| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The Fourth session of the Twentieth
Legislature was prorogued on the morning of March 17, 1986. It had been the
longest single session in calendar days since the Legislature opened in 1905.
Following prorogation the Fifth Session opened on the afternoon of the same
The Throne Speech referred extensively to
the economic problems plaguing Saskatchewan farmers and measures the government
is going to implement to counteract the effects of pest infestation, unseasonal
weather and the international predatory marketing tactics of the United States
federal government and the European Economic Community with respect to
Other major priorities mentioned in the
Throne Speech included the reduction of farm input costs, telephone service
enhancement to more rural communities, assistance to the small business sector,
an increased financial commitment to health care in the province, expanded
opportunities for employment (particularly among the youth of the province),
making available a range of investment vehicles to Saskatchewan residents to
participate in capital ventures, new offshore marketing opportunities for
Saskatchewan business, expansion of the role of tourism in the province, a new
freedom of information and privacy act to be introduced, initiation of a
partial decentralization of the Saskatchewan Public Service, public
participation in Crown enterprises through public offerings of bonds or shares
in selected Crown corporations.
Both opposition parties viewed the Throne
Speech as a precursor to a Spring provincial general election and used the
address-in-reply as an opportunity to reveal elements of their campaign
platform. The official opposition directed their criticism of the Conservative
government to its record since 1982.
On March 21, 1986, Herb Swan, presented a
statement to the House clarifying the practice of oral notice particularly oral
notices of questions. The Third Party had by this date provided notice orally
of some 150 questions. The Speaker ruled that oral notice in the Saskatchewan
Legislature had always been extended to Members as a courtesy and was not part
of the notice procedure. The Assembly's Rule 38, in conjunction with paragraph
395 of Beauchesne's were, in the Speaker's opinion, sufficient to curtail the
member's obstructive practice of providing numerous and repetitive oral notices
and was directed to table the notices. The argument from the Chair was that
extended oral notices are an abuse of the Legislature's courtesy and
unnecessarily delay the orderly flow of the business in the House.
On Wednesday, March 26, 1986, the Minister
of Finance, Gary Lane, delivered his first and the Government's fifth budget
speech to the Assembly. It set a precedent for the Legislature in that a budget
speech came immediately on the heels of the Address-in-reply to the Throne
Speech without any other House business being acted upon.
The Budget Address complemented the Throne
Speech by providing specific financial measures the government will be taking
in all of the province's economic and social sectors. The Government estimated
its budgetary transactions with respect to revenues for the fiscal year 1986-87
at $3,201,409,000 with expenditure levels increasing to $3,660,555,000
resulting in a provincial deficit of $459,146,000. The province's application
of the Consolidated Fund and Saskatchewan Heritage Fund estimated combined
budgetary expenditure for the year ending March 31, 1987, will be for Program
Services 30.8 per cent; for payments to or on behalf of individuals 15.7 per
cent; for income security 5.9 per cent; for grants to local authorities and
other third parties 43 per cent; and for other capital and non-capital projects
4.6 per cent. The Minister of Finance concluded his remarks by stating that the
leading economic indicators for Saskatchewan revealed an upturn in the
provincial economy which will result in more employment.
The Leader of the official Opposition, A.E.
Blakeney, concluded that the provincial deficit as an outcome of the budget reflects
the government's inability to properly manage its fiscal affairs and, further,
that agricultural and job creation programs need more money than that allotted
by the budget.
Though most Members of the Legislative
Assembly expected an election call at the Premier's nominating meeting at the
beginning of April the House remained for the most part, engaged in its routine
spring business. The Estimates went before the Assembly, Legislative Committees
were active in their deliberations and various pieces of legislation emanating
from both sides of the House were taken up.
Bill No. 27 An Act respecting The Institute
of Chartered Accountants of Saskatchewan and to repeal the Chartered
Accountants Act and the Certified Public Accountants Act, was introduced as a
consequence of the Report of the Special Committee on Regulations tabled in the
Legislature in April 1985. The Bill is modelled after the proposed draft
included in the Report and reflects the nation-wide trend to structural changes
to the Association.
On February 24, 1986, the Member for Canora,
Lloyd Hampton, and the Member for Regina North West, William Sveinson, were
recognized as a Third Party in the Legislative Assembly. Since December 23,
1985, both Members had been petitioning the Speaker to recognize their status
as members of the Western Canada Concept Party. The ensuing debate revolved
around a WCC Party internal conflict between the president and the leader who
were at odds over the acceptance of Messrs. Hampton and Sveinson into the organization.
At a Party meeting in February, 1986, a new executive was elected which
expressed a clear indication that both members would be accepted into the WCC
Party. With no opposing views arising from the new executive Speaker Swan was
able to recognize the Third Party according to the criteria set out in The
Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act.
