| British Columbia
| Northwest Territories
There has been considerable
activity in Alberta's Legislature in recent months. Chamber renovations
initiated by Speaker David Carter were completed in February giving the
House a fresh appearance, expanded visitor seating in the galleries, improved
acoustics and an updated audio and video system. Further restorations and a
book about the history of Alberta's Legislature are being completed in
anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the Legislative Building on
The newly renovated Chambers were
formally unveiled on March 5 when Her Honour, Lieutenant Governor Helen Hunley
delivered her Speech from the Throne to open the second session of Alberta's
21st Legislature. The speech outlined the many challenges facing Alberta's
legislators in the coming months. The worldwide collapse in prices for oil and
natural gas has brought about a severe decline in government revenues and has
produced a large deficit with which all Albertans must contend. The Lieutenant
Governor has thus pledged that her government's mandate will be to balance the
province's finances in an orderly and expeditious fashion while taking all
measures to ensure that Alberta's economic diversification is vigorously
promoted. At the same time initiatives will be undertaken to ensure that
services essential to Albertans, especially those hardest hit by the economic
downturn, will not be adversely affected.
Provincial Treasurer, Dick
Johnston, reaffirmed that commitment in his budget address of March 20. His
1987 budget sets in motion a medium stream fiscal strategy designed to reduce
the 3.3 billion deficit by 40% in 1987-88 and to balance the budget by 1990-91.
Funding priorities to employment, education and health services mean that those
departments will have their operating budgets reduced by less than 3% while
other departments can expect cuts of about 16 %.
Ordinary Albertans will also be
affected. Business and individual taxes will rise, as will taxes on gasoline,
tobacco and alcohol. A new 5% tax on hotel rooms will be introduced. Fees for
certain services like vehicle registration and health care will rise slightly
and the Alberta Renter's Assistance Tax Credit will be discontinued. The 15%
transfer of resource revenue to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund will also
At the same time new initiatives
will be undertaken to improve Alberta's unemployment situation and to assist
the energy and agricultural industries. Programs to assist the elderly,
disadvantaged, and the needy will be maintained as will programs that provide
quality educational and health services.
Members of the Assembly will be
asked to consider many pieces of proposed legislation. Among those already
introduced are government sponsored bills to create a new Mental Health Act ,
and amend the Police Act and the Highway Traffic Safety Act. The latter bill
will make the wearing of automobile seatbelts mandatory throughout the
province. Also expected to be introduced by the government are a new School Act
and a new Labour Act.
On April 7 a ruling was made
Speaker Carter which occasioned a great interest in Alberta and the rest of
Canada. New Democrat Leo Piquette (MLA, Athabasca-Lac La Biche), rose during
question period to ask a question regarding French language education rights in
Alberta. He began his question in French and Speaker Carter rose to ask the
member to continue his question in English ruling that he and the member had
earlier agreed that while French could be spoken during debates it would not be
used during question period. Mr. Piquette complied but later rose on a question
of privilege objecting that it is "the right of each and every member of
this Assembly to conduct their business in this Assembly at an point in the
Assembly's proceedings. in either official language." He then asked that
the Speaker reconsider his ruling.
After considering the matter
Speaker Carter delivered a statement, on April 9, regarding the question of
privilege. On the basis of order, he stood firm in his earlier ruling, based on
the customs and conventions of the Assembly as interpreted by, and which remain
the prerogative of the Speaker. He stressed that: "This is not and the
Chair repeats not a ruling of the Chair on the usage of French in the House.
The Chair will not rule here once and for all on the right of any honourable
member to address this House. It cannot. It can only rule that a matter of
privilege has been raised and refer the issue back to the House."
The Government obliged on April 15
with a motion that would refer the whole matter to the Committee on Privileges
and Elections. Its first meeting was held on May 5..
Several other committees are also
active. These include the Public Accounts and Private Bills Committees. A 1987
Select Special Ombudsman Search Committee has also been struck to select a new
ombudsman to replace retiring ombudsman, Brian Sawyer.
Cathy Woolfrey, Legislative Intern, Alberta Legislative
The First Session of the Thirty
Fourth Parliament for the Province of British Columbia opened at 2:20 pan.
Monday, March 9, 1987. The first order of business was the election of a new
Speaker: Mr. John Reynolds, who was unanimously chosen.
