| New Brunswick
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The Prime Minister of Canada, Jean
Chrétien, was in attendance as Commissioner Daniel L. Norris opened
the fourth session of the Twelfth Legislative Assembly of the Northwest
Territories on November 17. It was the very first session in Canada's newest
Legislative Building overlooking Frame Lake in the heart of Yellowknife.
Construction of the 46,000 square foot building began in the summer of 1991 and
official opening ceremonies with invited guests from nearly every other
Parliament in Canada took place a few hours before the session began.
It was a homecoming of sorts for
Prime Minister Chrétien who had participated at the opening of the NWT
Legislative Assembly session in 1972 and 1974 when he was the Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The 4th session was marked by the
presentation of the government's 1994-95 Capital budget, the resignation of a
Cabinet Minister and extensive discussion of a number of major committee
On November 19, Finance Minister, John
Pollard, introduced his $180 million dollar plan for capital spending in
the fiscal year 1994-95. He told MLAs that the provision of housing to
residents of the NWT remains the number one priority of the government. An
extensive survey identified the need for 3,500 new housing units in the
Territories, but Mr. Pollard said that because of a decrease in federal funding
the shortfall of housing will continue to increase. Mr. Pollard also outlined
plans to spend more than $37 million on the construction of education facilities,
more than $35 million to address infrastructure requirements and replace aging
facilities and more than $37 million for the continued development of roads,
marine services and airports. In 1992, the government decided to move the
presentation of its capital budget to the fall session so that contractors and
government departments have adequate time to prepare for the short northern
summer construction season. The Operations and Maintenance budget continues to
be presented each spring.
The Member for Thebacha, Jeannie
Marie-Jewell, raised a point of order on December 1 about whether Members
were able to ask questions of Ministers about what happens during Cabinet
discussions. The next day, Speaker Michael Ballantyne declared that the
rules do not prevent Members from asking questions pertaining to issues
involved in Cabinet deliberations. "Without cabinet secrecy, the executive
simply could not continue to govern with any degree of solidarity or
effectiveness," said the Speaker. He added, "Cabinet secrecy is only
a political convention and is not a rule of this Legislature, nor does it
attract the protection of the law of parliamentary privilege. Any Member may
ask a question of a Minister, eliciting information on Cabinet deliberations.
It will be the responsibility of the Minister to whom the question is asked, as
to whether they invoke Cabinet secrecy and refuse to answer the question."
Premier Nellie Cournoyea
announced to the House on November 22 that she had asked for and received the
resignation of the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Titus
Allooloo. He had been under intense questioning over his decision to remove
the Iqaluit Town Council and replace it with a Municipal Administrator. Premier
Cournoyea said Mr. Allooloo made statements in the House about Ministerial
travel during this questioning that were not true.
Three of the six bills introduced
during this session were passed:
Appropriation Act, No. 1,
1994-95; authorizes the
Government of the Northwest Territories to make capital expenditures for the
fiscal year ending March 31, 1995;
Supplementary Appropriation Act,
No. 5 1992-93; provides for
additional appropriations of approximately $1 million not previously
Supplementary Appropriation Act,
No. 2 1993-94; revises the
amount of money needed to cover operations and maintenance expenditures not
After nearly two years of work,
involving more than 200 meetings and public events, an opinion survey of 280
frontline workers and receiving more than 250 presentations the Special
Committee on Health and Social Services presented its final report Talking
and Working Together. The report contains 32 recommendations aimed at
making the delivery of health and social service programs more suitable to the
needs of community residents. In presenting the report, Committee Chairman, Charles
Dent, urged the government to develop a system that shifts its focus from
institutional care to home-based programs and services in an effort to place
less emphasis on the treatment of problems and more on their prevention.
The Standing Committee on Finance
presented its report on the government's capital 1994-95 expenditure budget.
The Committee recommended the government pursue the objective of maintaining an
accumulated surplus. Although agreeing with the Finance Minister's stated
priority of providing housing, Committee Chairman, Jim Antoine, said
education could become the main priority if federal funding was forthcoming for
aboriginal housing programs. Mr. Antoine also said there is still room for
improvement in the consultation process the government uses in developing its
The Standing Committee on
Legislation tabled its report dealing with the Workers Compensation Act.
The Committee held public hearings in Yellowknife in September to review the
Act. Chairman, Silas Arngna'naaq, said the Committee wants amendments to
the Workers Compensation Act to be an immediate priority of the
government. The committee made 7 recommendations, including increasing the size
of the Board of Directors to include at least one member of aboriginal descent.
The Standing Committee on Agencies,
Boards and Committees produced three reports during the fourth session. It held
two years of public hearings and informal consultations with Board members,
staff and students of Arctic College. Prior to the establishment of two College
headquarters, the Committee recommended that enabling legislation be in place
and a draft strategic plan be produced for each college before legislation is
introduced. The Cabinet was asked to table a response to the Committee's report
within 120 days.