Craig James, Clerk Assistant, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.
The Second Session of the Twenty-sixth
Legislative Assembly reconvened on March 13, 1986. A number of committee
reports were presented and the Assembly gave third reading to a bill
establishing a new set of Revised Statutes for Yukon. After this bill received
assent the Second Session was prorogued. The Third Session opened an hour later
with the Speech from the Throne read by Commissioner Doug Be . The Speech
focused on the economic direction of the Government and its plans for dealing
with the immediate economic problems facing the Yukon.
"Our Government is acting to prevent
economic hardship and to overcome the Yukon's social and regional disparities
by increasing the participation of Yukon residents in the economic life of the
territory. We will do this through support for the evolution of local
government, through a territory-wide training strategy, through a positive
employment program, and through a Yukon hire policy. The government is working
toward a Yukon development strategy that will involve all sectors o our economy
in creating a long-range plan that will guide the territory's economic
development into the next century. This strategy will be based on the Yukon's
increased political and economic self-reliance. This means promoting the local
manufacture of our natural resources as finished products and the increasing
use of local labour to provide local services. As well, it means working with
our communities to help them meet their own economic needs."
On March 18,Tony Penikett, Government Leader
and Minister of Finance, placed the 1986-87 Operation and Maintenance Budget
before the House. (In Yukon the Capital Budget is dealt with during the fall
sitting of the Legislature. This allows the Government and the private sector
time for planning and provides the ability to take full advantage of Yukon's
short construction season). In the 1986-87 O&M Estimates, expenditures of
$171 million were proposed, an increase of 6.8 percent over the previous year.
The themes developed in the throne Speech were expanded upon in the budget
address. New monies were allocated to the formulation of a Yukon Economic
Development Strategy, to programs with the aim of fostering further economic
development, to increased tourism advertising, and to the establishment of a
separate agriculture branch for the purpose of furthering Yukon's agricultural
It was also announced that the government
would be introducing legislation to eliminate medicare premiums by April 1,
1987. As well, a new Home Care Program was unveiled which will provide for the
integrated delivery of such services as home nursing, medical and social work,
and occupational therapy for those in need of assistance in their daily living.
During his budget speech Mr. Penikett stated
that he would be introducing amendments to the Liquor Tax Act and the Tobacco
Tax Act for the purpose of raising the taxes on alcohol products, on cigarettes
and on cigars.
The Leader of the Official Opposition,
Willard Phelps, was critical of the direction taken by the Government: "We
wonder, along with a lot of Yukoners, where this government is going to come up
with the money to pay for abolishing medicare premiums, and what the deficit is
going to be next year, the year following and the year after that as a result
of the huge expenditures of this government; expenditures which mean more taxes
or that the government starts and expands and continues to mortgage our future
and the future of our children."
The subject matter of the motions varied in
the extreme. The House, by the narrowest of margins, supported a motion stating
the opposition of the Yukon Legislative Assembly to the testing of Cruise
missiles in or near the Yukon. It defeated a motion asking that highway signs
utilize both miles and kilometres. A motion was passed supporting Yukon and
Canadian trappers in "their fight for survival against a powerful and
inhumane (anti-fur) lobby." The House agreed to a motion calling for the
transfer of responsibilities for freshwater fisheries from the Government of
Canada to the Government of Yukon. It did not agree to the call for an
independent inquiry into Yukon's judicial system.
On May 8 the House was entering the
thirty-first day of the spring sitting. Expectations were that the business
before the House would be completed within two to four weeks.
Epilogue Residency Requirement
Roger Coles, Leader of the Liberal Party,
while generally supporting the budget, expressed a cautionary note about his
Party's future support: I will conclude by advising the government that the
next time we sit in this House to discuss a new budget, they will have to show
results and not just a continuance of planning projections. We must go
somewhere. Yukoners want to see results. Words and ideas are one thing, but
actions speak louder. "
Seventeen bills had been introduced by May
7. Six of these bills were budget-related and the remainder were largely non
The Yukon Legislative Assembly is relatively
unique in the number of private members' motions it is able to deal with each
session. Wednesday afternoons are devoted to such motions and. as of May 7,
there had been 37 private members' motions
In a previous report on legislative
activities (Spring 1986) it was noted that the Government of Yukon was
appealing a decision by Judge Maddison of the Supreme Court of the Yukon
Territory who found the one year residency requirement for voters in Yukon
elections to contravene section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
The Court of Appeal for the Yukon heard the
case on March 18, 1986 and gave its decision the same day. The Court did not
uphold the decision made in the Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory which
means the one year residency requirement once again has force and effect. The
crux of the ruling, as expressed by Chief Justice Nemetz, was that: "It is
my view that a short qualifying period is a reasonable limit since it is
prescribed by law and is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic
Patrick L. Michael, Clerk Yukon Legislative Assembly
The thirty-second legislature was dissolved
February 11 when Premier Howard Pawley announced that an election would be held
on March 18, 1986. The New Democratic Party maintained its hold on government
with a reduced majority. It now has thirty of the fifty-seven seats. The
Progressive Conservatives have twenty-six and the Liberals have 1. (See election
results in this issue). On April 14, Premier Pawley announced a new cabinet
which included several new members and a restructuring of duties among members
of his previous cabinet. The first session of the thirty-third legislature
began on May 8.
