| New Brunswick
| Prince Edward Island
| House of Commons
House of Commons
On October 27, the first day of sitting
following the summer recess, the House heard an economic statement from the
recently appointed Minister of Finance, Marc Lalonde. The Minister began by
enumerating the principles and factors which he will consider when assessing
measures to improve the country's economic health. These were fiscal
responsibility, concern for the victims of the recession, the dynamic capacity
of the private sector, the importance of economic arrangements and broad-based
consultation and finally, the spirit of momentum generated by the six and five
policy. As one method of establishing an effective mechanism of consultations,
the minister announced the creation of a panel of economic advisers.
The minister spoke next about the present
and projected outlook of the economy. He admitted that the recession has been
deeper and longer lasting than the government had anticipated when the June
budget was presented a situation borne out by recent statistics. Nevertheless,
he claimed that there were signs of recovery. He pointed to the decline of
inflation and interest rates, a trend which he thought likely to continue into 1983.
He also calculated that the real growth of the economy might reach 3 per cent
next year. All the same, he noted that unemployment will remain high for the
forseeable future and will probably decline only gradually.
Turning to the government's fiscal position,
Mr. Lalonde reported that the anticipated deficit had increased by
approximately $4 billion over the estimate given in June. This was a direct
consequence of an increase in outlays of slightly more than $1 billion combined
with a decline in revenues of almost $3 billion. Both factors, he explained,
were attributable almost entirely to the weakness of the national economy.
Although the minister stated that he would
accept some increase in the deficit, he felt constrained by the principle of
fiscal responsibility from introducing any massive new spending program as a'
"fix" to the economy. However, recognizing the need to take action to
alleviate the distress of the unemployed and the hard-pressed, the Minister
revealed several measures to be financed by spending reallocations. Among other
things a new Employment Expansion and Development Program will provide jobs for
60,000 people at a cost of $500 million. An additional $150 million will be
allocated to two existing housing programs the Canadian House Renovation Plan
and the Canadian Homeownership Stimulation Plan. The second program, introduced
in the June budget, is to be extended beyond its December 31 termination date
by 3 months. The government will make available up to $100 million in grants to
be applied, during that period, to the purchase of new homes in order to
generate the maximum amount of employment. Third, the minister declared that
the government will earmark an additional amount of up to $400 million to
accelerate the expansion and modernization of rail capacity in the West.
Because Mr. Lalonde's address was presented
as a statement, and not a budget, there was no full scale debate. Instead, the
two opposition parties each made a major rebuttal and there followed a period
of questions and answers ad dressed to the minister by different members. The
reply for the Progressive Conservatives was made by their finance critic
Michael Wilson and for the NDP by their leader, Ed Broadbent.
In the course of his remarks, Mr. Wilson
reviewed the activities of the government and placed the responsibility of the
current economic situation at its door. He criticized the government for
lacking a plan which offered encouragement in the private sector. By way of
solution, he proposed action to simplify the Income Tax Act and to encourage
risk-taking investment. He recommended that the Foreign Investment Review
Agency be reformed and the National Energy Program be amended to reduce
government red tape. He urged that the burden of government regulation be
minimized, that efforts to lower interest rates be continued and Canada's trade
potential be expanded.
For his part, Mr. Broadbent criticized the
policies of both the government and the official opposition. In his words,
"those who are in a position to help pay now should be out there in the
front line with their pay cheques". Among the proposals he recommended
were a cut in money spent on embassies abroad and on Government advertising.
Such funds, he urged, should be allocated on reforestation and fishery
enhancement and $500 million should be injected into housing. He charged that
the policies put forward by the other parties were inequitable for they
increased the burden on the workers while reducing the costs to the rich.
Prior to making his statement Mr Lalonde
obtained leave to introduce Bill C-128, An Act to Provide Supplementary
Borrowing Authority. This bill permits the government to borrow up to $4
billion the sum required to cover the latest calculated increase in the deficit
as explained by the minister's statement. According to the terms of Standing
Order 72A, adopted by the House in July explicitly for the purpose, debate on
this measure was limited to three days. The bill obtained approval from the
House on November 2.
The vote on this bill followed by one day
the first allotted day of the current cycle in the supply process. Mr. David
Crombie on behalf of the Conservative Opposition moved a motion of non
confidence in the government for its failed economic policies, specifically for
causing record high unemployment. Mr. Nelson Riis of the NDP moved as an
amendment to the motion criticism of the government for not introducing
effective job creation measures funded by a revised tax system. Both the motion
and the amendment were defeated.