Chairman, Fred Koe, said the
Committee supports the Minister of Transportation's decision to eliminate the
Highway Transport Board. Due to federal deregulation of the Canadian
transportation industry, the workload of the Board was reduced and the
Committee believes its few functions could be handled within the Department.
However, it asked for more details about the financial effects of eliminating
The Committee also travelled
throughout the Northwest Territories seeking public input into the operations
of the NWT Power Corporation. It asked for a response to its 13 recommendations
within 120 days.
The Standing Committee on Public
Accounts tabled its report on the Review of the Financial Statements of the
Government of the Northwest Territories and the Report of the Auditor General
for Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1992. Chairman, Henry Zoe,
presented the Committee's recommendations on the government's awarding of a
$530 thousand sole source consulting contract. The Committee wants the
government to review the amount paid to the contractor for services provided to
a third party and assess the feasibility of recovering these fees.
Commissioner Norris prorogued the
fourth session on December 9, 1993.
The fifth session began December 13
with the election of a new Speaker. Michael Ballantyne retired from the
position at the end of the fourth session. He was replaced by Jeannie
Marie-Jewell who was chosen over other candidates, Sam Gargan and Brian
Lewis. Mr. Lewis was later chosen Deputy Speaker.
Silas Arngna'naaq was sworn in as a Cabinet member replacing Titus
Allooloo who resigned in November.
Finance Minister, John Pollard,
introduced an Options Paper on Deficit Management. Large unanticipated
expenditures and revenue declines have placed the Government of the Northwest
Territories in a deficit situation for 1993-94. The Standing Committee on
Finance was dissatisfied with the report. Chairman, Jim Antoine, said
there could not be a productive discussion of the Paper because it did not
contain specific options. The Committee recommended the Department of Finance
and Financial Management Board to come up with a short-term strategy to avoid
deficit financing to guide fiscal management in the 1994-95 fiscal year and the
Financial Management Board develop an integrated plan and political strategy
that brings together the major financial issues facing the government.
After sitting for two days, the
fifth session adjourned until February 9, 1994.
Paul Jones, Coordinator, Public Information
Prorogation after the 34th
Parliament brought some new and interesting developments for the Senate. The
passage of Bill C-79, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, on
April 11, 1991, granted the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration intersessional authority during prorogation or
dissolution. Consequently, during the months of November, December and January,
prior to the Opening of Parliament, Internal Economy's Sub-Committee on Budgets
and Personnel held a series of meetings over several days to consider and
report back to the full Committee on the draft expenditure plan for 1994-1995.
The result was that for the third consecutive year the Committee on Internal
Economy reduced the budget this year by 1.4%, (reductions in the two previous
years were 2.5% and 1.9%). These savings were projected despite the assessment
that the workload will be higher in the coming, non-election year, and were
achieved through significant cuts to such areas as consultants' fees, foreign
travel, exchanges, hospitality, and printing and transcribing.
On January 19, only two days into
the new Parliament, the Committee on Internal Economy was able to report the
budget to the Senate, instead of being faced with just beginning the estimates
The Opening of the 35th Parliament
on January 17 and 18, 1994, followed the tradition and ceremony of past
Openings. On the first day, the Clerk of the Senate read to the Upper Chamber a
Commission under the Great Seal appointing Roméo LeBlanc as Speaker.
After Speaker LeBlanc took the chair, the Senate sent its messenger, the
Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, to request the Members of the House of
Commons to attend the Governor General in the Senate Chamber. Upon the MPs
arrival at the Bar of the Chamber, the Speaker of the Senate conveyed a message
to them that the Governor General did not "see fit to declare the causes
of his summoning the present Parliament of Canada until a Speaker of the House
of Commons shall have been chosen, according to law." A Communication from
Government House was then read into the minutes, informing the Speaker that
"Their Excellencies, the Governor General and Mrs. Gerda Hnatyshyn,
will arrive at the Peace Tower at 14:35 on Tuesday, the 18th of January,
1994." The first day of the Opening was thus concluded.
The next day at 3:00 p.m. the
Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod was again sent to summon the Commons to the
Upper Chamber. Upon arrival, their newly elected Speaker, Gilbert Parent,
informed the Governor General of his election, to which the Senate Speaker
replied on the Governor General's behalf. The Governor General Ramon
Hnatyshyn then proceeded to read the Speech from the Throne. It was one of
the shortest Throne Speeches in recent years but it promised a busy first
session of Parliament. The emphasis was on job creation and economic growth,
highlighting increased job training, the creation of a Youth Service Corps to
put young Canadians to work, an activist trade policy to improve access to
foreign markets, the elimination of provincial trade barriers, an investment
fund to help hi-tech firms, the creation of a technology network, and the
reintroduction of the Residential Rehabilitation Program. Measures to bring the
federal debt and deficit under control would not be dealt with until the budget
is tabled in February.
To rebuild a sense of integrity in
government, the Throne Speech pledged the appointment of an ethics counsellor
for government, legislation on lobbying, the elimination of double-dipping and
pension reform for parliamentarians. The Speech also cited major reform of the
social security system within two years, replacement of the GST, action to halt
foreign overfishing off the East Coast, measures to combat racism and violence
against women and children, development of "green" infrastructures,
and further implementation of northern claims settlements.
