| British Columbia
| House of Commons
On June 23 1995, the National
Assembly adjourned for the summer having held 48 sittings since the resumption of
the Session in March. During this period, 62 bills were passed of which 14 were
private bills and 1 was a public bill introduced by a member. This private
Member's public bill gave rise to a point of order.
The Chair was asked to rule on the
introduction procedure with regard to this bill, because of its possible
financial implications. It was decided that the bill could be introduced by a
Member since it would not have a direct effect on the consolidated revenue fund
if it were passed.
The Opposition having asked whether
the Government would have to introduce another bill for the committal of public
funds necessary to implement the measures contained in the budget speech with
respect to the said bill. The Chair stated that it did not have the obligation to
rule on the measures that the Government was to take with regard to this
Amongst the numerous directives
that were given by the Chair in recent months, a certain number of them dealt
with the tabling of videocassettes in the Assembly. Regarding this matter, the
Speaker, Roger Bertrand, ruled that, in the short and medium term, only
written documents would be allowed to be tabled in the Assembly, since the
National Assembly does not currently dispose of the necessary facilities for
the proper conservation of audiovisual documents on tape and that audiovisual
documents containing information can always be transcribed. He also stated that
this directive in no way undermined the rights stipulated in certain Standing
Orders concerning the tabling of documents deemed to be of public interest.
In answer to a question concerning
the application of this directive to the standing committees, the President
declared that it was up to the chairman of each committee to decide on whether
the tabling of an audiovisual document was desirable and necessary so as to
help the committee members in carrying out their mandate.
On another subject, the President
declared in order a motion by the Chief Government Whip for the adjournment of
the debate on a motion without notice which was debated during Routine
Proceedings. The grounds for this decision were that contrary to a motion to
adjourn the Assembly, which can only be moved during Orders of the Day, a
motion to adjourn the debate can be moved immediately a debate has begun,
regardless of the part of the sitting.
Several bills were on the spring
session's legislative menu. Among those that were passed, a bill establishing a
permanent list of electors and amending the Election Act and other
legislative provisions is worthy of mention.
The purpose of this bill is to
establish a permanent list of electors by means of a register of electors and a
register of territories. The register of territories will comprise electoral
divisions, electoral precincts and polling subdivisions and municipal and
school electoral divisions. A system of updating and revision of the list has
been provided for. Furthermore, clarifications have been made with regard to
what constitutes an elector's domicile.
The Assembly also passed bills
respecting the development of manpower training, the reorganization of the
health and social services network, and the environment, to mention but a few.
In addition to this legislative
business, the Members were also asked to approve the Government's budgetary
policy following the budget speech, which was delivered on May 9 by the
Minister of Finance, Jean Campeau.
The Government's net financial
requirements announced by the Minister indicate a budgetary deficit of
$3,975,000,000 this year, which is a decrease of some $2,000,000,000 compared
with last year, since the budgetary expenditure should total $42,415,000,000
and revenue should reach $38,440,000,000.
In view of attaining its objective
to reduce the deficit, the Government intends to tighten up on tax and income
tax collection from taxpayers and businesses by increasing measures to control
moonlighting in the construction industry and alcohol contraband, among other
things. The budget does not add any new taxes nor does it increase the income
tax burden on individuals. However, the tax on cigarettes will increase by
$0.72 a carton, and the tax on capital and the contribution of businesses to
the health services fund will be raised.
After having indicated his
disapproval of this first budget by Minister Campeau, the Member for
Montmorency, Jean Filion, announced his intention, on June 13, to sit as
an independent Member.
The party standings of the National
Assembly are now as follows: 76 Members of the Parti Québécois; 47 Members of
the Québec Liberal Party; and 2 Independent Members.
Two major conferences were held in
Québec this summer. The 21st session of the International Assembly
of French-speaking Parliamentarians, whose chairman is the Speaker of the
Québec National Assembly, Roger Bertrand, was held in July. Some 200
participants from the 48 member Parliaments met to discuss a wide range of
subjects such as: the preparation of the Francophone Summit of Cotonou, which
is scheduled for the fall; democratization and long-term development; the
challenges that French-speaking communities face and the information
In August, the National Assembly
was the host of the Annual Assembly of the Eastern Regional Conference. It was
the first time that this organization, represented by more than 800 delegates,
met outside of the United States. The theme of this meeting was "Partners
across borders: pursuing regional prosperity".
Nancy Ford and Jean Bédard, National Assembly Secretariat, (Translated
by Sylvia Ford)
The committees were extremely busy
in May and June. Their main focus was on some forty bills and the hearings
these entailed. In addition, committees that had not completed consideration of
their particular portion of the estimates had that on their agendas as well.
During this period a special
committee was set up to hold hearings and consider in detail Bill 90, An Act
to Encourage the Development of Vocational Training. The purpose of the
Bill was to improve manpower qualifications and encourage employment, worker
adjustment, re-employment and mobility. Struck under Standing Order 178, this
committee ceased to exist as soon as it tabled its report.
The Committee on Institutions was
very active. Among other things it carried out a detailed study of Bill 40, An
Act to Establish a Permanent Voters' List and to amend the Quebec Elections Act
and other Acts in relation thereto. The Committee's deliberations ended in
a closure motion. The Committee also held hearings on administrative justice
and considered Bill 79, Human rights and Youth Rights Protection Act,
designed to give Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne the
powers and functions of Quebec's Commission de protection des droits
de la jeunesse.
The Committee on Planning and
Infrastructures considered among other things Bill 94, National Capital
Commission Act. As the title indicates, the Bill is designed to create a
national capital commission for Quebec City. Seven private bills involving
municipalities were also considered by the Committee.
The Committee on Social Affairs
considered Bill 83, An Act amending the Health Services and Social Services
Act. This controversial Bill passed after the Assembly put an end to the
Committee's deliberations via closure. The new legislation provides that the
Minister may restrict to certain institutions the right to offer certain
services. He may also modify the capacities, missions, categories or types of
public institutions, or private institutions under agreement, or require an
institution to shut down.
Among the activities of the
Committee on the Budget and Administration was continued debate over the Throne
Speech. Fifteen hours is allotted for debate on this topic in the National
Assembly and a maximum of ten hours in committee. The Committee also considered
Bill 71, which is designed to improve relations between the Ministry of Revenue
The Committee on the Economy and
Labour had some unusual terms of reference. On the one hand, three private bills
and on the other, a public bill sponsored by a backbencher. This latter Bill
followed up on a proposal by the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CNTU)
that a capital investment fund should be created that in addition to
accumulating retirement savings would provide financial assistance to
businesses to maintain or create jobs, contribute to worker training and
encourage worker participation in the development of businesses.
The Committee on Education
questioned witnesses on two occasions and also undertook consideration of Bill
89, An Act to amend the Professional Code. This Bill contains provisions
requiring the members of professional associations to pay expenditures incurred
by the Office des professions.
The Committee on Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food considered a bill on animal health protection. The Committee
on Culture resumed consideration of what the arrival of the information
superhighway means for Quebec culture. The Committee on the National Assembly
met during this period to rule on various routine matters.
The committees will be taking a
break in July following their vigorous activity in May and June and will resume
sitting in August.
Secretary, Planning and
Infrastructures CommitteeCommittee Secretariat
The First Session of the
Thirty-Sixth Legislature commenced on May 23, 1995, with a number of changes
from the Thirty-Fifth Legislature. These changes included a House composed of
one Opposition Party (NDP), as opposed to two, and three Opposition Independents
(Liberal). As well, Premier Gary Filmon added three new Members to his
Cabinet to fill vacancies created by three Ministers of the previous Cabinet
who did not seek re-election. The three new Cabinet Ministers are: Jack
Reimer as Minister of Housing and Minister of Urban Affairs, Brian
Pallister as Minister of Government Services and Vic Toews as
Minister of Labour (a newly elected Member).
Of particular significance to the
Legislature was the appointment of Louise Dacquay (PC - Seine River) as
the new Speaker, replacing Denis Rocan (PC - Gladstone) who had held the
office since 1988.
The process for choosing a new
Speaker in Manitoba continues as essentially that of appointment by the
Premier. As other jurisdictions turn to the secret ballot election of a
Speaker, there is some speculation that Manitoba may adopt this practice in the
The new Legislature began with a
fairly short Speech from the Throne (essentially a summary of the Government's
speech at the beginning of the last Session of the Thirty-Fifth Legislature, in
December 1994). The motion for an Address-in-Reply to the Speech from the
Throne was moved later on the same day as the Throne Speech, as opposed to the
following day as has been the tradition in Manitoba. The Throne Speech Debate
was completed in five days instead of the usual eight. With an expected recess
date of June 30th, the Government had a number of priority items to complete
before this date, including the financial process and passage of certain Bills.
In order to complete the financial
process in the time frame proposed, the House adopted several procedural
motions to facilitate the process. Among these, the most significant one deemed
that those stages of the financial process which had been completed prior to the
close of the previous Legislature in March 1995, were introduced, considered
and concluded and were forthwith reinstated during the first session of the new
Legislature. Consequently, the budget speech and debate, the establishment of
the Committee of Supply and the Committee of Ways and Means, the tabling and
referral of the messages from the Lieutenant-Governor and the estimates
attached to them, were treated as if they had occurred during the new
Legislature. Thus, the next stage of the financial process, the 240-hour
consideration of the detailed estimates by the Committee of Supply, could begin
once the Throne Speech debate was completed. As well, the House adopted a
motion to amend certain rules, just for the current session, adjusting
procedures in Committee of Supply - namely that the Committee would sit in
three sections to consider different departmental estimates, simultaneously, as
opposed to two sections. Further, additional motions were moved to waive
Private Members' Hour and to extend sitting hours of the House.
Thus, with these temporary changes
to certain rules of the House and with an overall attitude of goodwill, the
June 30th deadline was met.
The harmony was not, however,
complete. As one of the major issues that coloured the first part of the First
Session, the Government's proposed contribution to build a new arena in
Winnipeg as well as the proposed private sector deal(s) regarding the purchase
of the Winnipeg Jets hockey team, the Government was regularly responding to
questions from the Opposition about these matters, either during Question
Period or in Committee of Supply. Towards the end of the Supply process, the
Opposition House Leader, Steven Ashton, moved motions to reduce two
separate Supply resolutions by amounts that were, a) the amount that was
allocated to cover losses of the Winnipeg Jets and b) the amount that was
allocated for the current year's contribution to building a new arena. Both
motions were defeated on recorded votes.
In addition to the Supply process,
the House did spend some time considering the legislative side of House
business. Just over thirty government bills reached debate on Second Reading,
with four (other than the Loan and Appropriation bills) proceeding through to
Royal Assent. These four bills were: Bill No. 3 - The Maintenance
Enforcement (Various Acts Amendment) Act, Bill No. 7 - The City of
Winnipeg Amendment Act; Bill No. 24 - The Tobacco Tax Amendment Act;
and Bill No. 35 - The Elections Amendment, Local Authorities Election
Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act.
Of these, Bill No. 3 generated the
most emotion and debate among Members, as well as eighteen public presentations
at committee. The thrust of the bill was to enhance the province's ability to
enforce family maintenance payments. The amendments to the Maintenance
Enforcement Act and other Acts contained in this Bill, provide for the
following measures which can be applied against persons delinquent on their
payments; such persons can now be reported to the Credit Bureau; suspension and
removal or refusal of renewal of a driver's license and registration;
garnishment of pension benefit credits and an increase in fines and jail terms.
