| British Columbia
| New Brunswick
| House of Commons
The fourth session of the twenty-first
Legislature opened on Monday, March 19, 1990, with the delivery of the Speech
from the Throne by Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Fedoruk. The theme of the
speech was "Building the New Saskatchewan Consensus", which
identified the government's intention to make Saskatchewan people active
participants in building a plan for the future. A group of one hundred citizens
will form "Consensus Saskatchewan" to make recommendations to the
government on four priority areas already defined as a result of public
consultations with ministers of the Crown. The areas
include expansion and diversification of the economy;
security and stabilisation of communities;
growth and well-being of people and finally;
responsible and efficient management of resources.
The official Opposition decried
"Consensus Saskatchewan" as proof that the government had abdicated
its responsibility and lost the capacity to govern. During the Throne Speech
debate the Leader of the Opposition, Roy Romanow, argued that in a
democracy it is the job of an elected government to guide the province. Premier
Grant Devine, defended "Consensus Saskatchewan" as a mechanism
whereby the people can be active participants in the process of government.
Before the Throne Speech debate had
even begun, members of the Legislative Assembly voted unanimously for a motion
calling on the federal government to execute its responsibility to implement a
plan to provide farmers with relief from the world agricultural subsidy war. It
is clear from the course of the session thus far that the plight of
Saskatchewan farmers, as a result of low grain prices and drought, is a serious
subject that will receive priority attention from both sides in the
Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.
Protection of the environment has
also received close attention. Both the Opposition and Government have
introduced bills with the objective of banning ozone depleting substances in
Saskatchewan. The session is too young to predict what other issues might arise
but again it should be an interesting spring. The government has entered its
fourth year and that, of course, gives rise to speculation that an election is
just around the corner.
The Special Committee on Rules and
Procedures identified the following areas that might possibly be the subject of
rule changes: time limit on division bells; deferral of recorded divisions;
time limit on speeches; quorum call procedure; presentation of petitions;
sitting hours and length of session; length of question period; private
members' statements, decorum and conduct of members; estimates procedure. The
committee has not yet made any recommendations.
Finally the Saskatchewan
Legislative Assembly was pleased to welcome Blair Armitage, a Committee
Clerk of the Senate of Canada, as a visiting Clerk-at the-Table during the
month of April. Mr. Armitage provided able assistance at a time when the
Saskatchewan Table found itself short-staffed. On May 1, 1990, Robert Vaive
joined the Office of the Clerk as the Assembly's new Deputy Clerk.
Gregory Putz, Clerk Assistant , Saskatchewan Legislative
The third session of the
Fifty-first Legislature commenced on March 13, 1990 with the Speech from the
Throne delivered by Lieutenant-Governor, Gilbert Finn.
Highlighting the Throne Speech were
the announcements of the establishment of a trust fund to protect and enhance
the environment and the appointment of an Electoral Boundaries Commission to
examine redistribution and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
Also in the area of political reform the government announced its intention to
introduce amendments to the Elections Act to reduce the minimum and maximum
time periods for an election by one week. The current minimum and maximum
election period is 35 days and 45 days respectively.
Other objectives set out in the
speech included: the establishment of a Crown Investment Management Corporation
with the responsibility for management of a number of public sector funds; the
establishment of a Premier's Advisory Council on Literacy; the creation of a
non-profit private sector Fundy Trail Agency, to construct and develop the
"missing link" portion of the trail; the implementation of new
programs dealing with students at risk, focused on reducing the number of young
people who drop out of the system before completing high school; and the
tabling_ of a comprehensive review of human rights legislation as well as the
government's response to it.
The government also plans to table
and refer to the Law, Amendments Committee for public hearings a discussion
paper on the Right to Information Act to determine if amendments are needed to
Among the health care initiatives
referred to in the Throne Speech were: the implementation by the Mental Health
Commission of a new program to provide in-patient psychiatric services for
children and adolescents to ensure young people receive the benefit of early
assessment; the implementation of crisis intervention services and a Day
Hospital Program as first steps to diverting unnecessary hospital admissions;
the expansion of services to rural areas and the initiation of a Forensic
Psychiatric Service to provide necessary services to young and adult offenders.
Other measures included the
appointment of a Premier's Council on Health Strategy with a mandate to develop
a comprehensive Health Strategy, amendments to the Ambulance Services Act
designed to set the framework for the development of a comprehensive,
integrated ambulance service system and the establishment of an Office for
Incentive plans for young farmers,
a Business Leave of Absence Program for provincial public servants and the
establishment of Youth Addiction Services were also areas for legislative
consideration referred to in the Throne Speech.
The government continued the
practice begun in 1988 and adjourned the House for one day following the Throne
Speech, thus giving the opposition parties greater access to the media to
expose their views.
During the 1989 session, the
registered political parties took advantage of provisional rule changes to
submit written questions which were read by the Clerks at-the-Table and
answered by the Minister to whom they had been directed.
The Standing Committee on Procedure
met during the one-day adjournment of the House to review ways of improving the
provisional Question Period. The Committee recommended retaining the 30 minute
question period for the unelected opposition parties following the regular
question period. Subsequently, the House passed a resolution providing that the
leaders of the Registered Political Parties, as defined in the Elections Act,
be afforded the privilege of appearing at the Bar of the House for the current
session, to ask questions of ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs
or to any matter of administration for which they are responsible.