January 19 was the first routine
sitting day of the new session. Congratulations were in order for Senator Joyce
Fairbairn, the first woman Leader in the Senate for either the Government
or the Opposition. Senator Gildas Molgat, Deputy Leader of the
Opposition moved for the appointment of the Committee of Selection, naming five
Liberals and four Conservatives to the Committee. The Leader of the Opposition,
Senator John Lynch-Staunton, moved an amendment to the motion, naming
five Conservatives and four Liberals to the Committee. The majority party in
the Upper Chamber successfully passed the amendment on division.
Although the session has just
begun, it should be an interesting one for the Senate. Senator Joan Neiman
gave notice that when the Senate returns on February 8, she will call attention
to the desirability of establishing a Special Committee to inquire and report
on the legal, social and ethical issues relating to euthanasia and assisted
death. Government Leader, Senator Fairbairn, in her role as Minister for
Literacy, can be expected to significantly promote that issue.
Senator Len Marchand,
Chairman of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in the last
Parliament, had a motion adopted for that Committee to examine and report upon
the treatment of aboriginal veterans following the First and Second World Wars
and the Korean War.
Senator Michael Kirby moved
that the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee examine the regulations proposed
to the Export Development Act, pursuant to the passage of Bill C-18 last
session. The Committee will report back by the end of February.
Jill Anne Pickard, Executive Assistant to the Clerk, Senate of
The Legislature resumed November
30, following a seven-month adjournment during which party standings changed as
a result of two by-elections. Progressive Conservative Dale Graham was
elected June 28 to represent the constituency of Carleton North. Percy
Mockler, a Progressive Conservative Member who served Madawaska South from 1982
to 1987, was reelected November 29 replacing Liberal Pierrette
Ringuette-Maltais, who ran successfully in the federal election.
During the eight-day fall sitting,
the House passed the 1994-95 Capital Budget, 30 Government and two Private
Bills, dealt with procedural issues, and appointed two select Committees and a
Legislation and Committees
Among the government Bills passed,
Bill 84, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act, proposes to
modernize management of the internal affairs of the Legislative Assembly
including salaries, allowances, budget, and the reporting process. In future,
after the Speaker has presented the estimates of the Office of the Legislative
Assembly to the Legislative Administration Committee for review, amendment and
concurrence, the Speaker will table and defend these estimates in the Committee
Throughout the year, the Standing
Committee on Legislative Administration considered a Report on the Review of
the Office of the Legislative Assembly, formulated and approved Constituency
Office Guidelines and Rules for the Operation of Constituency Offices, approved
changes to the Legislative Assembly Act, and the Members
Four Private Bills were introduced
and referred to the Standing Committee on Private Bills during the fall
sitting: Bill 66, An Act to Amend An Act to Continue Pierson Management
(Canada) Inc.; Bill 72, Mount Allison University Act, 1993; Bill 73,
Fredericton City Charter, and Bill 93, An Act to Incorporate the New
Brunswick Terminal Railway Corporation. Only Bills 66 and 72 were
recommended to the House.
The House concurred in the Private
Bills Committee's recommendation that deadlines for filing applications for
Private Bills be established and that Private Bills filed after the adjournment
of the spring sitting of the Legislature not be considered until the next
regular session of the House. Under the current provisions of the Standing
Rules, an application for a Private Bill may be commenced at any time during
the calendar year. (The Standing Committee on Procedure is expected to review
the Rules and Practices with respect to applications of Private Bills in
accordance with its general terms of reference.)
The Select Committee on
Representation and Electoral Boundaries, appointed May 14, 1992, considered the
Final Report of the Representation and Electoral District Boundaries Commission
entitled A New Electoral Map for New Brunswick and tabled its recommendations
on December 7. The House adopted the Committee's recommendations which, in
essence, will divide the province into 55 electoral districts instead of the
present 58 while taking into consideration such factors as linguistic
composition, geography, community history, community interest, population and
Subsequently, the government moved
that immediate priority be given to drafting legislation to reflect the changes
to the electoral boundaries proposed by the Representation and Electoral
District Boundaries Commission incorporating the revisions included in the Select
Committee's report. the Select Committee also recommended that the government
put in place a mechanism to carry out a regular review of the province's
electoral districts. The Committee tabled its report as an Interim Report
retaining in place the medium, should the need arise, to deal with the question
of representation of the Aboriginal Peoples in the Legislature.
The Select Committee on New
Brunswick's Highway Policy was established to examine, inquire into by means of
public hearings, and make recommendations with respect to the white paper Highways
for the Next Century. The white paper sets out the objectives of a new
highway system and describes the policies that will be implemented to achieve
them, including highway financing, standards, location, truck weights, signage
and rest areas. During four days of public hearings in November, the Committee
heard 33 oral presentations and received over 20 written submissions. The
Committee continues its deliberations and is expected to present its final report
to the next session.
Appointed December 7, the Select
Committee on Land Use and the Rural Environment was mandated to examine,
inquire into, and make recommendations to the House on the subject matter of
the discussion paper Government Response to the Final Report of the
Commission on Land Use and the Rural Environment. Outlined in the document
are major land use and rural environment issues that the Commission addressed
including the government's response to recommendations on settlement, resource
and environmental issues, recommendations for a new structure and process at
the provincial, local and district levels, and the Commission's recommendations
on taxation and the generation of revenue to help offset the cost of services
in unincorporated areas. Public hearings were held in February and the
Committee is expected to report to the Legislature during the next session.
Procedural issues dominated the
fall sitting. Although Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis Cochrane
presented Dale Graham, elected to represent Carleton North in the June
28 by-election, Speaker Dysart ruled out of order Mr. Cochrane's motion:
that whereas the Legislative
Assembly in March 1990. . . allowed non elected individuals the privilege of
appearing at the Bar of the House to ask questions of ministers of the Crown...BE
IT RESOLVED that the member-elect for Madawaska-South, Percy Mockler,
(elected in a November 29 by-election), be afforded the privilege of appearing
at the Bar of the House from today [November 30] until December 14, 1993 when
his election can be reported to the Speaker.
Speaker Shirley Dysart ruled
that the motion would involve changes to the Standing Rules and that until the
Standing Committee on Procedure took the matter under consideration and
reported to the House, the motion was out of order.
After Confederation of Regions
Leader Danny Cameron requested clarification of his status as Leader of Her
Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Madam Speaker delivered the following statement:
... for the purposes of recognition
in the Legislative Assembly, the Speaker takes direction from the members of
the official opposition caucus. The official opposition caucus having recently
reaffirmed their support for the Member for York South, the Speaker recognizes
the Members for York South as the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Additional rulings concerned the
question of reviving discussion of matters previously decided during a session,
sub judice matters, and the role of the Standing Committee on Procedure.
During the sitting Hazen Myers,
Progressive Conservative Member for Kings East rose on a Point of Privilege
stating that a member of the media had abused his privilege by publishing a
photograph of a videophoto taken in the Assembly and requesting that the matter
be referred to the Standing Committee on Legislative Administration for a
review of the guidelines concerning filming procedures.
On the last day of the session, Brent
Taylor, Confederation of Regions Member for Southwest Miramichi, rose on a
matter of privilege and requested that the matter of the publication of still
photographs from video images of the proceedings of the House be referred to
the Standing Committee on Privileges. Speaker Dysart advised that although the
notice required by the Standing Rules had been given, she deferred her decision
on whether a prima facie case had been established.
In one of the first items of
business at the Fall session Government House Leader J. Raymond Frenette
on behalf of Premier Frank McKenna moved, seconded by Opposition Leader Danny
Cameron, "that this Assembly appoint Loredana Catalli Sonier,
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly effective November 30, 1993." Mrs.
Sonier, formerly Clerk Assistant (Procedural), succeeds David L.E. Peterson who
resigned in July.
On December 10, 1993, 37 years from
the day that Official Reporter Mary Jones began work at the Legislative
Assembly, Premier McKenna paid tribute to her dedication and long years of
loyal service, congratulating her and wishing her many years of happy
As of January 1, 1994 Hansard
(Journal of Debates) was amalgamated with Debates Translation under the
Director of Hansard and Debates Translation, Valmond Leblanc. Susan
Kennedy becomes the Chief Parliamentary Editor (Hansard). Hansard offices
remain located on the ground floor of the Departmental Building, 96 King
Street. Debates Translation offices remain located in Jewett House, 96
The third session of the 52nd
Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick was scheduled to open February 15, 1994.
Standings in the House are: Liberals 44; Confederation of Regions 8;
Progressive Conservative 5; New Democrat 1.
Diane Taylor Myles, Research Officer, New Brunswick Legislative
The Fall and Winter have been
relatively quiet at the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. Although there is no set
calendar for sittings of the Legislature, the House often sits prior to
Christmas and return in early Spring. However, the House has remained adjourned
since July 27, 1993. A new session is expected to open sometime in the Spring.
The coming fifth session of the
35th Legislature is expected to be an interesting one, particularly because the
current numbers in the Legislature are: PCs - 29, NDP - 21 and Liberals - 7.
Since the last session, as a result of five by-elections in the Fall, the
Government has had its majority reduced to one. The close numbers and the fact
that Government is in the Fourth year of its mandate, may result in strong
partisan debate, procedural arguments and a number of close votes.
With some difficult situations
expected for all Members, Speaker Denis Rocan is anticipating a variety
of scenarios in which he may be called upon to cast a deciding vote. Depending
on the mood of the Legislature and the matters at hand, there could be a tie on
almost any votable item. However, when the Speaker leaves the Chair for the
House to resolve into a Committee of the Whole, the numbers become more than
close. By long established practice, the Speaker does not sit any Committee of
the Whole House.
The Commission established during
the last legislative session, to examine and set MLAs indemnities and
allowances, is expected to report by the end of February. The Commission held
one day of public hearings in Winnipeg and provided a 1-800 phone numbers as
well as a Winnipeg number for persons wishing to call in their comments of
concerns regarding Members salaries and benefits. This call for public input
resulted in 14 presentations at the public hearings, 580 telephone calls, 62
faxes and 130 mail submissions.
Manitoba hosted the MidWestern
Legislative Conference Steering Committee on Mid-West Canada Relations in
November 1993. The Conference was attended by legislators from Manitoba,
Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, North
Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Indiana. The purpose of this Steering
Committee is to bring together legislators from these eleven midwestern states
and the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba to discuss issues of common interest.
Issues discussed at this conference included cross-border educational
exchanges, facilitating cross-border vehicle traffic, eliminating cross-border
tobacco smuggling and upgrading Great Lakes and other inland ports.
Judy White, Clerk of Committees, Manitoba Legislative
The first session of the
Twenty-Third Legislature began on Monday, August 30, 1993, with the Members of
the Legislative Assembly electing (by secret ballot for the first time in
Alberta history) Stanley S. Schumacher, (Drumheller) as Speaker followed
by the election of Don Tannas, (Highwood) as Deputy Speaker and Glen
Clegg, (Dungevan), as Deputy Chairman of Committees.
With the first session barely two
weeks old, the two House Leaders reached agreement on and the Assembly approved
significant reforms to the legislative process both through amendments to the
Standing Orders of the Assembly and through an understanding on other matters
of principle and practice laid out in a Memorandum of Agreement signed by the
House Leaders. Effective as of September 13, 1993, the amendments to the
Standing Orders and the other changes articulated in the Memorandum of
Agreement marked the most comprehensive revision to the legislative process
ever undertaken in Alberta.
Some of the notable changes
enunciated in the Memorandum of Agreement include the following:
Defining what would constitute
"confidence" votes thereby facilitating more free votes on bills and
motions outside this definition.
The establishment of Designated
Supply Subcommittees enabled the Opposition to designate five Government
Departments to appear before sub-committees of the Committee of Supply for a
minimum of four hours each to examine their estimates in more detail and with
the participation of departmental officials.
Twice-yearly sessions of the
Legislature are mandated with the Spring Session to begin no later than
February 15th and the Fall session no later than October 21st.
A vote would be called on Private Members'
public bills at each stage after two hours' debate at second reading and
committee study and one hour at third reading. Moreover, the allotted time for
Private Members' public bills increased to three hours per week in contrast to
the usual one hour per week previously permitted.
With these changes, Private
Members' public bills now have a greater opportunity of becoming law. As if to
prove this point, on November 15th, 1993, Bill 204, The Stray Animals
Amendment Act 1993, sponsored by Roy Brassard, received Royal
The last sitting day of the first
session warrants an entry into the record books. The Official Opposition
initiated a filibuster during the evening sitting of November 9th, 1993.
The evening session began at 8:00
pm., and did not adjourn until 4:11 pm. the next afternoon setting a new record
(20 hours and 11 minutes) for the longest sitting day in Alberta history!
Moses K. Jung, Executive Assistant to the Speaker of the
House of Commons
The new House of Commons presents a
very different face from the old one that was dissolved on September 8, 1993.
The general election of October 25, 1993 resulted in a Liberal Government with
177 seats. The 54 Bloc Québécois MPs form the official opposition. The Reform
Party of Canada is the third largest party in the House with 52 seats. The
Progressive Conservative Party has two MPs and the New Democratic Party nine.
One Independent was elected.
The new Prime Minister, Jean
Chrétien, announced his Cabinet on November 4, 1993. It consists of 22
Ministers and eight Secretaries of State. The latter are appointed to assist
the Ministers with certain aspects of their portfolios.
In early November MPs were able to
attend an orientation session on administrative matters, organized by the
Administrator's Sector. The Clerk's Sector held an orientation session several
days after Parliament began sitting, on parliamentary procedure and the
Standing Orders of the House of Commons.
The first session of the 35th Parliament
began on January 17, 1994. The first item on the Order Paper was the
election of a Speaker, which since 1986 has been done by secret ballot. By the
end of the fifth ballot, only two names were left, Jean-Robert Gauthier
and Gilbert Parent. When the votes were counted, an unprecedented
situation obtained: neither had received a majority. A sixth ballot was thus
required, and Mr. Parent was elected Speaker. David Kilgour was
appointed Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the Whole. Shirley Maheu
and Bob Kilger were respectively chosen Vice Chair of Committees of the
Whole and Deputy Vice Chair of Committees of the Whole.
On January 18, 1994, the Governor
General read the Speech from the Throne in the Senate Chamber. The proceedings
on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and on government motions
constituted the entire business of the House for the period ending January 31,
1994. Apart from first reading of certain bills, the House did not dealt with
any legislation as of that date.
An important passage in the Throne
Speech dealt with parliamentary reform: It noted that "the government is
committed to enhancing the credibility of Parliament. Changes will be proposed
to the [Standing Orders] of the House of Commons to provide members of
Parliament a greater opportunity to contribute to the development of public
policy and legislation."