Susan L. Dion, Editor of Hansard, Manitoba Legislative Assembly.
The National Assembly has approved a budget
for the 1986-87 fiscal year totalling $28.7 billion. More than half that amount
is earmarked for social services and education.
In his budget speech of May 1, 1986, Finance
Minister Gérard D. Lévesque announced that the deficit would be $2.9 billion
but there would be no increase in personal income taxes or direct taxes. He
said the anticipated deficit is $257 million lower than last year's and for the
first time in ten years the current operations accounts will balance.
A $250 million surtax was imposed on
businesses to compensate for the loss of an equivalent amount from the federal government.
Mr. Lévesque hoped the surtax would be temporary. User fees for certain
services and a tax on heating oil and gas are other measures taken to ensure a
balance. There are no new services in the government's programs, apart from the
extra funds already promised to emergency wards and hospitals. The measures
announced by the Minister include tax exemptions for new businesses; new rules
regarding share issues by small and medium sized businesses; tighter rules
governing QSSPs; reform of accounting practices; liquidation of what the
Minister calls the "mortgages" incurred by the P6quiste government
i.e amortization over five years of the $260 million deficit accumulated by the
hospitals; writing off of hundreds of millions in bad debts; and entering of
losses incurred by crown corporations in the budget.
Among the other measures announced by the
Finance Minister, the Régie de l'assurance automobile will reimburse the
government $40 million for medical services received by insured parties in past
years. This year the total cost for these services will be $100 million, of
which $60 million is recurrent; the deductions of $1,000 on interest or
dividend income and $1,000 on retirement income were reduced to $500, except
for retired persons. In addition, the special allowance for children under 16
is to be re-examined; escalator taxes on gasoline and tobacco will be replaced
by specific taxes, although the current rates will remain in force; abolition
of the 9% sales tax exemption on heating oil and natural gas, except for
In his response Jean Garon, MNA for Lévis,
pointed out that far from being abolished, the escalator tax on gasoline would
remain at 37.5% instead of 30%, which will give the government an additional
$220 million in revenues. In addition, he said, the capital gains exemption
favours the wealthy and speculators, while a number of measures penalize
low-income earners. While the government prides itself on eliminating loopholes
by revising accounting practices, continued Mr. Garon, it is after all
recovering $106 million by so doing. Worse still, though the government is
increasing appropriations to the regions, which the Treasury had reduced, it is
leaving them at a lower level than they were last year; this is the case with
respect both to roads and to the Fonds de développement régional.
Mr. Garon continued that what Mr. Bourassa
is calling the worst financial crisis in Quebec's history is giving him an
excuse to lay hands on the reserves held by the Régie de 1'assurance automobile
and the Commission des normes du travail, after which he will complain that
Quebec's Crown corporations lack capital.
Mr. Garon noted that the government
anticipates the creation of only 62,000 jobs this year, or 22,000 fewer than
last year and two years ago. He expressed a wish that the budgetary and tax
choices be debated openly in a public forum.
Yvon Thériault, Indexing and Bibliographic Service, Legislative
Library, Quebec National Library.
House of Commons
The period from February 1 to April 30 is
always a busy one in the House and in committee. Members considered
departmental estimates, a budget, numerous items of legislation and committee
reports. New provisional rules were adopted which provide for a time limitation
on division bells, new powers for standing committees, a new procedure for
private members' business, and new procedures for considering some
order-in-council appointments, delegated legislation and a number of other
changes arising out of reports of the Special Committee on Reform of the House.
Private Members Business
The time allowed for the consideration of
private members' usually receives little publicity. However, the new rules have
generated considerable interest in this area. While some fine tuning may still
be necessary, the idea that selected private members' bills and motions be
allowed to come to a vote appears to have widespread support.
The new system provides for a draw at the
outset of each session to establish an order of precedence for tip to twenty
items. Of these, six are designated votable by the new Standing Committee on
Private Members' Business chaired by Bill Kempling. The Committee called those
members whose bills or motions had been drawn and gave them an opportunity to
convince the committee why their items should be so designated. After hearing
these representations, the Committee decided which would be voted upon. The
first bill chosen to come to a vote was one proposed by Jim Fulton to reaffirm
Canada's claim to the Alaska Panhandle. Some members were disappointed that a
bill calling for return of capital punishment sponsored by Bill Domm was not
designated as votable. Nevertheless the process went part way towards obtaining
the objective of the Reform Committee which was to spread responsibility for
what transpires in the House among a greater number of individuals.