Thus far, leaders of two of the
registered political parties have taken advantage of the new provisional
question period to ask their own questions.
The House also amended the Standing
Rules to add as a permanent daily agenda item, "Introduction of Guests and
In addition to procedural changes,
New Brunswick's veteran Sergeant- at-Arms, Leo F. McNulty, appointed February
24,1970, wears a new look. His new black court dress features a superfine
livery coat, a cocked or "fore and aft hat," a silk wig bag at the
back of his collar, and a wide black sash which supports his sword.
On March 27, 1990, the Minister of
Finance, Hon. Allan Maher, tabled his government's $4.135 billion budget. The
government forecast that ordinary account expenditures would increase by $230.2
million over the 1989-90 Budget. This represents a growth in ordinary
expenditures of 6.5% which is below the rate of growth of the economy expected
to be 6.6% in 1990, about the same as the Canadian economy. Economic growth in
New Brunswick in 1990, after adjusting for inflation, is forecast to be the
highest in all of the Atlantic region
The Budget, which contains no new
taxes, will significantly increase funding in important areas such as health
care, education, environmental protection, and job creation and includes a
budgeted surplus of $3.7 million, the third successive surplus in the ordinary
account. Grants to universities will increase to $143.9 million as recommended
by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission; the budget for Health
Care will exceed $1 billion, an increase of $85.9 million or 8.8,',c over last
year, and the budget of the Department of Advanced Education and Training will
increase by 7.9% or $7.7 million.
Thirty million dollars in
supplementary funding will be added to the 1990-91 Capital Budget for the
Trans-Canada Highway and connecting links to Saint John.
Highway capital spending will total
$186.1 million including $102 million on the province's arterial highway
Mr. Maher reaffirmed his
government's commitment to the policy of balancing the needs of New
Brunswickers with the province's ability to pay.
The 1987 Constitutional Accord
On Wednesday, March 21, 1990,
Premier Frank McKenna introduced two resolutions, the first dealing with the
ratification of the 1987 Constitutional Accord. The second resolution -
referred to as the companion resolution - reflects many of the recommendations
made by the Select Committee on the 1987 Constitutional Accord in its final
report to the House in the fall of 1989. The companion resolution proposes:
(i) the addition to the
interpretive clauses in the Accord of a further clause reflecting the
principles of An Act Recognising the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic
Communities in New Brunswick, by adding the recognition that "within New
Brunswick, the English linguistic community and the French linguistic community
have equality of status and equal rights and privileges;"
(ii) the entrenchment of An Act
Recognising the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New
(iii) that the role of the
Parliament and the Government of Canada to promote the fundamental
characteristics of Canada also be affirmed;
(iv) that Section 28, which states
that rights and freedoms are guaranteed equally to men and women, be added to a
short list of other interpretive provisions in the Accord which are shielded
from Section 2;
(v) that the Territorial
Governments have the same opportunity as the Provinces to propose candidates
for the Senate and the Supreme Court of Canada;
(vi) that the Senate, beginning in
1991, carry out an assessment of the results achieved in relation to the
commitments of Parliament, the legislatures and governments toward the
reduction of regional disparities, the promotion of equal opportunities and the
principle of making equalisation payments, as outlined in Section 36 of the
Constitution Act 1982, and report the assessment to the First Ministers'
Conference on the Economy immediately following; subsequent assessments would
take place every five years;
(vii) that despite the wording in
the Accord, new provinces could be established by proclamation of the
Governor-General where so authorised by resolutions of the Senate and House of
(viii) that public hearings be held
by Parliament and all affected provincial legislatures
before the adoption of any
(ix) that roles and
responsibilities in relation to fisheries be included only in the first
Constitutional Conference following proclamation of the Accord, and that
subsequently, it become part of the Annual First Ministers Conference on the
(x) that all matters directly
affecting aboriginal people, including the identification and definition of
rights, be included in future Constitutional agendas; and that representatives
of aboriginal peoples and the territories be invited to participate in these
The companion resolution was
debated in the House on March 21, 1990 and set over to May 1 along with the
resolution for the passage of the Accord.
As a result of public hearings, the
Standing Committee on Law Amendments presented two reports to the House. The
first covered the work of the Committee with respect to the Discussion Paper
concerning Municipal Conflict of Interest Legislation. The Committee
recommended decriminalizing the municipal conflict of interest legislation and
instead, having an administrative tribunal process examining instances of
violation of the legislation; broadening the definition of what constitutes
conflict of interest to include a direct or indirect pecuniary interest
including gains as well as losses; and that legislation more clearly define trade
unions. Under the proposed legislation, it would not be a conflict of interest
for a councillor to be a member of a trade union, but union membership would
have to be disclosed if negotiations with a council or local board appointed by
the municipality were ongoing and the councillor or elected official was party
to those negotiations.
The Committee also recommended that
the new legislation offer reprimands, temporary or permanent disqualification
from office, removal from office, and restitution to a municipality, if a loss
occurs, with power in administrative tribunal to make any other order
considered appropriate in the circumstances, rather than imposing fines or
imprisonment for violations of the Act.