On Thursday October 28, a request was made
by Mr. Bill McKnight for an emergency debate under Standing Order 26 to
consider the shutdown of ports on the West coast. The Speaker, Mme Jeanne
Sauv6, turned down the request explaining that an opportunity to discuss the
issue could come up under different proceedings.
Two committee reports had been deposited
with the Clerk of the House while the House was adjourned for the summer. The
first was prepared by a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Indian
Affairs and Northern Development. It had examined provisions of the Indian Act
dealing with band membership and Indian status, specifically addressed to
discrimination against women. From its study of the law and from the testimony
taken from numerous witnesses, the subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Mr.
Jack Burghardt, recommended specific amendments to the Act which would allow
Indian women and their children to retain their Indian status and band
membership in cases of mixed marriage or parentage. Because the committee
wanted to make the change to the Indian Act retroactive, it also called for
increased government assistance for the Indian bands in order to help them cope
with the expected influx of reinstated women and children.
The second report came from the Standing
Committee on Finance Trade and Economic Affairs. Ordered by the House to
examine the 160 Notices of Ways and Means Motions to amend the Income Tax Act
tabled with the last two budgets, the committee held three weeks of public
hearings before preparing its report. The committee, chaired by Mr. John Evans,
dealt with problems in four general areas: the budgetary process, the
complexity of the tax system, particularly with respect to the taxation of small
private Canadian corporations, the retrospective application of some of the
budget proposals and the deferral of taxes. The Minister of Finance took into
account several of the specific complaints raised in this report when making
his statement to the House.
Charles Robert, Table Research Branch, House of Commons, Ottawa
When the Senate returned on October 25 from
its summer adjournment, the Government leadership had changed. Senator Bud
Olson moved from being Minister of State for Economic Development to Government
Leader, replacing Senator Ray Perrault who assumed the duties of Minister of
State (Fitness and Amateur Sport).
The Senate returned two days earlier than
the Commons to deal with two bills, Bill C-201, which proposed to change the
name of Dominion Day to Canada Day, and Bill C-127, dealing with sexual
offences. The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee had been charged to
study the subject matter of Bill C-201 over the recess and had heard
representations from the Secretary of State for Canada and from every national
organization that requested a hearing. In its report, tabled by Senator Joan
Neiman, the Committee noted the technical defects of the Bill, in particular
the lack of consequential amendments to other federal statutes. The Committee,
while recommending that Bill C-201 be proceeded with, proposed that the
necessary consequential amendments to the Bill be made by the Senate in this
session. After a spirited debate. the Senate rejected an amendment proposed by
Senator Jacques Flynn which would have included the consequential amendments,
and passed the bill on division. Bill C-201, and Bill C-127, which passed
without amendment, were both given Royal Assent on October 27.
In addition to Bill S-30 which proposed the
consequential amendments to the Holidays Act, two other controversial bills
were introduced during the period under review: Bill S-31, An Act to limit
shareholding in certain corporations, by which, subject to certain exemptions,
no government would be able to hold or beneficially own more than ten per cent
of the shares of any class of shares of a corporation; and Bill S-32, An Act to
amend the Penitentiary Act and the Parole Act, which dealt with mandatory
supervision of inmates in federal prisons.
On October 25, Senator Doug Everett tabled
the report of the National Finance Committee entitled "Government Policy
and Regional Development". The report enunciated the principles on which
the Committee believed a regional development policy should be based and
provided a serious examination of the government re-organization which was
announced some months ago. The Committee felt that the new approach to regional
development by which the federal government is attempting to get more credit
for the role it plays, could unintentionally end up damaging the program. The
Committee was prepared to accept the re-organization but recommended that the
Ministry of State for Economic and Regional Development and the Department for
Regional Industrial Expansion, which have assumed the functions of the now
demised Department of Regional and Economic Expansion, should receive
legislative mandates. They should be legally required to pay special attention
to the problems and needs of the least developed regions of the country. The
Committee was critical of the recent emphasis on mega-projects which, it felt,
could widen disparities between the well and less developed areas of Canada. It
proposed that the General Development Agreements (GDAs) should not be replaced.
The Committee stated that, while the GDAs could be amended, they were effective
and should not expire, as the Government is proposing.
Senator David Steuart, a member of the
Committee, disagreed with some of the recommendations regarding the GDAs. He
felt that one of the great weaknesses was that one level of government spent
the money while another one raised it. He stated that it was difficult for the
federal government to be in full co-operation with the provinces 'While they
were allowed to get away with not paying the piper. He believed that, with
regard to the province of Saskatchewan, the federal government has not had the
recognition it deserved in the fight against regional disparity.
