| New Brunswick
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The seventh session of the
Northwest Territories' Eleventh Legislative Assembly prorogued on November 6,
1990, after 20 sitting days during which MLAs deal t with environmental issues,
the economy and electoral district boundary changes.
Commissioner Daniel L. Norris
opened the session on October 10, 1990, detailing national issues which could
impact on the pace of political, economic and social development in the NWT .
The failure of the Meech Lake Accord and the crisis over Mohawk lands at Oka
will require new thinking on the part of all provinces and the territories, he
noted, affirming the Government of the Northwest Territories' commitment to do
what it can to assist in the final resolution of land claims and aboriginal
self-government, and its concern over recent difficulties with the resolution
of the Dene-Metis claim.
The beginning stages of a recession
in the rest of Canada and federal preoccupation with extremely critical
national and international issues, means that heading into the final year of
its mandate, the Territorial Government must be practical and use common sense
rather than confrontation in its approach to problem-solving. He pointed out
that under a consensus system, the Legislative Assembly has a unique
opportunity to work together to meet the long-term interests of constituents,
and outlined the government's plans to take further steps toward long term
development of the economy, and to put forward a number of major initiatives on
Environmental concerns predominated
throughout this session. MLAs passed critical amendments to the Environmental
Protection Act, put forward by the Minister of Renewable Resources, Titus
Allooloo. The revised Act clarifies provisions dealing with the discharge
of contaminants, increases maximum penalties, expands the kinds of orders the
Court may make, and provides that directors of a corporation maybe held
personally liable for offenses committed by a corporation.
The minister also tabled the
Northwest Territories Sustainable Development Policy, which formally recognizes
the link between environmental and economic development, and will promote
resource management; maintain and enhance environmental quality; establish
conservation areas; develop non-renewable resources which provide lasting
social and economic benefits while maintaining ecological processes and natural
diversity; and promote co-operation in the management of transboundary
MLAs also passed a precedent
setting Private Member's Public Bill on environmental rights. Brought before
the House by Brian Lewis, MLA Yellowknife Centre, the Environmental Rights Act
gives residents the right to take direct action against anyone who harms the
environment. It is the first bill of its kind to receive passage in Canada, and
the first private Member's bill to be passed by the NWT Assembly.
Expressing concern over potential
harm to the NWT environment from effluents flowing into the Slave-Mackenzie
watershed if plans to build pulp mills in Alberta go ahead, the Assembly passed
a motion to take legal action if the Alberta Pacific Forest Industries (ALPAC)
mill is approved without further public hearings in the NWT, and to continue
negotiations between the GNWT and the Government of Alberta over a
transboundary water agreement with full involvement of aboriginal peoples.
Electoral Boundary Changes
This session saw the creation of
two new ridings; the removal of two others; and changes to boundaries in a
number of ridings, as MLAs approved the recommendations of the 1989/90
Electoral Boundaries Commission, with a number of amendments.
Members supported the Commission's
recommendation that extremes of under representation and over representation be
eliminated. They also upheld the principle that no single community should be
allowed to dominate the Legislative Assembly.
Social Assistance Rates
MLAs approved a motion by the
Member for Lac La Martre, Henry Zoe to have the Department of Social
Services increase social assistance rates by 8 per cent; increase the clothing
allowance by 100 per cent; and conduct a food basket survey in 1991. The motion
also recommended that the Minister consider implementing indexing of social
assistance rates to the cost of living by April, 1992, and that the minister
report back to the Assembly during the Eighth session on the department's plans
to implement these recommendations.
The Report of the Special Committee
on the Northern Economy was tabled for the third time by the Committee and
finally debated and adopted by the House. The Committee recognized that the
Executive Council had reviewed the SCONE Report and developed policies and
strategies to address a number of its recommendations. Brian Lewis, one of the
Co-Chairmen, stressed that the SCONE Report is a blue-print for the future, and
now gives the government a clear direction to follow to address the
Territories' economic future.
The Minister of Transportation
presented and tabled the government's Transportation Strategy, the first-ever
long term plan for transportation in the Northwest Territories, stating that a
better transportation system will create opportunities for mining, tourism,
fishing, trade and travel between communities. The strategy addresses five
basic problems: great distances; inadequate airport facilities; an
under-developed highway system; inadequate existing highways; and almost
non-existent marine facilities. Implementing the plan is expected to cost $2.7
billion more than is currently being spent, spread over the next 20 years.
During the Seventh Session, the
Associate Minister for Aboriginal Rights and Constitutional Development
announced that the Territorial Government and the Tungavik Federation of
Nunavut have reached agreement on a process to be used for planning a Nunavut
Territory and that a letter would be sent to the Prime Minister defining the
general process, and requesting a meeting to obtain Ottawa's agreement on the
Seventeen new or amended Bills
passed during this session including:
Child Welfare Act; to add the
requirement for reasonable grounds for apprehension and to exempt authorized
persons from liability;
Cities, Towns and Villages Act; to increase
maximum fines for infraction of municipal by-laws;
Civil Emergency Measures Act; to
allow a local authority to conduct a search outside the boundaries of the
Dental Profession Act; to allow a
dentist registered under Part III to apply for an extension of one to three
years to complete requirements for registration, and to establish a Student
Petroleum Products Tax Act; to
remove the section stating
that no tax is payable by the
Government of Canada;
Public Service Act; to amend it to
conform with the Affirmative Action Policy and to require the minister to
revoke an appointment when an appeal is granted by the Staffing Appeals
Local Authorities Elections Act; to
set a deadline for payment of municipal property taxes by election candidates,
and to allow local authorities to place photographs on ballots; Legislative
Assembly Building Loan Authorization Act; to authorize the Commissioner to make
loans of up to $12 million to the NWT Legislative Assembly Building Society to
finance construction of a Legislative Building for the Territories;
Elections Act; amendments to allow
polling stations to stay open later if their opening has been delayed; to
provide that candidates must notify the Chief Electoral Officer if they give surplus
campaign contributions to charitable organizations; to allow candidates to pay
and be reimbursed for reasonable travel and living expenses; and to allow
unsuccessful candidates to request an extension of the time for making
declarations of campaign contributions and expenses.
Session to Reconvene
In proroguing the Seventh Session,
Commissioner Norris announced that the Eighth Session of the Eleventh
Legislative Assembly would commence in Yellowknife on February 13,1991.
Sharon Hall, Public Affairs Officer, NWT Legislative
In the interim between prorogation
of the Third Session and the Spring Opening of the Fourth Session of the
Fifty-first Legislative Assembly, legislators considered bills and special
papers referred to various Standing and Special Committees. Meanwhile
legislative staff prepared to host New Brunswick's second Student Legislative
Referred to the Law Amendments
Committee for public hearings were the Beverage Containers Act; the Succession
Law Amendment Act; and the Survivorship Act.
At public hearings in December and
January more than forty groups or individuals spoke to the Beverage Containers
Act. This Act proposes to implement a deposit return system which will require
significant changes for retailers, recyclers, manufacturers and consumers.
In February, the Committee will
hold public hearings on the Succession Law Amendment Act, and the Survivorship
Act. In addition, a document, Towards a World Family -A Report and
Recommendations Respecting Human Rights in New Brunswick, was referred to the
Committee for public hearings. The terms of reference were to inquire into,
study, and prepare a report including recommendations for legislative changes
on the following issues:
whether the current human rights
law conforms with the requirements of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
whether the orientation and scope
of the current law are appropriate to address problems and expectations in the
human rights area; the appropriate composition of the Human Rights Commission,
and the terms of office and functions of the body's Chairperson, Commissioners
whether the mandate of the Human
Rights Commission is adequate and appropriate;
whether the procedures and remedies
currently provided for human rights issues are adequate and appropriate; any
other issues regarding human rights or related matters considered significant.
Public input will be sought with
regard to the subject matter of A Discussion Paper on the Right to Information
Act, which was referred to the Special Committee on Social Policy Development.
This paper provides background information, reviews the operation and
administration of the Act, compares similar legislation in other Canadian
jurisdictions, and recommends changes to both the legislation and
The document Private Woodlots:
Consideration for Future Action was tabled in the House November 1, 1990 and
referred to the Special Committee on Economic Policy Development. This document
elicited more than 200 responses from persons or associations who wished to
address this subject matter. The paper's terms of reference are to solicit
ideas and views of interested parties. This paper provides a summary of
studies, including numerous recommendations toward the rationalization of
forest policy and programs related to the private woodlot sector in New
The document incorporates a summary
of recommendations from the Private Woodlot Resources Study commissioned in
1981, as well as Framework for Action (1986), Recommendations Concerning
Regional Forest Management and Utilization on Private Woodlots in New Brunswick
(1986), and the Report to the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy on
Changes in Legislation Regarding the Authority and Administration of the New
Brunswick Forest Products Commission, and Forest Products Marketing Boards
(1989). Public hearings are scheduled in various locations in the province.
The Standing Committee on Public
Accounts examined the annual reports of government departments for the last
fiscal year, and the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations is scheduled to
examine those of the various corporations.
Student Legislative Seminar
New Brunswick's Legislative
Assembly, in conjunction with the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table and the
Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, hosted the Second Student Legislative
Seminar, March 22 to March 24,1991. Fifty-eight senior high school students
representing the 58 provincial constituencies participated. The goals of the
seminar are:0) to provide students with a better understanding of the
mechanisms of the provincial government; (2) to encourage the use of the model
parliament forum in New Brunswick high schools and; (3) to promote positive
relations between Anglophone and Francophone students.
Diane Taylor Myles, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly
The initial session of the
Thirty-fifth Legislature of Manitoba continued throughout November and into
December of 1990. Due to the near record length of the previous session, this one
was viewed by all three parties as a housekeeping session, convened to deal
with spending estimates for the fiscal year which will end in March, 1991.
Besides the estimates, two major
Acts were dealt with which had originally been introduced in the previous
session. The Labour Relations Amendment Act, which repeals provision for final
offer selection, a form of binding arbitration in labour negotiations, and
which did not get passed under the previous minority Progressive Conservative
government led by Premier Gary Filmon. Now with a majority the PCs were
successful in obtaining Assembly approval of the amendment.
Similarly, The Residential
Tenancies and Consequential Amendments Act was introduced in the last session
but died on the order paper, with the NDP claiming the government had caved-in
to landlords who opposed such proposals as allowing the province to take
control of buildings whose landlords failed to comply with repair orders, and
including the establishment of a residential tenancies commission to make
binding rulings on landlord-tenant disputes. The new bill re-introduced this
session was considered even by the NDP housing critic, Doug Martindale, as one
that had "not been substantially changed," and it was subsequently
A third piece of legislation, The
Business Practices Act, also died on the order paper last March and was
re-introduced and passed in this session. The legislation offers consumers
protection from individuals or companies who make misleading claims about goods
or services they provide, and prohibits transactions where consumers, who are
incapable of defending their own interests, are taken advantage of.
Ed Connery, Minister responsible for the bill, stated
that "Legislation, like wine, improves with age..." and that this
version of the bill was even better than last year's. Jim Maloway, NDP consumer
affairs critic, in comparing it to the previous bill, was quoted as saying that
"What has happened since then is the business community got to them and
basically they have taken out all of the things that they don't like."
Among the more substantial pieces
of new legislation passed was The Ombudsman Amendment Act, which would allow
the Provincial Ombudsman to enter into an agreement with and provide his or her
services to the City of Winnipeg, also employment legislation that improves
parental leave benefits, increasing the possible amount of combined maternity
and parental leave to 34 weeks.
A number of relatively routine
pieces of legislation were also passed. These dealt with the re-enactment of
statutes, though the latter was hardly routine in its origin. The Supreme Court
of Canada in 1985 ruled that, to gain validity, all Manitoba laws in the future
must be enacted in English and French, and all previous ones would have to be
re-enacted, printed, and published in both languages by December 31, 1990.
Consequently, over 250 private and public Acts were re-enacted, and an even
greater number repealed.
At the beginning of December,
Premier Gary Filmon made a statement to the House outlining the
establishment of an all-party Constitutional Task Force. Its mandate would not
be to "...propose a series of specific constitutional amendments..."
but "...to assist the Government in establishing a positive agenda for constitutional
reform." Specific areas to be looked at are to include Senate reform,
aboriginal rights, the amending process for constitutional reform, and the
division of powers between the federal and provincial governments.
Selected to be chairperson of the
task force is Professor Wally Fox-Decent, who chaired the province's
Meech Lake Task Force in 1989. He will be joined by three members from the
government side; two members from the NDP; and one Liberal. Public hearings
started in January, and an interim report is expected by the end of March.
The consideration of expenditure
estimates and debates on bills proceeded fairly smoothly and expeditiously,
with MLAs from all three parties appearing to want an adjournment well before
Christmas, however this co-operation was threatened when the government
introduced an environmental bill in the last week of November. The Environment
Amendment Act was a bill of only four clauses, but there was a great deal of
opposition to it by the NDP, the Liberals, and environmentalists.
The bill proposed to allow the
government, in considering the environmental impact of a new development to
establish a joint assessment process with any other jurisdiction affected by
the project; or indeed to simply provide for the use of the other province's (or
the federal government's) assessment process. Critics felt the bill would limit
the effectiveness and independence of any body reviewing a proposal, and voiced
their concerns that in any joint review, where standards differ between
jurisdictions, the least rigorous would be chosen.
However, while acknowledging that a
clear government objective of the bill is to avoid legal wrangles as Manitoba
undertakes its own massive Conawapa hydro project, Glen Cummings,
Minister of Environment, stated in the House that "...no one out there
need fear what is intended by these amendments. We want the best environmental
assessment at the highest standards that can be possibly achieved for the
processes within our jurisdiction."
With the introduction of this bill,
the co-operative mood in the House was upset. Still, a December 14 adjournment
was achieved. The government agreed to hold two public hearings on the bill
before the Standing Committee on Law Amendments in January. They faced strong
opposition from a coalition of environmental groups as well as the NDP and the
Liberals, but, with a number of minor amendments, the bill was passed.
The Manitoba Legislative Assembly
was reconvened for one sitting on January 21 at which time The Environment
Amendment Act received third reading and Royal Assent. Much of the day,
however, was occupied by a debate on a matter of urgent public importance
concerning, "...the threat to the health care system posed by the
intransigence of this Government in its handling of the nurses' strike,"
proposed by Liberal Leader Sharon Carstairs, and ruled in order by Speaker
Denis Rocan. This strike, which began on January 1, had become the longest
nurses' strike in Canadian history.
The next session of the Manitoba
Legislature is expected to open in March. After going through one of Manitoba's
longest legislative sessions (153 sitting days), a general election in
September, 1990, and a subsequent session which was less than one-third the
length of the previous one, the next full session should see the Manitoba
Assembly sitting on a more regular schedule, with timely consideration of
annual spending estimates, and likely a more ambitious legislative program.
W.H. (Binx) Remnant, Clerk, Manitoba Legislative Assembly
The Second Session of the twenty-second
Legislature began on November 26, 1990. This short, fall session was called to
deal with the final report of the Special Committee on Electoral Boundaries,
and was adjourned on December 14.
The Select Special Committee on
Electoral Boundaries was struck in August 1989 with the mandate to hold public
hearings and consider new guidelines for the establishment or redistribution of
electoral divisions in Alberta. The all-party committee proposed changes for
Alberta's electoral boundaries process, such as following the general rule of
plus or minus 25% of the average divisional population in Alberta, except in
special circumstances, and it laid out criteria for those special
circumstances. The committee also made specific proposals for the composition
of the Electoral Boundaries Commission in its report, which was released
As a result of the completion of
the committee's activities, the Attorney General brought forward the Electoral
Boundaries Commission Act in the House on November 29. The Act sets out
electoral division redistribution rules and establishes the Electoral
Boundaries Commission, which will propose new boundaries and hold public
hearings over the next 15 months before publishing a final report for
presentation to the Assembly.
The Natural Resources Conservation
Board Act, Bill 52, was introduced in the Spring Session of 1990 by Energy
Minister Rick Orman, and was passed by the Legislative Assembly on December 5.
The Board will have the responsibility of reviewing all proposed industrial
projects which will have an impact on the environment. As a new regulatory
body, this board will along with the proposed Environmental Enhancement and
Protection legislation, make comprehensive environmental reviews and
evaluations a standard part of Alberta's environmental protection policy.
Bill 38, the Loan and Trust
Corporations Act, was also debated during the fall session. This legislation
would introduce new rules of registration and reporting for Alberta Trust
Companies. This bill will be brought before the House again in the 1991 Spring
On October 18, 1990, the Alberta
Legislature mourned the passing of a sitting member of the Assembly, Gordon
Wright. Mr. Wright was first elected in 1986 as the Member for
Edmonton-Strathcona and was re-elected in 1989. Mr. Wright will be remembered
for his integrity and his commitment to his principles and his constituents.
His successor, Barry Chivers, a former law partner, was elected in a
by-election on December 17.
Patricia Mappin , Parliamentary Intern , Legislative Assembly
House of Commons
In late 1990 and early 1991, the
House passed many Special Orders and repeatedly used unanimous consent to
modify the parliamentary calendar and the schedule of the House. On December
19, 1990, after just less than a month of sittings, the House agreed to a
motion to adjourn until February 18, 1991, unless it was recalled to receive
Royal Assent to bills or unless, as stated in Standing Order 28(3), the public
interest required that it resume sitting at an earlier time.
In light of the escalation of
tensions in the Middle East and the impending lapse of the UN-imposed deadline
for the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait, the Speaker, at the request of the
Government, published a Special Order Paper for January 15, 1991. The Order
Paper contained only one motion, a motion similar to the one passed by the
House in support of the United Nations Security Council's resolution 660. The
That this House reaffirms its
support of the United Nations in ending the aggression by Iraq against Kuwait.
Motions ran high in the debate
which ensued, a debate which was taking place at the time of the
outbreak of hostilities on January 16,1991
and which ran for extended hours over a four-day period. Although attempts were
made to amend the motion, by adding provisions which would effectively prohibit
the involvement of Canadian forces in offensive military action, the original
motion unaltered, was agreed to on January 22, 1991 by a vote 217 to 47.
Also in this week following the
recall, the House consented to a resolution which stated:
That this House continue to have
confidence in the loyalty of Arab Canadians and in their support of Canada at
this time of global crisis;
and That this House condemns
unequivocally any attempt to portray these communities as less than full
Members of Canadian society.
In response to events in the Soviet
Union, the House also adopted a motion condemning "the brutal and
unacceptable crackdown in Lithuania". On January 22,1991, the House was
adjourned to the call of the Chair.
From the time the House resumed
sitting in late November until its Christmas break, Members of the House had to
share the legislative limelight with their counterparts in "the other
place", as Senators continued to procedurally manoeuvre their way through
the debate on the Goods and Services Tax Bill (Bill C-62). Passage of the Bill
on December 13, followed by Royal Assent on December 17, shifted the focus back
to the House for its debate on the controversial Broadcasting Act (Bill C-40)
and Petro-Canada Privatization Act (Bill C-84). (Both received Royal Assent on
February 1, 1991.)
Other legislative events of note
over this period include the passage
by the House of Bill C-79, An Act
to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, and the granting of Royal Assent to
bills establishing the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (Bill C-63); the
Department of Multiculturalism (Bill C-18) and the Heritage Languages Institute
Committee watchers have had a great
deal to keep their interest during this period. The Standing Committee on
Privileges and Elections presented its 19th Report, entitled Enhancing the
Parliamentary Channel on November 23, 1990 -just weeks before Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation President Gérard Veilleux officially informed
the House that the Corporation could no longer afford to pay for the operations
of the Parliamentary Channel.
On November 22,1990, Raymond
Skelly rose in the House, explained that the Standing Committee on
Aboriginal Affairs had had difficulties dealing with its Order of Reference
concerning the summer events at Oka, Quebec and asked that the Speaker meet
with members of the various parties to assist them in starting their inquiry.
The Speaker stated that the Chair would not intervene in committee matters and
that the committee members should continue discussions to resolve the matter.
The Speaker made a similar ruling
on November 28, in response to a question of privilege raised by lain Angus.
Mr. Angus had argued that the privileges of the members of the Transport
Committee had been breached because the committee had not held any meetings.
Acknowledging that the committee could not meet because it did not have a
Chairman, the Speaker explained that a meeting could be convened by the Clerk
of the House following the acceptance of the report of the Striking Committee
providing for new committee membership, or by the Chief Government Whip
following consultations with the other parties. The Speaker then noted that
although there was cause for concern, the parties should negotiate a solution
to the problem without the intervention of the Chair.
On December 19, 1990, the Clerk of
the House, pursuant to Standing Order 121(5), had appended to the Votes and
Proceedings reports of the expenditures and activities of legislative, standing
and special committees.
Two special committees were also
established during this period. The first, the Special Committee on the subject
matter of Bill C-80 (Firearms), was set up on November 23, 1990 to study the
issue of gun control. The second, the Special Joint Committee of the House of
Commons and Senate on the process for amending the Constitution of Canada, once
again brought the constitutional debate officially before the House. The
mandate of this 12-House, 5-Senate member committee is to study and report upon
the process for amending the Constitution, with special reference to the role
of the public, the effectiveness of the existing procedures, and alternatives
to the current process, including those set out in the Government's
recently-released discussion paper entitled "Amending the Constitution of
Canada". The committee is scheduled to report back to the House no later
than July 1, 1991.
Other committees were given some
extraordinary powers. First, all committees were given the permission to
deposit reports with the Clerk while the House was not sitting and to have them
thus presented. Second, the
Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade was twice
granted permission to broadcast its proceedings. And third, the Standing
Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, and the Standing Committee
on External Affairs and International Trade were given a) the authorization to
hold joint public meetings during the adjournment of the House for the purpose
of receiving briefings on the Persian Gulf War, and, most notably, b) the power
to request that the Speaker recall the House.
Canadians also witnessed several
changes to the parties in the House. Pat Nowlan, the long-time Member
from Annapolis Valley-Hants, twice rose to declare that because he had been
elected as an individual and not as a party Member, he wished to be designated
as an "Independent - Conservative" in the records and documents of
the House. Despite the argument that only names of the parties officially
recognized under the Canada Elections Act could be used as designations of
political affiliation in the House, the Speaker ruled that there was no legal
impediment to Mr. Nowlan's request, and that he could therefore be listed as an
"Independent - Conservative" in the weekly Appendix to Debates, in
the Appendices to the bound volumes of Debates and Journals and in any
documents or circumstances consequential to those Appendices. Similarly,
members of the Bloc Québécois who have so requested are now listed in House
documents as Bloc Québécois or "BQ".
The Bloc Québécois also continued
in its quest for additional research funding, arguing vigorously that their
privileges as Members were being breached because they did not have access to
the same research funds as Members
of the recognized parties. The Board of Internal Economy having denied the
Bloc's request for additional resources, Jean Lapierre demanded of the Speaker
an explanation for what he termed "the Speaker's decision". The
Speaker explained that the Board of Internal Economy, and not he alone, had
made the decision. He then outlined the resources available to each Member of
the House, regardless of his or her party affiliation, and noted that excluding
the office, telephone and mailing resources granted to each Member, the total
budgetary allocations to the Bloc Québécois Members equalled almost $1.5
million. As to the procedural questions concerning the Bloc Québécois members,
the Speaker stated that the Chair had extended every courtesy to the group and
had safeguarded the participation of its members in the proceedings of the
The ranks of the Liberal party
increased by three over this period. In December 10, 1990 by-elections, Liberal
Leader Jean Chrétien won the New Brunswick Beauséjour riding, replacing
Fernand Robichaud who had resigned in September, and Maurizio Bevilacqua
reclaimed the York North riding seat he had lost months earlier when the
Supreme Court of Ontario declared his election void and invalid. In late
January, former Conservative, then Independent, David Kilgour officially joined
the Liberal party.
The party standings in the House
are now PC, 158; Liberal, 81; NDP, 44; and "Other", which includes
Independent, Reform Party and Bloc Québécois Members, 12.
Barbara Whittaker, Procedural Clerk, Table Research Branch