebec was over three hours long, but we arrived just in time for lunch at 12.45 local time. The weather in Quebec was raining, but it didn’t spoil the day. Three Assembly Members (Ghislain Bolduc, Alexander Cloutier & Richard Merlini) gave us an oversight of the Quebec budgetary process, the role of the opposition and representing constituents. We had just had enough time to look around the Parliament Building, its Library and to take a few photos before jumping back on the bus for 16.00 local time.

The coach ride was a little slower home, but we certainly enjoyed stopping off for Coffee and Donuts along the way. We arrived back at the hotel for 19.30 after a very long and tiring day.

The Isle of Man delegation went out for dinner before calling it a day at around 22.30.

Still no real change to my sleeping patten, up and about for around 4am local time (9am UK time). With no internet yesterday and trouble with my e-mails, I had 41 e-mails waiting for a reply this morning.

The weather on Thursday morning was dry but with very low hanging clouds and misty. I arrived at McGill’s today at 8.40 local time. The first part of the morning session was on Legislation and after the coffee beak at 10.30 we looked at the Role of Back Benchers. There are was another formal working lunch with Mr. Glenn Whealer from the Attorney General’s Chamber in Canada.

I also took the opportunity to go for a walk around Montreal as the sun was out during lunchtime. It truly is a beautiful city, but you can see that it is a working city and not many tourist shops.

After lunch, there was a presentation and open discussion on political members becoming better leaders and applying authentic leadership skills.

The course finished at 17.10 local time.

With today’s programme finishing slightly early, it gave us all an opportunity to drop off our bags at the hotel and to jump into taxis to see some of the old historic district of Montreal.

It was a very warm evening and we got the opportunity to see the Notre-Dame Basilica and some tourist attractions. We also stayed in the old historic district for dinner before returning back to the hotel 22.00 local time.

Up for 4.30 local time (9.30 UK time), and the day started with sending numerous e-mails on events relating to RNLI back home in the Isle of Man.

After breakfast we walked over to the University for 8.30am for today’s programme, which started with a presentation on the role of Committees and Executive Scrutiny Committees. The second half of the morning session covered a topic on the role of the loyal Opposition of Government.

The afternoon session started at 14.00 local time and there was a further presentation on the role of parties. Thereafter, the rest of the afternoon was free time for delegates to prepare their new presentations, which will be given tomorrow morning.

At 16.35 there was a farewell reception for the delegation. We got back to the hotel for 19.30pm.

I think the course has been invaluable, I have learned so much in respect of how other small jurisdictions actually work, along with meeting so many fantastic people throughout the week. It has been a real privilege to represent the Isle of Man and Tynwald on this course, and to explain how the Island’s parliamentary system works.

Full details of my activities for Saturday and Sunday will be included in next week’s Blog, but basically Saturday will be taken up completing our University course, and part of Sunday and most of Bank Holiday Monday will be fully taken up with travelling back to the Isle of Man.

I will also post numerous pictures on my MHK page in due course from the trip.