| Northwest Territories
| Nova Scotia
| House of Commons
The first session of the twenty-first
legislature adjourned on Thursday, September 18th, after sixty-three days and
twenty-eight evenings of sittings. The sitting marked the first summer session
of the legislature in Alberta history, and was characterized by legislation
aimed at strengthening the province's beleaguered economy. By the time
Lieutenant Governor Helen Hunley had recessed the House exhorting MLAs to get
some "rest and relaxation", the Legislature had passed fifty-one of a
total of fifty-four government bills before it. During the same period, MLAs
approved fourteen private bills which were given Royal Assent on September 18,
Legislative activity over the past few
months concentrated on the economic difficulties facing the province due to low
prices in two mainstays of the provincial economy – agriculture and the energy
sector. Consequently, Albertans saw their government make good on a number of
Throne Speech promises, spending an unprecedented amount on job creation and
shoring up the provincial economy, while pushing the deficit to the highest
level in the province's history.
Early in the new session (mid-June)
Provincial Treasurer Dick Johnston introduced a budget update of $10.8 billion
with an initial overall record general revenue deficit exceeding $2.5 billion.
Similar to the budget introduced by his predecessor, Lou Hyndman, before the
May 8 election, the budget was predicated on the assumption that small business
would be the locomotive to push diversification. With Premier Don Getty calling
it "the largest job creation effort in the history of Alberta", the
budget included large increases in funding for all four pillars of the
provincial economy energy, small business, agriculture and tourism.
Despite the record deficit, the government
introduced the Financial Administration Amendment Act on August 18, increasing
the government's allowable debt limit from $2.2 billion to $5.5 billion. The
legislation enabled the government to protect itself against a growing deficit
due to plummeting oil prices, while allowing the province to cover its spending
deficit and capital funding requirements for schools and hospitals.
As part of its budget, the government made
good on two of the promises it made in the Speech from the Throne in the form
of the Farm Credit Stability Fund Act, and the Small Business Term Assistance
Fund Act, both receiving Royal Assent on August 1. The former legislation
emphasized refinancing existing debt and reducing and stabilizing the cost of
credit for farms. Under the legislation, $2 billion was provided for farm
families at 9% over a maximum of 20 years to refinance farm debt and purchase,
construct or improve farm property and implements. The Small Business Term
Assistance Fund Act establishes a $75 million fund in similar fashion for the
small business sector of Alberta.
In concert with these two pieces of
legislation, the government also passed the Alberta Stock Savings Plan Act
which received Royal Assent on September 18. The legislation is designed to
strengthen the private sector by providing expansion capital; assessing
diversification through new plants and industries in the province; attracting
more Albertans to the Alberta Stock Market; and also strengthening the Alberta
Stock Exchange and financial environment.
The government has also been quite active in
providing aid to the province's hard-pressed oil industry. This has come by way
of an added $500 million in aid to that sector in the form of drilling and
exploration incentives, as well as royalty credits. In addition, Energy
Minister Neil Webber successfully lobbied for the removal of the Petroleum Gas
Revenue Tax which will free an estimated $1.5 million in additional funding.
Meanwhile, the government also passed a number of legislative initiatives in
preparation the deregulation of natural gas piping on November 1.
Declining oil revenues also played an
indirect part in the government's passage of the Alberta Health Care Insurance
Act, banning extra billing by physicians. This frees about $24 million in
previously withheld federal funds. The agreement, which Alberta Medical
Association president Doug Perry called "the best possible
compromise" will increase the cost of the Alberta Health Care Insurance
Plan 1.3% or $9 million per annum, while saving Albertans an estimated $12
million a year in extra billing payments. Following a referendum in which 84%
of all Alberta doctors approved of the agreement, the legislation was made law
on September 18, 1986.