Before the new rules were adopted, and
perhaps in anticipation of their spirit, the House adopted a private members'
bill by Paul McCrossan. It requires the government to give a regular public
accounting of its financial commitments to public pensions. Such reporting had
been recommended by the Auditor General and the Special Committee on Pension
The budget of February 26 by Finance
Minister Michael Wilson was tabled just three weeks after the Canadian dollar
fell to an historic low of 69.24 cents against the American dollar. This added
considerably to speculation about the budget which was designed to reduce the
deficit by increasing taxes and reducing spending. Among other things a personal
income surtax of 3% and a 1% increase in basic federal sales tax was announced.
Excise taxes and duties on alcohol rose by 4% while they went up 6% on tobacco
On the expenditure side Mr. Wilson committed
the government to lower spending across the board but singled out foreign aid
as one area where restraint would have to be exercised. He said the government
was not prepared to dismantle social programs but his next budget would propose
measures to reform the system of social expenditures.
Opposition spokesmen Raymond Garneau of the
Liberals and Nelson Riis of the NDP criticized the budget for reducing
corporation taxes at the same time as it raised personal income tax. They also
questioned his projections for real economic growth, unemployment and inflation
for the coming year.
Standing Committees were occupied primarily
with the estimates, however, a few interesting reports were tabled. For example
the Standing Committee on Management and Members Services, chaired by Marcel
Prud'homme, presented a report relating to the establishment of a Register of
Members Interests. After reviewing current guidelines, the Standing Orders of
the House, and relevant legislation it concluded "A Register of Members'
Interests, as set out in the Order of Reference, is not warranted and that
current guidelines concerning conflict of interest are adequate. It was
concluded that such a register would accomplish little save intrude on a
When new rules of procedure are adopted, it
takes a while to work out some problems and establish some precedents. This was
certainly true of the new standing committee system. For example at one point
the chairman of the Standing Committee on Elections, Privilege and Procedure,
Albert Cooper, was requested by some committee members to undertake an
investigation into allegations of conflict of interest against Sinclair
Stevens. Mr. Cooper ruled that the right of this committee to investigate
matters on its own initiative did not extend to issues of privilege which
remained a question for House as a whole.
One of the committee's which scrutinized an
appointment as provided under the new rules was the Standing Committee on
Culture and Communications. The chairman, Gabriel Fontaine ruled that members
should not ask appointees about their political affiliation. He asked them to
limit their questions to matters relating to the competence and qualifications
of individuals. The ruling did not find much favour among opposition members of
The new standing committee system was
intended to alleviate the need for special committees which have proliferated
in recent years. This may prove more difficult than originally anticipated. For
example notwithstanding the new committee system at least one new special
committee has been established: on the pricing of domestic wheat chaired by
Arnold Malone. Together with various special committees established before the
present rules went into effect and the ten or so legislative committees meeting
at any one time some members find themselves with more committee assignments
than they can reasonably be expected to handle.
The budget session of the Legislative
Assembly of the Northwest Territories was adjourned March 13 after a sitting
lasting almost five weeks.
In his opening address Commissioner John
Parker noted the significant constitutional steps taken regarding the
leadership and responsibilities of the Executive Council since the last
Legislative Assembly session in October 1985. On January 30, 1986 Commissioner
Parker turned over chairmanship of the Executive Council, the NWT's cabinet, to
Nick Sibbeston, recently elected Government Leader. "The act of transfer
was the culmination of many years of planning, of step by step political and
constitutional advancement and the progressive assumption of ever increasing
responsibility by elected members of the Executive Council and, indeed, by all
past and present Members of this House", the Commissioner explained.
Commissioner Parker, a federal appointee, also transferred control and
management of the Public Service to the Government Leader.
During the session Members approved the
government's 1986/87 budget of $714 million for 23 departments and agencies. In
his budget address Finance Minister Tom Butters told the Assembly that the 10.6
per cent increase in expenditures over the 1985/86 budget was justified in
light of deficiencies in housing, health care, education facilities, municipal
infrastructures and other services in the NWT. It is far easier to tighten your
belt when your basic needs are already met", Mr. Butters said. "It is
much more difficult when you are still striving for basic levels of housing,
education and jobs". Spending priorities announced in the budget were
largely in the areas of housing, education and employment development.
Before adjourning, the Assembly also
approved four other financial bills. These included two supplementary
appropriations for 1985/86 and 1986/87; amendments to the Petroleum Products
Tax Act; and an act authorizing loans to territorial municipalities.