The Law Amendments Committee also
presented a report pertaining to the Discussion Paper, Strengthening Inshore
Fishermen Associations which had been referred to the Committee. The Committee
was directed to examine and make recommendations regarding the implementation
of new legislation providing for source deduction of dues for inshore fishermen
organisations outside the collective bargaining process.
The Committee recommended the
repeal of the Fisheries Bargaining Act; that support for strong inshore
fishermen associations in New Brunswick be a priority, as a means of ensuring
substantial involvement in government legislation of the fishing industry; that
each of the three existing fishing zones be represented by an association voted
upon by "bona fide" fishermen, that local regional fishing organisations
within the three zones continue and that mandatory dues be a part of the
proposed legislation in order to safeguard the long-term financial viability of
inshore fishermen associations.
The Special Committee on Social
Policy Development mandated to review school integration presented its final
report on April 17. The Committee's 17 recommendations were:
that special-needs children have
the right to have a regular, age-appropriate classroom as a homeroom; that a
child's placement in the regular classroom not be delayed by assessment;
that an effective appeals process
be established and used whenever parents, and/or students are not satisfied
with the placement or educational program decisions made by school boards;
that the number and type of
exceptional students in a classroom be a factor in determining class size; that
immediate action be taken to resolve the serious shortage of professionals such
as public health nurses, speech-language pathologists and other key players to
ensure the success of the public school systems;
that the Minister of Education
continue to address the need for increased process development for teachers
through in-service programs focusing on exceptional students and that teacher
training institutions in New Brunswick commit themselves to increasing the
programs dealing with the teaching of exceptional students and that these
programs be made mandatory for the certification of all teachers;
that the resource room be used to
its fullest potential to better serve the needs of the individual student and a
sources and methods teacher be made
available to every teacher serving exceptional students; that training and
certification of teachers' aides and classroom attendants take place prior to
any placement in the classroom; that each year, the budget reflect the funding
requirements to meet the mandate of the Schools Act, which provides for
integration. its final recommendation the Committee called for the appointment
0 f a Royal Commission with a broad mandate to examine the education system.
Thirty-nine Bills were introduced
during the spring session with 28 Bills receiving Royal Assent.
Amendments to the Fish and Wildlife
Act allow for the issuance of an angling lease to an Indian Band without
holding a public auction. It will also allow the inclusion of angling waters
under lease to the Crown, as well as Crown-owned water in such a lease to a
The Minister of Natural Resources
and Energy, Morris Green, in introducing the Bill explained that the amendments
were essential to fulfil the government's commitment to a tripartite agreement
among the Kingsclear Indian Band, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and
the Department of Natural Resources and Energy. In return for these exclusive
angling privileges, the Kingsclear Band would forego the netting of Atlantic
salmon, which is allowed under their federally issued food fishing permit.
The Harness Racing Commission Act
provides the legal authority to establish a New Brunswick Racing Commission
that would be responsible to the Minister of
Agriculture and would have the
necessary authority to promote, govern, direct and regulate the harness racing
industry in New Brunswick.
The Arts Development Trust Fund Act
establishes a trust fund for the arts, to be funded annually from the profits
of a lottery game designated by the Minister of Finance. The money from the
fund would be used to provide grants to individuals and arts organisations so
as to promote artistic creation and excellence in the arts.
The Sport Development Trust Fund
Act establishes a trust fund for sport to provide grants to individual athletes
and sports organisations, in order to promote leadership and excellence in
Amendments to the Evidence Act remove
an evidentiary restriction that applies to proceedings instituted in
consequence of adultery. It makes spouses being prosecuted for provincial
offenses competent, thought not compellable, to "disclose communications
between them." It removes the rule that a case cannot be decided upon the
uncorroborated evidence of a child.
Eight pieces of legislation were
introduced on the final day of the Spring sitting including a new Schools Act,
an Outfitters Act and an Environmental Trust Fund Act.
The new Schools Act serves as
enabling legislation for school system operations. It is nonprescriptive and
provides a balance between central government authority and responsibility and
the flexibility which is essential at the school level. The new Act also
reflects current rights legislation. Important additions include provisions for
an appeals process for students and parents; access to information rights in
respect to student records, and conflict of interest provisions have been
The Outfitters Act would regulate
outfitting activities within New
Brunswick, with respect to the
licensing and disciplining of outfitters. An "outfitter" is defined
in the Act as "a person who provides or offers to provide hunting, angling
or canoe trips to paying customers." The Act would limit the number of
outfitters in terms of the available fish, wildlife and recreation resources
and the number of outfitters currently in the industry.
The Environmental Trust Fund Act
establishes a source of "dedicated" funding to undertake action
orientated activities which are consistent with the principles of sustainable
economic development and environmentally friendly programs. These funds would
assist government departments in undertaking projects which have a strong
environmental component or assist nongovernment organisations in carrying out
their environment-related community activities. The dedicated source of funding
has been proposed as video gaming devices to be controlled under the Lotteries
Act to a maximum of $20 million per year.
Contributions to the fund will be
encourages and deemed to be gifts to Her Majesty, on behalf of the province.
The Act proposes six general
categories of projects: environmental protection and enhancement; environmental
remediation and restoration; promotion of sustainable development; resource
conservation; environmental education and enhancement of the visual
The funds management structure will
include an Environmental Trust Fund Advisory Board to recommend projects to the
Minister of the Environment.
On April 27, after sitting for 25
days, the spring sitting was adjourned to July 3, 1990. It is expected that the
session will be reconvened earlier to deal with Bills
remaining on the Order and Notice
Paper and possibly the two resolutions on the Meech Lake Accord.
In the interim, the Law Amendments
Committee is expected to meet to receive input from the registered political
parties on two Bills introduced in the House during the spring session, namely,
An Act to Amend the Police Act which reflects the responsibilities of the
Solicitor General in policing matters, and the reduced jurisdiction of the New
Brunswick Police Commission and An Act to Amend the Provincial Court Act which
would provide the authority to appoint three persons to the judicial council,
and direct that every inquiry panel appointed to investigate complaints against
judges of the Provincial Court include one of those lay members.
Student Legislative Seminar
The first student legislative
seminar ever held in New Brunswick brought fifty-eight students representing
high schools from across New Brunswick to the Legislative Assembly for a
three-day seminar in late March.
The weekend combined a busy
business program with social activities including a visit to the home of Their
Honours Lieutenant-Governor, Gilbert Finn and Mrs. Finn.
The weekend concluded with a mock
legislative assembly which was unquestionably the highlight of the weekend's
Marc-Antoine Chiasson, a student
from Petit-Rocher, told the group "this seminar made me proud to be a New
The guest speakers for the seminar
included Chief Judge Hazen Strange, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, Aldea
Landry; member of the Legislative Assembly, Robert Simpson; Normand Martin,
Deputy Minister of Education; Harold Nason, Clerk of the Executive Council;
University of New Brunswick Professor, Condé Grondin; Fredericton High School
teacher, William Thorpe and the three Clerks of the Legislative Assembly, David
Peterson, Loredana Catalli Sonier and Brenda Fraser.
Financial support for the seminar
was provided by The Association of Clerks at-the-Table in Canada, the Secretary
of State, the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Intergovernmental
Affairs, and the Legislative Assembly. Plans are already underway for a second
seminar this fall.
Loredana Catalli Sonier , Clerk Assistant , New Brunswick Legislative
It took an all-night sitting to end the
second-longest legislative session (144 sitting days) in Manitoba's history.
The second session of the 34th Legislature ended March 15 at about six o'clock
in the morning -21 days shy of the record 165 days. James McCrae, Minister of
Justice and Attorney General, provided some perspective upon the start and
length of the session: "Children born last May 18 are now picking
themselves Lip off their knees and beginning to walk. 1 think it is only right
that we take the time now to adjourn the House..."
just over 100 Bills were introduced
during the session and of the 70 which received Royal Assent, half did so in
the early morning hours of the final sitting.
However, one of the most
controversial Bills, and one which played a significant role in prolonging the
session, was not among them. Bill No. 31, The Labour Relations Amendment Act,
called for the immediate repeal of legislation providing for final offer
selection (FOS), a form of arbitration where, upon application either by the
union or the employer, workers vote to decide whether to ask a third party to
resolve their contract dispute. This "selector" then chooses the
final offer of one of the two parties. The Bill was introduced by Premier Gary
Filmon's minority Conservative government and initially had the support of the
Liberal Official Opposition. The New Democratic Party, who introduced the FOS legislation
when they were in government, opposed its repeal.
After listening in the standing
Committee on Industrial Relations, to almost seventy different representations
from individuals and organisations, many of which tended to support the
retention of FOS, the Liberal Party put forth an amendment proposing that the
legislation concerning FOS not be repealed until the end of the year, and a
review of the process be undertaken at that time. The NDP voted with the
Liberals to pass the amended Bill in committee. However, in an unusual but not
unprecedented series of events, the minority Conservative government (and the
NDP) opposed the amended repeal Bill in the House -and the Bill was defeated
Other pieces of legislation dealt
with by the Assembly reflected the emphasis the government placed on
environmental and ecological issues in its Speech from the Throne. The
Dangerous Goods Handling and Transportation Amendment Act, concerned with
regulating the storage and disposal of hazardous waste, increased substantially
the fines for any contravention of its provisions. Similarly stiff penalties
were included in two new Acts, The Ozone Depleting Substance Act and The Waste
Reduction and Prevention and Consequential Amendments Act. The latter is
intended to ensure that industries begin to set and achieve goals, for
recycling and using secondary materials in their manufacture and packaging. The
other Act will prohibit the manufacture or use of products that contain ozone
depleting substances. As well, Acts were passed that would protect endangered
species of wildlife, and impose a reforestation tax on tree cutters.
With the Conservative government in
a minority situation the Liberal and New Democrats managed not only to get
agreement to a substantial number of amendments to such government Bills as
those dealing with workers' compensation and family law, but also to see some
of their own Bills receive Royal Assent. The Liberals were successful with The
Physically Disabled Persons Parking Act, which sets fines for illegally parking
in a spot designated for the handicapped, while the NDP achieved a ban on
smoking in enclosed public spaces, such as banks, stores, day care centres and
schools. They also succeeded in having passed an Act that places strict limits
on the sale of solvents to minors. All theses will be put into effect by
Finally, one of the other goals the
Conservative government achieved was enactment of The Manitoba Data Services
Disposition and Consequential Amendments Act. This provided for the divestiture
of Manitoba Data Services (MDS), the government's mainframe computer service
bureau, to STM Systems Corporation for $22 Million. The government stated the
sale would result in the creation of 220 new high-tech computer jobs and more
than $100 million in investment in Manitoba. Main criticism of the sale focused
on the possibility of breaches of confidentiality and on the need to protect
public information from unauthorised access. However, the government is
confident that planned security requirements exceed current practice at MDS.