The Speech from the Throne followed
the Speaker's election and was read by His Honour R.G. Rogers,
Lieutenant Governor of the Province. It outlined the government's program for
the Spring. session including reduction of government intervention in the
private sector; expansion of the role and use of the Legislature's committee
system; establishment of a Board of Internal Economy; introduction of
television into the House; provision for equitable expropriation procedures;'
formalisation of self-government for the Sechelt Indian band; the abolition of
dual constituencies and provision for mail-in votes for the handicapped;
improvement of support programs to victims and witnesses of crime; introduction
of a new Police Act; amendment to the Adoption Act enabling adults to get
information from the adoption disclosure registry; review of the rules and
regulations pertaining to lawyers; ensure that timely support payments are made
to families and dependent children; establishment of a Royal Commission to
investigate education in the province; improvement of both morale and
productivity in the public service; establishment of a private sector task
force to work on privatisation of crown corporations; reduction of the
provincial deficit; extension of the powers of provincially, regulated !rust
companies, credit unions and insurance companies; establishment of a Pacific
Rim Institute of Tourism; in consultation with the Federal Government, the
establishment of a national park on South Moresby in the Queen Charlotte
Islands; amendment to provincial regulations governing interprovincial and
On March 9th, during the afternoon,
the government brought down its first budget of this parliament. Mel
Couvelier, Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations presented the
estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1988: 10.22 billion dollars in
expenditure from revenue of 9.37 billion dollars producing a fiscal deficit of
850 million dollars for the year. Highlights of the budget speech included
sales tax reduction from 7% to 6%; small business income tax rate increased
from 8% to 11 %; new property, purchase tax of 1 %on transfers o real property
up to 200,000 dollars and 2% above that level; fuel tax on leaded gasoline
increased by 2 cents a litre; restaurant meals exempted from sales tax; welfare
payments to increase by 5%; day-care funding to increase by 30%; 11.3% rise in
education funding; silviculture spending to increase by 28% and a community
economic development program established to encourage entrepreneurship in
On the revenue side the budget
consumed 57% in taxation, 21 % from the federal government, 5% from government
enterprises, 10% from natural resources and 7% from other revenue. Expenditure
will account for 16% on Social Services, 29% on Health, 21% on Education, 8% on
transportation and communications, 7% on natural resources, trade and industrial
development, 5% on the protection of persons and property % on debt servicing,
4% on local government ' 2% on general government and 3% for other
expenditures. Total revenue per person is estimated to be 3,224 dollars while
total expenditure per person is set at 3,517 dollars for the fiscal period.
The opposition characterized the
budge as regressive in its taxation measures -- inhibiting investment in the
province. The government replied that the budget would enhance , stabilise and
further diversify the British Columbia economy in an era of global instability.
After a series of allegations
lodged against the Minister of Forests and Lands, Jack Kemp announced in
the House his intention to leave the Social Credit Caucus and to sit as an
Since 1985, the House has observed
Standing Order 25A - Private Members' Statements. This mechanism permits
members from both sides of the House to debate a topic of immediate importance.
The proponent is allowed a maximum of seven minutes; any other member a maximum
of five minutes; while the proponent in reply receives another three minutes,
maximum. To date, the members, generally, agree on the effectiveness of the
standing order in the context of Private Members' Day and the usefulness of
bringing local matters before the House that might otherwise never receive
attention. In this session, issues such as the Tourism industry, the Vancouver
Island Highway, "Science World", unwanted pregnancies, job training
the trucking industry, reform of federal institutions, seniors and the budget,
and "Colony Farm" have been debated pursuant to this Standing Order.
On April 2,1987, Bill 19 entitled
Industrial Relations Reform Act was introduced, read a first time and ordered
for second reading at the next sitting of the House, by the Minister of Labour
and Consumer Services, L. Hanson. The Bill sparked a lengthy and vociferous
debate inside and out of the House culminating in, during second reading stage,
a Hoist amendment followed by a reasoned amendment, both moved by the
opposition and both being defeated on recorded divisions. On April 23,1987,
Bill 19 was referred to the Committee of the Whole on Bills for subsequent
clause by clause scrutiny.
Bill 20, entitled the Teaching
Profession Act was introduced by the Minister of Education, A. Brummet,
on April 2nd. Extensive debate at second reading stage has, to date, culminated
in a hoist amendment by the opposition. Both Bills 19 and 20 are expected to proceed
slowly . through the legislative process prior to enactment.