The government's intention of
enhancing Parliament's credibility has been demonstrated in two ways so far.
First, the government has consulted the House by means of special debates on
motions on Canada's peace-keeping role, cruise missile testing and the
pre-budget process. Second, it has said the House ought to be the place where
it announces new government policies.
On January 25, 1994, the House
unanimously passed the proposed changes to committees. These changes follow on
the reform of departmental structures initiated by the previous government.
Their aim is to tie the activities of the standing committees to the
departmental structure. According to the Government House Leader, they were
also designed to confirm "that the standing committees and not the
legislative committees would be the usual and customary route for the
consideration of the committee stage of bills".
The first report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, giving the membership of the various
standing committees, was adopted by the House on February 1, 1994.
A list of members of the Board of
Internal Economy was tabled in the House on January 18, 1994. It read as
follows: Herb Gray , Government House Leader; Fernand Robichaud,
Secretary of State Parliamentary Affairs; Len Hopkins, Alfonso
Gagliano, Michel Gauthier, Gilles Duceppe and Steven
Harper. Under the Parliament of Canada Act, the Speaker and Deputy
Speaker of the House are also members of the Board, and the Speaker is its
Chairman. The Board is responsible for administrative and financial matters
involving the House.
Tributes to Steve Paproski
Many MPs rose to pay tribute to the
late Steve Paproski, who represented the riding of Edmonton North from
1968 to 1993. Mr. Paproski, who was Deputy Vice Chair of Committees of the
Whole at the time the 34th Parliament was dissolved, died of a cardiac arrest
on December 3, 1993. Speaker Parent said "we have much to learn from a man
with his character...He was the kind of man who befriended all of us in this
André Gagnon, Procedural Clerk, Table Research Branch
After a clamorous spring sitting
which did not end until August 3, 1993 and a relatively short recess, the fall
sitting of the 3rd session of the 35th parliament commenced on September 27,
1993. The sitting began with the announcement of the resignation of Dennis
Drainville who had been the First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole
House. The vacancy was subsequently filled on September 28, 1993 when Margaret
Harrington was appointed to that position by order of the House.
The Legislative agenda for the fall
sitting was a full one. Significant legislation included Employment Equity,
Photo Radar and Casino gambling. Bill 8, the Ontario Casino Corporation Act,
1993 was introduced by Consumer and Commercial Relations minister, Marilyn
Churley on May 5, 1993 and received royal assent on December 2, 1993. The
controversial bill was considered for 16 days by the Standing Committee on
Finance and Economic Affairs before being reported with amendments. The
legislation allows for the establishment of a Casino in Windsor, Ontario and
possibly other locations in the future.
The Minister of Transportation, Gilles
Pouliot, introduced the Provincial Offences Statute Law Amendment Act,
1993 which, among other things, provides for the use of photo radar on
Ontario highways. Speeding drivers now risk activating a radar camera that
takes a photograph of their license plate and having a ticket sent out to them
by mail. The government contended that the legislation addressed a safety issue
while the opposition parties argued that the real purpose was to generate
Of special interest this sitting,
was the involvement of a standing committee in the development of legislation
aimed at novice drivers. On November 3, 1993, the Standing Committee on
Resources Development chaired by Bob Huget presented a report to the
House on graduated licensing for novice drivers. In response to the
recommendations made in that report, the Minister of Transportation introduced
the Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 1993. This was the culmination of a
successful process of referring a subject matter to a committee for
consideration and public consultation and then preparing legislation based in
part on the committee recommendations. Mr. Pouliot, acknowledged the input and
assistance of the committee during the second reading debate on the bill.
Members from all parties joined the debate in support of the new legislation.
The Standing Committee on the
Legislative Assembly, chaired by Ron Hansen spent some time in the fall
reviewing the role of the independent member in the Ontario legislature.
Consideration of this issue was a response to concerns raised by the
independent members about their ability to participate fully in House and
committee proceedings. The committee presented its report on the "Role of
the Independent Member" on Monday, November 22, 1993. The report contained
a number of recommendations which would have the effect of increasing the right
of participation for independent members during such proceedings as
"Members' Statements", "Question Period" and "Private
Members' Public Business". Some of the recommendations allowed for the
Speaker to exercise discretion in recognizing independent members, even when
the Standing Orders specifically restrict participation to members of
The Standing Committee on Administration
of Justice, chaired by Rosario Marchese, continued consideration of a
matter designated under Standing Order 125 by Cam Jackson relating to
victims of crime. The designation includes consideration of a victims' bill of
rights and the operations of the Criminal Injuries Board. It is expected that
the committee will present its report to the House in the Spring sitting.
In September 1993, the Standing
Committee on General Government, chaired by Mike Brown had the proposed
environmental bill of rights referred to it. Bill 26, An Act respecting
Environmental Rights in Ontario sets out terms for public participation in
the decision making process on environmental issues as well as protection for
employees who have knowledge of practices which are environmentally harmful and
choose to take action. The bill was introduced following a consultative process
undertaken by a ministry task force which included input from a variety of
business and environmental interest groups. While all parties did support the
bill, there was some concern expressed that the time allotted for public
hearings in committee was limited. The bill received third reading and royal
assent on December 14, 1993.