There is in place in the sale agreement a provision that gives the government
the right to take back the company at a significantly reduced cost in the
unlikely event that a major breach of confidentiality occurs.
Thus, approximately 45 minutes
before sunrise on the 144th sitting day the second session adjourned. A quote
attributed to Premier Filmon that "minority government works" seems
to have taken on added meaning in this province
Ray Serwylo, Production Assistant, Manitoba Hansard
Following a cabinet shuffle the
former Speaker of the House, John Reynolds was appointed Minister of
Environment. The new Speaker is Stephen Rogers. A native of Vancouver he
attended Central Officers School of the RCAF in Ontario and was a pilot for Air
Canada from 1966-1975. He was first elected to the House in 1975 and re-elected
in 1979, 1983 and 1986. He was appointed Deputy Speaker in 1977 and has held
several cabinet positions including Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources;
Health; Intergovernmental Relations; Transportation and Highways.
Austin Pelton was again elected
Deputy Speaker and Harry De Jong was elected Deputy Chairman of the Committee
of the Whole.
The fourth session of the 34th
Parliament commenced on April 5, 1990 with the Speech from he Throne delivered
by the Lieutenant Governor, David C. Lam. Several themes emerged from the
Speech including the economic performance of the Province, the relationship
between environment, industry and the public; and electoral reform. As well the
Government plans to introduce a Provincial Public Sector Pay Equity Program, a
British Columbia Pension Plan, greater equity and stability to property tax and
assessment; a new transportation plan for the Province; the University of
Northern British Columbia to be located in Prince George; enhancements to the
Renters' Tax Reduction Program and amendments to the Employment Standards Act
to provide safeguards for employees experiencing lay-offs.
At the conclusion of the Speech and
the customary pro forma motions, the Leader of the Opposition, Michael
Harcourt, moved an amendment to the motion establishing ten select standing
committees and one special committee. He called for creation of a Committee on
Privileges and Ethics but the amendment was defeated. The Opposition
subsequently introduced amendments providing for the following additional
committees: womens' equality, housing and the Goods and Service Tax.
The Public Accounts for the fiscal
year 1988-89 and the report of the Auditor General were presented to the House
by the Minister of Finance, M.B. Couvelier. Both documents were referred to the
Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Other issues presently under
study by other committees include the Builders Lien Act, Structure Compensation
Act, and the Financial Planning and Advisory Industry, Log Exports and the
Vancouver Log Market.
Mr. Couvelier also presented his
4th budget of the 34th Parliament on April 19. It anticipated general fund
revenue for fiscal 1990-91 of about 15.26 billion dollars, with an equivalent
estimated expenditure. He stated that this would be the Government's second
consecutive balanced budget. The Opposition financial critic, Glenn Clark,
voiced his concern that the predictability of a balanced budget could not be
assured because of the accounting practices of the Government.
On April 10 leave was granted for
an emergency debate on a motion by Grace McCarthy. It read: "be it
resolved that the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia is absolutely and
unequivocally opposed to the proposed Federal Goods and Services Tax and urges
the Government of Canada to immediately withdraw the Goods and Services Tax
legislation in the interest of all Canadians." The Motion was agreed to
Joan L. Molsberry, Committees Secretary, British Columbia
The Senate has been steadfast in
pushing the limits of its constitutional envelope. While ever mindful of its
unelected status vis-à-vis the Commons, it has persisted in exercising its
constitutional rights, as the Senate sees them, in dealing with key Government
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the
Unemployment Insurance Act and the Employment and Immigration Department and
Commission Act, has reached a crucial juncture. Having already been the subject
of much procedural wrangling, raising the question of the Senate's right to
amend legislation deemed to have implications to the fiscal policy of the
Government, C-21 is again the subject of animosity between the two Chambers.
On May 9, 1990, the House of
Commons passed a motion making amendments to certain Senate amendments and
disagreeing with the remaining Senate amendments. Liberal Senators have amended
Senator C. William Doody's (Deputy Leader of the Government) motion for
concurrence to read as a motion requesting a conference. The Liberal amendment
included in it procedural references to authorities on messages between
Chambers, as well as precedents indicating that the Commons' reaction to the
Senate message insisting on its amendments was incorrect. In the view of the
Liberal Senators, it is extraordinary to continue suggesting alternative
measures by message. It would be more appropriate, they say, to either request
a conference with the Senate or allow the Bill to die on the Order Paper.
The Conservative Senators argue
that the Senate is overplaying its constitutional hand. In their view the
Senate should not persist in the final moment when it comes to responsibility
for the public purse. It is the contention of the government Senators that the
extent of change in government liability suggested by the Liberal amendments is
so substantial that the balance of ways and means is threatened. Furthermore,
they argue, the executive is ultimately responsible for its actions, whereas
senators are not. Regardless, it is clear that the Senate is intent on
attempting the use of a conference (or, more likely, a free conference) as a
means of negotiating with the Government directly. (See the article on
Conferences on p. 28)
Bill C-62, An Act to amend the
Excise Tax Act, the Criminal Code, the Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the
Excise Act, the Income Tax Act, the Statistics Act and the Tax Court of Canada
Act (more commonly known as the GST Bill), promises to bring the two Houses on
a collision course as well. The Government, which lost two of its caucus
members in the fight to get the Bill passed in the Commons, is anxious to have
the legislation passed before summer adjournment in order to have all
mechanisms in place for January 1, 1991.
The Senate Committee on Banking,
Trade and Commerce, chaired by Saskatoon Senator, Sydney Buckwold, will be
holding public hearings across Canada, with the aim of reporting back to the
Senate in late September. Public hearings will be held in most major centres,
and provincial and territorial capitals during the month of July and early
August. For further information please contact the Clerk of the Committee by
writing to: 140 Wellington Street, The Senate of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K] A
0A4 or calling toll free 1-800-267-7362.
Bill C-28, An Act to amend the
Income Tax Act, the Federal- Provincial Fiscal Arrangements and Federal
Post-Secondary Education and Health Contributions Act, the Old Age Security
Act, the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, the War Veterans Allowances
Act and a related Act, was reported to the Senate by the Banking Trade and
Commerce Committee with two amendments. The Speaker was asked by the government
Senators to rule upon the amendments. When the Speaker ruled amendment no. 2
out of order, Senator Royce Frith (Deputy Leader of the Opposition), in an
unusual move, reserved his right to appeal from the Speaker's ruling at a later
The Foreign Affairs Committee,
which was authorised to monitor and report on the implementation and
application in both countries of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement
Implementation Act, has tabled the first of its reports on the subject. The
Banking Trade and Commerce Committee completed its study of financial
institutions in Canada and tabled its report May 15, 1990. Both reports may be
secured by contacting the Clerk of the respective committee at the address or
toll free number mentioned above.
Bill C-16, An Act to establish the
Canadian Space Agency, was passed by the Senate May 2, 1990. The Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which studied the bill,
reported it without amendments, but noting deep concern with the organisation,
accountability and program delivery of science and technology issues in Canada.
Principally, the Committee felt that the new Space Agency should be
perceptually and literally at arms length from government intervention.
In their view, the Agency should be
free to pursue research solely for industrial and scientific benefit, out of
reach of political objectives, such as regional development.
Bill C-43, the Abortion legislation
recently passed by the Commons, is expected to receive a great deal of
attention at second reading debate and then be referred to the Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
On June 5, Senators voted to give
themselves a $153.00 tax free per diem for attending Senate sittings, committee
meetings or performing functions on behalf of the Senate. At the moment, living
expenses paid to MPs and Senators are a lump sum payment made to offset
expenses incurred as a result of their service in Ottawa. In attempting to
reach a desirable ratio with the Commons, certain Senators felt the new amount
should be tied directly to attendance.
Blair Armitage, Committee Clerk, The Senate
0n Tuesday, April 24, 1990 Ontario
Treasurer, Robert Nixon presented to the House, his sixth Budget. For the
second consecutive year, he reported Ontario's Budget was balanced, with a
surplus of $30 million and an operating surplus of $3.2 billion.
The budget predicted 1.7% growth in
the Ontario economy, a decline from 2.8% in 1989. Employment was expected to
increase by only 64,000 in 1990, compared to 87,000 new jobs in the previous
year. An increased unemployment rate of 5.6%, (up from 5.1 1/( in 1989) was
forecast along with a fall in the inflation rate to 4.9% (from 5.8% in 1989).
The decline was attributed to moderating house price increases, falling raw
material prices and slowing demand in the economy, reflecting in turn the
impact of high interest rates and the high exchange rate for the Canadian
Expenditures and revenues were both
expected to increase by 6.8% to $44.5 billion, with no requirement for general
New initiatives were announced to
provide interest rate assistance to farmers, to stimulate manufacturing
investment, and to extend school capital funding. $52 million was provided to initiate
reform of long term care for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Over the next four years, the
Government pledged $1.3 billion for capital funding for hospitals, with $250
million allocated for 1990-91. Funding for the operating of hospitals increased
9.7% to $6.6 billion, while total Ministry of Health spending was forecast to
rise by 10.917c to $15.3 billion, or 34% of total provincial expenditures.
The Select Committee on
Constitutional and Intergovernmental Affairs, chaired by Allan W. Furlong,
commenced consideration of Senate reform on February 19, 1990. The Committee
travelled to Ottawa and met with several Senators, including Lowell Murray,
Norm Atkins, and Allan J. MacEachen. In addition, the Committee met with the
Clerk of the Senate and the Assistant Law Clerk and Parliamentary Council.
In Toronto, the Committee has been
meeting once a week and has invited a number of academics with backgrounds in
political science and history to appear. One Senate reform proposal that is often
discussed, is that of the Triple E. In an endeavour to understand this proposal
and to discuss it in detail, the Committee invited two proponents of the Triple
E Senate. Bert Brown, Chairman of the Canadian Committee on the Triple E Senate
and David Elton, President of the Canada West foundation met with the Committee
on May 29, 1990.
The Select Committee on Education,
now chaired by Sterling Campbell, has been reviewing "Early Childhood
Education". The Committee met during January and February 1990 and
received 40 oral presentations. The review concerned the education of children
from the ages of 3 to 9. The Committee met with educators, child care workers,
school boards, trustees among others. The Committee was also interested in the
training early childhood teachers receive. The Committee's report is expected
in June 1990.
The Standing Committee on Estimates
has not been sitting to consider estimates since its report in November.
However, since the tabling of the Ministries estimates for 1990-91, hearings
will be underway by the end of May. The Chair, George McCague, MPP presided
over the first round selection of estimates to be considered and will call upon
the Committee to make its second round selection prior to the adjournment in
June. The Committee is not expecting to hold meetings during the summer recess
but will resume when the House reconvenes in September.
On December 5,1989, Bill 68, An Act
to revise certain acts respecting insurance was referred to the Standing
Committee on General Government. Bill 68 proposed to establish a commission to
regulate the automobile insurance industry in the context of a scheme of no
fault benefits. Hearings were held in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Windsor and Ottawa.
There were 20 days of hearings and 272 witnesses heard for a total of 104
hours. Four hundred and fourteen exhibits were filed in Committee. The Bill was
presented to the Legislature as amended on Tuesday, March 20, 1990.
Norman Sterling, Chair of the Standing Committee on
Government Agencies, presented a report dealing with the Ontario Food Terminal
Board wherein the Committee recommended the House pass a bill removing the
degree of control the Board possesses.
The Committee is in the final
stages of considering a report on various agencies it has had under review.
During the winter Adjournment, the Committee reviewed the Ontario Training
Corporation, Ontario Custody Review Board, Apprenticeship And Tradesmen's
Provincial Advisory Committees and the College Relations Commission.
The report of the Committee dealing
with the review of the Ontario Human Rights Commission is nearing completion
and should be ready for presentation by the time the House adjourns for the
On Thursday, November 23, 1989, the
Chair of the Standing Committee on the Ombudsman, Murad Velshi, presented the
Committee's Report on Expansion of Jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman
and moved the adoption of its recommendation. The Report recommended that the
Office not expand its jurisdiction.
The Committee met on March 21 and
22,1989 to consider and write a special report on Farm "Q" Ltd. On
Thursday, April 19, 1990, the Chair presented the Committee's Special Report on
Farm "Q" Ltd. and moved the adoption of its recommendation that the
matter be taken to arbitration.
The Standing Committee on Public
Accounts, chaired by Ed Philip, met for three weeks during the winter
Adjournment. The Committee re-called several ministries for more information on
what changes had been made since the Committee had reported on their areas. The
Committee also reviewed several sections of the 1989 Annual Report of the
Provincial Auditor. The Committee released its Annual Report in May. This
report reviewed the Committee's activities over the last year and included six
reports on areas of the Provincial Auditor's 1988 Annual Report.
Taking advantage of the new
Standing Orders which provide private members with the opportunity to designate
a matter to be considered by a committee, Richard Allen asked that the Standing
Committee on Social Development conduct hearings into the issue of the
expanding use of food banks in Ontario.
During three days of hearings, the
Committee heard from users of food banks, from food bank operators, from the
ministries of Health and Community and Social Services, from anti-hunger and
anti-poverty advocates, and from advocates for immigrants, the disabled,
children and the Native community.
One of the Committee's, and the
witnesses' major concerns was that community-based food banks not become
institutionalised as part of society's response to poverty and hunger. Because
a disturbingly high proportion of those using food banks are children, many
view hunger among children as a basic social justice issue.
In its substantial report, the
Committee made a series of recommendations to the government which are designed
to de-institutionalise the role of food banks and to remove disincentives to
employment, such as increasing the minimum wage, investing in not-for-profit
housing and establishing an Emergency Food Council.
Upon the reporting from General
Government Committee of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting
Insurance a major portion of Government energy and time were expended in
securing its passage. Opposition efforts to block the Bill were equally forceful,
including innovative and precedent-setting filibuster tactics.
After a day and a half of debate in
the House, the Government House Leader, Chris Ward, presented a motion for time
allocation with respect to Bill 68. Opposition arguments that the Standing
Orders did not provide for such a motion, and that it was premature in view of
the insufficient time for debate, did not prevail as Acting Speaker Michael
Breaugh ruled the motion in order. (No appeal to the House was possible since
the Standing Order reforms of July 1989 abolished the procedure.)
There then followed immediately in
spite of Government efforts to the contrary, the longest debate on a time
allocation motion in the history of the Ontario Legislature. Debate lasted 49
hours and 35 minutes over 18 days. Opposition members used a wide range of
means that extended debate, including quorum calls, points of order, divisions
and motions to adjourn the House or debate, the reading of many petitions and
the introduction of many bills.
The longest single continuous
contribution in this debate occurred on April 26 (and continued into April 27)
when the House continued to meet beyond the ordinary hour of adjournment on the
passage of a government motion and met for 17 hours and 24 minutes. Of this time,
17 hours and 15 minutes was taken U p by the member for Welland-Thorold,
Peter Kormos, who was interrupted on occasion by points of order, 4
divisions on motions to adjourn the debate, 3 divisions on motions to adjourn
the House and a 20 minutes suspension of the meeting of the House until
simultaneous interpretation facilities were made available. In all, Mr. Kormos
spoke for 40 hours and 39 minutes between April 3 and April 26/27. An
Opposition member moved an amendment to the motion on May 8,1990.
On May 9, 1990, the government
moved closure. After hearing arguments that the motion was out of order,
Speaker Hugh Edighoffer ruled that it was in order as there had been
ample time for debate. On division, the closure motion, and then the time
allocation motion, were agreed to. Following 3 days of further debate, Bill 68
received Third reading and Royal Assent on Monday, May 28,1990.
New P.C. Leader
On May 12, the Progressive
Conservative Party elected a new leader, Michael Harris, to replace
interim leader Andy Brandt. The election process was new to Ontario
politics in that all registered party members, not just selected delegates
meeting in convention, were eligible to vote in their ridings, with results
sent by FAX to Toronto for tabulation and posting.
Michael Harris was first elected to
represent the Nipissing riding in 1981. In 1985, he served as Minister of
Natural Resources and Minister of Energy under the last Progressive
Conservative Premier, Frank Miller. Since 1987, he had served as P.C. House Leader.
Retirement of Members
In the final days of a session
widely viewed as preceding a general election, many members' thoughts have been
concentrated on the prospect of life after Parliament
Among those who have announced they
will retire after long years of service are: Michael Breaugh (First
Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole House), Marion Bryden, John
Eakins, Herbert Epp, Ray Haggerty, Jack Johnson (Wellington),
Richard Johnston (Scarborough West), George McCague, Jack
Riddell and Doug Wiseman.
For the convenience of Members and
Legislature staff, a banking machine has been installed in the main Legislative
Building which permits one to withdraw cash only, but not to make deposits. The
unit, a Royal Bank Cash Counter, provides service to any client who deals with
a financial institution on the 9nterac" system.
Douglas Arnott, Committee Clerk, Ontario Legislative
House of Commons
The months of April, May and June,
- typically the busiest of the parliamentary year - have this year lived up to
their reputation, if only for the unprecedented glare of publicity cast on
constitutional questions in anticipation of the June 23 Meech Lake approval
deadline. Somewhat overlooked in this period were more mundane but no less
important changes to the conduct of private members' business, the naming of a
new Deputy Speaker and the public reflections of a Committee on its own
Private Members' Business
Five years ago this June, when the
Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons - the McGrath Committee
- tabled its comprehensive report on House procedure, it paid special attention
to the conduct of private members' business in an effort to enhance the role of
the private member. An entirely new process was proposed, and the House
eventually accepted many of the Committee's recommendations.
Since then, the new system -which
provides for a random draw of a limited number of bills and motions (20 in all)
for priority consideration - has been fine tuned on several occasions, most
recently on May 10, when wide-ranging changes were made on a provisional basis.
One of the more important
modifications concerned the conduct of private members' business on supply
days. Until May 10, private members' hour was bumped on any day devoted to the
business of supply. The Standing Orders provide for 25 supply days in any given
calendar year when the House is sitting; as such, many private members' days
were lost. The changes adopted now provide that private members' business will
proceed, even on supply days.
A second change provides that
instead of a random draw of 20 items for priority consideration, Members' names
will now be drawn in two separate draws: one for Members with bills and one for
Members with motions. Once an equal number of names of Members with bills and
Members with motions are drawn, another random draw will determine the final
order for consideration of items. While complicated, this process guarantees
against a flooding of the order of precedence (the 20 items names) with either
motions or bills.
The changes will be in effect until
the last sitting day in December, 1990.
On May 15, Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney rose in his place to move the appointment of André Champagne
as Deputy Speaker of the House following the resignation of Marcel Danis
from that post earlier the same day, Mr. Danis was named to the Cabinet
February 23rd, but had remained as Deputy Speaker without exercising presiding
officer functions in the House. Mr. Danis also revived an old precedent by
remaining Chairman of the Special Committee on the Review of the Parliament o f
Canada Act while a Minister of the Crown (Mitchell Sharp was the last
Minister to chair a committee, in the mid 1970s.)
The Standing Committee on Finance
continued to make headlines during its study of the Goods and Services Tax
legislation. On March 19, after the Committee had been considering the bill in
Committee for several days, debate began on a motion to complete proceedings on
the bill according to a specific timetable. Thirty one hours later, the
filibuster ended following a controversial decision by the Chairman, Don
Blenkarn, to end debate on the motion.
The Committee subsequently
reconsidered these events and reported to the House on April 30 that it viewed
"with alarm the procedure whereby a Chairman may put an end to debate on a
motion before a Committee by way of a ruling sustained by a majority of
Committee members". The Committee further stated that it did not consider
the Chairman's decision to be a precedent. The House concurred in the report,
which concluded with a recommendation that the House -consider the advisability
of referring to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections the question
of committees' rules and procedures as they relate to the limiting of debate in
cases where a Committee has reached an impasse".
Marc Bosc, Procedural Clerk, House of Commons