Another piece of legislation given Royal
Assent on September 18, the Highway Traffic Amendment Act, was the focus of a
good deal of attention. Partly in response to the legislation which, among
other things, legalized the use of radar detectors in the province, Dr. Stan
Cassin, MLA for Calgary North West introduced a Private Members' Bill making
the use of seat belts mandatory. Despite Premier Gettys intimations of a free
vote on the matter and three government members joining a unanimous opposition
in supporting the Bill, the government blocked a vote ,on the bill. As a
result, it moved to the bottom of the Order Paper to await possible renewed
debate in the spring session.
Another particularly controversial business
item on the Legislature's agenda concerned the Labour Legislation Review
Committee. The twelve member Committee, headed by Labour Minister Dr. Ian Reid,
was formed in response to the unprecedented labour unrest facing the province
in recent months. The Committee returned from a seventeen (lay fact-finding
tour to West Germany, England and the United States on October 7, 1986. With
Reid claiming that "what we learned will greatly enhance the Committee's
task in reviewing Alberta's labour legislation", the Committee left for
the second leg of its mission on October 18 to Japan, Australia, and New
Zealand. On its return, the Committee will issue an interim report in
preparation for a series of public meetings to be held throughout the province
in December to amend the province's labour legislation.
Lindsay Parcells, Legislative Intern, Alberta Legislative Assembly.
The Nova Scotia Legislature met on October
31, 1986 for a special one day session to adopt a bill expelling former cabinet
minister, Billy Joe MacLean. Mr. MacLean had pleaded guilty to four charges of
uttering forged documents relating to his expenses as a member of the House.
The Bill, entitled An Act Respecting
Reasonable Limits for Membership in the House of Assembly was introduced by
Management Board Chairman George Moody. It authorizes expulsion of any member
convicted of an offence which is punishable by a jail term of more than five
Mr. MacLean argued the Bill was
unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Leader
of the Official Opposition Vincent MacLean (no relation) and NDP leader Alexa
McDonough also predicted the Bill would be challenged in the courts. It was,
however, passed without division after several hours debate.
0n October 2, the Interim report of the
Fisheries Committee on the marketing of fish in Canada was tabled. The report
concentrated on the freshwater fishing industries of the Western and Ontario
regions and examined the problems of marketing fish and fishing products as
well as the resource management system. The Committee, chaired by Jack Marshall,
identified a number of issues which needed further study and evaluation
including an investigation of the economic viability of local processing and
the alternative uses for rough fish species.
On October 8, the Senate agreed to the
establishment of a Special Committee on Terrorism and Public Safety. The
Committee is to make recommendations of the effectiveness of existing statutes
pertaining to the combatting of terrorist activity and on the role of the media
in reporting terrorist incidents. The Committee, to be chaired by Bill Kelly,
is to report no later than June 2, 1987.
On October 9, the National Finance
Committee, headed by Fernand LeBlanc, was authorized to continue its
examination of the activities of the Government of Canada in its financial support
of post-secondary education and is to report by February 26, 1987. On October
30, the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Arthur
Tremblay, was authorized to study the Department of Employment and
Immigration's Consultation Paper on Training. The Committee is to report no
later than December 1, 1987.
Gary O'Brien, Director, Committee's Branch, the Senate.
House of Commons
The first session of the thirty-third Parliament
resumed on September 30, 1986 for the purpose of electing a new Speaker. (For
the background and results of this election see the article elsewhere in this
The second session began the following day
with the Speech from the Throne read by Governor-General Jeanne Sauvé. Among
other things the Speech promised a parliamentary review of corporate
concentration, emphasized the government's commitment to fighting drug abuse
and pornography and called for an overhaul of Canada's refugee programs.
The Speech alluded to the need to begin
negotiations that would lead to Quebec's signing a constitutional accord. In
the international area it reaffirmed Canada's commitment to active
internationalism particularly in the area of arms control. The Government
promised initiatives in the area of science and technology including a National
Advisory Board for Industrial Technology and establishment of a Canadian Space
Opposition Leader John Turner and NDP Leader
Ed Broadbent criticized the Speech as non-commital, bland and lacking in
credibility. During the course of the eight day Throne Speech Debate the
traditional amendment and sub-amendment were moved by the opposition and
defeated by the Conservative majority. Several days were devoted to other opposition
motions including one that criticized the government for confusion and lack of
direction and secrecy in its trade policy. Another motion criticized the
government for addressing "the problems of the national transportation
system with insensitive measures based on frivolous ideological
During October a few bills were
:reintroduced from the previous session. These include: Bill C-8 toughening-up
the regulation of insurance companies; C9, changes to the Trust Companies Act;
legislation to dissolve the Canagrex agricultural marketing crown corporation;
legislation to update the Radio Act; and legislation to amend the Railway Act
to change the role of the Canadian 'Transport Commission.
By unanimous approval other items were
revived at the same status they held when Parliament was prorogued. 'These
include: Bill C-92, amendments to the Canada Oil and Gas Act, returned ,as Bill
C-5 at the report stage; C-94, legislation to implement the offshore accord
with Newfoundland, returned ,as Bill B-6 at committee consideration stage; and
C-95, changes to the Archives Act, returned as C-7 at the referral to committee
During the summer adjournment the
legislative chamber was renovated to accommodate television broadcast and simultaneous
translation facilities. Similar facilities were also installed in the Amythest
Room to broadcast committee proceedings. Improvements to the sound system in
the chamber and renovations to accommodate additional members are expected in
the new year.
The legislature resumed on October 14 and
several initiatives were announced in the first week of the session. Ronald Van
Horne, Minister without Portfolio Responsible for Senior Citizens' Affairs,
tabled the annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens.
The Advisory Council made recommendations to the Minister in the areas of
health promotion and prevention, Alzheimer's disease, abuse of the elderly and
made a proposal for a Bill of Rights for residents of long-term care facilities.
The Minister stated that the Advisory Council's "knowledge and wise
counsel are very important as this government addresses issues affecting the
quality of life of our senior citizens". Progressive Conservative Party
critic Gordon Dean, stated that the Advisory Council's Report simply emphasized
needs that are already known, and chastised the government for its inaction in
full-filling seniors' needs.
Gregory Sorbara, Minister of Colleges and
Universities, introduced a new funding mechanism for a revised University
Research Incentive Programme. The Minister stated that under the new program,
every $1 invested in an approved research project by a corporation from the
private sector will be matched by $1 drawn from the fund. The incentive fund
will be used to subsidize the costs of approved research projects that have
potential economic benefit for Ontario and that strengthen the partnership
between industry and our universities". New Democratic Education critic,
Richard Allen, while welcoming the program, pointed out that Ontario ranks 10th
out of 10 provinces in the area of research funding and called on the
government to improve and enhance funding to Ontario's universities.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food, Jack
Riddell, announced a review of the province's crop insurance program. The
Minister had established an advisory subcommittee made up of Crop Insurance
Commission of Ontario officials and Ontario Federation of Agriculture and
federal government officials, which recommended certain changes to the crop
insurance scheme. Based on this report, the provincial minister and the federal
minister, John Wise, have agreed to initiate a public review to consider the
larger matters of concern. Many of the smaller matters can be acted upon
On October 16 the Minister of Consumer and
Commercial Relations, Monte Kwinter, introduced amendments to the Liquor
Licence Act and to the Liquor Control Act to permit the sale of beer and wine
in corner stores in the province. One of the significant features of the
legislation allowed municipalities to opt out of the provisions of the Bill by
a resolution of Council or a referendum. After a two-day debate, the
legislation was defeated on October 29 by a vote of 53 to 28.
On October 23 the Minister of Tourism and Recreation,
John Eakins, announced that the government had agreed in principle to sell
Minaki Lodge to Four Seasons Hotel Ltd. The proposed sale followed the
recommendation, in January 1986, of the Standing Committee on Procedural
Affairs and Agencies, Boards and Commissions that every effort be made to sell
In response to a request to review the daily
meeting times of the House, the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly
recommended that the House meet in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m. instead of 2:00
p.m. and adjourn at 6:00 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m. The new hours came into
effect on October 27. Under the provisional Standing Orders adopted in April,
the House met in the afternoon from 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Standing and Select Committees continued to
play an important role in the work of the Ontario Legislature.
The Standing Committee on Administration of
justice, chaired by Andrew Brandt, held hearings on Bill 105. This Bill
provides for the redressing of systemic gender discrimination in compensation
for work performed by employees in predominantly female groups of jobs in the
Ontario public service. The Committee held public hearings on the Bill during
the summer and had commenced clause-by-clause consideration. At the beginning
of committee review the Chairman ruled out of order a number of proposed
amendments which he found were beyond the scope of the Bill and would impose a
charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund, contrary to Standing Order and the
Legislative Assembly Act. The Chairman's ruling was appealed to the Committee
and it was not sustained. The Committee then commenced with clause-by-clause of
The Standing Committee on Finance and
Economic Affairs, chaired by David R. Cooke (Kitchener), held hearings on
corporate concentration in the financial industry and reported on October 31
requesting more time to investigate the subject fully. On October 23, An Act to
Amend the Retail Sales Tax Act, was referred to the Standing Committee for
public hearings. On November 3 the Treasurer, Robert Nixon tabled an 'Economic
and Fiscal Review of the 'Finances of the Province. This paper has been
referred to the Standing ,Committee for a review and as part of the Committee's
During the summer adjournment the Standing
Committee on General 'Government, chaired by George MaCague, held public
hearings on a Private Members' Bill. This is the first time in several years
that such a bill has been considered by a Standing 'Committee. Bill 71, an Act
to Protect the Public Health and Comfort and the .Environment by Prohibiting
and Controlling Smoking in Public Places, was introduced by Norman Sterling. It
prohibits smoking in indoor public places, public vehicles and in certain areas
of health care facilities and authorizes the prohibition of smoking in the
workplace. The Committee held two days of hearings on the Bill in September and
further meetings are planned.
The Standing Committee on the Legislative
Assembly, chaired by Michael Breaugh, held hearings throughout the summer into
the alleged conflict of interest concerning René Fontaine. During its
investigation into the matter, the Committee requested a Speaker's Warrant to
compel an individual resident in 'Quebec to appear to give evidence. However,
the Speaker declined to issue his Warrant on the basis that the individual was
beyond the jurisdiction of the legislature. The Committee reported that Mr.
Fontaine had violated guidelines established by the Premier on conflict of
interest. It recommended that he not be re-appointed to cabinet.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts,
chaired by Robert Runciman, reviewed the allegations of conflict of interest
concerning Elinor Caplan. After hearing evidence throughout the summer, the
Committee presented its report which criticized Mrs. Caplan for failing to
ensure that her spouse was not involved in a conflict of interest situation.
After further deliberations, the Committee released a second report which
stated that "Elinor Caplan was in breach of the Premier's own guidelines
governing conflict of interest," and that Mrs. Caplan should riot be
re-appointed to Cabinet. In conjuction with its review of the alleged conflict
of interest the Committee requested a Speaker's Warrant to compel Premier David
Peterson to release a report commissioned by him from the law firm of Blake,
Cassels with respect to holdings of ministers of the Crown. The Speaker issued
his Warrant and the Premier subsequently produced the document to the
Committee. This is the first time that a Speaker's Warrant has been issued to a
The Committee also reviewed the operation of
the Workers' Compensation Board's funding of the Safety Associations involved
in occupational health and safety education, the 1985 Provincial Auditor's
Report on opportunities for increased economy in election administration, the
Office of the Assembly, and the lack of tendering contracts and cost analysis
with respect to the purchase of security services in the Ontario Housing
In August, the Standing Committee on the
Ombudsman, chaired by Ronald K. McNeil, travelled to Northern Ontario to meet
with native people and native leaders. The meetings were held in Fort Severn,
Sioux Lookout, Big Trout Lake and Thunder Bay. For the first time, the
Committee's hearings on the Ombudsman's Annual Report were divided among Sioux
Lookout, Thunder Bay and Toronto. At the request of the Committee, the
Ombudsman tabled a discussion paper on the possible expansion of the
Ombudsman's jurisdiction. In the document, the Ombudsman recommended to the
Committee expansion of his services in the areas of public hospitals,
children's aid, and the Ontario New Home Warranty Plan, among others. The
Committee will consider this matter in more detail at a later date.
The Standing Committee on Resources
Development, chaired by Floyd Laughren, met to consider an Act to provide for
the establishment of a rent registry and contains formulae for the
determination of allowable annual rent increases. The Committee held public
hearings in Thunder Bay, Kingston, Ottawa, London, Windsor and Toronto. The
Committee has commenced clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
The Select Committee on Health, chaired by
Robert Callahan, met in August to consider, its terms of reference dealing with
the commercialization of health and social services. The Committee identified
many areas which it wants to investigate, including nursing homes, children's
services, mental health and laboratory services. The Committee proposes to
present an interim report on these matters after the winter recess.
The Standing Committee on Government
Agencies, chaired by Bud Gregory, met to review four Agencies. They were the
Ontario Land Corporation, the Ontario Development Corporation, the Ontario
Lottery Corporation and the Ontario Arts Council.
During the investigations into the alleged
breach of conflict of interest guidelines by Mr. Fontaine and Mrs. Caplan,
Premier Peterson appointed former Lieutenant Governor John Black Aird to review
the present conflict of interest guidelines and to make recommendations for
improvement. After a lengthy review, Mr. Aird released his report on September
24. It noted that there were some technical breaches of the guidelines by
ministers. However, none of the ministers examined personally benefited in any
way from the breach of the guidelines. He recommended that the present,
sometimes ambiguous conflict of interest guidelines, be replaced by
legislation, a draft of which he included in his report. The report has been
referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Franco Carrozza, Assistant Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
The fifth session of the twentieth
legislature adjourned on Thursday, July 3, 1986, and was dissolved on September
19, 1986. The standings in the Legislature were forty-nine Progressive
Conservatives, nine New Democrats, two Independents and four vacancies.
A provincial general election was called for
Monday, October 20. The Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals
each fielded candidates in all sixty-four ridings. The Western Canada Concept
Party and the Alliance Party entered the election campaign with several
candidates. The results of the election appear elsewhere in this issue.
The platforms of the Progressive
Conservative and New Democratic parties were similar in certain respects. Both
pledged financial assistance to current and prospective homeowners in the form
of grants and low interest (sub-sidized) loans for renovations and down
payments of 93/4 per cent mortgages in the case of the Progressive
Conservatives and 7 per cent by the New Democrats. The Western Canada Concept
party campaigned for zero per cent interest on the first $50,000 mortgage.
The farming community found itself in a
rather ironic situation at election time. Many farmers were harvesting
"bumper crops" exceeding their wildest expectations but they had
neither the market in which to sell their product nor the bins to store it in
reserve. Low world-wide commodity prices inflicted by the subsidy initiatives
of the United States government and the European Economic Community in an
effort to enhance their respective market shares have further eroded the
financial position of Saskatchewan farmers. The effect of low grain prices was
the major agricultural election issue throughout the campaign.
Deficiency payments to farmers were urged by
the major political parties in varying degrees from a one billion cash
injection via the federal government to a higher price per bushel proposed by
the New Democrats.
In a ceremony outside the Legislature on
September 16, 1986, Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, signed a Royal Warrant on
behalf of the Queen approving a new crest, supporters and motto to the original
shield of arms adopted in 1906.
The additions to the original shield and
their symbolic meaning are as follows: Immediately above the shield is a helm
(or helmet) facing left, representing the co-sovereign status of the Province
in Confederation. The helm is decorated with mantling. Above the helm is a
wreath which supports a beaver Canada's national animal representing the North,
the fur trade and our Native people. The beaver holds a western red lily,
Saskatchewan's floral emblem. The beaver is surmounted by the Crown, symbol of
the Province's direct link with the Sovereign through the Lieutenant Governor.
To the left of the shield of arms is a royal
lion, a traditional heraldic symbol; and to the right a white-tailed deer, an
animal indigenous to Saskatchewan. Both supporters wear collars of Prairie
Indian beadwork, from which are suspended badges (mullets) in the form of the
six-pointed star (stylized lily) of the Saskatchewan Award of Merit (instituted
as the Province's highest honour in 1985). The badge worn by the lion displays
Canada's emblem, the maple leaf; that worn by the deer displays Saskatchewan's
official flower, the western red lily.
Below the shield is a compartment of western
red lilies, supporting a scroll with the provincial motto MULTIS E CENTIBUS
VIRES Latin for "From Many Peoples Strength". The motto expresses
Saskatchewan's multicultural heritage, the contribution of the Indian and
Native cultures, and the key role of immigration in the Province. The root
meaning of the Latin "gens" (from which "gentibus" is derived)
is people" in the sense of race or origin. The word 'vires"connotes
vigour, energy and mental strength. The Latin rendering was suggested by words
of a poem by the Roman poet Catullus.
The augmented armorial bearings of
Saskatchewan were designed by Vic Sotropa, Manager of the Province's Visual
Identity Office, and Larry Bachiu, Consultant. The Latin rendering of the motto
was by Annabel Robinson of the Department of Classics, University of Regina.
The official drawings and preparation of the Royal Warrant were undertaken by
the College of Arms in London under the direction of Dr. Conrad Swan, CVO, Her
Majesty's York Herald of Arms. The project was co-ordinated by Dr. D. Michael
Jackson, Chief of Protocol of Saskatchewan.
Craig James, Clerk Assistant, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly
The fall session of the Legislative Assembly
prorogued October 29 after sitting for only 12 days.
During the brief session, MLAs approved nine
bills, including: the Arctic College Act, establishing a college system to
deliver adult and post-secondary education, establishing a Board of Governors
to manage the College and providing for a student association and student
council; the Elections Act, establishing the framework and procedures for
holding elections for Members of the Legislative Assembly. Territorial
elections are presently administered by the Chief Electoral Officer for Canada;
the Forest Management Act, providing for the conservation and management of
forests in the Northwest Territories; amendments to the Income Tax Act,
increasing foreign tax deductions in cases where the taxpayer receives a stock
option from his or her employer, exempting charities from filing returns and
requiring individuals receiving a share purchase tax credit or scientific
research tax credit to file returns; amendments to the Public Service Act
requiring Executive Council (the Northwest Territories' Cabinet) approval for
direct appointments from within or outside the public service; and, amendments
to the Workers' Compensation Act increasing the maximum amount of compensation
that a worker may be paid for a disability.
In Committee of the Whole, MLAs considered
the government's response to the recommendations of the Task Force on
Aboriginal Languages, tabled at the previous session. The government outlined
its present activities and future plans for preserving and developing
aboriginal and culture in the Northwest Territories.
A consultant's report on the proposed
re-organization of the Territorial government's Fort Smith Region was also
considered by the committee.
A motion to give priority to "the
establishment of childcare facilities in communities faced with serious
economic problems and conditions" and recommending the Executive Council
table a childcare policy at the next session was passed. Another motion
endorsed by members called in the government to consider alternatives for the
administration of alcohol and drug problems and to present a proposed plan of
action at the next session.
The third report of the Special Committee on
Rules, Procedures and Privileges was deferred until the next session to allow
members to prepare responses to a paper on "Matters of Confidence in the
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories", written by Professor
Graham Eglington. The Committee's terms of reference include an examination of
"the accountability of the Executive Council to the Legislative
Assembly". Several members expressed concerns that Professor Eglington's
paper could have a profound importance for present and future legislative
assemblies and requested additional time for its study and consideration.
As well, during this Eighth Session of the
Tenth Assembly, the Executive Council tabled draft legislation for a new
Residential Tenancies Act, an amended Education Act and several draft bills
dealing with municipal governments. This legislation will be considered at the
next session of the Legislative Assembly, scheduled to open Wednesday, February
11, 1987 in Yellowknife.
Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Officer, Northwest Territories