In his 1992 Annual Report, the
Provincial Auditor identified some concerns with respect to the adequacy of
controls on the registration system for health cards in Ontario. Subsequently,
the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Joseph Cordiano, agreed
to review the management of the health registration system. Included among the
witnesses who appeared before the committee were representatives from the Royal
Bank of Canada who discussed the use of "smart cards" not unlike the
ones used in automated banking machines.
The conclusions and recommendations
of the committee were reported to the House in December 1993 and reflected the
need to strike a balance between the control of fraudulent abuse of Ontario
health benefits and ensuring the accessibility of health care to all residents
of the province.
During the winter recess, the
standing committees are busy considering a variety of matters and legislation
including pre-budget consultations, protection of privacy, basement apartments
and restriction on the sale of tobacco products.
Deborah Deller, Clerk Assistant & Clerk of Committees
During the fall term of the second
session of the 34th Legislature, ending on December 16, 1993, some 30 public
bills were passed.
Sectors affected by these pieces of
legislation include administrative tribunals and municipal courts, fisheries
and the agri-food sector, business advertising, health and social services,
income security, the organization of municipal lands, health insurance, the
protection of the environment, automobile insurance, and labour relations.
In the latter two cases, the
government had to move a motion suspending certain rules of procedure in order
to allow the passage of two bills affecting the construction industry and one
bill concerning automobile insurance.
The purpose of the first bill, An
Act respecting the construction industry, was to end the illegal work
stoppages that had been disrupting construction sites for over two weeks. The
main purpose of the second bill was to exclude from the construction industry's
collective agreement bargaining system all workers in the residential and
renovation sector. This bill also eliminated contractors' obligation to have a
place of business in Quebec, on condition that they obtain a contractor's
licence. Lastly, the Automobile Insurance Act was amended in order to
allow the payment of $1 billion from the coffers of the Automobile Insurance
Corporation into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The conflict over working
conditions in the construction industry had many repercussions, not only in the
National Assembly, but throughout Quebec. Two government members received
personal threats. They both rose in the National Assembly to complain of a
breach of privilege, announcing that, under the Standing Orders they intended
to move a motion for urgent debate, complaining of the conduct of persons other
The Official Opposition objected to
debates on these motions since the matters had been taken before the courts.
The Speaker took all aspects of the issue under advisement and then ruled,
under Standing Order 35(3), that these motions for priority debate could not be
called or debated as long as the matters with which they had to do were before
a court. Since these motions had to do with criminal matters, it was assumed
that possible remarks by an MNA in a debate on them could influence the outcome
of current or future trials. These motions nevertheless remained on the Order
Paper, which is the proper procedure when a breach of privilege has been
The economic situation monopolized
most Question Periods and Opposition Days. The main subjects of discussion
were: the government's budget restrictions, the trade dispute between Quebec
and Ontario, the GATT agreements, NAFTA, the government's economic recovery
plan, the federal government's infrastructure restoration and construction
program, the federal-provincial agreement on labour force training, the labour
dispute in the construction industry, and the tobacco smuggling issue. This
last issue was the subject of the only motion for censure made by the Official
On November 17, 1993, the longest
serving parliamentarian, Gérard D. Levesque, Minister of Finance and MNA
for Bonaventure, died following a long illness. His colleagues paid tribute to
him during a special sitting of the National Assembly, before adjourning as a
sign of mourning.
The departure of Premier Robert
Bourassa and some of his Ministers was highlighted during the Question
Period preceding the holiday adjournment. By asking each departing Minister a
question, the Official Opposition allowed these persons to salute their
colleagues one last time before their official resignations at the beginning of
1994. Seven Ministers announced their departure from public life: Lise Bacon,
Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Resources; Marc-Yvan Côté, Minister
of Health and Social Services; Gil Rémillard, Minister of Justice and
Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs; Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Communications; Albert Côté, Minister of Forests; Raymond Savoie,
Minister of Revenue; and Robert Dutil, Minister of Supply and Services.
Premier Daniel Johnson was
sworn in on January 11, 1994, the same day he announced the formation of his
Cabinet which was reduced in size to 20 members including five new ones. They
are: Roger Lefebvre, former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly who
was appointed Minister of Justice; Georges Farrah, became Minister
Responsible for Industry, Trade, Science and Technology and Minister
Responsible for Tourism; Jacques Chagnon became Minister of Education; Serge
Marcil became Minister of Employment; and Jean Leclerc was appointed
Minister Responsible for Government Services.
While the work of the National
Assembly was adjourned, the Chamber was the stage for spirited exchanges among
over 300 Quebec students. The Quebec Youth Parliament held its deliberations
from December 26 to 30, 1993. Then, from January 3 to 7, 1994, the Student
Parliament took over the benches. The purpose of these activities is to allow
participants to experience the work of a mock National Assembly.
