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| British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Northwest Territories | Ontario | Saskatchewan | Senate |

British Columbia

The summer recess beginning July 17 has been particularly active for two British Columbia Legislative Assembly committees: The Select Standing Committee on Economic Development, Transportation and Municipal Affairs and The Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General. The former committee chaired by David Mercier, and comprised of Nick Loenen, Deputy Chairman; Robin Blencoe; Howard Dirks; Dale Lovick; Rita Johnston, Minister of Municipal Affairs; Terry Huberts; Clifford Michael, Minister of Highways; and Dan Miller held community hearings at six locations: Victoria, Saltspring Island, Gabriola Island, Denman Island, Bowen Island and Vancouver during the month of August. On October 1 the Chairman submitted the Committee's preliminary report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs pursuant to a clause of the Committee's terms of reference redirecting the report should the House be in recess.

The Committee studied the Islands Trust Act, a provincial statute governing many municipal matters throughout most of the Gulf Islands. An examination of the object of the Trust, governmental structure within the Trust area including the public's representation, provision of local government services and matters arising out of the proclamation of Section 3 of the Act regarding gifts to the Trust was specifically mentioned in the committee's terms of reference. The Clerk of Committees Office coordinated this legislative endeavour and provided logistical support to the committee.

The Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General for the province of British Columbia met in Vancouver, Richmond and Victoria with its management consultant, Stevenson Kellogg Thorne Ernst and Whinney, retained for the purpose of screening prospective candidates for the position according to the selection criteria adopted by the Committee. Besides being Committee Chairman, James J. Hewitt, has been chairing the sub-committee which was delegated certain administrative and procedural responsibilities that have expedited Committee business to date. The other members are: Larry Chalmers, Deputy Chairman; Robin Blencoe; Glen Clark; Duane Crandall; David Mercier; Jim Rabbitt; Steven Rogers, and Dave Stupich.

The Office of the Auditor General in British Columbia has a staff complement of eighty-seven: one Auditor General; one Deputy Auditor General; three Executive Directors; five Directors; twelve Managers; thirty Audit Seniors; twenty-seven Audit Assistants; and eight administrative staff involved in professional services encompassing the activities of producing the office's annual report, legislative liaison, career and professional development, professional practices and the library; six audit divisions; and the internal administrative services of office administration, finance and accounting, personnel, secretarial and word processing, and telecommunications. The Committee is in the process of deriving a shortlist of candidates for the purpose of conducting interviews assisted by the management consultant. Barring unforeseen circumstances the Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General believes it can fulfill its mandate by recommending to the House the appropriate person before the end of this calendar year. The Clerk of Committees Office is coordinating the work of this Special Committee.

The Commonwealth Conference was held in Vancouver and Kelowna during the week of October 12th. This afforded an opportunity for Members of the Legislative Assembly to attend various official functions revolving around the week's activities.

One such event was the granting and proclamation of the complete Coat of Arms of British Columbia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on October 15, 1987 in The Law Courts, Vancouver. Dr. Conrad Swan, York Herald of Arms, College of Arms was present to read the Royal Warrant. Dr. Swan was born at Duncan, British Columbia so it was fitting that he take part in the ceremony. Robert D. Watt, Fellow of the Heraldry Society of Canada wrote in the official programme, "Our Coat of Arms is a symbol of sovereignty as these are the arms of her Majesty in right of British Columbia and a symbol of our co-sovereign status as a province of the Canadian federation. Through the beauty of heraldry, an ancient and honourable form of identification, important elements in the character of our province are revealed: our heritage as a consititutional monarchy; our historic position in the Empire and now, the Commonwealth, and the riches of our natural environment¼ The Evolution of the arms of British Columbia is now complete¼ this has taken place in the same year that the Canadian government has hosted the first national forum on Canadian heraldry in recognition of the ongoing importance of heraldry in this country. It marks the granting of the Province's augmented Coat of Arms as a unique occasion in Canadian history. This is the first time that the Sovereign and her representative in a province, the Lieutenant-Governor, one of Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, a Premier and his Ministers, and the Secretary of State have all been present to witness the signing of a Royal Warrant."

In October Speaker David Carter of Alberta was in Victoria to promote the establishment of a Canadian-American legislative association between the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and the states of Washington, Oregon and Montana. From October 19 to 20, the British Columbia Legislative Assembly was host to a legislative committee from Newfoundland comprised of Messers. Tulk, Pearson, Peach, Wood ford, Fenwick and Simmons, whose purpose was to learn about parliamentary procedure as practiced in B.C. and administrative support to members generally.

With the current Legislature emphasizing the role of legislative committees, the construction of a new committee room was completed. Designed to incorporate television facilities within a glass-enclosed broadcasting area, the Douglas Fir Committee Room provides members with flexibility reflecting the variety of different needs accompanying the present and future mandates of each of the ten Select Standing and two Special Committees and any others that may be formed.

On September 17th the Board of Internal Economy approved an increase to members' indemnities and expense allowances which, annualized and retroactive to November 1, 1986, are $27,498 and $13,749 respectively. The current annual salaries and expenses for the following positions are, for the Premier, $76,527; for a Minister of the Crown, $71,330; for the Speaker, $71,248; for the Leader of the Official Opposition, $71,248; for the Deputy Speaker, $56,248; for the Government Whip, Opposition Whip, Opposition House Leader, Chairman of the Government Caucus and the Chairman of the Opposition Caucus, $47,248; for the Deputy Government Whip, $44,248; for the Deputy Chairman – Committee of the Whole, $44,248; and for Parliamentary Secretaries, $44,248. The Capital City Allowance is $75 per day for each sitting day up to a maximum of 50 sitting days with a 50% adjustment for Capital Region members.

Craig James, Second Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees, British Columbia Legislative Assembly.

 

New Brunswick

On August 29, 1987, following months of speculation, Premier Richard Bennett Hatfield called a general election for October 13th.

Opinion polls showed the Liberal Party under the leadership of Frank McKenna to be headed for an overwhelming victory.

Results of the voting saw Mr. McKenna lead the Liberal Party to its first victory in seventeen years capturing an overwhelming and unprecedented majority — all fifty-eight seats in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly.

Compared to the results of the 1982 election, and based on as yet unofficial reports, the Liberal Party's popular vote rose by nearly 19% to 60% while the Conservative Party's popular vote dropped from 47% to 28%. The New Democratic Party lost its only seat in the Legislative Assembly.

In the aftermath of the election, a great debate has begun as to who will form the unofficial opposition to the Liberal Government.

Some media representatives in the province may view themselves as the opposition to the government; others see this as a very dangerous precedent for the role of the professional correspondent.

The Conservative and New Democratic Parties are making representation to the government for additional financing to allow them to be an effective unofficial opposition outside the Legislative Assembly.

The New Democratic Party has proposed that the government of Frank McKenna change the rules to allow them to have a designated member of their party examine the government departments in Public Accounts and similarly to have a representative examine the estimates of the government during the budget process.

Others, however, suggest alternatives such as the expansion of the committee system and/or the designation of government backbenchers as a "rump opposition".

No doubt the subject will be of considerable interest to parliamentarians, clerks-at-the-table and other political scientists for years to come.

David L. E. Peterson, Clerk, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly

 

Saskatchewan

After sitting continually since June 17th, the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly concluded the longest session of its history by adjourning in the small hours of the morning on Friday, November 6, 1987. During 112 sitting days constituting over 500 sitting hours, the Assembly considered 100 pieces of legislation, spent 220 hours studying estimates and devoted time to debating broader national issues including the Meech Lake constitutional amendments and free trade.

On September 23rd, Saskatchewan became the second province to endorse the constitutional amendments proposed in the Meech Lake Accord. The resolution was passed unamended following six days of debate during which five proposed amendments were defeated including one calling for public hearings. The Opposition, with the exception of three from its ranks, supported the government side on the final vote. Mr. Speaker A.B. Tusa relayed the resolution to the Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada.

For most of the session, the number of bills under consideration was abnormally light. The introduction of 46 bills in the last week of the session, however, quickly brought the total closer to the norm.

Important resource legislation was passed in response to United States anti-dumping measures which put duties of nine to eighty-five per cent on Saskatchewan potash companies exporting to the United States Bill 36 An Act respecting the Potash Resources of Saskatchewan gave the Government the power to establish production limits for potash thus lowering the excess productive capacity and pushing up prices. At the same time the Government stated that, if necessary, steps would be taken to ensure that Saskatchewan did not lose its market share.

Bills to implement policies announced in the budget for increases to the education and health tax, the fuel tax, flat tax and changes to the Prescription Drug Plan incited lengthy debate. Other controversial measures included: amendments to The Provincial Auditor's Act to allow private sector auditing of the crown corporations; substantial changes to the Electoral Boundaries Commission and the way constituency boundaries are determined; the abolition of both the Public Utilities Review Commission and the Medical Care Insurance Commission. Major changes in the field of post-secondary education occurred with the amalgamation of urban community colleges and technical institutes to form one super institute.

The remaining rural community colleges were converted into regional colleges with a focus on basic adult education, skills upgrading and credit courses. Hobby and recreational programming are to be removed from regional college curriculums.

Standing committees were not convened until September but have been working steadily since then to deal with a backlog of business. The major scrutiny committees, the Public Accounts Committee and the Crown Corporations Committee, met two or three times a week but were unable to complete their work by adjournment. These committees have agreed to meet intersessionally to complete their agendas before starting the new year's work in the spring.

On the last day of the session, all Members of the Legislative Assembly said good-bye to the Hon. Allan Blakeney by paying him tribute for his twenty-seven years of distinguished service to the people of Saskatchewan as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. On November 10, 1987, Mr. Blakeney officially stepped down as Leader of the Opposition turning that position over to Mr. Roy Romanow, MLA for Saskatoon Riversdale, who had been recently elected Leader of the New Democratic Party. It is reported that Mr. Blakeney intends to resign his seat as an MLA before the next session.

Gwenn Ronyk, Deputy Clerk, Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.

 

Senate

A great deal of the legislative activity of the Senate was concentrated on Bill C-22, An Act to amend the Patent Act with respect to pharmaceutical drugs. On August 13, the Senate passed the Bill with ten amendments and returned it to the Commons. On September 2, the Senate received a message from the House which stated it had disagreed with seven of the amendments made by the Senate, had accepted one and made further amendments to two of them. On a vote of 37 to 21, the Senate agreed on September 3 to refer the matter to the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, headed by Ian Sinclair. After hearing a number of witnesses, including Consumer and Corporate Affairs Minister Harvie Andre, the Committee made its report on October 21. The report recommended that the Senate do not insist upon most of its amendments. In lieu of the amendments to which the House of Commons disagreed, it proposed the adoption of eight other amendments. The report was agreed to on division on October 29 and further amendments were returned to the House of Commons.

Two other Government Bills from the House of Commons also found passage by the Senate slow. These were the controversial bills, C-84 and C-5, proposing amendments to the Immigration Act. Bill C-84 was given second reading on September 16 and referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, chaired by Joan Neiman where it was subjected to close scrutiny and a number of witnesses appeared to give testimony. As of the beginning of November, the Bill had not yet been reported. Also referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee was Bill C-55, which received second reading in the Senate on November 3.

The Committee of the Whole continued its examination of the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord, which still has to be ratified by the Senate. On August 13, a Task Force of eight Senators chaired by Gildas L. Molgat was established to travel to the Northwest and Yukon Territories to hear witnesses. From October 23 to November 3, it took testimony from over fifty groups and individuals in Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Iqualuit. The Task Force is to report to the Committee of the Whole by December 1.

The important Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States was referred on November 5 to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Headed by George van Roggen, the Committee is to report no later than March 29, 1988.

Gary O'Brien, Director of the Committees's Branch, The Senate.

 

Manitoba

A prairie sunrise greeted weary MLA's exiting the Manitoba Legislative Building in the early hours of July 17, 1987. Members had begun the final sitting on the preceeding afternoon and sat for nearly sixteen hours before adjourning, at 5:28 a.m.

Ideological differences between government and opposition were clearly evident on a number of issues. With Premier Howard Pawley New Democratic Party holding thirty seats, a twenty-six member Progressive Conservative Opposition and a lone Liberal Member, debate raged over human rights legislation, taxation increases, Crown Corporation losses, labour legislation and legislation to authorise the government to take over the province's privately owned natural gas distribution system. In total, seventy-five Bills were introduced during the Session including three Private Bills and three private Members Public Bills. Seventy-three Bills received Royal Assent.

The Throne Speech identified a number of government priorities including environmental enhancement, reformation of the tax system to help maintain income support programs and health and education services, income assistance for those in the hard-pressed agricultural sector and measures to secure fair pricing of imported natural gas for Manitoba homeowners.

The Speech outlined a commitment to continue the decentralization of health and social services through the expansion of community health centres and patient rehabilitation facilities, and to widen the scope of environmental protection legislation by prohibiting the disposal of high level nuclear waste within Manitoba. The formation of a new small business growth fund, new incentives for petroleum exploration and recovery as well as revisions to The Surface Rights Acts clarifying the rights of landowners and oil firms in relation to mineral exploration activities, the creation of an Advisory Council on the Status of Women and proposed legislation respecting all-terrain vehicles were outlined.

Also referred to were enhanced regional economic opportunities for northern Manitobans, improvements in services to farmers and crop damage compensation under a disaster assistance program, both of which would come under The Crop Insurance Act. The Throne Speech outlined proposed changes to the Emergency Measures Act to allow for greater preparedness on the part of the province and municipalities, continued support for social programs in the wake of declining federal support payments, a new Mental Health Act to safeguard personal rights consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and greater accessibility to health services for residents of seven northern and isolated communities.

Opposition Leader Gary Filmon expressed disappointment in the Throne Speech, saying it paid only lip service to the troubled farming community and that while the net provincial debt had tripled in the last five years, the Throne Speech showed that the government did not consider the deficit a priority.

As outlined in the Throne Speech, securing the continuation of federal programs was also a priority of Premier Pawley in his participation in constitutional talks with the other First Ministers. On the eve of the April 30th First Ministers' Conference, the Premier reiterated for the House his government's priorities in the negotiations that would spawn the historic Meech Lake Constitutional Accord. "First and most important, our primary responsibility is to protect and advance the interests of the citizens of this province. Fully consistent with that responsibility is our duty, as Canadians, to do all we can to help strengthen and unite Canada."

On March 16th, Finance Minister Eugene Kostyra presented to the Legislature his second Budget, containing "taxation and expenditure measures that emphasise fairness and the necessity for continued social progress."

While lauding Manitoba's economic performance, the Budget address committed the government to maintaining economic and social progress with new revenue-raising measures to ensure that "all participants in our society contribute a fair share to maintaining our vital social services, based upon ability to pay."

The Budget announced a 20 percent increase, to $85 million in provincial spending on programs to aid the agricultural sector. Included were an interest rate buy-down program designed to ease the Manitoba Agriculture Credit Corporation's client debt obligations, a Farm School Tax Assistance Program to eliminate school taxes for two-thirds of individual farmers, and the continuation of a program enabling Manitoba farmers to purchase, for agricultural purposes, American fuels priced lower than those in Canada.

Health care spending, to account for 31 percent of the total expenditure, was proposed to rise by 9.8 percent, to $1.327 billion. This would include a 40 percent rise in funding for the Home Care Assistance Program and 21 percent more for child care.

Spending on social programs was to increase by $209 million, or 9 percent, with education services to receive an additional $41 million.

The Budget announced the introduction of the new Manitoba Small Business Growth Fund which would finance, up to a ceiling of $250,000, the creation or expansion of a qualifying small business.

Education funding for elementary and secondary schools would rise by 6.4 percent while funding for high schools, community colleges and universities would jump by 5.9 percent or $41.5 million.

Projected additional revenue of $277 million was proposed to be raised through new taxation measures. The new revenue-raising initiatives included the introduction of Manitoba Investment Savings Certificates and an increase of the provincial sales tax to 7 percent. Also instituted was a 2 percent tax on net income for those earning more than $22,000 annually and on capital gains.

About 900 of the largest corporations in Manitoba would be faced with a new surcharge of .2 percent to be applied to companies with more than $10 million in taxable paid-up capital. Also announced was a land transfer tax based progressively on the value of individual properties and an increase of three-quarters of a percent, to 2.25, the health and education levy on some 6,600 businesses with payrolls in excess of $100,000. The minimum level for this payroll tax levy was raised from $50,000 to $100,000 exempting over 3,700 employers.

The budget allocated $438.2 million for public debt payments including close to $50 million for foreign currency appreciation over 1986.

Total projected expenditures for the 1987-88 fiscal year rose to $4.188 billion or an 8.2 percent increase over 1986. With estimated revenue at $3.773 billion, the Budget projected a $415 million net budget deficit, a 15.1 percent decrease from the previous year.

Mr. Filmon roundly criticised the Budget, and its increased tax measures. He termed "outrageous" the overall tax increase, the rise in personal income tax for middle-income earners and the projected rise in retail sales tax revenue.

Other bills dealt with during the Session included the Charter Compliance Statute Amendment Act designed to eliminate statutory provisions that discriminate on the basis of religion and age and which will provide the option of affirming oaths rather than swearing them; The Re-Enacted Statutes of Manitoba, 1987 Act which provided for the re-enactment in English and French of about 350 previously unilingual statutes in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling of November 4, 1985; The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act which established the conditions under which retail business could operate on statutory holidays and Sundays; an amendment to The Coat of Arms Floral Emblem and Tartan Act which recognised the "Great Gray Owl" (Strix Nebulosa) as the provincial bird; and an act respecting the accountability of Crown Corporations to increase the accountability of such corporations to the Legislature and the public.

Standing Committees were active throughout the Session, especially in its latter stages, considering annual reports of provincial Crown Corporations and 62 of the Bills before the House. In total, 290 oral presentations and 23 written submissions were received by Standing Committees respecting Bills being considered.

Also implemented at this Session were rule changes agreed to in 1986 which included lengthening the afternoon sittings by one hour daily, eliminating Tuesday and Thursday night sittings, and establishing a limit of 240 hours on the business of supply.

Blair Cosgrove, Production Assistant, Hansard, Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

 

Ontario

The first Session of the 34th Parliament was opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Lincoln M. Alexander, on Tuesday, November 3. The Speech from the Throne was preceded by the re-election of Hugh Edighoffer as Speaker.

The Speech from the Throne stated that "every member of the legislature will be afforded the opportunity to participate in developing long-term solutions to long-standing problems and innovative approaches to emerging demands". In pursuit of this statement, the trade agreement between Canada and the United States will be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for study. A Select Committee on Education will be established as part of an effort to develop new initiatives in the province's education system. The Standing Committee on Resources Development will be asked to review the Mining Act to ensure that it reflects the importance of the mining industry and the new realities facing the industry. As well, the Committee will be asked to recommend further ways of reducing injuries and fatalities in Ontario mines. A Select Committee on Energy will be established to consider the development of energy policy. Finally, a Select Committee on Constitutional Reforms will be established to consider the Meech Lake Accord and related matters. Recognizing the "vital role that opposition parties play in the workings of the legislature", the government committed itself to a revitalised legislative committee structure.

On the Canada-US trade agreement between Canada and the United States, the Throne Speech indicated that the government was of the opinion that "as a country we have given up far more than we have gained. The agreement does not achieve the federal government's stated goal of security of access to United States markets. It does not provide a means of shielding Canadian exporters from restrictive U.S. practices. The agreement contains concessions that will seriously compromise Canada's sovereign ability to shape its own political and economic agenda". The government will release detailed studies on the trade agreement's potential impact on selected Ontario industries and on its constitutional implications.

The government said it will place a renewed emphasis on the quality of education in children's early school years, from kindergarten to grade six. Class sizes in grades one and two will be reduced and the use of computers and educational software will be increased. TV Ontario will receive additional support to increase the amount of new programming aimed at elementary and secondary students. Additional spaces for school-aged children will be created in existing schools, new schools and in neighbourhood locations close to schools. Literacy training for special groups, including older workers, will be promoted.

The Speech from the Throne stated that the government will continue to directly create and preserve low-priced and moderately-priced housing. Planning policies will be modified to contain the cost of construction and government land will be used to increase the supply of affordable housing. As well, an Ontario home ownership savings plan will be introduced to assist persons earning below a specified level to purchase their first homes. Protection for buyers of new homes will be increased. Integrated housing and support service care will be provided to special needs groups such as disabled persons, battered women and their children, the frail elderly and the homeless.

An industrial restructuring commissioner will be appointed to develop improved employment and business opportunities by playing an active role in identifying businesses at risk and reviewing creative strategies, including employee-participation options.

The Premier's Council will fund the establishment of six centres of entrepreneurship in colleges and universities. These centres will operate in conjunction with the private sector to promote the teaching of entrepreneurship, sponsor visiting entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and researchers and support the work of campus-based innovation centres.

A "buy north" programme will be developed to strengthen competitive northern sourcing and servicing of government operations. The transportation infrastructure, particularly in Eastern and Northern Ontario, will be strengthened through the planning and acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of highway projects.

The government proposes to introduce new programmes to ensure the orderly development of the greater Toronto area, particularly in the waterfront area.

A Premier's Council on Health Strategy will be created to review and set long-term goals for the province's health system, with emphasis on health promotion, prevention of disease, community-based services and alternatives to institutional care.

With respect to the environment, the Speech from the Throne stated that the government would bolster the enforcement of environmental protection standards, accelerate the clean-up of beaches and environmental hazards, assist companies to develop and install new technology to comply with pollution standards, and increase support for municipal and industrial recycling. An Ecological Reserves Act will be introduced to preserve areas of outstanding environmental significance.

A comprehensive consumer protection code will be introduced to protect persons from unfair and arbitrary practices. Legislation will be brought forward again to establish an independent and accessible rate review board for determining automobile insurance premiums and to provide for a uniform classification system to be used by all insurance companies. Amendments will be proposed to the Insurance Act to establish a means of arbitrating consumer complaints regarding unfair insurance practices. The government will also re-introduce legislation to provide protection for owners of motor vehicles needing repairs.

In a further effort to reduce the numbers of alcohol-related vehicular accidents, a reduce-impaired-driving-everywhere programme will be established. The programme will cover every part of the province on a year-round basis, provide funding for community-based public awareness programmes and require alcohol-related industries to promote responsible use of their products.

Finally, the Speech from the Throne also indicated that the government would immediately introduce conflict of interest legislation to govern the conduct of all members of the legislature.

Subsequently, Bill 1, An Act to provide for greater certainty in the Reconciliation of the Personal Interests of Members of the Assembly and the Executive Council with their Duties of Office, was introduced. The Progressive Conservative Party House Leader, Mike Harris, and the Opposition House Leader, David S. Cooke, questioned whether Bill 1 was in order because it was referred to in the Speech from the Throne. The Speaker ruled that the bill was in order. The Speaker did, however, note that it is "an ancient custom that once Parliament has been formally opened by the declaration of the causes of summons in the Speech from the Throne, the House may proceed upon any matter at its discretion or convenience without giving priority to the discussion of the topics included in the Lieutenant Governor's speech. As a deliberate assertion of this right, the House has, as a general rule, given first reading to a bill before proceeding to consider the Speech from the Throne". While noting that the House could apply this custom as it wished, the Speaker asked members to be vigilant in upholding the custom in view of the history and purpose behind it.

Bob Rae, Leader of the New Democratic Party, was recognised by the Speaker as Leader of the Opposition. Andy Brandt was elected by the Progressive Conservative Caucus as Interim Party Leader, replacing Larry Grossman who was defeated in the September 10 general election and who had announced his intention to resign the party leadership.

Jean Poirier was appointed Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Committees of the Whole House and Marietta Roberts was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Committees of the Whole House.

The motion for an address in reply to the Speech from the Throne was moved by Dianne Poole and seconded by Mike Brown. The presentation of the motion was delayed for two days to accommodate emergency debates on the trade agreement between Canada and the United States and on the availability of affordable housing.

The leader of the Opposition in his reply to the Speech from the Throne stated that the Speech should have provided a clear indication that the government, after being in power for two years, was ready for a new mandate

"to really carry on the change which they felt elected to carry on". Instead, he said, the government produced a statement which said to the province "It's all right, Ontario. We had two years when things started to happen. Don't worry, you can calm down now. Nothing is going to change again: life will go back to just the way it was. Some of the players have been changed, and the faces may be different, but the basic structures are going to remain the same and the policies will remain the same; there is nothing to worry about. So what was to be a mandate for change became in fact the largest collective dose of valium ever inflicted on a population in the history of Canada."

Mr. Rae stated that the central task of government was to fight on behalf of ordinary and working people in the province to change and break a climate of complacency which keeps them out of their place in the province. He stated, however, that the government had fallen into the tradition of complacency which existed in the political culture of the province.

Mr. Rae said that it was the intention of his Party to break this climate of complacency and to force the government to listen to the voice of people who have no other voice when it comes to getting access to power.

Condemning the government for failing to respond adequately to inequality and poverty in the province, to the interests of drivers with respect to insurance rates, to the need to protect the environment, to the challenges of education and literacy, to the reform of private and public pension systems, to injured workers, to the administration of health and social services, to the needs of northern Ontarians, to employment equity programmes for women, visible minorities, the disabled and native Canadians, and to the need for affordable housing, Mr. Rae moved an amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the Speech from the Throne which said that the House had no confidence in the government.

The Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party called the Throne Speech an agenda for inaction". Mr Brandt said that the greatest weakness in the Speech from the Throne was "the lack of vision that the government had in trying to put forward some form of agenda for action, some form of direction or focus on what the problems of Ontario are going to be, ¼ and to give us some belief that the government has the necessary resolve to take action on some of those problems."

Mr. Brandt said that he and his Party would not oppose the government for the sake of opposing, but that their opposition would be based on "sound fiscal management, on the reduction of the deficit, on a belief in the rights and responsibilities of the individuals in our society, but more particularly on the limited role of government intervention in society."

Debate on the address in reply to the Throne Speech wound-up on November 24. The NDP amendment to the motion for the address was defeated and the motion for the address passed on a vote of 76 to 30.

Major alterations were made to the Legislative chamber from late June to late September. A fourth tier of seats on each side of the Chamber was added to accommodate the five additional members added through redistribution. As a result, the centre aisle separating both sides of the House has been narrowed considerably. Improved sound and ventilation systems were also installed. For the first time since the 31st Parliament, a government rump sits on the opposition side of the House. A total of eighteen Liberal members are now seated at the north end of the opposition side of the House.

Smirle Forsyth, Assistant Clerk, Ontario Legislative Assembly.

 

Northwest Territories

The opening day of the First Session of the Eleventh Assembly set a record for brevity when it was adjourned after only two minutes. The twenty-four MLAs elected in the October 5 general election had already spent five days in caucus meetings discussing various alternatives for appointing the Executive Council, Government Leader and Speaker. The sessions continued right up until the last minute on opening day, November 10, but Members still had not reached a decision on these appointments. Because the Speaker had not been named, the Session was unable to start.

The Members met again in caucus on Remembrance Day and finally reached agreement on appointments to the Cabinet. Red Pedersen (MLA Kitikmeot West) was elected Speaker and took the Chair for the first time on November 12.

In his Opening Address to the new Assembly, Commission John Parker noted the rapidity of constitutional changes and improvements in the Northwest Territories. The first fully-elected council with its own Speaker took office only in 1975. "These very significant advances toward full responsible government have been accomplished in a tight timeframe. Members of past legislatures, and particularly those persons who have carried Executive responsibilities, are to be commended for their pursuit of the goal of responsible government while dealing with the day-to-day realities and demands placed on their shoulders,") Commission Parker said.

During this six-day session, Members dealt with motions appointing MLAs to the Legislative Assembly's six standing committees and setting the committees' terms of reference. Members also unanimously approved a motion establishing a special committee to examine the north's economy and develop an economic plan for the Northwest Territories.

Also approved were motions giving the Government Leader authority for the overall management and direction of the Executive branch of government and the right to take disciplinary action which he deems necessary with the respect to the conduct of Ministers; appointing Sam Gargan, the Member for Deh Cho, Deputy Speaker; and, recommending that the Cabinet consider raising the maximum Territorial Income Supplement for seniors.

The Legislative Assembly continued to express concerns held by the Tenth Legislative Assembly regarding the Meech Lake Accord by unanimously approving a motion calling on the Government Leader to bring these concerns to the attention of the Prime Minister and provincial premiers and recommending that the Legislative Assembly send representatives to public hearings on the accord being held by the provinces.

Five financial bills, including two supplementary appropriations and amendments to the student financial assistance act, received assent at this session.

This brief first session was prorogued on November 19 by newly-appointed Deputy Commissioner Ann Hanson of Iqaluit. Mrs. Hanson addressed the Legislative Assembly in Inuktitut, the first time the Queen's representative has used one of the Northwest Territories' aboriginal languages. Mrs. Hanson, who was appointed on October 26, replaces the former Deputy Commissioner, Agnes Semmler of Inuvik, the first woman and the first native person to hold the position.

The Deputy Commissioner announced that the second session of the Eleventh Legislative Assembly would open in Yellowknife on February 10, 1988.

Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Officer, Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly.


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 10 no 4
1987






Last Updated: 2020-03-03