| New Brunswick
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
0n June 19 the National Assembly adjourned
until October 21, bringing to an end the first session of the Thirty-third
Legislature. In the course of the 49 sittings since its opening on December 16,
1985, the spring session adopted a $28.7 billion budget for the 1986-87 fiscal
year and enacted 79 of the 105 bills before the Assembly.
The end of session capped the first six
months of a government agenda featuring a number of important decisions:
reorganization of the government's regulatory procedures (Bill 12); tightening
up ~f the Highway Safety Code (Bill 60); protection of non-smokers (Bill 84);
determining the eligibility of certain children for instruction in English
(Bill 58); restructuring of RadioQu6bec (Bill 61); sale of the Saint-Hilaire
sugar refinery (Bill 85); and the May 2023 hearings of the Committee on Culture
on the financial situation facing the arts community. In addition, the
examination of the departmental estimates provided an opportunity to evaluate
the budget rationalization announced by Treasury Board president Paul Gobeil
when the Liberal government took office.
There were few ministerial statements in the
House (five in six months) and one debate on the Canadian Constitution,
although the session had begun with a flurry of questions by the Opposition on
the government's position on the constitutional issues. On March 20 Quebec
abandoned use of the notwithstanding" clause exemption provided under the
Canadian Charter of Rights.
In daily oral question period the Opposition
pressed for information on the government's true financial situation. It called
without success for a detailed listing and explanation of the budget cutbacks
in the current fiscal period. In the forefront were such issues as overcrowding
in hospital emergency wards, inspection visits to social welfare recipients,
and the government's policy toward young people. On June 16 emergency
legislation ended a strike that had shut down construction sites since the
middle of May.
On May 13 the Committee of the whole House
examined the $60 millions in estimates proposed by the Office for the National
Assembly's 1986-87 fiscal year.
Steering his estimates through the House for
the first time, Speaker Pierre Lorrain, invoked two aspects of the
rationalization program: the ongoing administrative reorganization, and the
budget constraints imposed throughout the governmental administration.
The theme of rationalization set the stage
for the cuts in the 1986-87 National Assembly budget, which provides for a
decrease of more than $9 million, or 13.2% less than the 1985-86 budget.
Speaker Lorrain reminded members that only 16% of the Assembly's estimates are
put to a vote, the remaining 84% being, in reality, fixed estimates. The
current method for overseeing the estimates, SYGBEC (a budget and accounting
management system used by the Quebec government on a temporary basis limited to
12month periods), cannot determine a budgetary surplus in a fixed estimate.
Perhaps, he said, there should be only one form of estimates for the Assembly.
He considered the issue to be an extremely delicate one, since it relates
directly to the National Assembly's independence from the government.
Opposition house leader Guy Chevrette
commented briefly on the Speaker's remarks. In the ensuing exchange, members on
both sides of the House asked for details on several points, including the
advisory committee on the televising of debates, the televising of the budget
speech, the interns of the Fondation Jean-Charles Bonenfant, security in the
Assembly, relations with the Treasury Board, members' salaries, and office
automation and data processing.
Organization Analysis of the Assembly
As Speaker Lorrain, mentioned at the outset
of the examination of his estimates, an organizational analysis of the National
Assembly's management and services has been carried out by a firm of management
consultants. Its report was made public at the end of May. The first part
includes observations and comments on the structure of the organization, the
work environment, and the Assembly's managerial tools and practices. A second
part contains recommendations in relation to the structures, work environment,
and management. All Senior Assembly staff were consulted in the course of this
study before the final report was forwarded to the Speaker in May.
Implementation of the recommendations should take place over the next three
Yvon Thériault, Indexing and Bibliographic Service, Legislative
Library, Quebec National Assembly.
The seventh session of the tenth Legislative
Assembly prorogued in June after a busy sitting lasting a total of thirty-three
days, one of the longest on record.
The Assembly adjourned in March after
approving the government's 1986-87 budget and reconvened June 10 to consider
the business remaining. Among the nineteen new and amending bills passed during
the June session are: the fury Act, allowing for the selection of jurors who
speak an aboriginal language but neither French nor English; the Official
Languages Act, extending the date for implementation of French as an official
language in the Northwest Territories to 1989; the Public Service Act which
transfers primary responsibility for the public service from the Commissioner
of the NWT to the Minister of Personnel. (An amendment approved during debate
on this bill requires the Minister to seek the approval of the Executive
Council for public service appointments); the NWT Energy Corporation Act
establishing an energy corporation and setting out its powers and duties, the
composition of its board of directors and its financial structure; and, the
Summary Convictions Procedures Act, eliminating the offence of failing to
appear in court for people accused of contravening a Territorial act or
A major item for discussion was the
government's plan to contract operation of the NWT Energy Corporation to
Northland Utilities Limited of Alberta. A motion to obtain an independent
professional analysis of the proposed organizational structure of the utility,
for review before the plans are implemented, was carried.
Members adopted the recommendations of the
Special Committee on Rules, Procedures and Privileges in the Committee's first
and second reports. These included discontinuing the Assembly's scheduled
spring session and fixing dates for the opening of the two remaining session;
changing the House's sitting hours; prohibiting smoking, food and beverages in
the Chamber at all times; several procedural changes; and amendments to the
Orders of the Day.
MLAs also accepted the Report of the Task
Force on Aboriginal Languages. The Task Force's report proposes measures to
preserve and develop the native languages and culture of the Northwest
Territories. Their recommendations include forming a new government department
with responsibility for languages and culture, headed by a Minister chosen by
aboriginal MLAs from among themselves. The House recommended that the Executive
Council prepare a response to the Task Force report with a long-term strategy
and plan of action for implementing the recommendations, to be ready for
tabling at the Fall 1986 session.