Gary O'Brien, Chief Minutes and Journals Branch (English), The
The Progressive Conservative Party lead by
Premier Peter Lougheed won an overwhelming victory in the November 2 provincial
election. The Conservatives won 75 of the 79 seats and increased their share of
the popular vote to 63% from 57% in 1979. The New Democratic Party also
increased their popular vote and picked up an additional seat as Ray Martin
joined NDP leader Grant Notley in the legislature.
Two independents were elected Ray Speaker
and Waiter Buck. They retained seats they had formerly held for the Social
Credit Party. The Western Canada Concept Party, the Liberals, the Alberta
Reform Movement and the Social Credit Party failed to elect any members.
Although the Legislature recessed for the
summer on July 7th, work continued through the balance of July in two
committees. The Justice Committee heard submissions on a municipal licensing
bill, which could, among other things, be employed to restrict pinball video
arcades. The Social Development Committee held extensive hearings into wife
battering, during which testimony was heard not only from social service
agencies and experts, but also from women who had been beaten by their husbands
and husbands who beat their wives. The Committee expects to issue a report on
wife battering during the Fall sitting of the House. August was, for the first
time in some years, entirely free from any activity in either the House or the
September began with a flurry of committee
activity: public hearings on a major health administration bill; public
hearings on a controversial bill dealing with teachers' bargaining position
before Metro Toronto's several boards of education; a review of various
provincial agencies, boards and commissions; public hearings on proposed
changes to Ontario's workmen's compensation scheme; review of the work of the
provincial Ombudsman. The latter, an annual exercise carried out by the Select
Committee on the Ombudsman, included a serious disagreement between the
Ombudsman, the Honourable Donald Morand, and the Committee over the Ombudsman's
refusal to release certain financial information about his office to the
As this work proceeded, the Legislative
building was awash with rumours of an early recall of the House to deal with
government proposals for combatting the worsening economic situation.
Speculation ended on September 15th when Premier William Davis announced a
special session of the Legislature to begin on September 21st.
In a statement to the House. the Premier
explained the government's restraint programme. He emphasized that while there
are no easy answers to the current economic problems. there are positive
measures which governments at every level in Canada can and should take.
Singling out high interest rates as the principal obstacle to economic
recovery, Premier Davis made clear his preference for a national, comprehensive
programme of wage and price controls. In the absence of such a universally
applicable controls package, the Premier said that the Ontario response would
concentrate on the public sector and give the private sector an opportunity to
respond in its own way to the need for restraint."
The policy announced by the Premier was to
have three principal elements review and reduction of government expenses (including
cancellation of the politically contentious order for an executive jet) control
of fees set by public agencies and o provincially regulated prices; and a one
year five percent wage freeze throughout Ontario's public sector. Arguing that
restraint in public sector wages would reduce unemployment, Premier Davis set
out several principles for the wage restrain programme including 'The widest
possible coverage of those receiving public funds equity through comparable
treatment; equity in the treatment of those with relatively low incomes; the
continuation of labour management negotiations on a range o non monetary issues
and attention to increasing productivity and maintaining public sector
The substance of the government's programme
was contained in two bills: one to enable the province to enter agreements with
the federal government in a possible national anti-inflation programme, and
another which authorized and detailed the five percent freeze and which also
established the machinery for price review.
David Peterson, the Leader of the
Opposition, who had proposed a programme of "equitable restraints"
earlier in the summer, called the government's package an important first step
but attacked it for failing to include any positive job creation initiatives.
New Democratic Party deputy leader Jim Foulds early on served notice that his
caucus opposed the entire philosophy of the policy and intended to "engage
in a parliamentary battle the likes of which this Legislature has seldom seen."
The restraint package, and its principal
legislative emanation, Bill 179, immediately became the central, at times
almost the only concern of the Legislature. Every day, large segments of
Question Period were given over to the restraint programme and the bill.
Committee work came to a virtual halt (by House order) while the debate on Bill
179 ground on. The bill was the sole piece of legislation called for debate for
fourteen consecutive sitting days; all other House business was pushed aside.
Eventually, all party agreement was reached to send the Bill to standing
committee for two weeks of public hearings and the Bill received second reading
on October 19. During the debate, the Speaker twice had the public galleries
cleared because of demonstrations and, as tempers frayed, a division was held
on a challenge to a ruling from the Chair on the admission to the galleries of
persons wearing tee shirts with slogans.
The Liberals supported the bill at second
reading, although they indicated serious reservations about many features of
the bill. Mr. Peterson castigated the Government for failing to "get on
with the urgent task of modernizing and revitalizing our industrial base";
he called the programme a "five percent solution", delivering only five
percent of the solution to Ontario's economic woes. The price control
provisions are full of loopholes, he said, and place no obligation on the
private sector to restrain prices. Mr. Peterson argued that the bill's greatest
flaw was its singling out of the public sector to shoulder the load, and he
expressed doubts over the wisdom of entirely removing the right to strike from
public sector employees.
Leading off the debate for his party, Mr.
Foulds asked "how restricting wages in the public sector, for people who
work in children's aid societies and rehabilitation centres for crippled
children and taking away their right to collective bargaining, creates one new
job in Ontario7' He called the bill "find-a-scapegoat legislation",
and "class legislation" with empty "if-but-maybe price
guidelines." His party was unalterably opposed to the bill's forcing
ordinary people to suffer under oppressive laws while imposing no burden on
well-to-do in the private sector.
Graham White, Clerk Assistant, Ontario Legislative Assembly,
Prince Edward Island
Participating in his first election as
leader, Premier James Lee of the Progressive Conservative Party won twenty-two
of the thirty-two seats in the September 27 provincial election. Mr. Lee
campaigned on a platform of restraint and fiscal responsibility which was in
sharp contrast to some potentially expensive promises made by Liberal leader
Joe Ghiz. While failing to lead his party to office, Mr. Ghiz scored a personal
victory by defeating the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Energy, Barry Clark
in 6th Queens.
The Conservatives took more than fifty-three
per cent of the popular vote, compared to forty-five per cent for the Liberals
and less than one per cent for the New Democratic Party.
Premier Richard Hatfield led his Progressive
Conservative Party to a fourth consecutive victory in the October 12 election.
The Conservatives took thirty-nine of the fifty-eight seats in the Legislative
Assembly while the Liberals, under new Leader Doug Young, saw their representation
drop from twenty-eight to eighteen. The New Democratic Party made somewhat of a
breakthrough in Tantramar where Robert Hall became that party's first member
elected to the legislature. The Parti Acadien nominated ten candidates in
northern New Brunswick but failed to elect any members.
Both Liberals and Conservatives made a
number of campaign promises. most of them relating to job creation. The
electorate appeared to trust Mr. Hatfield as the Conservatives took ten seats
from the Liberals while losing one to the NDR Three of the Conservative gains
were in Miramichi where unemployment was running around 55 per cent.
The first session of Saskatchewan's
Twentieth Legislature resumed for a special oneday sitting on August 20. The House
was recalled by the new Progressive Conservative administration to pass
legislation ordering striking cancer clinic workers back to work. Bill 38, An
Act respecting the Maintenance of Operations of the Saskatchewan Cancer
Foundation, was piloted through the House by government House Leader, Eric
Berntson. This was the second time in five months that striking workers have
been ordered back to work in Saskatchewan. The previous NDP administration
ordered striking non medical hospital staff back to work just prior to calling
the April 26 election which saw the government change hands.
The recently appointed Public Accounts
Committee found itself composed entirely of Members without previous experience
on the Public Accounts Committee. In view of this circumstance, the Committee
Chairman, Ned Shillilington, (NDP, Regina Centre), and Vice-Chairman, Cal
Glauser, (PC, Saskatoon Mayfair), with the assistance of Committee Clerk, Gwenn
Ronyk, planned a two-day seminar to provide Members with detailed information on
the Committee's purpose and operation.
The seminar took place on September
1617,1982 at the Legislative Building, Regina. An introduction to government
financial processes in Saskatchewan was presented by officials of the
Department of Finance. This introduction was followed by an in-depth review of
the role and operation of the Public Accounts Committee lead by special guests,
Bill Clarke, MP, Chairman of the Canadian Public Accounts Committee, Dr. Graham
White, Assistant Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Honourable Robert
Andrew, Saskatchewan's Minister of Finance. The second day of the seminar
focussed on the role of the Provincial Auditor with a presentation by Willard
Lutz, Saskatchewan's Provincial Auditor. The day was highlighted by the contributions
Of Ken Dye. Auditor General of Canada and by a presentation of comprehensive
auditing by Bill Radburn. From the Office of the Auditor General.
A verbatim report of the proceedings is
available on request from the Off ice Of the Clerk, Legislative Assembly of
Saskatchewan, 239 Legislative Building, Regina. Saskatchewan. S4S 0B3.
David Mitchell, Clerk Assistant, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly,