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  • Writer's pictureMongolia Weekly

Canadian Parliamentarians Lend a Hand to Mongolia

A quiet yet significant effort is underway to bolster Mongolia’s democracy. As Ulaanbaatar basks in the afterglow of a surprisingly competitive June election, Honourable Bryon Wilfert, Mongolia's honorary consul in Canada, is preparing a unique initiative: a delegation of former Canadian parliamentarians, organized by the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians (CAFP), will visit Ulaanbaatar in September 2024 to engage with their Mongolian counterparts.

This initiative, echoing the CAFP's own mission of promoting democratic values and supporting former parliamentarians, represents a recognition that building robust democratic institutions requires more than just elections. It demands sustained engagement, knowledge sharing, and a willingness to learn from the successes and failures of others.

Mongolia's democratic journey, while remarkable considering its geographic isolation and history, is still in its early stages compared to Canada. The recent election, though resulting in a third consecutive victory for the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP), saw a significant reduction in their majority, signaling a potential shift in the political landscape. Smaller parties gained ground, and a new proportional representation system introduced greater diversity into the parliament.

These developments have created both opportunities and anxieties. While the MPP's reduced dominance could lead to more balanced governance and greater accountability, the potential for political instability and policy uncertainty also looms.

Canadian parliamentarians

Canada's parliamentary system, with its emphasis on coalition-building, compromise, and robust checks and balances, offers valuable lessons for Mongolia. The delegation of former Canadian MPs, seasoned veterans of Canada's vibrant multi-party democracy, can offer practical insights into navigating this complex terrain.

Drawing from the CAFP's vast experience in facilitating dialogue and knowledge sharing, the delegation will focus on peer-to-peer learning and sharing best practices. Roundtable discussions, workshops, and site visits will provide opportunities for Mongolian parliamentarians to learn from Canada's experience in areas such as:

  • Managing Coalition Governments: How to build consensus, negotiate compromises, and maintain stability in a multi-party environment.

  • Strengthening Parliamentary Committees: How to conduct effective oversight, scrutinize legislation, and ensure government accountability.

  • Engaging with Civil Society: How to solicit citizen input, address public concerns, and foster a more participatory democracy.

The delegation's focus on former parliamentarians is strategic. Freed from the constraints of partisan loyalty, these individuals can offer candid advice and foster a spirit of open dialogue, mirroring the CAFP's own emphasis on non-partisanship and mutual respect.

The initiative holds promise for Mongolia, where discussions are already underway to establish a similar association for former parliamentarians. Such an organization could provide a valuable platform for continued engagement in public life, fostering a culture of mentorship and shared learning crucial for strengthening Mongolia's young democracy.

As Mongolia navigates this pivotal moment, the Canadian delegation's visit offers more than symbolic support; it presents a concrete opportunity to build capacity, share valuable lessons, and forge lasting partnerships that can benefit both nations. By embracing a spirit of continuous learning and collaboration, Mongolia can solidify its democratic gains and chart its own course towards a more prosperous and equitable future.


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