The Opposition supported the Government in bringing this legislation forward,
however, they were critical in stating that it had been too long in coming, the
consultation process was limited and the bill did not go far enough in its
efforts to ensure that payments would be made and defaulters adequately
Bill No. 7 was supported by all
Members of the House as it would amend the City of Winnipeg Act to
provide for issuing tax credits and rebates to persons making contributions to
a candidate running for City Council.
Bill No. 24 was also moved through
quickly as it will establish a system that will require the reporting, payment
and remittance of tax on tobacco products, originally marked for sale in
another province, that are being marketed in Manitoba. And finally, Bill No. 35
was moved through all of its legislative stages within 3 days. This bill, with
all-party agreement, arose out of concerns raised in the recent provincial
election, as well as in previous reports of the provincial Chief Electoral
Officer, regarding the public posting of voters' lists. Such public
notification of people's names and addresses would put some people at further
risk who may have left a violent relationship and/or are being stalked. The
legislation removes the obligation for such open publication and moves the list
to offices of Returning Officers. It also allows persons to request the removal
of their names from the lists.
Early in the Session, Speaker
Dacquay was presented with a difficult matter concerning the use of the
language "racist" and "racism". Oscar Lathlin (NDP -
The Pas) raised a matter of privilege relating to comments made to him by
Premier Filmon who stated that he knew of persons who might regard Mr. Lathlin
as a racist. In the exchange during which these comments were made, Mr. Lathlin
had earlier stated that he had heard people within his community refer to the
government's policies as racist. The Speaker first ruled that the matter was
not one of privilege but rather one of order as the matter was dealing with
language. In considering the language that was in question, the Speaker ruled,
based on previous Manitoba rulings, that the language used by both the Premier
and Mr. Lathlin was unparliamentary and directed that it be withdrawn. Both
Judy White, Clerk Assistant, Manitoba Legislative
House of Commons
Parliament adjourned on June 22,
1995. The days preceding the summer adjournment were marked by the passage of
highly controversial bills: legislation on the registration of lobbyists (Bill
C-43), firearms control (Bill C-68), retiring allowances for MPs
(Bill C-85), and sentencing (Bill C-41) were given final approval by the
The period preceding adjournment is
also a time when tension rises and Speakers must exercise great vigilance. In
this regard, the Speaker made several important rulings.
Naming of an MP
On May 29, 1995, the Speaker named
an MP and ordered that person to withdraw from the House for the remainder of
the day's sitting. The MP, Jake Hoeppner (Lisgar-Marquette, Reform) had
refused to withdraw remarks judged unparliamentary.
Unauthorized use of a photograph
On May 30, 1995, Elsie Wayne
(Saint John, Progressive Conservative) rose on a question of privilege after
learning about the unauthorized use of her photograph as part of a study prepared
by Health Canada on plain, generic packaging of tobacco products. This MP was
of the opinion that the use made of the photograph violated her privacy and
dignity as an individual and as an MP, exposed her to ridicule, and gave a
false impression of her that could be harmful to her in carrying out her
duties. In a ruling handed down on June 13, 1995, the Speaker stressed the
seriousness of the incident and stated that the use of photographs of MPs in
situations that have nothing to do with their duties can very well cause
unforeseen difficulties and lead to embarrassing situations. After noting that
apologies and explanations had been extended, the Speaker did not conclude that
this MP's privilege had been breached.
Deferred recorded vote
The Standing Orders of the House of
Commons allow the Chief Government Whip or the Chief Opposition Whip to ask the
Speaker to defer a recorded vote to another determined time. Usually the
government and the Opposition agree on the time at which the deferred vote is to
be held. On June 15, 1995, during the debate on a government bill, the
Opposition asked that the recorded vote be deferred, but there was no agreement
on when the vote would be held. After asking the parties in the House to come
to an agreement on this subject, to no avail, the Speaker himself decided when
the vote would be held. Although the Speaker's decision was more favourable to
the Opposition's request, the Speaker took care to note that the decision was
not based on the fact that the Opposition had made its request first.
Intimidation of an MP
On June 8, 1995, Pierrette
Ringuette-Maltais (Madawaska-Victoria, Liberal) said she had been the
subject of intimidation by Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Reform) who had
grasped her by the arm. Ms Ringuette-Maltais rose on a question of
privilege; Ms Grey then apologized to her. On June 19, 1995, the Speaker ruled
that the apologies extended by Ms Grey had ended the incident. However, the
Speaker emphasized the seriousness of the situation and asked MPs to respect
the conventions and traditions of the House and to conduct themselves with all
the civility becoming to representatives of the Canadian public.
After evaluating the pilot project
that had been launched in April, the Board of Internal Economy confirmed that
it intended to continue distributing Committees publications mainly in
electronic form, but agreed to re-establish official translation of Committees
deliberations. During the pilot project, transcription of the sound recording
of simultaneous interpretation of the deliberations had been provided.
Special Joint Committee on a
Code of Ethics
The House agreed to the striking of
a Special Joint Committee responsible for developing a code of ethics to help
Senators and MPs reconcile their official responsibilities and their personal
interests. The Committee will also consider relations between parliamentarians
Standing Committee on Finance
After considering in detail the
bill concerning the budget and reporting it to the House with amendments, the
Standing Committee on Finance tabled another report containing recommendations
for implementing the measures passed in the budget.
On June 7, 1995, the House
instructed the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to undertake a
comprehensive review of the business of supply, with particular attention to
the reform of the Estimates and the processes and mechanisms used by the
House and its Committees to consider and dispose of them. Its report is to be
tabled by December 1, 1995.
Private Members' Business
A motion tabled by Rey
Paghtakhan (Winnipeg-North, Liberal) was adopted by the House. The motion
asks the government to take legislative measures to stop hate propaganda on the
Centre Block Renovations
Lastly, we note that extensive
renovations to the Centre Block will be carried out between the years 2002 and
2006. During that time, MPs will sit in a chamber to be arranged on the first
floor of the West Block, in a space now occupied by the cafeteria.
MPs returned to the House for the
fall session on September 18, 1995.
André Gagnon, Procedural Clerk, Table Research Branch
The Fifth Session of the 22nd
Legislature concluded late on May 18, 1995, and was dissolved five days later
on May 23rd. The General Election followed on June 21st. The party standings in
the House going into the election were: New Democratic Party - 51, Progressive
Conservatives - 9, Liberals - 3, Independent - 1 and two vacancies.
The revised constituency boundaries
previously agreed to by the House came into effect with a reduction in the
number of seats from 66 to 58. A 42-seat New Democratic majority government was
returned by the electorate with the 11 Liberal Members overtaking the 5
Progressive Conservatives as the Official Opposition. The Progressive
Conservatives retained official party status. Premier Roy Romanow chose
not to immediately replace the three defeated cabinet ministers, Carol
Carson, Darrel Cunningham and Fred Thompson, but instead
distributed their portfolios to current Ministers.
Following the retirement of William
Goodhand, a new Sergeant-at-Arms has been appointed for the Saskatchewan
Legislature. Saskatchewan born Patrick Shaw began his appointment on August
1. Mr. Shaw served with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for twenty years,
working variously as an investigator, unit commander and criminal law
instructor at the Training Academy. More recently, he has been employed as the
Manager of the Protective Services and Crime Prevention Unit at the
Saskatchewan Property and Management Corporation.
Margaret Woods, Clerk Assistant
The fourth Session of the 35th
Parliament concluded on July 13, 1995, after seventy-six sitting days. Despite
earlier predictions of a light legislative agenda, the House in fact considered
fifty-eight bills. All fifty-six bills introduced by the government were
passed, several of which were significant pieces of legislation.
Introduced by Attorney General Colin
Gabelmann, the Election Act proved to be one of the more
controversial bills in the government program. At 302 pages, it was also
indisputably the longest. The Act, given Royal Assent on July 13, represents a
major overhaul of the rules and regulations for conducting provincial general
elections. The last substantial changes to the Act were made in 1920. The
bill's central features include enlarging the scope of responsibilities of the
Chief Electoral Officer; requiring public opinion polls to be accompanied by
background information such as the size of the sample and its sponsors;
limiting the amount of money that political parties and other groups may spend
during an election campaign; and requiring disclosure of campaign funds
received by political parties.
The bill received a great deal of
attention from opposition parties and the news media. The latter interpreted
the bill's requirements on reporting poll information as an attack on press freedom,
while the Liberal and Reform caucuses criticized the bill's restraint on third
party advertising and its exemption from the disclosure rules of volunteer
workers during election campaigns.
The Adoption Act represented
a comprehensive set of changes to the regulation of adoptions in the province.
Among other things, the new Act regulates private adoption agencies and
requires consultation with aboriginal communities in cases involving aboriginal
children. Two other innovations proved to be controversial: permitting same-sex
couples to adopt and removing restrictions regarding contact between biological
parents and children. Under the new Act, adopted children, when nineteen years
or older, may apply to see their original birth certificate and adoption order,
though birth parents may file a "no contact declaration" which would
prohibit contact in such cases. Information and Privacy Commissioner David
Flaherty expressed concern over the privacy implications of the disclosure
provisions of the Act, which put the onus on birth parents to prevent
information about them being forwarded to their birth children. Social Services
Minister Joy MacPhail countered that the government had worked hard to
strike a balance between disclosure and confidentiality, and offered a range of
options for the dissemination of information between birth parents and
Commissioner Flaherty also
expressed privacy concerns over another piece of legislation, the Criminal
Records Review Act. This Act, in an attempt to help prevent physical and
sexual abuse of children, requires that criminal record checks be conducted on
all current and potential employees who work with children. The Commissioner
questionned the scope of the Act, which targets categories of occupations and
applies to approximately 280,000 individuals or one-sixth of the adult
population of the province, some of whom (such as dentists and nurses) may not
have regular contact with children. Despite these comments, the bill was
supported unanimously by the Members of the House.
The Access to Abortion Services
Act was introduced by Health Minister Paul Ramsey. This Act creates
"access zones" around the homes and offices of doctors who perform
abortions, as well as abortion clinics. A number of activities would be prohibited
within these zones, including persuading a person to refrain from obtaining an
abortion and photographing or videotaping them; intimidating or physically
interfering with a doctor, patient or other employees; and holding
demonstrations. The Act provides for a maximum fine of $5000 or imprisonment of
up to six months.
Municipal Affairs Minister Darlene
Marzari introduced the Growth Strategies Amendment Act, which
provides regional districts in the province with the authority to undertake
region-wide planning. Districts may initiate and implement "regional
growth strategies", subject to approval by the municipalities affected.
Where no agreement can be reached, the Act provides for a dispute resolution
mechanism. In addition, the provincial cabinet is empowered to require the
development of a regional strategy in certain circumstances.
Columbia River Treaty
An intense debate followed an
announcement by the Bonneville Power Authority in Washington State that it was
withdrawing from negotiations on dispersal of benefits from the Columbia River
Treaty. At issue was $250 million in payment from Bonneville to British
Columbia in exchange for a reduction in the amount of power to be returned to
the province. Though a memorandum of agreement had been signed between the two
entities, Bonneville abruptly announced that it did not wish to proceed, and
instead would build the power transmission lines necessary for a return power
flow, as mandated by the original treaty.
This move had implications for the
province's budget as well as the government's recently signed Columbia Basin
Accord and accompanying legislation. These set up a regional authority to
oversee dispersal of benefits to the Kootenays, a region of the province that
experienced large-scale flooding to construct the dams necessary for the
initial power generation. During debate on a motion to condemn the actions of
the Bonneville Power Authority, opposition members attacked the government for
including the $250 million in the current budget though the agreement was not
yet finalized. Finance Minister Elizabeth Cull responded that the
government proceeded on the basis of an opinion from the Comptroller General to
account for the funds as revenue for the current fiscal year.
On May 18, 1995, the Speaker tabled
a report by Auditor General George Morfitt regarding an investigation
into the tendering of government advertising contracts. Allegations had been
made by members of the Opposition that a particular advertising company, NOW
Communications, had been accorded preferential treatment because of ties
between its principals and the governing New Democratic Party. Additionally,
questions were raised about sub-contracting involving an advertising firm in
The Auditor General found that the
contractual relationship between NOW Communications and the government was
similar to that of other suppliers, and that contracts were, in general,
appropriately managed and controlled. However, in certain instances reporting and
accountability were found to be inappropriate, in that the true provider of the
services (ie. the American firm) was not disclosed.
Three all-party committees will be
active through the fall. For the first time, the Public Accounts Committee's
term of reference permit it to meet while the House is adjourned. The Committee
has been referred a report, issued jointly by the Auditor General and the
Deputy Ministers' Council, entitled Enhancing Accountability for Performance
in the British Columbia Public Sector. The Committee will be hearing from
representatives of both issuing entities in its study of the report.
The Select Standing Committee on
Forests, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources will be breaking new ground when
it meets to consider the business plan for Forest Renewal BC, a Crown agency
established by statute last year. The Act that establishes the agency also
mandates that its business plan be approved each year by a select standing
committee. The Committee is chaired by MLA Frank Garden.
One set of changes in the new Election
Act relates to the position of Chief Electoral Officer in the province. The
position receives significant new authority under the Act and is now styled an
Officer of the Legislature. New responsibilities include issuing directives to
political parties regarding financing and other activities; appointing and
supervising election officials; recommending changes to the Act; and chairing
an Election Advisory Committee, to receive input from representatives of political
parties. As with other officers, the governing statute provides for selection
by an all-party committee of the House, in this case the Special Committee to
Appoint a Chief Electoral Officer. The Committee, chaired by MLA Mike
Farnworth, will begin meeting in September.
The British Columbia Legislative
Assembly was pleased to welcome Philip Mithen, Deputy Clerk in the
Parliament of Victoria, Australia for a three-day attachment in July. During
his visit, Mr. Mithen met with Assembly officers and staff to study a variety
of issues, including electronic publication of Assembly documents,
modernisation of procedure, and staff contracts and employment agreements.
Neil Reimer, Assistant Committee Clerk
In the last few months, the
Governor General of Canada, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the House of
Commons have visited Alberta.
His Excellency, the Governor
General, Romeo LeBlanc, made his first official visit to Alberta in
early March 1995. His visit included meetings with the Lieutenant Governor, the
Premier, and the Speaker. His Excellency officially opened the 1995 Canada
Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
The Alberta Branch of the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association celebrated its 50th anniversary on March
26th and Gilbert Parent, Speaker of the House of Commons, made his
second official visit to Alberta in early May to address the Alberta Branch of
the CPA. Mr. Parent was the keynote speaker at the annual Premier's Prayer
Breakfast and also addressed members of the Canadian Club in Edmonton.
The Prime Minister attended opening
day celebrations at this year's Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth - The Calgary
Stampede and Exhibition (July 7-16) for a taste of western hospitality and
Some significant changes to the
Legislative Assembly seating plan have occurred since December 1994. At a press
conference held on December 9th, Julius Yankowsky, the Liberal Member
for Edmonton Beverly-Belmont, officially announced his decision to cross the
floor and join the Government Caucus.
In a by-election precipitated by
the unexpected death of Dr. Harry Sohal, Member for Calgary-McCall, Shiraz
Shariff, Progressive Conservative candidate, was elected as the new Member
on April 20th and officially sworn-in on May 10th.
In addition, Paul Langevin,
the Member for Lac La Biche-St. Paul, joined the Government Caucus on April
25th after sitting as an Independent Member for over a year.
Another seating change was required
when Andrew G. Beniuk, Member for Edmonton-Norwood, became an
Independent Member after he was removed from the Liberal Caucus on June 23rd.
Not including the Speaker, the
changes to the Assembly seating plan translate into fifty-two Progressive
Conservative Members, twenty-nine Liberal Members and one Independent Member.
The 1995 Spring Session adjourned
for the summer on May 19th with the passage of forty-two Government Bills and
one Private Member's Bill (Bill 208). Since the changes to the Standing Orders
in 1993, Bill 208, Emblems of Alberta Amendment Act, 1995, is the fourth
Private Member's Bill to pass into law.
With the passage of Bill 19, Freedom
of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 1995, Robert C.
Clark was officially sworn-in as Alberta's first Information and Privacy Commissioner
on June 18th.
On a closing note, members of the
Electoral Boundaries Commission were officially announced on June 20th. The
Commission held its first meeting on June 14th.
Moses K. Jung, Executive Assistant to the Speaker
The Senate sat into July in order
to adopt a number of important bills including Bill C- 104, amending the Criminal
Code and the Young Offenders Act to permit DNA analysis, and Bill C-85,
modifying the pension regime for retired MPs.
Other legislation remained on the
order paper including third reading of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Act (Bill C-69), the Bill on Pearson Airport (Bill C-22) and Bill C- 68
respecting gun control.
On July 11, the Speaker Gil
Molgat made his ruling on the motion of Senator Anne Cools proposing
to establish a select committee to examine the conduct and behaviour of a judge
of the Ontario Court and some barristers. In the end, the Speaker determined
that the motion was in order. While he acknowledged the possible implications
of the Senator's motion, the Speaker limited his role to assessing whether the
motion was in order according to the rules and practices of the Senate. He
avoided any comment on the merits of the motion which involved the possible
removal of a judge from the bench.
The Special Senate Committee on the
Pearson Airport met throughout the summer to examine all matters concerning the
policies and negotiations leading up to and including the agreements respecting
the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson International
Airport in Toronto. It is also looking at the circumstances relating to the
cancellation of the agreements.
By the end of its hearings in
September the committee will have heard from some sixty witnesses and will have
combed through more than 100,000 pages of documents that were made available by
the Government. The committee's deliberations centre on two opposing
assessments of the public interests and whether those interests were better
served by the agreements to lease two terminals at Pearson Airport to a private
company or by the decision to cancel the lease following the 1993 federal
When the Senate adjourned for the
summer, members offered tributes to Senator Joan Neiman who retired from
the Senate in early September, before the Senate resumed its sittings.
Colleagues praised Senator Neiman, who became a member in 1972, for her
dedication and hard work especially in promoting the activities of the Inter-Parliamentary
Union and numerous standing committees including Aboriginal Peoples, National
Finance and the Special Joint Committee on a Renewed Canada. More recently,
Senator Neiman chaired the Special Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted
Senator Jean-Noël Desmarais,
who had been been a frequent participant in the work of the Special Committee
died from cancer on July 26, 1995.
In September the Prime Minister
filled 4 vacancies in the Upper House. The new Senators are Doris Anderson
of PEI, who is a former professor of Home Economics; Lorna Milne of
Ontario a former trustee and vice-chair of the Peel County Board of Education; Marie-P.
Poulin of Sudbury who was the founding president and director of the
Tribunal Canadien des relations professionnelles artistes-producteurs; and Bill
Rompkey, who had been the MP for Labrador since 1972.