Legislation not considered before
adjournment including amendments to the Jury Act, allowing the selection of
jurors who speak neither French nor English, and to the Official Languages Act
extending the date for implementation of French as an official language to 1989
will be considered when the session resumes in June.
Other items for consideration in June are
the First Report of the Special Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges;
the report of the government's Task Force on Aboriginal Languages; and
Constitutional and Political Development in the Northwest Territories, a
sessional report tabled by the Minister of Aboriginal Rights and Constitutional
Development Dennis Patterson.
Motions passed during the February session
included: a request to Health and Welfare Canada to relocate its Keewatin
Region medical services from Churchill, Manitoba to a community in the
Keewatin; a request for increases in the incentives paid to trappers by the
government; a motion recommending the present tax collection agreement between
the federal and territorial governments be amended to provide a more equitable
allocation of personal income tax to the province or territory where the income
was earned; support for the Executive Council in its approach to the Northwest
Territories' aboriginal groups and in its aboriginal claims negotiations with
the federal government; a motion urging the Executive Council, when
responsibility for the Northern Canada Power Commission is transferred to the
Government of the Northwest Territories, to consider splitting the
administrative and operational functions, giving priority to locating them in
communities other than Yellowknife; and a reaffirmation of the Legislative
Assembly's opposition to the testing of cruise missiles in Canada and in
particular over Northern Canada.
Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Officer, Northwest Territories
Senate Committees were quite active during
the period under review. On February 13, Jack Marshall, of the Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry Committee tabled the report on Herbicide Pricing. The
Committee had been authorized by the Senate to review and update its earlier
report "Soil at Risk Canada's Eroding Future". After hearing many
witnesses from farm groups, chemical companies and the government, it concluded
that registration of herbicides as it is now enforced is no longer acceptable.
The Committee recommended that the product specific registration of herbicides
be altered and that competition in the farm chemical industry be increased
through the introduction of compulsory licensing and a system of royalties.
Such a policy, the Committee believed, would reduce costs to farmers and allow
smaller companies to participate in the herbicide market.
On March 10, in response to the Government's
announcement that it would no longer fund Katimavik, Senator Hébert began his
well-publicized hunger strike on the floor of the Senate lobby. Many senators
expressed concern for the senator's health. On March 26 Jacques Flynn moved
that the Senate constitute itself into the rarely used Committee of the Orders
and Customs of the Senate and Privileges of Parliament to examine the action
taken by Senator H6bert inasmuch as that action affected the said Orders,
Customs and Privileges of the Senate of its members collectively or
individually. Royce Frith, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, replied that the
Opposition Liberals opposed the motion on the grounds that Senator H6bert's gesture
was a personal one and therefore did not affect the said orders and customs of
the Senate or its privileges. The motion was negatived on division 14 to 39. On
March 31, Senator 116bert ended his hunger strike when a 16 member Committee of
prominent businessmen was established to search for funds to Arm Taylor revive
On February 19, Léopold Langlois tabled the
Transportation and Communications Committee's report on the Transportation of
Dangerous Goods. After hearing evidence from many federal and provincial
officials as well as representatives of fire and police services, the Committee
concluded that the present regulations still need to be completed and improved.
The regulations did not cover all dangerous goods being handled and some of their
parts were described as skeletal parts. The Committee felt that a satisfactory
solution with regard to financial responsibility of the persons involved in the
handling, offering for transport and transporting of dangerous goods has vet to
be worked out.
Paul Lafond tabled the report of the Special
Committee on National Defence on Military Air Transport on February 20. Among
its many recommendations, the Committee urged that a national mobilization plan
be completed without delay. The Committee welcomed the assurance of the
Associate Minister of National Defence that such a plan is close to being
finalized and would be outlined for Committee members upon completion.
On April 15, Arthur Tremblay tabled the
report of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee on the
production and distribution of the National Film Board Production "The Kid
who Couldn't Miss". Many Senators felt that the film had unduly questioned
the integrity and reputation of Billy Bishop, one of Canada's foremost veterans
and military heroes. Discharge of the mandate was assigned to the Sub-Committee
on Veterans Affairs, chaired by Jack Marshall. The report concluded that the
film was a highly dramatized and one-sided account of Billy Bishop's life and
exploits. While the N1713 had every right to express reservations about
Bishop's record, the report questioned whether the public interest was served,
as required by the AC establishing the NFB, by representing rumours. The
Committee unanimously recommended that a disclaimer be added to the film
station that it is a docudrama and combines elements of both reality and
Gil Molgat tabled three important reports of
the Standing Rules and Orders Committee. On March 5, the Committee reported on
new procedural guidelines for the financial operation of Senate Committees. On
May 6, its report on the Message from the House of Commons to their Standing
Orders was tabled. The Committee agreed with the recommendation of the House
that a joint Committee on Parliament be established but only on the basis of
equal memberships between the House and the Senate. The proposed Joint
Committee would be an advisory Committee on the affairs of the Library of
Parliament, the Restaurant of Parliament and other joint services. The Commons
had originally proposed that membership on the joint Committee be proportional
to the number of members in both houses.