Lastly, students from 23 colleges
sat from January 13 to 16, 1994 as part of the Student Forum. The Forum is the
extension of a course on Canadian and Quebec politics. Its purpose is to give
college students an introduction to the work of parliamentarians and the
administrative operation of the National Assembly. Unlike the Youth Parliament
and the Student Parliament, Forum participants are guided and supported by
their professors and by professionals working in the National Assembly.
In the field of interparliamentary
activities, the Bureau of the International Assembly of French-speaking
Parliamentarians met in Quebec from January 18 to 22, 1994 with Jean-Pierre
Saintonge, Speaker of the National Assembly presiding. The approximately 40
participants planned the work and prepared the budget of the AIPLF for 1994 and
1995. During this meeting, Mr. Saintonge was awarded the Grande Croix de
l'Ordre de la Pléiade. This purpose of this decoration is to recognize the
merits of persons who have distinguished themselves in the service of the
AIPLF's ideals of co-operation and friendship.
Nancy Ford and Jean Bédard, National Assembly Secretariat
The work of the various Committees
of the National Assembly peaked during the last two months of 1993. The Standing
Orders provide for an intensive period of work from December 1 to 21, and the
deliberations of the Committees contributed to this sometimes demanding
Unlike the previous term, the fall
term provided the eight Committees with mainly legislative work. As a result,
fewer meetings (a total of five) were devoted to examination of the
government's financial commitments: expenditures of over $25,000 by the
Department of the Environment, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Food, the Department of Forests, The Bureau of Child Day Care Services, and the
Secretariat for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs were scrutinized by the
Membership on the Committees was
also considered during November and January. At its meeting on November 30,
1993, the Committee on the National Assembly determined, among other things,
which five standing Committees of the National Assembly would be chaired by
members of the government and which three would be chaired by members of the
Official Opposition. Each Committee then met that same day in order to elect
their Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen for a two-year term. However, the January 10,
1994 Cabinet reshuffling caused some changes in the membership of the
Committees, since some of their members had become Ministers and others had
been appointed Parliamentary Assistants.
Elsewhere, under Standing Order
294, six Committees held a working meeting in order to select from among the
public organizations assigned to them the ones whose direction, activities and
management they would examine. The organizations selected included the Quebec
Agriculture and Food Initiatives Corporation, the Quebec Disabled Persons
Bureau, the Government of Quebec Human Resources Bureau, the High Council on
Education, the Occupational Safety and Health Board], and the Youth Protection
Board. It must be noted, however, that the work of the Committees during this
term consisted mainly of detailed, clause-by-clause consideration of bills.
The Committees considered 38 bills:
30 public bills and eight private bills.
Faithful to its tradition, the
Committee on Planning and Infrastructures was one of the most active Committees
in considering public bills, studying eight bills clause by clause. Among these
bills we note, firstly, Bill 130, authorizing the payment of several million
dollars from the Automobile Insurance Corporation into the Consolidated Revenue
Fund. Energetic opposition to this bill required the National Assembly to pass
a motion for closure – sometimes called a "guillotine" – in order to
conclude this Committee's deliberations. Among the other bills considered by
this Committee, we note the bill amending the Act respecting municipal
territorial organization, the bill on the Quebec Urban Community, the bill
allowing the creation of local railroad companies, and the bill authorizing the
issuance of drivers' licences bearing photographs.
The Committee on Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food was required to consider a bill specifying certain terms and
conditions for the issuance of prescribed permits in the food biotechnology
The most important bill considered
by the Committee on Social Affairs was the bill introducing a new regional
health board to replace the present Kativik Regional Council. As well, under an
October 1993 mandate from the National Assembly, this Committee is preparing to
consider the annual reports of 14 regional health boards in the upcoming
The Committee on the Budget and
Administration not only considered various bills on income tax, financial
administration, and pension plans in the public and parapublic sectors, but
also put the finishing touches to the tobacco tax bill.
The most notable work of the
Committee on Labour and the Economy was consideration of Bill 142, introducing
a new bargaining system in the construction industry. This bill, like Bill 130,
was the subject of a motion for closure after several hours of debate in
Committee. This Committee also studied three other bills, including the bill
creating the Société Innovatech Québec et Chaudières-Appalaches, a corporation
for the promotion of technological innovation in the Québec area, the bill
amending the Forest Act, and one last bill concerning land registry
The Committee on Institutions was
also quite active, having to consider six public bills in addition to one
private bill. The two main bills considered by this Committee dealt with
compensation for victims of crime and the terms and conditions governing the
collection of support payments.
In addition, the Committee on
Culture was required to consider a bill proposing the creation of a new
conservatory of music and drama, as well as two bills concerning the Department
of Cultural Communities and Immigration and the Cultural Communities and
The main legislative work of the
Committee on Education was consideration of the bill amending the Professional
In closing, we note three inquiries
traditionally made by the National Assembly: subjects as varied as illegal
trade and contraband, reform of primary and secondary education, and the
financial situation of the health system were debated by the Committee on
Education and the Committee on Social Affairs respectively.
Danielle Brouard, Committees Secretariat