A motion to add a fourth electoral district
in Yellowknife, bringing the total number of constituencies in the NWT to
twenty-five, was defeated. Motions carried included: a recommendation to the
Government of Canada that the petroleum exploration tax credit be increased
from 25 to 40 per cent in order to encourage drilling of an additional well in
the Amauligak field of the Beaufort Sea; that the Territorial government make a
significant financial contribution to the sponsors of the planned conference,
"True North Strong and Free: An Inquiry into Canadian Defence Policy on
Nuclear Arms"; support for measures to defend the physical and mental
health of people affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; a declaration
naming the lands, coastal waters and air space of the Northwest Territories a
nuclear weapons-free zone; revised terms of reference for the Standing
Committee on Public Accounts and Finance following their reorganization last
year; and, support for the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Transportation recommendation that "the proposed air cargo tax not be
established in the north and remote areas".
Partway through this session the proceedings
were adjourned for two days to allow MLAs to travel to Vancouver to participate
in the celebration of Northwest Territories Day, June 21, at Expo 86.
Commissioner John Parker prorogued the
session June 26. The fall session will convene in Yellowknife, on Wednesday
Ann Taylor, Public
Affairs Officer, Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly.
The third session of the twenty-sixth
Legislative Assembly was adjourned on May 28, 1986, after forty-one sitting
days. A total of twenty government bills were introduced during the spring
sitting, eighteen of which were passed and received assent. Almost one half of
these bills were budget related with the remainder being of a routine nature.
The vast majority of House time was spent in the Committee of the Whole where
members scrutinized the supplementary estimates for 1985-86 and the operation
and maintenance estimates for 1986-87.
In a previous report details were provided
on the number of private members' motions dealt with by the House up to May 7.
From May 8 until the adjournment of the spring sitting, notice was provided for
fourteen more motions. Six of these were debated, one was amended, and all six
were carried when the question was called.
As the sitting neared its close the
government informed the House of two new policies. The Minister of Government
Services, Roger Kimmerly, tabled a proposed Yukon Business Incentive Policy on
May 27. In a ministerial statement, he said: "The intent of this proposed
policy is to create more jobs and business opportunities for Yukoners by
expanding the existing northern preference guidelines to cover not just the
awarding of government construction contracts, but the purchase of all goods
and services. The policy tightens up the definition of northern contractor and
defines northern supplier, to give legitimate Yukon firms a clear advantage in
the awarding of government tenders and contracts. It also provides for a
pre-tendering list of northern businesses, designed to pre-qualify these firms
for government contracts."
Dan Lang, member of Whitehorse Porter Creek
East, while generally complimentary on the initiative taken by the Government,
cautioned: "We must be very careful in the area of contracting. The more
exceptions we make to the rules, the more subjective the awarding of contracts
becomes. Then the Legislature and the government of the day can, at times, be
accused of pork-barrel politics."
On the last day of the sitting Tony
Penikett, Government Leader, announced changes in government policy respecting
casual personnel. Mr. Penikett said: "We appreciate the opportunity to
resolve the inequities pertaining to benefits for casuals, many of whom are
seasonal workers in outlying communities, and today we are acting upon our
long-stated desire." Casual jobs were divided into two categories called
casual and auxiliary. Employees in both categories will get an increase in
vacation pay, will have 75% of their medicare premiums paid and will be able to
apply for in-service job competitions. Auxiliary employees will also have full
rights to retroactive pay adjustments, access to grievance procedures, a
community allowance and pay in lieu of insured benefits.
Willard Phelps, Leader of the Official
Opposition, and Roger Coles, member for Tatchun, spoke in favour of the policy.
Mr. Coles said: "We and our party (Liberal) applaud the direction that
this government has taken. We are still not sure if it has gone far enough, but
with the addition of benefits that casuals and auxiliaries will now be
receiving ... I am sure that it is going a long way toward helping rectify the
It is expected that the third session will
be convened sometime in October or November of this year.
Patrick L. Michael, Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly.
House of Commons
The last days before the summer adjournment are
always a busy time. This year was no exception as the House sat extended hours
for the last two weeks. On June 17, nine bills received Royal Assent and
another thirteen were signed into law on June 27 after which members gathered
in the Speakers office for the traditional reception to mark the start of the
The government managed to get almost all its
legislation through the House before adjournment. Indian rights, energy,
pensions and federal-provincial relations were some of the subjects covered in
the legislation passed. One bill gave the Council of the Sechelt Indian Band
power to make its own laws in relation to zoning and land use planning, and
taxation for local purposes. Another bill provided a settlement of claims with
the Grassy Narrow and Islington Indian Bands arising out of mercury pollution
into the English and Wabigoon river systems since 1969.
The Canadian Petroleum Resources Act and the
Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act provide for fifty
percent Canadian ownership of production licences for frontier lands. The
Energy Administration Act gave effect to an amendment to the agreement between
the government of Alberta and the government of Canada with respect to gas
pricing and market development.
Bill C-96 changed the rate by which the
federal government transfers money to the provinces for health and education.
Although the actual amount will increase over the next five years it will be
less in relative terms than under the old system.
The Pension Benefits Act provided, among
other things, that effective January 1, 1987 credits shall be split equally
between spouses in case of marriage break up.
Amendments to the Supreme Court Act will
allow judgements to be deposited with the Registrar of the Court who will send
a notice to each solicitor of record for the case. All applications for leave
of appeal will be decided on the basis of written submissions unless the Court
orders an oral hearing. The right of appeal under certain acts was limited.
A number of changes were made to the Young
Offenders Act and related statutes. Among other things they provide that young
persons shall be held separate and apart from adults unless no place of
detention for young persons is available within a reasonable distance.
The amount of committee activity increased
as members became more familiar with the possibilities open to standing
committees under the new rules. The Finance Committee, chaired by Don Blenkarn,
was particularly busy. Toward the end of the session it launched a study on
interest rates charged by the credit card companies. It also produced several
reports including one that recommended a simplification of the Income Tax Act
and income tax forms. It continued hearings on regulation of Canadian financial
institutions and made recommendations which expanded on its previous report on
this subject in November 1985. Another report looked at the role of the
Economic Council of Canada.
On June 5 the Special Committee on Domestic
Wheat Pricing, chaired by Arnold Malone, presented its report. The Committee
wants to increase the domestic price of wheat from seven to ten dollars a
bushel. It says the government should also consider a deficiency payment and
stabilization payment for wheat farmers and take steps to protect wheat based
industries if higher domestic prices makes them less competitive.
The Standing Committee on Labour, Employment
and Immigration, chaired by Jim Hawkes, looked into the problem of family
reunification and called for numerous changes in definitions, processing
procedures and sponsorship provisions. It proposes to look into other aspects
of the immigration system in future months, including questions pertaining to
visitors visas, the point system and exploitation of immigrants by some consultants
Patrick Knowlan, chairman of the Transport
Committee, presented a report on policies in northern and isolated areas. The
Committee felt very strongly that individual northern communities should not be
allowed to opt out of the new regulatory regime for transportation in the
North. It also called on the government to make every effort to reduce or
eliminate government fees, taxes and charges for northern and remote
transportation services in order to lower the cost of transportation in these
The Standing Committee on justice and
Solicitor General, chaired by Blaine Thacker, presented its first report on the
Access to Information Act. The Committee is in the process of a complete review
of this act as well as the Privacy Act. The first report dealt only with the
limited subject of exemptions under the former. The Committee found that the
present Access Act, particularly section 24, provides too many and unnecessary
exemptions. It recommended the section be repealed and replaced by new
mandatory exemptions which are drafted so as to incorporate explicitly the
interests reflected in three particular acts, the Income Tax Act, the
Statistics Act, and the Corporations and Labour Unions Act.
The Committee also recommended that any
legislation which seeks to provide a confidentiality clause not subject to the
Access Act should commence as follows: 'Notwithstanding the Access to
Information Act, . . .".
The Standing Committee on Science and
Technology, chaired by William Tupper, heard evidence about the concerns of
private industry over the process Revenue Canada is proposing to define
scientific "research and development" for tax purposes. It
recommended that Revenue Canada release the draft Guidelines for Scientific
Research and Experimental Development to allow a 60 day period for the industry
to comment before the guidelines are finally determined.
A related subject was addressed in an
earlier report by the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Aideen Nicholson. It
criticized the Department of Finance for its management of the scientific
research tax credit program which contained loopholes that cost the government
millions of dollars in lost revenue without any benefits in terms of scientific
research and development.
The Special Joint Committee on Canada's
International Relations, chaired by Thomas Hockin and Senator Jean Simard,
concluded its year long study with a two hundred page report covering many
aspects of Canadian foreign policy. The conclusion entitled "The Case for
Constructive Internationalism," calls for a shift away from the obsessive
concern to make foreign policy an extension of domestic policy which
characterized the 1970s. The report covered questions of peace and security,
expanding international trade, development assistance, northern sovereignty,
Canadian-American relations and human rights. Among other things it called for
full economic sanctions against South Africa.
An interesting report on Alcohol Additives:
A New Opportunity in Transportation Fuels was presented by the Standing
Committee on Energy, Mines and Resources chaired by Barbara Sparrow. The
subject is complex but essentially the committee recommended the use of
methanol and ethanol as blending agents in Canadian gasoline. It called upon
the federal government to support research and development required to
introduce alcohol-gasoline blends on a broad basis.
The fifth session of the twentieth
legislature which commenced on March 17, 1986 with the Speech from the Throne,
continued with the presentation of the Budget Address on March 26, 1986, and
adjourned on July 3, 1986, resulting in the longest continuous legislative
session in Saskatchewan since the second World War.
During the spring session seventy public and
three private bills were introduced. All three private bills were given Royal
Assent while thirteen public bills remain on the Order Paper in various stages
of completion along with eighteen motions, adjourned debates on eight
resolutions and three second readings of NDP Bills. Over five hundred Motions
for Returns most of which arise from questions of the government by the Western
Canada Concept Party pertaining to the placement of government advertisements
in the province's periodicals and newspapers also remain on the Order Paper.
Legislative committees were particularly
active during the spring session. The Standing Committee on Communication
chaired by the Speaker reviewed the Retention and Disposal Schedules approved by
the Public Documents Committee as well as the Annual Report of the Legislative
Library and broadcasting policy, generally. It tabled its eighth report on May
The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations
chaired by Michael Hopfner analysed annual reports and financial statements of
various Crown corporations and related agencies and presented its Sixth Report
on May 28, 1986, and Seventh Report on June 24, 1986.
The Standing Committee on Estimates met on
June 18, 1986, to review the Estimates of the Legislative Assembly. The same
day the Committee presented its Sixth Report to the Assembly.
The Standing Committee on Non Controversial
Bills chaired by E.B. Shillington, met on three occasions this Spring. Thirteen
bills were reported as being non controversial by the Committee which means
that second reading and committee of the whole is waived a housekeeping
mechanism that frees up precious House time.
The Standing Committee on Private Members'
Bills chaired by JoAnn Zazelenchuk met four times since March of this year to
scrutinize three bills and their accompanying petitions. Four Committee reports
to the Legislature ensued.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts
chaired by Ed Tchorzewski was the most turbulent of all committees meeting this
Spring. The Pioneer Trust collapse in Saskatchewan during 1985 and the
Provincial Auditor's comments in his latest annual report to the Legislature
respecting the provincial government's financial assistance to depositors gave
rise to certain questions unable to be put to the witnesses officials of the
Department of Finance by the Opposition. The result was the resignation of Mr.
Shillington (Regina Centre) who was also president of the Canadian Council of
Public Accounts Committees. After lengthy discussions among the political
parties, Mr. Tchorzewski accepted the position of chairman.
The Special Committee on Regulations chaired
by Murray Koskie reviewed adoption of the bylaws of professional associations
and amendments thereto and provincial government regulations brought to the
Committee's attention by its legal counsel. It presented its Fifth Report to
the Assembly on April 25, 1986.
An issue which forestalled an earlier
adjournment of the Assembly for the usual summer recess was the introduction of
Bill No. 56: Art Act respecting the sale of assets of Prince Albert Pulp
Company Ltd. and Saskatchewan Forest Products Corporation and the Establishment
of a Paper Mill in Saskatchewan. Essentially, the Bill provides for Weyerhauser
Corporation, a multinational forest products corporation to purchase the total
assets of Prince Albert Pulp Company and Saskatchewan Forest Products
Corporation with public money that may or may not be repaid to the government
depending upon financial losses incurred by Weyerhauser, in return for the
building of a paper mill alongside the facility.
The government maintains that the financial
deal is a good one and in the best interests of Saskatchewan given the daily
loss to the province of $91,000 on the part of the present facility. The
Official Opposition argued that the sale is a give-away of a valuable
Saskatchewan-owned asset and that Weyerhauser's loan repayment schedule to the
province is full of loopholes that, in effect, allow Weyerhauser ownership of
Papco and Saskatchewan Forest Products without ever repaying a single penny to
the province. To date, negotiations respecting the actual financial
arrangements between the government and Weyerhauser on the transfer of Papco
and Saskatchewan Forest Products have not been completed.
On June 12, 1986, Joan Duncan, Minister of
Consumer and Commercial Affairs tabled a long-awaited three-volume study:
Report of the Saskatchewan Commercial Bingo Inquiry. All facets of Bingo in
Saskatchewan were examined and recommendations were made to the Government.
On April 16, 1986, Premier Grant Devine,
tabled a White Paper on a Proposed Code of Ethical Conduct for Saskatchewan
Public Office Holders. The White Paper provoked intense concern on the part of
A.E. Blakeney, Leader of the Official Opposition to the effect that it did not
address appropriate changes to existing legislation to enhance and reinforce
conflict of interest guidelines.
Amusement ride inspections became the
obligation of the Department of Labour as a result of Bill No. 24: An Act respecting
the Licensing and Inspection of Amusement Rides, introduced in the House on
April 18, 1986. Soon after the bill's introduction the roller coaster disaster
in the West Edmonton Mall occurred precipitating increase attention to the
safety of amusement rides in Saskatchewan.
Craig James, Clerk Assistant, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.
The fourth session of the fiftieth
legislature prorogued on June 19, 1986, a date which coincided with the 25th
anniversary of the official entry of Premier Richard Hatfield into the
political life of his province.
The session's 40sitting day duration was the
shortest in the last ten years. The opening day of the session saw the election
of Charles G. Gallagher, former Minister of Health in the Hatfield cabinet,
being elected as Speaker to replace former Speaker James Tucker who was named
to the cabinet by Premier Hatfield.
On April 22, Finance Minister John Baxter
introduced his $3.12 billion budget the first to top the $3billion mark. Tax
breaks, record capital spending and help for a variety of social groups were
the principal focus of the budget. The budget had something for just about
everybody, fueling speculation that an election could come this year. The
budget removed hospital user fees, introduced no major tax increases, planned
to virtually eliminate the ordinary account deficit, increased job funding 6y
$3 million and promised a $305million capital budget to construct schools and
continue hospital expansion. In the area of social programs, Mr. Baxter
outlined a range of measures, including tax breaks for low income homeowners,
truckers, gasoline retailers, and the disabled. The only thing resembling a tax
increase was a $100-a-year licensing fee on amusement devices like video and
Alan Maher, Liberal Finance Critic claimed
the budget had one aim and one aim only: "To buy four more years of
During the session, 106 pieces of
legislation were considered with 101 Bills being passed: Of note was the
passage of right-to-farm legislation designed to protect farmers from nuisance
suits filed by neighbours bothered by dust, noise and odours created by their
farming operations. 'The Agricultural Operation Practices Act will protect
farmers providing they comply with existing health, environmental and zoning
The current session also saw the adoption of
new Standing Rules of procedure as the permanent rules of the Legislative
Assembly replacing the 1963 Standing Rules. Under the new rules, two hours are
allotted on each Tuesday and Thursday for Private Members' Motions and other
matters of interest to Opposition members.
Although a general election is not due until
September, 1987, speculation is growing that Premier Hatfield might call a fall
election. Standings in the Assembly are currently: PC 37, Lib. 20 and NDP 1.
Loredana Catalli Sonier, Clerk Assistant (Procedural), New Brunswick
Senate Committees were quite active during
the period under review. On May 14, the Senate agreed to divide the Standing
Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Committee into two separate
standing committees: one dealing with Agriculture and Forestry and the other
dealing with Fisheries. Senators felt that the subject-matter was too varied to
be dealt with effectively by only one committee.
Controversy continued over the Social
Affairs, Science and Technology Committee's April 15 Report on the Billy Bishop
Film "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss". On May 28, the Senate agreed, on
division, to Hartland de Molson's motion that the report be referred back to
the Committee with instructions to consider recommendations that a stronger
disclaimer be added to the effect that the film does not pretend to be an
even-handed or chronological biography of Billy Bishop and that the NF13
eliminate from the film the unproven allegations against the integrity of
Bishop. On June 3 the Committee agreed to refer the matter back to its
Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs, headed by Jack Marshall. The Sub-Committee
has yet to resume its hearings.
On June 3, a new special committee on
Terrorism and Public Safety was established to provide a forum to evaluate
information relating to terrorism as a real or potential threat to Canada and
to Canadians and to make recommendations on the role of the media in reporting
terrorist threats and incidents. The Committee is to report no later than
December 19, 1986 and will be chaired by William Kelly.
On June 25, the Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, headed by Earl Hastings, tabled its final report on oil marketing.
The Committee recommended that financial assistance, limited in amount and
duration, be extended to producers of conventional and non conventional oil. It
felt that the federal government should monitor Canadian prices to identify any
significant deviations from Chicago postings. If Canadian producers
consistently receive lower values for their oil, the government should consider
instituting an administered price. Finally, the Committee recommended that a
monitoring group be charged with scrutinizing petroleum product prices in the
interest of maximizing competition and minimizing costs to the consumers.
On June 19, Derek Lewis presented the report
of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Bill C-62 respecting
employment equity. The Committee did not make amendments to the Bill but
instead reported a formal observation that the legislation did not achieve its
declared purpose, that it could not be properly enforced and it was not an
employment equity bill. The Committee called on the government to bring in
amendments to the legislation in September 1986 to provide proper coverage of
workers in the federal domain. Utilizing a rarely-used procedure, the Senate
voted to send a Message to the House of Commons informing it of the Committee's
recommendations regarding Bill C-62.
Also on June 27, normally the last sitting
day before the summer adjournment, the House of Commons sent up two controversial
bills for adoption: Bill C-67 and Bill C-68, dealing with amendments to the
Parole Act and Penitentiary Act. The subject-matter of these Bills had been
under intense scrutiny by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee since
December 1985 and had been strongly opposed by Liberal Senator Earl Hastings.
On May 14, the Committee issued an interim report on Bill C-67, expressing four
areas of concern about the legislation: a) judicial determination of detention;
b) entrenching guidelines with respect to detention orders in the legislation;
c) limiting 'oneshot' mandatory supervision, i.e., the denial of the right to
earn further remission to certain inmates whose mandatory supervision has been
revoked and d) review and termination of the legislation. The Committee
recommended that the legislation should reflect the principle approved by the
Senate when it adopted Bill S32 in 1983, that the courts, rather than the
National Parole Board, should make decisions respecting the continued
incarceration of inmates who would otherwise be eligible for release on
mandatory supervision. The Committee felt that such decisions, since they
affect the liberty of individuals, are more properly addressed in a judicial
forum, where affected inmates would have recourse to all the procedural rights
and protections available in the criminal courts.
On June 27, Senator Hastings refused to
grant leave to proceed with the bills that day, so the Senate returned on July
2. On July 2, the Solicitor General, James Kelleher was invited to appear in a
Committee of the Whole and urged quick passage of the bills saying "there
have been too many victims of dangerous criminals for us to delay passage of
these bills." After a long debate, Senator Hastings proposed an amendment
to Bill C-67 specifying that an inmate who is in custody may appeal his
detention order to a superior court of criminal jurisdiction on any ground of
law or fact or of mixed law and fact. The amendment carried by a vote of 22 to
18. Bill C-67 was then returned to the Commons with an amendment.
On July 24, both Houses were recalled from
their summer adjournment to deal with Bill C-67 After a long debate the Commons
refused to accept the Senate's amendment saying "the National Parole Board
is better structured and experienced to deal with all matters of fact relating
to the prediction of violent behaviour and that public safety is properly
preserved through decision-making being kept with the Board". Upon
receiving the Commons' Message, Deputy Government Leader William Doody moved
that the Senate does not insist upon its amendment. The motion carried, but not
without a lively exchange. Conservative Nathan Nurgitz pointed out that the
Federal Court Act already allows appeals Of decisions of the Parole Board and
noted that during the debate on Bill C-67 all parties approved the principle of
the bill, that is, some method must be made available to protect the public by
having some persons remain in custody until the expiry of their warrant.
Opposition Leader Allan MacEachen felt the debate on Bill C-67 showed that the
House of Commons was prepared to consider an amendment from the Senate and that
the merits of the amendment were discussed with few explosive blows being
issued at the Senate. He was encouraged to believe "that in the future,
the Senate can take on a responsible legislative function, and that it will not
be deterred by the rejection of the amendment, because the exercise has been
wholly beneficial to the Senate, to democracy in Canada and to this particular
issue." Both Bill C-67 and C-68 received Royal Assent on July 24.
Gary O'Brien, Director of Committee's Branch, The Senate
The second budget of the Ontario Liberal
Government was presented to the House on May 13, 1986. Treasurer Robert E Nixon
described his budget as one that "combines social concerns with common
sense." He announced investments in technology, education, northern
development, agriculture, health and other social services. Except for a small
increase in the tobacco tax, no general tax increases were announced.
The budget predicted 4.2% growth in the
Ontario economy. Inflation was expected to fall to 3.8% and the unemployment
rate was to fall to an average 6.9% through 1986. An expected 175,000 new jobs
were to be created.
These figures were predicated on oil prices
remaining at $16 (U. S.) a barrel; the Canadian dollar trading between 71 cents
and 73 cents (U.S.); and interest rates declining below 10% by the end of 1986.
Consequently, Mr. Nixon's $31.5 billion
budget was to reduce the deficit's growth by $85 million to $1.54 billion in
1986, increasing Ontario's total public debt to $22.8 billion.
Some of the spending programs announced
1) a $100 million contribution to a $1
billion technology fund for the rest of the decade, directed by a council
chaired by the Premier.
2) a revitalization and expansion of the
Ontario Development Corporation (ODC) to aid small businesses and entrepreneurs
in Ontario's high technology economy.
3) an employee share ownership plan that
would encourage employee participation in business.
4) a $15 million increase for health care,
transportation initiatives and education programs in the north.
5) an extension of the Ontario Farm Interest
Rate Reduction Program and an added $457 million for the Ministry of Agriculture
6) a $25 million increase in shelter
subsidies for social assistance recipients.
7) an $850 million multiyear hospital
capital expansion program.
8) increased funding for the Security Fund
for waste cleanup.
9) a $60 million commitment to help build
16,700 affordable apartment units in Ontario.
The budget also included an indefinite
extension of the 3% surtax on individuals with an income of $50,000 or higher.
For low-income Ontarians, the Treasurer provided specific tax relief. Taxpayers
with a taxable income of $2,075 or less pay no Ontario personal tax.
Individuals earning no more than $10,000 a year and families bringing in no
more than $12,000 a year also qualify for tax relief. Ontario Health Insurance
premiums for individuals earning less than $8,500 and families earning $13,500
or less were eliminated.
Mr. Nixon also introduced new accounting
procedures that reflected a pay-as-you-go" fiscal policy. He stated
"[an important aspect of fiscal responsibility is to pay today for things consumed
today and to borrow only for projects of enduring benefit and when economic
stimulus is required."
Leader of the Opposition, Larry Grossman,
criticized the budget for the figures used by Mr. Nixon in predicting economic
growth in Ontario. The Progressive Conservative Party leader claimed that, due
to the cautious growth estimated used, the government would collect an extra $1
billion in revenue that could be spent "at a later date." Both Mr.
Grossman and finance critic Bette Stephenson accused the Treasurer of producing
an old Progressive Conservative budget that had ideas in it dating back fifteen
years. Miss Stephenson, during debate on the budget, said "They [the
Liberal Government] are skulking in the cemetery of old Progressive Conservative
programs, old ideas, well-worn theories. The Treasurer has dragged them all up
and used them . . . He appears to believe he can manage this province with
concepts discussed ... fifteen years ago."
Criticism of the budget focussed mainly on
what it did not do. Bob Rae, leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, stated
that the Treasurer gave the working poor cheap treatment in the budget. He
noted that the increased income level for the Ontario income tax exemption
($2075) is only $49 higher than it was in 1984. Mr. Rae also remarked that this
level was too low to cover people earning the minimum wage and that raising the
income level to accommodate those earning the minimum wage would only cost $35
million. Mr. Rae asked the Treasurer how he felt when comparing this $35
million cost to the $65 million cost which gave the doctors in Ontario a wage
increase in 1986. The NDP leader also criticized the budget for insufficient
spending on the north or on social programs, such as day-care.
Legislation to ban extra-billing by doctors,
known as the Health Care Accessibility Act, was passed shortly after 1:00 p.m.
on June 20 and received immediate Royal Assent by Lieutenant Governor Lincoln
Alexander. The Bill was supported by both the Liberals and the NDP, with the
Progressive Conservatives opposed.
It took a motion for time allocation by Mr.
Nixon and a 24hour marathon session of the Legislature before the bill finally
became law. A highlight of the all-night sitting was Richard Treleaven's five
and one half hour speech in opposition to the bill. The bill's passage came six
months after Health Minister Murray Elston first introduced in on December 19,
Under the new law, doctors, dentists and optometrists
cannot charge more than Ontario Health Insurance Plan rates, nor can they
demand immediate payment from patients. They can, however, opt out of CHIP so
long as they do not extra-bill. Extra-billed patients will be reimbursed, with
the amount of the extra-bill being deducted from payments owed to the doctor by
CHIP. The fine for a first offense is $250, and increases to $1000 for
subsequent violations. In addition, a doctor may be asked to pay administrative
costs of investigating a patient's complaint.
On June 23 Bill 30, An Act to Amend the
Education Act, which extends public funding to Roman Catholic secondary school
programs beyond grade ten was passed without the protracted debate and
procedural manoeuvring that had attended the health legislation only days
before. The bill's quiet passage came after more than two years of public
controversy and opposition since the intention to extend funding was announced
by former Premier William Davis on June 12, 1984.
Bill 30 was first introduced in the House on
July 4, 1985 by Liberal Education Minister Sean Conway. There followed eleven
months in the Standing Committee on Social Development with public hearings
held throughout the province. The legislation was also referred to the Ontario
Court of Appeal to determine whether it violated the Constitution. A three to
two ruling determined that it did not.
Major issues in the final stages of
committee debate concerned religious education for non Catholic students,
preferential hiring treatment given to Roman Catholics, and the security of
public school teachers displaced when students transfer to separate schools. A
provision of the bill allows the separate school board to give preference to
Roman Catholics when hiring new teachers during the first ten years of the
legislation, but public school teachers who lose their jobs because of students
shifting to the separate schools are to be moved to Catholic high schools.
Also, the committee amended the bill to exempt non Catholic students from
religion classes at their parent's request.
The legislature rose for the summer on
Thursday July 10 after a final flurry of activity during which ten bills were
passed and five introduced. To date, the second session has seen the
introduction of seventy-one government bills, of which twenty-eight were
carried over from the first session. Twenty government bills have been passed
and two withdrawn.
Among the bills passed on the last day were
Bill 77, An Act to revise the Representation Act (redistribution), and Bill
103, the Election Finances Act. The latter represents the first major revision
of the Election Finances Reform Act since its enactment in 1975 (coincidently,
also the first year of a period of minority government in Ontario), Bill 103
increases from $2,000 to $4,000 the maximum contribution by any person,
corporation or trade union to a political party in any year or campaign period.
Election spending by political parties is to be limited to a maximum forty
cents per voter in each riding. Differing limitations will apply to spending by
the individual candidate or constituency association, according to whether they
are in Southern or Northern Ontario. For the first time, political party
leadership contests will be governed by the Act. While no limits are placed on
either contributions or expenditures, all leadership contestants will have to
disclose same after registering with the Commission on. Election Finances
(formerly named Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses).
Bill 77, the Representation Act, alters the
boundaries of many electoral districts and increases from 125 to 130 the total
number of single-member constituencies in Ontario.
Far more contentious were the Ontario Drug
Benefit Act and the Prescription Drug Cost Regulation Act, which regulate the
amounts that may be charged for prescription drugs. Both received third reading
and Royal Assent on July 10 after report out of Committee of the Whole House.
Also given third reading and Royal Assent on
the final sitting day was Bill 11, An Act respecting the Protection of Rental
Housing. This bill, introduced by Housing Minister Alvin Curling, was intended
to safeguard the limited affordable rental housing stock in municipalities
(such as Toronto) where vacancy rates are extremely low. It specifically prohibits
rental residential property from being demolished, converted to a condominium
or a co-operative, or renovated or repaired if vacant possession would be
required, unless the local municipality gives its approval. The legislation
includes a sunset clause of May 15, 1988.
One June 11 Attorney General Ian Scott
introduced Bill 76, An Act to implement the terms of a settlement of all claims
arising out of the contamination by mercury and other pollutants of the English
and Wabnigoon and related water systems. The bill was given expeditious passage
and Royal Assent on July 7. Thus ended a long and painful process that began in
1969 with identification of mercury in the rivers used by the Islington and
Grassy Indian Bands for their livelihood. The settlement reached provides for
payments to each Band and benefits to Band members. The legislation also
establishes a Grassy Narrows and Islington Bands Mercury Disability Board and a
On May 1st Bernard Grandmaitre Minister
responsible for Francophone Affairs introduce Bill 8, an Act to provide for
French Language Services in the Government of Ontario. The proposed law
guarantees the right of the public to communicate in French with the central
office and designated local offices of government agencies or institutions of
the Legislature. It does not apply, however, to municipalities or local boards.
A three-year phase-in period will be overseen by the Ontario French Language
Services Commission, which will recommend improvements in delivery of French language
services. (After three years, the Commission will be dissolved and its
functions assumed by the Office of Francophone Affairs.)
Under Bill 8, current public general
statutes of Ontario are to be translated into French by the end of 1991. After
that date, all public bill are to be introduced and enacted in both English and
French. The Bill also guarantees everyone the right to use either French or
English in the debates and other proceedings of the Legislative Assembly. Bill
8 received second reading on July 9 and was ordered to be considered by
Committee of the Whole when the Legislature resumes in the autumn.
In the period May through July standing and
select committees continued to work at the busy pace that seems characteristic
of minority parliaments.
Prior to the summer adjournment two of the
policy field committees, Resources Development and Social Development,
considered the estimates of the Ministries of the Environment and Community and
Social Services respectively.
On June 12 the Chairman of the
recently-created Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, Michael
Breaugh, presented the Committee's Report on simultaneous interpretation. The
report noted that, "more than in any previous parliament, members are
using French in the proceedings of the House, whether it be in asking or in
responding to questions, in debate or in introducing bills." Accordingly,
the Committee recommended that simultaneous interpretation be provided of all
proceedings in the Legislative Chamber and in one Committee room. After
reviewing the operation during the first year, the Committee will consider the
advisability of extending the service to other legislative committee rooms '
The Report was debated in the House and its recommendations adopted on July 10.
Extensive construction work began forthwith in the Legislative Chamber and the
Amethyst Room to install the permanent facilities for simultaneous
interpretation and television coverage of the proceedings.
The Standing Committee on the Legislative
Assembly, was also occupied with other matters including rules and procedures
of the House including Bill 34 An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and
Protection of Privacy; and the recommendation of a candidate to be the new
Clerk of the House. The latter role arises directly out of its June 12 Report
on Appointments in the Public Sector.
Eight standing and two select committees
were authorized by the House to meet during the summer adjournment. The Select
Committee on Economic Affairs, under the Chairmanship of David Cooke
(Kitchener), continued to hear testimony on the implications to Ontario of
bilateral trade. Its work, including a second round of meetings in Ottawa and
Washington, is to cumulate in the issuance of a Final Report by the end of the
The Select Committee on Health, chaired by
Robert Callahan, was given extensive terms of reference more than a year after
its creation. The Committee is to report on: the role of the commercial,
for-profit sector in the provision of health and social services; appropriate
models for provision of specific human services; and mechanisms for public
The Public Accounts Committee undertook
intensive investigations into allegation of conflict of interest against Elinor
Caplan, one of the senior ministers who resigned as Chairman of Management
Board, Chairman of the Cabinet and Minister of Government Services.
During Question Period on June 10,
Progressive Conservative M.P.P. Phil Gillies , revealed that IDEA Corporation,
an arm's length government agency that invests capital in small business, had
invested $3 million in Wyda Systems (Canada) Inc. Mrs. Caplan's husband was
retained by Wyda as a consultant. The following day, Premier Peterson said in a
statement to the House that conflict of interest guidelines had been complied
with and that no member of the government had anything to do with the decision
to invest in Wyda. On June 12, Mrs. Caplan defended the actions of her husband.
The following day, it was revealed that Mr. Caplan's retainer fee had
apparently quadrupled shortly after IDEA' decision to invest in Wyda.
On June 16, Mr. Caplan made a final attempt
to set the record straight but her explanation did not satisfy Conservative and
NDP Members who called for her resignation. Saying that she felt he had lost
the confidence of the House, Mrs. Caplan resigned from the Cabinet.
One week later another conflict of interest
question arose when Conservative MPP Andy Brandt revealed in the Legislature
that René Fontaine, Minister of Mines and Northern Development, had failed to
disclose ownership of 17,000 shares in Golden Tiger, a mining company operating
in Quebec and Ontario. The Premier defended his Minister in a statement to the
House on June 25. The following day Mr. Fontaine confirmed that he had in fact
failed to disclose the shares as required by the Premier's conflict of interest
guidelines. He also revealed that he had forgotten to disclose holdings in
other companies and that shares owned by his adult children were registered in
his wife's name by mistake. Mr. Fontaine promptly resigned not only his cabinet
post, but his seat in the Assembly as well saying that he wished to be judged
and exonerated by his electors. (For results of by-election see People section
in this issue).
Despite his resignation the case of Mr.
Fontaine was considered by the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
In addition Premier Peterson asked former Lieutenant Governor john Black Aird
to act as a one-man task force to look into the issue of conflict of interest
guidelines or legislation for MPPs.
Doug Arnott, Assistant Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
The first session of the twenty first
legislature opened June 12, i986 amidst great public interest regarding the
many new faces in the legislature. The election of May 8 had resulted in a
substantially larger opposition than has been traditional in Alberta, and
though the governing Conservative party of Premier Donald Getty succeeded in
maintaining power, their numbers have been somewhat reduced. In the new
eighty-three member house, sixty-one Conservative MLAs are faced with sixteen
New Democrats, four Liberals and two members of the fledgling Representative
party. Dr. David Carter, MLA for Calgary Egmont, was elected the new Speaker of
the House, while the, MLA for Lethbridge West, John Gogo, is the Deputy
The opening marked the first full sitting of
the House in over a year. The House had been called into session on April 3,
but was dissolved just seven days later when the writ of election was issued.
The new session opened with a condensed version of the April 3 Speech from the
Throne read by Lieutenant Governor Helen Hunley. Priorities listed in the
Throne Speech included agriculture, jobs and senior citizens, as well as a commitment
to review Alberta's labour laws in light of ongoing strife at the Gainers
meatpacking plant in Edmonton.
The new government has been faced with an
unusually large number of serious problems largely because of the plummeting price
of oil and the difficulties faced by the agricultural sector. After years of
enjoying surplus revenues, new Treasurer Dick Johnston introduced a budget with
a projected deficit of some $2.3 billion, the largest in the province's
history. However, the government believes that this deficit can be recovered
within five years assuming that energy prices rise to their previous levels.
The government has been quite active in
attempting to take legislative action to deal with the economic problems facing
Alberta. The Farm Credit Stabilization Program and the Small Business Term
Assistance Program Acts merely await Royal Assent and both are expected to be
fully operational by the end of August. These programs provide long term, low
interest financing, at nine percent over a maximum period of twenty years, in
order to aid farmers and small businessmen in dealing with their burgeoning
debt loads. The Farm Credit program provides $2 billion in loan assistance
while the Small Business Program provides $750 million. Both programs allow
either new loans or refinancing of existing debt.
The government has also announced an added
$500 million in aid to the oil industry, in the form of drilling and
exploration incentives as well as royalty credits. At the same time, Energy
Minister Neil Webber has continued his lobbying for the removal of the
Petroleum Gas Revenue Tax by the federal government.
On July 31, Hospitals Minister Marvin Moore
announced that he and the Alberta Medical Association had negotiated an
agreement to end extra billing in the province, thus avoiding the type of
damaging confrontation previously seen in Ontario. In return for giving up the
practice of extra billing, Alberta doctors were granted an increase in the fee
schedule, as well as, the right to opt out of the Medicare system, in which
event their patients would not be covered by Medicare. Also, the schedule of
services covered by the medical insurance program will be pared down to exclude
some types of surgery performed merely for cosmetic reasons.
Other significant government initiatives
include the creation of a committee to review Alberta's labour legislation, as
well as the introduction of an act to create the Alberta Advisory Council on
Gary Sandberg, Legislative Intern, Alberta Legislative Assembly