On May 7, the Rules Committee presented its
report on the establishment of a Register of Senator's Interests. It did not
support establishment of a register of senator's interests at the present time
since the policy considerations underlying existing laws are at best unclear.
However, it recommended that the entire question of conflict of interest as it
applies to parliamentarians be reviewed.
Finally, on May 1, Lowell Murray tabled the
final report of the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee on the regulation of
Canadian financial institutions entitled "Towards a More Competition
Financial Environment". The Committee made a number of recommendations
regarding consumer protection and financial institution stability, including
deposit insurance and self-dealing with a conglomerate, enhancing competition
and broadening sources of credit and customers' options, and proposals relating
to federal-provincial considerations.
Gary O'Brien, Director of Committee's Branch of the Senate
The nine-week Recess between the First and
Second Sessions was one of the busiest on record for committee activity. Eight
of nine standing committees held meetings and two of four select committees
The Standing Committee on Administration of
Justice, chaired by Andrew Brandt, continued its hearings on Bill 7, An Act to
amend certain Ontario Statutes to conform to section 15 of the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms. The Committee heard the representations of a large
number of witnesses on the proposal to repeal section 19(2) of the Human Rights
Code. This proposal would abolish segregation on the basis of sex in sports.
The Committee also received briefs with respect to another section of the Human
Rights Code which permits adult-only apartments. Further concerns were raised
with respect to the lack of rights for mental health patients and with respect
to discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Standing Committee on General
Government, chaired by George McCague, considered the referral, by petition of
twenty members, of the Annual Report of the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education. The Committee's work was the result of the announcement in the 1985
Budget of the Treasurer, Robert Nixon, that the Institute would be transferred
to the University of Toronto to eliminate duplication in the public sector.
The General Government Committee also
considered Bill 75, An Act to amend the Education Act. The Bill provides for
governance of French-language instruction where English is the language of the
majority and for governance of English language instruction where French is the
language of instruction.
The Standing Committee on Members' Services,
chaired by Bud Gregory, considered constituency office allowances and air
travel provisions within members' constituencies. The Committee also considered
a special reference from the House on the provision of simultaneous translation
services to the House and its committees.
The Standing Committee on the Ombudsman met
for several weeks in February and April. Under the chairmanship of Ron McNeil,
the Committee reviewed the financial and administrative arrangements of the
Office of the Ombudsman. In April, the Committee tabled with the Clerk its
Thirteenth and Fourteenth Reports. The Thirteenth Report dealt primarily with
the Committee's review of the Twelfth Report of the Ombudsman and the
Committee's opinion that it, rather than the Standing Committee on Procedural
Affairs (now the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly), should be the
Committee which, under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, would undertake a review of all confidentiality provisions contained in
the various Provincial Acts and which would, within three years of the Act
coming into force, undertake a comprehensive review of the Act.
The Standing Committee on Procedural Affairs
and Agencies, Boards and Commissions, chaired by Michael Breaugh, continued
public hearings on appointments in the public sector. The Committee met with
representatives of the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, to
discuss freedom of information and privacy legislation and its effect on
medical records and medical research. The Committee also met in Austin, Texas,
with representatives of the State and Legislature of Texas to discuss the
Senate confirmation of appointments process and freedom of information
legislation. In Austin, the Committee attended the meetings of the Assembly on
the Legislature organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Upon its return to Toronto, the Committee commenced public hearings on Bill 34,
An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual
Privacy. These public hearings are expected to continue well into June.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts
under the chairmanship of Michael Harris, the Committee adopted a motion
requesting the Premier to appoint an impartial third party to evaluate the four
bids that had been submitted for the construction of the domed stadium. The
Committee also continued its review of particular sections of the Annual Report
of the Provincial Auditor.
In December, 1985, the Annual Report of the
Ministry of Transportation and Communications was referred to the Public
Accounts Committee on a petition of twenty members. The Committee used the
Annual Report as a means to review the proposed sale of the Urban
Transportation Development Corporation.
The Standing Committee on Resources Development,
chaired by Floyd Laughren, held public hearings in February, throughout March
and into April on Bill 65, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act. This
legislation provides for the settlement of first collective agreements by
arbitration where collective bargaining has been frustrated. The Bill was
amended by the Committee and reported to the House where it now awaits third
The Standing Committee on Social Development
continued to be the busiest committee, dealing throughout the Recess with three
controversial bills. The Committee, chaired by Richard Johnston, held public
hearings on Bills 54 and 55 early in the Recess. This legislation regulates the
amounts that may be charged for prescription drugs. In March, after the parties
had released their proposed amendments, five major groups were allowed to
return and make final submissions outlining their concerns with respect to the
bills. Clause-by-clause consideration of the two bills began in mid-April and
concluded soon after the beginning of the Second Session. The Bills have been
reported with amendments to the House and were referred to the Committee of the
Whole House for further consideration.
In March, the Committee began public
hearings on Bill 94. This legislation regulates the amounts that persons may
charge for rendering services that are insured under the Ontario Health
Insurance Plan. During the course of its hearings in March and April, the
Committee heard representations from over 140 organizations and individuals.
The Select Committee on Economic Affairs,
under the chairmanship of David Cooke (Kitchener), met briefly to continue its
examination of bilateral free trade with the United States and its implications
for Ontario. The Committee is expected to issue its final report early in July.
The Select Committee on Energy met during
March and April to hear witnesses from such groups or corporations as Ontario
Hydro, the Natural Resources Defence Council, Synergic Resources Corporation, Lawrence
Berkeley Laboratory, Consumers Gas, the Canadian Nuclear Association, the
Ontario Energy Board, and the Ontario Natural Gas Association. Chaired by
Philip Andrewes, the Committee is examining the supply and demand of
electricity in Ontario and will make its final report to the House at the end
On April 22, in the first Speech from the
Throne prepared by a Liberal government in forty-three years, the Lieutenant
Governor, Lincoln Alexander, stated that the Government would focus particular
attention on the fundamental challenges Ontario must face in order to fulfill
its potential and ensure its place as a world class society of the 21st
To achieve this goal, the Government will
establish a Premier's Council, chaired by the Premier, David Peterson, and
include as active participants several cabinet ministers and leaders of
business, labour and post-secondary education. The Council will direct a $1
billion, 10year special technology fund to support, complement and encourage
science and technology research in the private sector and post-secondary
institutions. One of the first tasks of the Council will be to endow
distinguished chairs in science and entrepreneurship at Ontario universities. A
centre of information technology will also be established to increase public
awareness and understanding of information technology and to assist Ontario
information technology industry in product development.
The Speech from the Throne also announced
incentives to stimulate the creation of a range of employee share ownership
plans, a major government mission, led by the Premier, to the Pacific Rim, the
appointment of an Agent General in Tokyo, the establishment of a trade office
in Seoul, the opening of a science, technology and cultural centre in China,
and the implementation of graduate student exchange programmes with Pacific Rim
nations. The Government will also enhance programmes offering financing and
marketing support for Ontario farmers, give priority to a tourism strategy
specifically tailored for the needs of northern and eastern Ontario, increase
funding for TV-Ontario to produce more educational programming, especially in
the field of science, open a high school of science and technology in northern
Ontario, and offer programming to support skills training and upgrading.
Initiatives in health care were also
announced, as were greater resources to be committed to cancer treatment and
care, greater emphasis on programmes to allow senior citizens to live
independently in their own homes and communities and to reduce the demand on
nursing homes and hospital beds, the creation of regional geriatric units in
selected community hospitals, the establishment of a multidisciplinary
department of geriatrics at an Ontario university, support the development of
recreational services and activities for the elderly, and a review of Ontario's
social assistance system.
The Government committed itself to introduce
amendments to improve election expenses legislation, to open up the budget
process by asking a committee of the Legislature to consider and report on the
fiscal and economic circumstances of the Province as part of the 1987 budget
process, to expand assistance programmes to the victims of crime and physical
abuse, and to update consumer protection laws.
Responding to the Speech from the Throne,
the Leader of the Opposition, Larry Grossman, stated that the Speech
represented a programme of so little substance, so little new direction that
after one year in office the public legitimately has to ask, "What is it
that this new administration stands for?" Mr. Grossman said that the
Throne Speech had no new approaches, no new ideas, and that instead of firm
promises and specifics, the Speech provided buzzwords such as "knowledge
worker", "world class" and "excellence".
Mr. Grossman reviewed many of the
initiatives and programmes outlined in the Speech from the Throne. He called
these initiatives and programmes a "kind of smoke and mirrors reassembly
of previous programmes put together by the previous Progressive Conservative
government (the BILD, Enterprise Ontario, AgriNorth and Break the Silence
programmes, etc.) and of proposals made by candidates for the leadership of the
Progressive Conservative Party. He said that the Speech did not attempt to deal
with reality nor did it attempt to deal with real current problems. Citing the
failure of the Speech from the Throne to address the most serious problems
facing the Province (i.e. the continuing unemployment crisis, the urgent need
for affordable housing, the preservation of Ontario's health, social and
education sectors, support for hospitals, day care, services for the elderly
and post-secondary institutions and the problems facing the farmers) and the
lack of government initiative, leadership and policy necessary to resolve those
concerns, the Leader of the Opposition moved an amendment to the motion for an
address in reply to the Speech from the Throne that for these reasons the
"House declares its lack of confidence in the government."
The Leader of the New Democratic Party, Bob
Rae, stated that it was important that members not be diverted from what is
going to be on the real legislative agenda for the Spring. That agenda, said
Mr. Rae, would deal with legislation that flowed from the accord negotiated
between the Liberal and New Democratic Parties in May, 1985. Mr. Rae said that
it was exceedingly strange that the Speech from the Throne, the first part
which dealt with the economy and the government's sense of where the economy
is, failed to mention or discuss the issue of free trade. He went on to say
that simple pursuit of international competition would not solve the Province's
problems. A productive economy would be created, he said, by generating an
economy committed to fairness, just as it is committed to efficiency.
Mr. Rae called for an agenda which would
include first contract legislation, equal pay for work of equal value in the
private and public sectors, pension reform, Workers' Compensation Board reform,
a genuine shift in the recognition of the needs of child care programmes,
affirmative action, not only for women but also for the minority and the
handicapped, and insurance reform.
In addition to this agenda, Mr. Rae stated
that there was another programme and another agenda which had to be addressed.
"Rather than a tired and pretty fatuous technocracy, we need a
tough-minded populism, a populism from government that understands what the
people of this province are going through, what they really want and aspire to
and look to see in their government." Mr. Rae concluded by saying that his
party looked forward to the day when he have a government that is prepared to
be tough, that is prepared to be the people's advocate and not simply the
apologist for a corporate and economic order that has lost its sense of its own
morality and its sense of where it wants to go."
On April 28, the House adopted amendments to
the Standing Orders. These amendments were the culmination of five years work
and several reports by the Standing Committee on Procedural Affairs and
Agencies, Boards and Commissions and several months of negotiations between the
House Leaders and Whips of the three Parties. The new Standing Orders will be
in effect from April 29 to December 18, 1986, unless extended or made permanent
by the House. The new rules fixed the hours of sitting from 2.00 p.m. to 6.30
p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with a sitting from 10.00
a.m. to 12.00 noon on Thursdays for Private Members' Business. The House will
not meet on Fridays. This new timetable contains the same number of hours as
the old timetable, does away with evening sittings and gives all members the
opportunity to spend additional time in their constituencies. The quorum bell
was increased from four to five minutes and the bells are to be turned off if a
quorum is present before the expiration of five minutes.
The rules have also been changed to add a
ten-minute "Members' Statements" period as the first item of the
routine proceedings. Members, other than Party leaders and ministers of the
Crown, may make statements for not more than ninety seconds. Members are
recognized in rotation beginning with the Official Opposition, followed by
members of the New Democratic Party and then members of the Party forming the Government.
The maximum time allotted for ministerial statements has been set at twenty
minutes after which a representative or representatives of each recognized
Opposition Party may comment for up to a total of five minutes for each Party.
Upon the request of a committee, the
Government shall, within 120 days, table a comprehensive response in reply to
the committee's report. Statutory annual reports are deemed to be permanently
referred to the appropriate standing committees. The provisions with respect to
emergency debates were amended to relieve the Speaker of making the political
decision as to whether a matter is of urgent public importance requiring
immediate consideration. This decision is now left to the House. The
requirement of seconding motions has been done away with except for the
nomination of the Speaker, the motion for an address in reply to the Speech
from the Throne and the budget motion. The Private Bills rules have been
amended to clarify certain procedures and to require the filing of a compendium
of background information before a bill is given first reading. Where the
purpose of a Private Bill is to amend a section of an existing Private Act or
the Private Bill would have the effect of amending a section of an existing
Private Act, the Private Bill shall re-enact the section in its entirety. A
ten-minute question and comment period has been provided for following certain
items of debate.
A number of rules with respect to the
committees of the House were also adopted. For the most part, these new rules
codify procedures which have been followed by committees for some time. The
terms of reference of each standing committee were also incorporated in the new
Standing Orders. A new committee on Government Agencies was created to review
the operation of all agencies, boards and commissions of the Government of
Ontario. This was previously an area of responsibility of the Standing
Committee on Procedural Affairs and Agencies, Boards and Commissions which has
been abolished, along with the Members' Services Committee. A new committee,
the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, has been created with
responsibility for reviewing the rules and procedures and administration,
services and facilities of the House and the television broadcast system.
Another new committee, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs,
has authority to consider the fiscal and economic policies of the Province and
it is anticipated that the Committee will hold pre-budget hearings in the Fall.
Smirle Forsyth, Assistant Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Ontario