During April the second edition of
Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia E. George MacMinn, Q.C.,
Commissioner, Legislature Procedure Review Act and Deputy Clerk of the British
Columbia Legislature, was published. In his Preface, the author explains that
the second edition reflects the changes to the British Columbia Standing Orders
adopted by the House during the 1985 session as well as incorporating expanded
annotations to all of the Standing Orders further clarifying current practice
in the House. X April A, 1987, the Special Committee to appoint an Auditor
General was struck. Composed of nine members with Jim Hewitt, as its Convener,
the Committee expects to recommend to the House a new Auditor General for the
province soon after concluding its series of meetings.
In April the Premier, William N.
Vander Zalm announced to the House the establishment of a Board of Internal
Economy to be chaired by the Speaker and composed of. Government House Leader,
Opposition House Leader, Government Caucus Chairman, Opposition Caucus Leader,
Provincial Secretary. The Premier noted that this was an historic occasion in
British Columbia in that formal recognition was being given to the separation
of power between the executive arm of government and the legislative assembly.
Legislation is expected soon to create the Board and establish its mandate.
Craig James, Second Clerk Assistant, British Columbia
The second Session of the 33rd
Parliament prorogued on February l f During the Recess between sessions a
number of standing and select committees met.
The Select Committee on the
Environment, chaired by Don Knight was authorized to consider bilateral
environmental issues affecting Ontario. The Committee conducted a review of the
"Countdown Acid Rain Program". In its report, tabled in May, the
Committee recommended that provisions for allowing Ontario Hydro to bank
emission credits be deleted from the regulation; that the reports of the
companies involved in the program be reviewed by a legislative Committee; and
that a "Notice and Comment" procedure be established to provide for
public input into proposed regulations.
The Select Committee on Health,
chaired by Robert Callahan, continued its consideration of the
commercialisation of health and social services. The Committee held public
hearings on child care and on hospital management. The Committee's interim
report, which outlines the extent of for profit activity in health and social
services in Ontario, has been presented to the House. A second report, focusing
on child care, is expect shortly.
The Select Committee on Retail
Store Hours considered Sunday shopping and retail store business hours. The
Committee, chaired by Terry O'Connor, held public hearings throughout the
Province and heard from over 100 groups and individuals and received 518
exhibits. In its report presented to the House, the Committee unanimously
rejected the notion of "wide-open" Sunday shopping. The major themes
of the Committees seventeen specific recommendations are to.. provide a greater
planning and administrative involvement for the provincial government; allow
bookstores, record and video stores, photographic studios and retail art
galleries the right to open on Sunday s and holidays; firmly restrict opening s
under the legislation for small stores to self-contained small stores under one
roof and make the practice of "roping off' by larger stores on Sundays
illegal; firmly restrict and control the variety of non-pharmaceutical goods
large drug marts can sell on Sundays and holidays, and to make proposals for
the more systematic planning and designation of exempt retail tourist areas.
The Standing Committee on Administration
of Justice, chaired by Andy Brandt, held public hearings on Bill 154, An
Act to provide for Pay Equity in the Broader Public Sector and in the Private
Sector. During clause-by-,clause consideration of Bill 154, amendments were
proposed by the Attorney General, and passed by the Committee, which will
extend the scope of the Bill to include persons who were covered under Bill
105, An Act to provide Pay Equity for Employees in Predominately Female Groups
of Jobs in the Public Sector.
The Standing Committee on Finance
and Economic Affairs, chaired by David Cooke (Kitchener), completed its
re-budget consultation process for the 1987 Ontario Budget. This was the first
time such a consultation has taken place in accordance with the new Standing
Orders. Presentations by social groups and companies were included in the
process. In its report to the House, the Committee recommended that the
consultation process be continued and expanded; that the Committee should
encourage increased participation of all sectors in the review; that the
Government should .provide funding for pure research in post-secondary
institutions; as well as specific recommendations relating to the Budget and
the Budget process.
The Committee also considered Bill
116, An Act to revise the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. This Bill will
regulate loan and trust corporations. The Committee heard presentations from
the Ministry of Financial Institutions and from industry. During clause
-by-clause consideration, over 100 amendments were proposed to the Bill. The
Bill has been reported to the House with certain amendments.
The Standing Committee on General
Government, chaired by George McCague held public hearings on Bill 170, An Act
to revise the Pension Benefits Act. The proposed legislation does not use the
age 45 and 10 years of service test but instead states that age and service
must add up to 55. The purpose of this is to avoid discrimination on the basis
of age and to help younger, long-service employees to receive pension benefits
on plant closures. The Committee will be commencing clause-by-clause
consideration early in the Session. On May 11, 1987, Monte Kwinter,
Minister of Financial Institutions, announced that he intends to introduce an
amendment to Bill 170 that will be of benefit to workers of the Goodyear
factory in Etobicoke scheduled to close on May 31.
The General Government Committee
also held public hearings throughout the province on the School Boards and
Teachers Collective Negotiations Act. The Act, passed in 1980, limits the type
of collective agreement and specifies the method of negotiation. The Committee
has been holding public hearings to review how the Act is working. The
Committee expects to have additional public hearings before presenting its
report to the House.
The Standing Committee on
Government Agencies, under the chairmanship of Bud Gregory, reviewed the
operations of four agencies These were: the Pesticides Advisory Committee, the
Agriculture Council of Ontario, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission and
the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The Committee's conclusions will be
included in its annual report expected to be presented this Spring.
The Standing Committee on Social
Development, chaired by Richard Johnston, considered Bill 52, An Act
to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act, 1983. This Private
Member's Bill requires physicians, nurses and pharmacists to report to their
local medical officer of health any cases they encounter of severe reaction to
the DPT vaccine given to infants and small children Minister, Murray Elston.
proposed amendments to the Bill which make it acceptable to the Government. The
Bill has been reported to the House and is awaiting-Third Reading.
The Social Development Committee
also considered Bill 176, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act, and Bill 177,
An Act to amend the Health Facilities Special Orders Act. These Bills contain a
"Seniors' Bill of Rights". The residents of nursing homes will have a
voice in the day-to-day management of the homes. Nursing homes will be expected
to treat the psychological, social and spiritual needs of the residents and not
just their physical needs. Both Bills have been reported to the House and await
The third session of the
thirty-third Parliament convened on April 28. In the Speech from the Throne,
the Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln Alexander; stated that the Government
would continue with its agenda, as set out in the previous Throne Speech, to
ensure that Ontario takes its place as a world-class society of the 21 st
To accomplish this goal, the
Government has set education, quality of life, economic competitiveness and
economic equity as primary concerns.
Improvements to the education
system will be accomplished through increased capital funding; a greater
emphasis on basic learning skills including literacy and science and computer
skills; reducing the drop-out rate; expanding services to the francophone and
the northern communities; and increasing funding for post-secondary education.
The Government later announced that $226 million would be committed for the
construction and renovation of schools.
The Government promised a variety
of measures to improve the quality of life in Ontario. More affordable quality
housing will become available through a program of using surplus government
land to build housing for low and moderate income earners. Efforts will be made
to encourage private sector development in the areas of rental housing and to
expand programs and support services for the homeless and people with special
Programs to provide for greater
independence for seniors and the physically developmentally and mentally
handicapped were outlined in the Speech from the Throne.
training, reforms to the tax system and assistance to farmers were other areas
outlined in the Throne Speech where developments to improve economic
competitiveness will be made. The Government also set out an agenda for
economic equity through increased child care, providing greater opportunities for
women, Northem Ontarians and Eastern Ontarians.
In responding to the Speech from
the Throne, the Leader of the Opposition, Larry Grossman, called it a Speech
"that was long on verbiage, but short on substance". He criticised it
as a "wish list 'with no priorities or planning. "The wish list you
never have to pay for because there is no government in the land that could
afford to meet all these promises, so it is simply a list".
Mr. Grossman reviewed many of the initiatives
and programs outlined in the Speech from the Throne. "In every case,
instead of having a policy this government has chosen o have a study, a pilot
plan, a pilot project or a report," he stated. Citing the failure of the
Speech from the Throne to seize the opportunity available to the Government,
because of the greater financial flexibility created by increased tax levels
and an economic boom, to reduce many of the problems facing the Province, the
Leader of the Opposition urged all Members to "join with us in voting
against this shallow collection of clichés buzzwords and vague promises."
The Leader of the New Democratic
Party, Bob Rae, noted that "the Government was pretending as if it
were somehow the product of some sort of immaculate conception, that it simply
fell from the sky. He stated that the real agenda of the Legislature has been
the Accord negotiated by the Liberal and New Democratic Parties in May, 1985.
Mr. Rae outlined what objectives of the Accord had been met and what objectives
still are to be met.
Mr. Rae criticised the Throne
Speech as trying to satisfy everyone without making any commitment. It does not
address anything. It is designed to make everyone feel better." He stated
that the problems facing Ontario were not being solved, that there was a need
to look beyond the surface wealth to the poverty below. "We need a party,
a government, a society that understands the meaning of justice and that
understands we are not always going to have great good times and t at the important
thing to do when the times are good is to make sure that money is distributed
in a way that is fair and to make sure opportunities are built in there for the
future and that we can look with pride on a productive economy that rewards
Tannis Manikel, Assistant Clerk , Legislative Assembly of
During the winter session members
dealt with the 1987-88 budget as well as several other controversial items.
The $826 million budget was
eventually approved on the last day of the 28-day session but members of the
Finance Committee and some other MLAs made attempts to reduce the proposed $16
million deficit during debate. A motion to reduce by three per cent the
operation and maintenance budgets all but one department was defeated. The
operation and maintenance budget totals $624 million-while $166 million is
directed to capital expenditures.
Members approved a proposed
boundary agreement for division of the Northwest Territories, negotiated by the
Western Constitutional Forum and the Nunavut Constitutional Forum. Under terms
of the agreement the Legislative Assembly is one of five groups required to
ratify the Agreement before April 1, 1987. If the-four native groups in the NWT
approved the boundary, the legislation called for plebiscite to held on May 20
to determine whether residents of the NWT agree with the proposed boundary for
A motion by MLA Ted Richard
during debate on the Plebiscite Act to reduce the residency requirement for
voting in the plebiscite from three years to one year was defeated.
During the session, MLAs also voted
to remove a Member from the Executive Council, the ~s eight person Cabinet. A
motion by Sam Gargan recommended that Tagak Curley, Minister of
Economic Development and Tourism, be removed because the Legislative Assembly
lacked confidence" in Mr. Curley. The motion was related to a note Mr.
Curley sent to Mr. Gargan during debate on a budget item for Mr. Curley's home
community of Rankin Inlet. The note, which Mr. Gargan interpreted as a threat,
suggested that if Mr. Gargan did not support private enterprise in Mr. Curely's
constituency, he could not support private enterprise in Mr. Gargan's area.
With strong feelings on both sides of the question, the motion was eventually
carried after more than three hours of debate by a vote of ten to eight with
three abstentions. Ludy Pudluk, MLA for High Arctic for 12 years,
was appointed to replace Mr. Curley on the Executive Council. Mr. Pudluk
becomes the Minister of Government Services and of Culture and Communications,
a portfolio previously held by Government Leader Nick Sibbeston. Mr.
Sibbeston takes over the Economic Development and Tourism portfolio.
Other motions passed include
support for completion of the Mackenzie Highway as far as Inuvik; a recommendation
that the Legislative Assembly ask the federal Minister of Finance to demand
that a deduction from taxable income for vacation travel be &ranted to all
taxpayers residing in the North, regardless of whether they travel in the North
or South or whether they receive vacation assistance from their employers. A
declaration of the Assembly's opposition to low level flights in the W with a
request for a full public inquiry into the issue of low level flights was
adopted. The motion further asked that proposed flights be put on hold until
the public inquiry is completed.
The Assembly unanimously passed a
motion requesting that the federal Minister of Finance retain provisions for
flow-through financing for the mining industry in the Income Tax Act. Some members
are concerned that this tax concession could be removed in tax reforms expected
later this year.
In addition to the budget, members
approved nine other pieces of legislation, including six financial bills. Also
approved were: the Elections Act, amended to allow the appointment of the Chief
Electoral Officer for Canada to run the Territorial election to be held this
fall; the Election Act, amended to provide for the establishment of boards of
secondary education and setting out the composition, power and duties of the
boards; the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, increasing Members'
expenses and indemnities by four per cent; and, the Plebiscite Act, setting out
the plebiscite question to be asked on the proposed boundary for division of the
NWT and reducing the period of time for appointing returning officers from 60
days to 49 days in advance of the day a plebiscite is to be held.
The Legislative Assembly recessed
on March 20 to be reconvened on May 26.
Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Officer, Northwest
Territories Legislative Assembly
The Senate continued its Committee
of the Whole study, approved on February regarding the agreement on fisheries
and boundaries between Canada and France. Chaired by Rhéal Bélisle, the
Committee heard from such witnesses as Fisheries Minister Thomas Siddon,
and departmental officials Lorne Clark and Bob Applebaum
(February 17), National Sea Products President, Gordon Cummings,
(February 17), Newfoundland Premier, Brian Peckford (March 18) and Jacques
Haché, President of the Association des Pecheurs Professionels Acadiens
(April 14). The study is still before the Senate.
Two government bills were
introduced during the period under review: Bill S-6, an Act to amend the Food
and Drug Act, which deals with the adoption of a number of international
standards regarding food inspection and Bill S-9 an Act relating to the
forgiveness of debts assumed by the Government of Canada to the Governments of
Togo, Mauritania and the East African Community. The former was given second
reading and referred to the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee on
April 7. It was given third reading on May 6. The latter was given second
reading and referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee on May 13.
On March 17, an inquiry proposed by
Hazen Argue regarding the desirability and advantages of the Turks and Caicos
Islands becoming a part of Canada was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee
for study and report. The Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired -by George
Van Roggen. Three orders of reference were given to the Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, headed by Earl Hastings: (i) an examination into
the production and use of natural gas, adopted April 1; (ii) an examination
into the production and use of coal, adopted April 1; (iii) the study of the
proposed sale of Dome Petroleum Limited with particular reference to the impact
of the sale in Canada, adopted May 12. A reference was adopted May 5 to
authorise the Social Affairs Committee to examine the Final Report of the
Special Committee of the-House of Commons on Child Care. The Social Affairs
Committee is chaired by Arthur Tremblay.
On Ma 6, the Agriculture
and-Forestry Committee was authorized to study the problems regarding Farm
Finance and to make recommendations on how to better meet the needs of the
Canadian Agricultural Industry. The Committee is headed by Dan Hays.
On March 25, Fernand LeBlanc tabled
the report of the National Finance Committee on Federal Policy on
Post-Secondary Education. The Committee concluded that federal support in
respect of post-secondary education, through Established Programs Financing
(EPF), no longer is beneficial and that since EPF tends to blur responsibility,
it ought to be terminated. The Committee suggested that the solution is for the
federal government to terminate the Post-Secondary portion of EPF and transfer
adequate financial resources to the provincial governments.
On May 13, George Van Roggen tabled
the report 6f the Foreign Affairs Committee entitled "Canada, the
International Financial Institutions and the Debt Problem of Developing
Countries". The Committee made a number of recommendations. It felt that
the debt strategy pursued since 1982, needs to be supplemented by arrangements
for an increased flow of funds to debtor countries through international
agencies and creditor governments. It urged the Canadian Government to modify
the regulation regarding the tax treatment of reserves in Canadian banks to
permit the full costs to be treated as business expenses, until the Third World
debt problem has assumed manageable proportions.
Two special committees were
established. On April 2, a special committee was created to study the subject
matter of the controversial Bill C-22, which deals with the amendments to the
Patent Act with respect to drugs. The Committee is chaired by Lorne Bonnell
and plans to hold public hearings across Canada during the months of May and
June. On April 17 a special committee on national defence was agreed to. Headed
by Paul Lafond, the committee will examine, among other matters,
Canada's land forces including mobile command.
Gary O'Brien, Director of the Committee's Branch, The
The third session of the twenty-sixth
Legislative Assembly adjourned on April 16, 1987, forty-seven sitting days
after its reconvening on November 24,1986. The total number of sitting days in
the third session had reached eighty-eight making it the longest session in the
history of the Assembly and the first ever to last more than a full calendar
year. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it is expected this session will be
prorogued in October or November immediately prior to the opening of a new
The New Democrats technically
possessed a majority during the period between October 30 and February 16 but
it was not a full working majority as both the Speaker and the Chairman of
Committee of the Whole are members of the NDP caucus. There were, however, only
three occasions on which the Speaker was required to give a casting vote and
those all occurred during the course of debate on a single motion on January
28, 1987. This motion was moved by Bill Brewster, under Motions other
than Government Motions and the first division took place on an amendment move
by Piers McDonald Speaker Sam Johnston, voted against the
amendment on the basis that the original question should be preserved if there
was not a clear majority in favour of amendment. Roger Kimmerly then moved
that debate be adjourned and, when a tie again occurred upon division, the
Speaker voted against the adjournment motion in order to permit further debate.
When the question was called on the main motion with the same result the
Speaker voted against the motion stating. 1n general, the principle 1 apply to
motions is that, where no further discussion is possible, decisions should not
be taken except by a majority. It is, therefore, my duty to vote against the
On February 2,1987, a by-election in
the electoral district of Tatchun was won by Danny Joe of the New
Democrats giving that party a full working majority in the Assembly. The
election of Mr. Joe was historic not only in the sense that it dramatically
altered the party standings. It also marked the first time in Yukon history
that Yukon Indians comprised a majority of the members in the caucus of any
party (i.e. five of the nine New Democrats are Indians).
During the course of the sittings
from November 24,1986, to April 16, 1987, a total of thirty bills were passed
by the House. Six of these were appropriation acts including the Capital and
Operation and. Maintenance Estimates which project a total expenditure of $291
during the current fiscal year. This represents a six percent increase in capital
and a one percent increase in operation and maintenance (over revised estimates
In his introduction of the
Operation and Maintenance budget Tony Penikett Government Leader and
Minister of Finance, expressed satisfaction with the results of his
government's past actions and addressed its goals for the future: In the past
two years, the Yukon's economy has seen a dramatic turn around. The signs of
the economic recovery are everywhere. It is our firm belief that the
initiatives introduced by our government have contributed to the improvement in
employment and the renewed sense of confidence in the economy. ... By any
statistical indicator, the Yukon has recovered from the recent recession. It is
now time to build an economy that is more diverse, more self-sufficient, and
more stable." In his response Willard Phelps, Leader of the
Official Opposition, expressed concern about the growth in expenditures during
the recent past and the increasing proportion of the revenues comprised of
transfer grants from the federal government. He said: " It is alarming to
see government spending almost entirely responsible for the present economy.
Social programs and expensive facilities are important to our quality of life,
but the Balance has to be more prudent. More should be spent on facilitating
private industry now because private enterprise industry creates wealth, and as
industry develops we will be more able to afford more of the other
The legislation which created the
greatest controversy and occupied the most time of the House was Bill 99, the
Human Rights Act. The bill was introduced by Mr. Kimmerly on December 1, 1986,
and, after a lengthy debate at second reading of an intensive study in
Committee the Whole, finally passed and given assent on February 12,1987. At
second reading Mr. Kimmerly stated: "the objects of this Act are to
further, in the Yukon, the public policy that every individual is free and
equal in dignity and rights; to discourage and eliminate discrimination; to
recognise the unique needs and cultural heritage of the aboriginal peoples of
the Yukon; and preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Yukon
Members of the Official Opposition
spoke against Bill 99 at second because, as stated in a motion-moved by Mr.
Brewster, they disagreed "with the following principles: (1) the
establishment of a Human Rights Commission with broad and undefined powers; (2)
the inclusion of sexual orientation and criminal charges or criminal record
under prohibited grounds; (3) the referring of the question of Equal Pay for
Work of Equal Value in the private sector to the Human Rights Commission ; and
(4) the laying of complaints by third parties." During consideration at
the committee stage twenty-five amendments were introduced, twenty-three by
opposition members and two by the sponsoring minister. Thirteen of the
opposition amendments were adopted with major changes being the removal of
third party complaints and the inclusion of a property rights section.
The Motor Vehicles Act was amended
on two separate occasions during the course of the session. In the first
instance a provision was added making it mandatory, as of July 1, 1987, for all
children to be fastened in certified child restraint systems when riding in a
motor vehicle. The second amendment complied with a motion moved by Doug
Phillips, requiring that vehicles being driven on territorial highways have
their headlights turned on at all times.
Other matters of note included the
government's abolishing of health care premiums after the House had adopted a
motion to that effect moved by Margaret Joe, Minister of Health and
Human Resources. The Assembly also passed a motion introduced by Norma Kassi,
expressing its objection to consideration being given by the Government of the
United States to opening lands in Alaska containing the calving grounds of the
Porcupine Caribou herd to oil exploration. Finally, in response to repeated
demands from the Official Opposition that the government provide it with copies
of every contract entered into, the government tabled a listing of all
contracts for each fiscal year from 1982-87.
Patrick L. Michael, Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly.