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| British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Newfoundland and Labrador | Nunavut | Ontario | Prince Edward Island | Quebec | Saskatchewan | Senate | House of Commons |

Manitoba

The Manitoba Legislature has been relatively quiet since the House adjourned for the summer on June 16, 2005. 

Legislative activity resumed first in the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, which met on four occasions this fall. During the meetings MLAs considered a number of outstanding annual reports from four provincial crown corporations: 

  • Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation; 
  • Manitoba Lotteries Corporation; 
  • Workers Compensation Board; and 
  • Manitoba Liquor Control Commission 

At each meeting MLAs questioned both the Ministers responsible for the corporations as well as the respective corporate executives. Issues covered during these discussions included: auto theft rates; gambling addictions and responsible gaming, recent changes to legislation governing workers compensation, and the effects of the province wide smoking ban instituted in 2004. 

In late September 2005, John Loewen (PC – Fort Whyte) resigned his seat in the Manitoba Legislature and announced his intention to seek the Liberal party nomination in the federal riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia. First elected in the 1999 general election, Mr. Loewen served as critic for the official opposition in a number of areas, including finance and Industry. He had been particularly active in the House this year in response to the release of the Manitoba Auditor General’s report on the Crocus Investment Fund. The current standings in the Manitoba House are NDP 35, PC 19, with two independent Liberals and one vacancy. A by-election to fill the vacancy in the riding of Fort Whyte will be held on December 13, 2005. 

The Manitoba Legislature was honoured to welcome Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean on her first official visit since her installation. On October 18, 2005 Canada’s new Governor General began a three day visit in Winnipeg with an official welcoming ceremony at the Legislative Building including a 21-gun salute, an honour guard review and welcoming remarks. 

In accordance with a sessional order passed last spring, the House will sat this fall from October 27, until December 8, 2005. 

Rick Yarish
Clerk Assistant /
Clerk of Committees 

Québec

The President of the Assembly, Michel Bissonnet, submitted a brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) concerning the accessibility of the Quebec National Assembly Channel to all cable television customers. 

Submitted in the name of the Quebec National Assembly and with the support of the legislative assemblies of Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, this brief asks the CRTC to issue an order requesting that the broadcast signal of the National Assembly proceedings be distributed by cable service distributors in all Quebec regions, via both cable and satellite. 

“As the parliamentary proceedings constitute the very foundation of democracy, it is of paramount importance that all citizens have access to the broadcast thereof”, stated Mr. Bissonnet. 

Interparliamentary Relations 

A delegation of Members, led by President Bissonnet, took part in the 31st session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie held from 5 to 9 July 2005 in Brussels, Belgium. During the general debate attended by some 175 Francophone parliamentarians from Africa, America and Europe, Mr. Bissonnet provided insight into Québec's experience with regard to cultural policy and emphasized the importance, for Quebec, that UNESCO adopt this autumn the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions. 

Five Members of the National Assembly took part in the General Assembly of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) which was held from 17 to 20 August 2005. The Members of the National Assembly comprising the delegation are members of two of this association's committees, namely the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources and the Committee on Economic Development, Trade and Cultural Affairs. 

Roch Cholette, the Member for Hull, was elected as member of the executive committee of the NCSL. Mr. Cholette thus became the first non-American member to take part in these proceedings. The National Assembly of Quebec has been an international associated member of the NCSL since 2000. Established in 1975, this non-partisan organization brings together representatives of the legislative assemblies of all of the American States and territories. 

Last July 22, the Member for Pontiac, Mrs. Charlotte L'Écuyer, was elected as substitute member of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Steering Committee by the Speakers of the Canadian parliamentary assemblies meeting in Newfoundland. 

Parliamentary Simulation and Internship Programme 

The Vice-President of the Quebec National Assembly and Member for Abitibi-Ouest, François Gendron, paid tribute to the quality of the proceedings of the sixth Seniors' Parliament, which was held at the Parliament Building, from 12 to 14 September 2005. The seniors adopted two bills to improve the quality of life of seniors, namely the Act concerning the implementation of an urban development policy fostering the safety of seniors and the Act concerning concessionary taxation, which aims to establish a simple and understandable income tax return plan for all taxpayers. 

Composed of retired women and men hailing from various regions of Quebec, this parliamentary simulation focuses on the concerns of citizens of 55 years and over, while instructing them on the stages in the legislative process and the role of Members. 

Internship Programme 

For the purpose of promoting studies and research on the political and parliamentary institutions of Quebec, each year the Jean-Charles- Bonenfant Foundation grants five $15,000 scholarships to young Quebec university graduate students, for a ten-month internship at the National Assembly. These young people thus acquire theoretical and practical knowledge of the National Assembly and of the work of its Members, more particularly through the drafting of briefs and an opportunity to be twinned with Members of different political parties. 

The Foundation scholarship holders for 2005-2006 are Sia Sia Morel, Bachelor of Political Science, Magali Paquin, holder of a multidisciplinary Bachelor's degree, Michel Bédard, Bachelor of Civil Law, Lorraine Quevillon, Bachelor of Social Service, and Sarah Tessier, Bachelor of Industrial Relations, the latter three being enrolled in the Master's programme in their respective disciplines. 

Other Matters 

Last September 14, André Boulerice announced his resignation as Member for the electoral division of Sainte-Marie-Saint- Jacques, thus bringing to three the number of vacant seats in the Assembly, whose composition stands as follows: Quebec Liberal Party, 72 Members; Parti Québécois, 44 Members; Independent, six Members, five of whom belong to the Action démocratique du Québec Party. 

Richard B. Holden, former Member for Westmount at the National Assembly, passed away in Montreal on September 18, 2005, at the age of 74 years and 2 months. Elected as a Member of the Equality Party in 1989, he subsequently sat as an independent Member and then as a Member of the Parti Québécois until the general election held in 1994, where he was defeated in Verdun. 

Francine Boivin Lamarche
Secretariat of the Assembly 

Standing Committees 

On September 28, 2005, the Committee on Social Affairs met to select, among its members, those Members who will take part in the proceedings of the nominating committee for the purpose of proposing to the Minister of Health and Social Services a list of persons it considers qualified for appointment as Health and Welfare Commissioner. 

This constitutes an innovative procedure that has been included in the Act respecting the Health and Welfare Commissioner enabling a greater participation of Members in the governmental appointment procedure. Other than the seven Members the majority of whom belong to the Government group who will take part therein, the Act provides that seven other persons named by the Government and hailing from the health sector will form this nominating committee. 

Adopted last June, this new Act provides that, with a view to improving the health and welfare of the population, the Commissioner is responsible for assessing the results achieved by the health and social services system and providing the public with the necessary background for a general understanding of the actions undertaken by the Government to address the major issues in the health and social services arena. 

Select Committee on the Election Act 

The citizens' committee that will assist the Select Committee on the Election Act (SCEA) was established September 28 by means of a random draw. As instructed in the motion of the National Assembly, four men and four women from eight different regions were selected out of some 2300 persons who had submitted their candidacy. The Committee also agreed to select by random draw eight alternate candidates according to the same selection criteria used to establish the citizens' committee. 

The schedule of proceedings relating to the special consultations of the SCEA should, for its part, be released before the end of October 2005. As for the travelling general consultation, it is scheduled for winter 2006. 

Committee on Labour and the Economy 

Energy is one of the sectors falling within the terms of reference of the Committee on Labour and the Economy. In the wake of the Hydro-Québec hearing on its 2004-2008 strategic plan and, subsequently, of a major consultation on the energy security of Quebecers conducted in winter 2005, the Committee's steering committee agreed, on September 8, 2005, to visit certain Hydro-Québec installations in the James Bay region. This activity is to be held over a two-day period, from October 27 to 28, 2005. The first day will be set aside to visit the Eastmain-1 plant, both the exterior sites and the main power plant itself. During the evening, the Committee members will travel to Radisson to visit, on the following day, the Hydro-Québec Interpretation Centre, the exterior hydroelectric development sites and the Robert Bourassa underground electric power station. 

The visits carried out by the Committee on Labour and the Economy will enable its members to increase their knowledge of the existing hydroelectric development projects and of those under construction, owing particularly to the increasingly significant role this sector should play in coming years. 

Marc Painchaud
Secretariat of committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly 

House of Commons 

Parliament reconvened on September 26, 2005. Following a tense spring marked by several attempts to defeat the government, Members returned for what would likely be the final months of the 38th Parliament. Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to call an election within 30 days of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, commonly known as the Gomery Commission. This report is due on February 1, 2006. The Commission's first report tabled on November 1, 2005, loomed large over the opening weeks of the fall sitting, as Members awaited Justice Gomery's assessment of the testimony before the Commission. Claiming the need to make progress on its legislative agenda, the government postponed opposition days until mid-November.  The opposition denounced this measure as undemocratic. 

The day after the House's return, Canada's 27th Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, was sworn-in during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber. Her predecessor, Adrienne Clarkson was in attendance, the first time in over a century that an outgoing Governor General has been present at the swearing-in ceremony. Later in the day, by unanimous consent, the House ordered that the text of Ms. Jean's inaugural speech be appended to Hansard where it will "form part of the permanent record of this Parliament". 

Legislation 

In early October, in response to rising fuel costs, the government introduced Bill C-66 to authorize the payment of rebates to seniors and low-income families. Recalling a similar program prior to the 2000 election, the opposition parties criticized the plan as a vote-buying measure. The government also introduced Bill C-67, which would equally divide future unanticipated budget surpluses between debt reduction, tax relief and new spending. 

Report Stage consideration of Bill C-11, commonly known as the "Whistleblowers' Legislation", was unusual in several respects. The 27 amendments selected by the Speaker were considered in a single group on the ground that they were all so intimately interconnected that they could not separated into distinct sub-groupings. The amendments, proposed by the President of the Treasury Board following recommendations by the Government Operations and Estimates Committee, created the new position of Public Service Integrity Commissioner. The affirmative vote on the first amendment was applied to the remaining 26 amendments. The bill was given third reading on October 4, 2005. 

Procedure 

On October 3, 2005, Brian Pallister (Portage-Lisgar, CPC), when recognized during Members' Statements, sang to the House. He was interrrupted by the Speaker and asked to deliver his statement in the ordinary fashion. The Speaker later addressed the incident a second time, making it clear that singing was appropriate in the House only under certain rare and clearly-indicated circumstances. 

On October 5, 2005, the Speaker tabled the second edition of the Annotated Standing Orders of the House of Commons. This reference work provides a brief explanation of each rule's current interpretation, followed by a historical overview of any major changes made since its adoption. 

Privilege 

On September 26, 2005, Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, CPC) rose on a question of privilege to charge Ethics Commissioner, Bernard Shapiro, with contempt of the House and breaches of his duties and obligations under the Parliament of Canada Act and the Conflict of Interest Code appended to the Standing Orders. Mr. Obrai alleged that Mr. Shapiro had made inappropriate public disclosures in connection with an investigation being conducted by his office, and that he had been negligent in his duty to keep the Member informed as to the nature and progress of the investigation against him. The Speaker ruled on October 6, 2005 that the allegations made by the Member were troubling but that neither the Act nor the Code provide a mechanism for Members to make a complaint against the Ethics Commissioner. He suggested that the Procedure and House Affairs Committee take the matter under consideration to clarify the process with the help of the Commissioner. The Speaker ruled that there was a prima facie breach of privilege and Mr. Obhrai moved that the question be referred to committee. The House adopted this motion. 

On September 28, 2005, John Cummins (Delta-Richmond East, CPC) raised a question of privilege in connection with the refusal of the government to answer an Order Paper Question (Q-151) on the grounds that the matters raised therein were presently before the courts (or sub judice). The question asked about the leaky condo situation in British Columbia. Mr. Cummins argued that the refusal to respond amounted to contempt of the House and hindered his ability to discharge his duties as a Member. The following day, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader replied that the government could not respond to the question because it did not wish to interfere with a case before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. On October 3, 2005, Mr. Cummins argued that because the matter was not yet at trial, the sub judice convention did not apply. The Speaker has yet to rule on the matter. 

Committees 

The week prior to the House's return, two committees met to discuss pressing issues. The Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security met September 20 and 21 to review the Anti-Terrorism Act. The Committee considered the impact of this legislation on rights and freedoms, as well as the impact on charitable organizations. The Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology met on September 22, 2005 to study the sharp increases in the price of fuel. The Committee heard from representatives of several oil companies. 

On September 30, 2005, the government tabled a response to the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled Dispute Settlement in the NAFTA: Fixing an Agreement Under Siege. In its response, the government expressed substantial agreement with many of the Committee's recommendations. 

The expenses of the president of the Royal Canadian Mint, David Dingwall, caused a great deal of controversy. Mr. Dingwall, a former Cabinet Minister from 1993 to 1997, resigned as head of the Royal Canadian Mint on September 28, 2005. On October 19, he appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. 

The lockout of CBC employees drew the attention of two committees. The Standing Committee on Official Languages presented a report noting the effect the lockout was having on French-language minorities in Canada. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage also invited the president of the CBC, Robert Rabinovitch, to appear on October 27, 2005 and discuss the lockout. 

Private Members' Business 

A proposal to have international treaties tabled and voted on by the House was rejected on September 28, 2005 when the House defeated the motion for second reading of Bill C-260, An Act respecting the negotiation, approval, tabling and publication of treaties. The Bill was sponsored by Jean-Yves Roy (Haute-Gaspésie-La Mitis-Matane- Matapédia, BQ). 

The same day, the House also voted against two initiatives which would have raised the age of consent from 14 to 16. The measures, M-221 and Bill C-313, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (prohibited sexual acts), were sponsored by Nina Grewal (Fleetwood-Port Kells, CPC) and Rick Casson (Lethbridge, CPC), respectively. Opponents of the proposals suggested that they would criminalize "puppy love", while proponents argued that these measures were necessary to protect children from sexual predators. 

On October 3, 2005, Yvon Godin (Acadie-Bathurst, NDP) introduced five Private Member's Bills (C-421 to C-425) all of them proposing amendments to the Employment Insurance Act. Mr. Godin's constituency is located in an area where seasonal employment is common and he has long been known as a strong advocate for the augmentation and liberalization of EI benefits. 

On October 7, 2005, the House debated Bill C-251, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (members who cross the floor). Sponsored by New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore), the bill provides that, if a Member wished to switch parties or if an Independent MP wished to join a party, their seat would be declared vacant and they would be required to run in a by-election. The bill would not apply to Members of a party who become Independents. The second and final hour of second reading debate on the bill has yet to occur. 

Other Matters 

The House sat late on September 26, 2005 for an emergency debate on increases in gas prices. A special take-note debate was held on October 24, 2005 regarding the American initiative relating to passports, and another on October 25, 2005 on the topic of softwood lumber. 

During Members' Statements on September 26, 2005, Chuck Strahl, Deputy Speaker and Member (CPC) for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, rose to thank Members of all parties for their support as he battles lung cancer, and to assure the House that it was his intention to continue to serve in both capacities. Members gave Mr. Strahl a lengthy ovation. 

In mid-September, William C. Corbett announced his retirement as Clerk of the House due to a chronic medical condition.  On September 30, 2005, the government tabled a certificate of nomination for Audrey O'Brien to succeed him. Ms. O'Brien had been Deputy Clerk since July 2000 and had been serving as Acting Clerk since May 2005. For the first time, following a new procedure adopted in 2001, the proposed appointment of the Clerk was referred to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, which recommended that the House ratify her nomination. A motion to that effect was adopted unanimously by the House on October 7, 2005 and Ms. O'Brien was appointed by Order in Council on October 11, 2005. She is the first woman to serve as Clerk of the House. 

After having been defeated for the NDP nomination in her riding, Bev Desjarlais (Churchill) announced on October 18, 2005 that she would sit as an Independent. The party standings in the House are now as follows: 133 Liberals; 98 Conservatives; 54 Bloquistes; 18 New Democrats; 4 Independents and 1 vacancy. 

Over the course of the first weeks of the fall sitting, Members had occasion to pay tribute to several notable persons who had passed away over the summer. On September 26, representatives of all parties rose to pay tribute to the memory of the late James Jerome, Speaker the House of Commons from 1974 to 1980; all present in the House then observed a minute of silence. In 1979, Mr. Jerome became the first House Speaker to remain in office following a change of government. 

On September 28, a Member from each party rose to pay tribute to popular Independent MP, Chuck Cadman (Surrey North), who died on July 9.  Members recalled Mr. Cadman's strong commitment to victims' rights, having entered politics following the murder of his teenage son. Mr. Cadman was first elected in 1997. 

On October 18, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois and the Deputy Leader of the NDP paid tribute to the late Sergeant-at-Arms, Major-General Gus Cloutier, who passed away on August 30. A memorial service for MGen. Cloutier was held on Parliament Hill later that day. First appointed in April 1978, he was the longest-serving Sergeant-at-Arms in the House's history. MGen. Cloutier was also the Canadian Secretary to the Queen. 

Gary Sokolyk
Jeffrey LeBlanc
Procedural Clerks
Table Research Branch 

Prince Edward Island

The Third Session of the Sixty-second General Assembly began on November 16, 2005, with the reading of the Speech from the Throne by J. Léonce Bernard, Lieutenant Governor. In recognition of 2005 being the Year of the Veteran, Gregory J. Deighan, Speaker, invited members of the Island veterans community and Island Legions to sit on the floor of the Assembly and in the Public Gallery for the reading of the Speech from the Throne. 

The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island has ruled that the provincial government's case on fisheries management issues against the federal government can proceed. The provincial government and others launched the lawsuit earlier this year challenging the constitutional authority of the federal fisheries minister and the management of the fisheries under the Fisheries Act. The federal government applied to the Supreme Court in May of this year to have the case dismissed, but this recent decision has stated that the case can be heard in the Prince Edward Island Supreme Court. 

Governor General Michaëlle Jean, and her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, accompanied by their daughter, Marie-Éden, have scheduled a busy round of engagements for their visit to the province on November 7 and 8, 2005. This visit is the second official visit of the vice-regal couple. The official welcoming ceremony took place at Province House with a 21-gun salute and review of the guard of honour. Other events included a swearing-in ceremony for more than thirty new Canadians, dinner with the Lieutenant Governor, a walking tour of the capital, a roundtable discussion on family violence prevention programs, and the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the national historic significance of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown.  

The Prince Edward Island Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association welcomed delegates from across the country to the 27th CPA Canadian Region Parliamentary Seminar, held in Summerside, PEI, from October 20-23, 2005. Business sessions included such topics as water stewardship in Manitoba, women in politics, the role of the opposition during question period, and improving productivity of time spent in the legislature. Delegates also had the opportunity to enjoy social events in both Summerside and Charlottetown. Speaker Deighan said, “It's always a pleasure to meet old friends, and to introduce new colleagues to the Island. We're delighted to have had the opportunity to host the Seminar this year.” 

Marion L. Reid, will publish her memoirs entitled These Roots Run Deep this December. In 1983, Mrs. Reid became the first female Speaker of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly, and, in 1990, she was sworn in as the first female Lieutenant Governor in the province's history. Mrs. Reid is a popular public speaker who often includes stories about her experiences growing up in a large family in rural Prince Edward Island. It is these stories, as well as her experiences in politics, that form the theme of her book. 

Marian Johnston, Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees, attended the Parliamentary Officers' Study Program in Ottawa, Ontario, from September 24 to October 6, 2005. A total of fifteen parliamentary officers from national assemblies and legislatures around the world–Georgia, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Korea, Namibia, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zambia–participated in the program. Sincere thanks are extended to the organizers of the Study Program for their generosity in sharing their time and expertise with the group. 

November 28, 2005, is the date for a provincial plebiscite on the Mixed Member Proportional System as proposed by the Commission on Prince Edward Island's Electoral Future. The question to be presented to electors will be: “Should Prince Edward Island change to the Mixed Member Proportional System as presented by the Commission on Prince Edward Island's Electoral Future?” Complete information on the Commission and the Commission's proposal for a Mixed Member Representation System, can be found at:
www.electoralfuture.pe.ca. 

A strong voter turnout is anticipated; in fact, a recent poll indicates that just over 90% of Islanders surveyed stated they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to vote on November 28. 

Marian Johnston
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Second Session of the 45th General Assembly opened on March 15th as Lieutenant Governor Edward Roberts delivered the second Throne Speech of the Williams Administration. Prior to the start of the Session, on February 14th, the Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada signed the Atlantic Accord agreements altering the equalization arrangements between the Federal and Provincial Governments. 

On March 2nd the Minister of Fisheries and Acquaculture, Trevor Taylor, announced Government's intention to implement a raw materials shares (R.M.S.) system in the crab fishery as a pilot project. Early in the Spring sitting, the policy, which was opposed by some sectors of the fishing industry, was the cause of some disruptions in the business of the House. On a number of occasions the Speaker Harvey Hodder, ordered the Public Galleries cleared for the remainder of the day. On two occasions the House met with the Galleries closed and on one occasion the House did not meet at all because of the presence of protestors around the Confederation Building. On two occasions the Opposition caucuses left the Chamber after the sitting had started and on the two days when the Galleries were closed from the beginning of the day the Opposition caucuses did not attend the sitting. 

The House adopted some amendments to the Standing Orders during the Spring sitting the most significant being the abolition of debate upon and appeals of Speakers' rulings; the limiting of the time allocated to the Member responding to the Minister of Finance in the budget debate to the greater of the time used by the Minister and three hours; and the abolition of the rule of anticipation. 

On June 9th, 10th and 24th the House met in special session to debate Bill 41 An Act To Amend The Fishery Products International Limited Act. The purpose of the Bill was to allow Fisheries Products International to sell 40 per cent of its U.S.- based marketing division to form an income trust. Government announced that there would be a free vote on the Bill which was adopted with a number of Government Members, including the Premier, voting against the measure. 

The House passed 38 Bills during the Spring session. One of the most vigorously debated was Bill 20 An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Smoking In Public Places And The Workplace

Changes to the House 

On May 5th Fabian Manning, MHA ( Placentia and St. Mary's) left the Government caucus to sit as an Independent. On June 1st Roger Grimes resigned as Leader of the Official Opposition and Member for the District of Exploits. Mr. Grimes had served in the House for 16 years.  Gerry Reid, the Member for Twillingate and Fogo was appointed interim leader. In the June 23rd by-election Clayton Forsey was elected to represent the District of Exploits. 

The House now comprises 34 Progressive Conservatives, 11 Liberals, two New Democrats and one Independent. 

On October 28th Jack Harris, QC, MHA, announced that he would be stepping down as Leader of the New Democratic Party in the Province and that he would not be seeking re-election. Mr Harris has represented the District of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi since 1990. 

On November 8th the Premier Danny Williams, shuffled his cabinet. Tom Rideout, MHA (Lewisporte) moved from Transportation and Works to Fisheries and Aquaculture, retaining responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs and assuming the position of Deputy Premier. Trevor Taylor, MHA (The Straits and White Bay North) took over Mr. Rideout's former portfolio, Transportation and Works; Joan Burke, MHA (St. George's - Stephenville East) moved to Education from Human Resources, Labour and Employment  retaining responsibility for the Status of Women; Paul Shelley (Baie Verte) moved from Tourism, Culture and Recreation to Human Resources, Labour and Employment with responsibility for Labrador Affairs and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing while Tom Hedderson (Harbour Maine-Whitbourne) moved from Education to Tourism, Culture and Recreation. 

The House resumed sitting on November 21st. 

Elizabeth Murphy
Clerk Assistant 

Ontario

On June 13, 2005 the Ontario Legislature adjourned for the summer. On August 19, 2005, Alvin Curling, MPP for Scarborough- Rouge River and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly resigned to take up an appointment as Canadian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. 

The First Session of the 38th Parliament was prorogued on September 19, 2005, and on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 the Second Session of the 38th Parliament began. The first order of business was the election of a new Speaker. 

The election of the Speaker was conducted by secret ballot.  Mike Brown, MPP for Alogma- Manitoulin and Ted Arnott, MPP for Waterloo-Wellington were the only two candidates for Office of the Speaker. After one ballot, Mike Brown, MPP emerged as the 39th Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 

Greg Sorbara, MPP resigned as Minister of Finance and Chair of Management Board of Cabinet late on Tuesday, October 11, 2005.  Due to Mr. Sorbara's resignation the Premier shuffled the Ontario Cabinet. Dwight Duncan, MPP and former Minster of Energy was sworn in as the new Minister of Finance. Donna Cansfield, MPP the former Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy was sworn in as the new Minister of Energy and Jim Bradley, MPP, Minister of Tourism and Recreation assumed the additional role of Government House Leader. 

On Wednesday, October 12, 2005 the Members assembled in the House to hear Lieutenant Governor, James K. Bartleman deliver the Speech from the Throne. Some highlights from the Throne Speech included a money-back guarantee for online birth certificate applications, if applicants do not receive their birth certificate within 15 business days, reforms to Ontario's Drive Clean programme, a new alternative (skills / trade) high school diploma and mandatory learning until age 18. 

Following the Speech from the Throne and just prior to its consideration, the Premier introduced the first bill for the Second Session of the 38th Parliament, Bill 1, An Act to perpetuate an ancient parliamentary right. The Bill is introduced to perpetuate the right of Parliament, through the representatives elected by the people, to sit and act without leave from the Crown. 

Committees 

On the last day before the Legislature adjourned for the summer, the House ordered that during the adjournment, in the event of the prorogation of the First Session of the 38th Parliament and notwithstanding such prorogation, certain bills shall remain on the Orders and Notices paper and be continued and placed on the Orders and Notices paper for the Second Session of the 38th Parliament at the same stage of business for the House and its committees as at prorogation. 

The Standing Committee on Social Policy spent two days on public hearings on Bill 183, An Act respecting the disclosure of information and records to adopted persons and birth parents in May 2005, followed by four days of clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in June. On September 14 and 15, 2005 the Committee met and finished its clause-by-clause review.  The Chair reported the bill, with amendments, to the House on October 13, 2005. 

Bill 183 was intended to permit adopted persons to obtain information from the Registrar General concerning their birth parents and to allow birth parents to obtain information on children given up for adoption, once those children reached 19 years of age. Unlike other provinces that have opened adoption records, the bill did not provide for a veto to block access to information. Instead, the bill provided the opportunity for an adopted person or a parent to register a “no-contact” notice. 

The bill generated considerable debate in the House, in Committee and in the press from those advocating complete and retroactive access to birth information and from those with privacy concerns. 

On June 13, 2005, the House struck a Select Committee to consider and report on options for electoral reform. The Committee was given the mandate, among other matters, to review the current electoral system and alternative systems and to consider the procedure for the referendum to be held following a review of electoral reform by a citizen assembly as constituted pursuant to the Election Amendment Act, 2005. The final report is to be tabled in the House by November 3, 2005. 

The Standing Committee on Justice Policy met for public hearings and clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 159, An Act to revise the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Licence Appeal Tribunal Act, 1999 on September 14, 22 and October 3, 2005.  The Bill was reported back in the new Session when the House resumed in the fall. 

A delegation comprising the Chair and Sub-committee of the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly was authorized by the House to attend the 2005 annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in August in Seattle, Washington. 

The Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly met in September for a half day of public hearings on legislation on election law, followed by clause-by-clause consideration in October. Bill 214 amends the Election Act, the Election Finances Act and the Legislative Assembly Act, and replaces the Representation Act, 1996 with the Representation Act, 2005. The Bill's proposed changes fall into three categories: amendments relating to fixed dates for provincial general elections, amendments relating to the Representation Act, 2005, retaining existing northern ridings, and going from 103 to 107 members in the next election, and amendments relating to the disclosure of political contributions. 

Bill 214 amends the Election Act to provide for fixed dates for provincial general elections and terms of approximately four years, subject to the Lieutenant Governor's existing power to dissolve the Legislature whenever he or she sees fit. With the Bill's new provision for regular general elections, the next Ontario general election would be held on Thursday, October 4, 2007, and thereafter regular general elections would always be held on the first Thursday in October in the fourth calendar year following the most recent general election. 

From August 21 to 23, 2005 the Ontario Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Ontario Auditor General hosted the 26th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees, held in conjunction with the Canadian Conference of Legislative Auditors. Representatives from all the Provinces and Territories and observers from Nigeria attended the Conference, which was held in beautiful Niagara-on- the-Lake. 

The 2005-2006 Estimates were carried over from the First Session to the Second Session of the 38th Parliament by an Order of the House. The Standing Committee on Estimates also received authorization to meet for eight days the last week in September and the first week in October. As a result, the Estimates Committee is scheduled to complete consideration of 9 Ministries' Estimates from the 12 Ministries selected. The Committee is scheduled to report to the House on November 17, 2005. 

In September the Standing Committee on General Government held hearings on Bill 169, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act and to amend and repeal various other statutes in respect of transportation-related matters. The Bill made amendments to create new ways of using highways, modified existing regulatory schemes, and amended existing provisions governing road use and safety, and penalties. 

The section of the Bill that gathered the most interest dealt with current rules in force in Ontario imposed by the Public Vehicles Act, municipal by-laws, federal regulations and airports and airport authorities that required a licence, permit or other authorization in order to pick up passengers in a motor vehicle for the purpose of transporting them for compensation. The Bill added a new section to create a new offence in the Highway Traffic Act if a driver picked up passengers for the purpose of transporting them for compensation without the licence, permit or authorization required by those rules. 

A number of Private Members' Public Bills were discharged from the Standing Committee on General Government and referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills for consideration during the summer. The Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills considered 7 Private Members' Public Bills in September. One day of public hearings was set-aside for each of the 7 Bills referred to the Committee. Clause-by-clause consideration of the 7 Private Members' Public Bills has yet to occur. 

Tonia Grannum
Committee Clerk 

Saskatchewan

In anticipating the opening of the Second Session on November 7th, Premier Lorne Calvert announced that Len Taylor will assume the duties of Government House Leader from Harry Van Mulligen. Mr Taylor will remain as Minister of Government Relations while Mr. Van Mulligen will concentrate on his Finance ministry duties. 

On October 14th, Premier Calvert announced the appointment of two new members of his cabinet. Eldon Lautermilch (Prince Albert Northcote) was named to the Highways and Transportation portfolio, with the additional responsibility for the Saskatchewan Transportation Company. Mr. Lautermilch had previously served in the cabinets of Roy Romanow and Mr. Calvert. Graham Addley (Saskatoon Sutherland) resigned his position as Deputy Speaker in order to accept the position of Minister of Healthy Living Services. His primary focus will be implementing initiatives related to Project Hope, a three year government program to prevent and treat substance abuse. Mr. Addley had previously served as Legislative Secretary to the Premier on Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. 

The election of a new Deputy Speaker took place on the second day of the session on November 8th. With only one name submitted for consideration, Doreen Hamilton (Regina Wascana Plains) was elected by acclamation. Ms. Hamilton is the first woman to serve in any of the presiding officer positions. She had previously served in the cabinet of Mr. Calvert with responsibilities for Liquor and Gaming, Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation, Public Service Commission and Wascana Centre Authority and the Status of Women. More recently, she was the Legislative Secretary to the Premier for the implementation of the Voluntary Sector Initiative. 

The mild November weather permitted the traditional Honour guard and gun salute that mark an official legislative opening to take place outside on the grounds in front of the Legislative Building. The proceedings then moved indoors where a citizenship ceremony welcomed fourteen new Canadians. These new citizens joined Members, representatives of the judiciary, the general public and school students to hear the Speech from the Throne.  

The Speech focused on the Government's vision of Saskatchewan as a “have” province with heart – “a province where no one is left behind on the path to opportunity, a province with an unbreakable social fabric, built on the foundation of diverse and growing communities, in a green and prosperous economy.” Among the key initiatives articulated to implement that vision are: 

  • A green and prosperous economy would be ensured by balancing the budget, reducing the provincial debt, implementing the recommendations of the Business Tax Review Committee and the Green Strategy consultations, implementing climate change and energy initiatives, and investing in programs that encourage the participation of youth and Aboriginal people in the labour market and business sector; 
  • The economic development, cultural, social and recreational needs of the province will be addressed by creating a foundation of diverse and growing communities through initiatives such as the Building Communities Fund; and 
  • The "unbreakable social fabric" of the province would be achieved through legislative initiatives that support safe communities, increased funding to community-based organizations that offer critical services for children and families, and initiatives that make affordable, high quality learning, skills training and apprenticeship opportunities available for students. 

Brad Wall, leader of the Official Opposition Saskatchewan Party, concluded that the Throne Speech lacked vision and failed to answer fundamental questions on how the government was managing the province's economy. He also noted that the speech repeated previously made promises and did not articulate how the new found resource revenue would be spent. 

Royal Visit 

The Legislative Assembly hosted the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on May 18th. Despite inclement weather more common in Britain than on the prairies, the royal couple arrived in a horse-drawn landau for an official welcome on the steps of the legislature. After a brief walkabout to greet many of the guests and public, the Queen proceeded to unveil a larger than life size bronze statue of herself on her horse, Burmese. Burmese had been born in Maple Creek and served with the RCMP Musical Ride before being presented to the Queen in 1969. She rode the black mare for the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London for eighteen consecutive birthday parades. 

Inside the building, the Queen named the legislative committee room “Mamawapiwin nayati”. The name combines the Cree word “mamawapiwin” and the Dene word "nayati", both of which translate as “meeting” or “gathering”, to symbolizes the historic and continuing relationship between the Crown and the First Nations people in Saskatchewan. Her Majesty also unveiled the Saskatchewan Centennial Mural by Aboriginal artist, Roger Jerome of La Ronge. In the interim, the Duke of Edinburgh turned the sod for the future Saskatchewan War Memorial, which records the names of all Saskatchewan citizens who died during conflicts of the past century. 

Mid Western Legislative Conference 

The Assembly joined with the Department of Government Relations to host the 60th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference from July 31st to August 3rd. The meeting targeted legislators from the eleven Midwestern states and the affiliated provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Representatives of non-governmental organizations, businesses and the private sector were also in attendance. The annual meeting encourages regional intergovernmental cooperation between the participating American states and Canadian provinces by addressing common problems, exchanging information and ideas, and the sharing of knowledge and experience on matters of mutual importance. The meeting marked the first time the conference had been hosted by a Canadian province. 

Heritage Designation 

The Legislative Building and surrounding grounds were recently recognized for their heritage role in the province's history. A plaque commemorating the national historic significance of the building and grounds was unveiled by Prime Minister Paul Martin on September 2nd. A second plaque extending the building's designation as a provincial heritage property to the seventeen hectares immediately surrounding the Legislature was unveiled by Premier Calvert. The Saskatchewan Legislative Building was constructed between 1908 and 1912 in the beaux-arts style of architecture. 

Margaret (Meta) Woods
Clerk Assistant Senate 

Senate

As the second house of Canada's Parliament, the Senate is dependent on the House of Commons for the bulk of its legislative business and has a constitutional role to give “sober second thought” to the legislation it receives. The autumn months, normally a busy time when the Senate works diligently to complete its legislative agenda, were unusually quiet this year. This was partly because the Senate had worked until the end of July to complete its consideration of two important bills but also a result of other political factors that consumed the minority Government's time and slowed the flow of legislation to the Senate from the House of Commons. 

Committee Reports 

In addition to a legislative role, the Senate has a responsibility to investigate important social, political and economic issues of the day. The greater part of this work is done by Senate committees. This fall, the Senate gave its approval for several committees to begin work on special studies while other committees reported on studies in progress. 

On September 28, the National Security and Defence Committee tabled its Fourteenth Report entitled WOUNDED, Canada's Military and the Legacy of Neglect, Our Disappearing Options for Defending the Nation Abroad and at Home. The report examines the role of Canada's military to protect Canadians and to represent the country's national interests at home and abroad measured against the present capacity of the armed forces. An interim report, it is the first of three that will be published by the Committee during the fall of 2005. 

The Human Rights Committee tabled its Nineteenth Report on November 3. Entitled Who's in Charge Here? Effective implementation of Canada's international obligations with respect to the rights of children, the interim report recommends that Parliament establish a Children's Commissioner to monitor implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and protection of children's rights in Canada. The report completes the first stage of the committee's study which will continue in 2006. 

From time to time, the Rules of the Senate are revised to include new rules or changes to the current ones. The Sixth Report of the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament Committee, an updated version of the October 2004 edition of the Rules of the Senate, was tabled on October 18. The revision includes amendments to the rules that incorporate procedural consequences as required by the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators, approved by the Senate on May 18. 

Speaker's Ruling 

Senator Marjory LeBreton raised a question of privilege on October 18. She claimed that her privileges as a senator had been breached when the National Security and Defence Committee met on two occasions outside the assigned time-slot without public notice and without simultaneous interpretation. As a result, Senator LeBreton believed she was denied the right to attend and participate in these meetings. In his ruling delivered on October 20, Speaker Dan Hays distanced himself from the regulation of committee affairs. He suggested other mechanisms such as the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament Committee, the political leaders in the Senate and the committees themselves as more appropriate vehicles to address the issue of committee practices. His conclusion was that a prima facie case of privilege had not been established. 

New Governor General 

The installation of a new Governor General is a state occasion, like the Opening of Parliament and the Speech from the Throne when the Crown, the Senate and the House of Commons come together. In the past some Governors General were installed in Québec City and Halifax, but more often than not a new Governor General takes office in a special ceremony held in the Senate Chamber. 

Therefore, in the Senate Chamber, the 27th Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, was sworn in on September 27 during a lively ceremony which included musical presentations and, for the first time in over a century, the presence of the outgoing Governor General. 

On November 3, Mme Jean presided over her first formal royal assent ceremony since becoming Governor General. On this occasion three government bills received royal assent. Of these, two were initiated in the Senate. Bill S-31, the Highway 30 Bridges Completion Act permits the province of Quebec to construct and maintain bridges over the St. Lawrence River and over the Beauharnois Canal necessary to complete Highway 30. 

The other, Bill S-38, formally implements the wines and spirits section of an agreement signed in September 2003 between Canada and the European Union. The third bill, C-26, establishes the Canada Border Services Agency as a corporate body and defines its mandate, powers and authorities. 

Milestones 

Former Members of Parliament, Andrée Champagne, Dennis Dawson and Francis Fox, were among eight new senators sworn in on September 28. Others appointed were Hugh Segal, former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada, former Vancouver Mayor Larry W. Campbell, Rod A.A. Zimmer, a recognized community leader in Winnipeg, Yoine Goldstein, one of Canada's most respected lawyers, and Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, an Aboriginal woman and advocate for the rights of native women. The appointments of Senator Champagne and Senator Lovelace Nicholas raises the percentage of women in the Senate to 36%, the highest representation of women in Canadian legislatures. 

Senators paid tribute to the Landon Pearson, long time advocate for the rights of children, who retired from the Senate on November 16. Two others senators retired as well. John Lynch-Staunton served as Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1991 to 1993 and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1993 to 2004 before retiring on June 19. James F. Kelleher, a former Solicitor General of Canada, retired on October 2. He was an active member of several committees during his fifteen years in the Senate. 

Mary Mussell
Journals Branch 

British Columbia

Following the May 17, 2005 provincial election, reported on in the previous issue, the first session of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament opened on September 12, 2005. The election of the Speaker was the first order of business for the newly elected House. A former Minister in the previous BC Liberal administration, Bill Barisoff, was declared Speaker in an uncontested election. Another former Cabinet Minister, Sindi Hawkins was named as Deputy Speaker. Opposition Member Sue Hammell filled the new position of Assistant Deputy Speaker. Her historic appointment marks the first time that an Opposition MLA has held a position as one of the Assembly's senior presiding officers. 

Under the leadership of Premier Gordon Campbell and Official Opposition Leader Carole James, both government and Opposition Members have committed to a new cooperative working relationship. Thus far, the agreement is working well, as illustrated by greater decorum during Question Period and an all-party agreement on the completion of scheduled business for the fall sitting. Several significant parliamentary reforms have also been initiated that reflect the new tone in the legislature. For the first time, a majority government in BC has invited the Official Opposition to chair and to have a majority of members on a parliamentary committee: the new Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture. Other significant reforms include the doubling of Question Period from fifteen to thirty minutes – the first change in the length of Question Period since it was introduced in British Columbia in 1973 – and an increase in the number of daily two-minute Members' Statements from three to six. 

The Speech from the Throne presented by Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo reiterated the government's commitment to the "five great goals" outlined in February's Throne Speech. The goals are to make BC first in education, healthy living, social support, sustainable environmental management, and job creation.  Strategies identified in the Throne Speech to achieve these goals include the creation of a permanent policy secretariat to work on cross-government priorities, and the development of clear indicators for measuring progress on each goal.  In addition, the Throne Speech emphasized the government's commitment to establish a new relationship of reconciliation with the province's First Nations. 

The government also announced on Opening Day its intention to hold a second electoral system referendum, during the 2008 municipal elections, enabling British Columbians to choose between the current first-past-the-post system and the single transferable vote (STV). The result will determine how voters elect the next parliament during the next provincial general election, scheduled for May 12, 2009. In addition to their usual responsibilities, the new Electoral Boundaries Commission has been tasked with redrafting the current provincial electoral boundaries to provide for up to 85 MLAs (an increase of 6 ridings), and to make proposals on the electoral districts which may occur under the STV model. 

On September 14, the Minister of Finance, Carole Taylor presented a budget update that reaffirms the commitments made in February's budget and projects a surplus of $1.3 billion for 2005/06. Highlights include: $242 million for new initiatives to support seniors; $100 million to establish a First Nations new relationship fund for capacity-building initiatives related to managing land, resources, and social programs; and a reduction in the general corporate income tax rate from 13.5 to 12 percent intended to keep BC competitive with other jurisdictions. Opposition Finance critic Jenny Wai Ching Kwan responded by claiming that the government had revealed its "misplaced priorities" by placing corporate tax cuts over health care and education. 

Legislation 

The fall sitting has been marked by a relatively light legislative agenda, as the House has focused on the budget estimates for 2005/06. On September 15, 2005, the Government House Leader, Michael de Jong introduced the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2005.  Bill 4 removes the prohibition on the reappointment of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. In addition, it extends the appointment of the current commissioner, David Loukidelis, until a new one is appointed. The appointment of this independent statutory officer position is now in the hands of a parliamentary committee, the Special Committee to Appoint an Information and Privacy Commissioner. Both sides of the House unanimously supported the amendments, which received Royal Assent on September 22, 2005. 

Another significant bill, the Teachers' Collective Agreement Act (Bill 12) was granted Royal Assent on October 7, 2005, following a twenty-eight hour marathon debate.  This legislation extends the collective agreement that expired in June 2004, between the BC Teachers' Federation and the BC Public School Employers Association, to June 2006. During this period an Industrial Inquiry Commission will be appointed under the labour code to develop a new bargaining process that will be in place in time for the next round of negotiations. The government explained that the legislation was intended to afford time to develop a structure within which negotiated settlements could occur, as it was clear that the present structure of the bargaining system was not able to produce a negotiated settlement. 

However, the passage of the legislation sparked a full-scale walkout by BC public school teachers that lasted from October 7 until October 23, 2005 when teachers voted 78 percent in favour of accepting mediator recommendations ending their illegal strike. John Horgan, the Opposition Education critic, criticized the government for acting prematurely and "inflaming the situation," and urged it to negotiate with the teachers to resolve the issues of class size and composition. Following the end of the walkout by teachers, the government agreed to establish a new roundtable forum to discuss class size, class composition and other issues related to learning conditions in the public school system. 

Bill 13, the Civil Forfeiture Act, was also introduced this session. Solicitor General John Les stated that the new law allows the government to use existing civil court rules and processes to go after property, vehicles and other assets used in or acquired through unlawful activity. Money recovered will be paid into a special account and used to compensate crime victims, fund crime prevention programs, and pay for the costs of administering the act. The government explained that the bill was developed to ensure that criminals do not profit from unlawful activities. Although the Opposition Critic for Public Safety, Jagrup Brar, agreed with the principle of the bill, he claimed that the standard of proof required under this new law is significantly lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt," and that it does not go far enough in protecting and compensating victims of crime. Bill 13 passed third reading on October 27, 2005. 

Parliamentary Committee Activities 

During its annual budget consultation process, the all-party Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services heard from a record number of individuals – 4,436 British Columbians – regarding their priorities for the next and future provincial budgets. Most submissions (3,998) were online responses to the questionnaire included in the government's Budget 2006 Consultation Paper. Also, this year's Finance Committee was the first parliamentary committee in BC to have live audio of committee proceedings outside the legislative precincts, using webcasting technology. 

To date, three other parliamentary committees have received their terms of reference this session: the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts; the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills; and the Special Committee to Appoint an Information and Privacy Commissioner. Many others are expected to be appointed and issued terms of reference before the scheduled close of session on November 24, 2005. 

Mary Storzer
Committee Researcher 

Nunavut

Ann Meekitjuk Hanson, a former journalist, author and Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, was appointed Nunavut's new Commissioner in April of this year. Her first official appearance in the Chamber was on May 5, when she gave assent to a number of Bills immediately prior to proroguing the Second Session of the Second Legislative Assembly. 

A total of nineteen Bills were passed during the Second Session, including the Legislative Assembly Statutes Amendment Act, which includes provisions to clarify the procedure for giving assent to Bills. 

The Second Session witnessed the introduction of a number of formal motions. During consideration of the 2005-06 main estimates, two motions were passed deleting specific line items from the proposed budgets of the Department of Community and Government Services and the Department of Environment. Recorded votes took place on both motions. 

Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley introduced a number of motions, including one to set the date of the Assembly's mid-term leadership review of Cabinet. The review will take place in the fall of 2006. 

Nanulik MLA and Deputy Speaker Patterk Netser, seconded by Sanikiluaq MLA Peter Kattuk, introduced a motion to formally express the Legislative Assembly's support of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development's request that the Government of Canada appoint a judicial inquiry into the issue of the slaughter of Inuit sled dogs. The motion was unanimously adopted by the House. 

Arviat MLA David Alagalak introduced a motion empowering the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Health and Education to hold public hearings and consultations on the long-term role of Nunavut Arctic College. 

The Legislative Assembly also unanimously passed a motion recommending the appointment of Johnny Kusugak of Rankin Inlet to serve as the territory's second Languages Commissioner. 

The Rules of the Legislative Assembly were amended during the sitting. The amendments dealt with such areas as the tabling of documents and returns to written questions. 

The government's formal response to the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Government Operations and Accountability's report on the review of the Auditor General's most recent annual report was tabled during the sitting. All Standing Committee reports and government responses thereto are posted on the Assembly website. Committee Chair Hunter Tootoo (MLA - Iqaluit Centre) also delivered a report in relation to the Auditor General's upcoming performance audit of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB). The WCB is shared between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. A recent motion passed in the Legislative Assembly of the NWT called on the Auditor General to undertake such an audit. 

During the Session, Mr. Tootoo introduced a motion calling on the government to formally request the Auditor General to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC), a territorial Crown corporation. The motion was narrowly defeated. 

The Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 2004 Nunavut general election was tabled in the House during the Second Session, and considered in detail by MLAs during the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole. The report contained a number of recommendations for amendments to the Nunavut Elections Act. By law, an Electoral Boundaries Commission is required to be established in 2006. This entity is anticipated to begin its work early next year, and will report its findings to the Legislative Assembly. 

Nunavut's Integrity Act, which was introduced and passed in 2001, will also undergo a statutorily-required review in 2006. 

In May, Nunavut's Information and Privacy Commissioner appeared before the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Government Operations and Accountability during its review of her annual report. The hearing was held in Committee Co-Chair Keith Peterson's Kitikmeot constituency of Cambridge Bay. This was the first time that an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly appeared before a Standing Committee outside of the Legislative precinct. 

In June, following the conclusion of the Second Session, Premier Paul Okalik announced a Cabinet shuffle. Ministers Leona Aglukkaq, Olayuk Akesuk, Levinia Brown, Peter Kilabuk and David Simailak received new or additional assignments. Ministers Ed Picco and Louis Tapardjuk retained their existing portfolio responsibilities. 

The Third Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Nunavut convened on November 15, 2005, with an Opening Address, delivered by Commissioner Hanson. 

The main item of business before the House during the fall sitting will be the consideration of the government's 2006-07 capital estimates. The capital estimates are introduced during the fall sitting in order to meet sealift deadlines for the following year's shipping season. The government's annual main estimates for operations and maintenance expenditures are generally introduced in February/March. It is also anticipated that the next annual report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly will be provided in the near future. 

On a final note, in late summer of 2005, former Nunavut MLA and renowned artist Uriash Puqiqnak of Gjoa Haven was named to the Order of Canada. Mr. Puqiqnak remains active in public life, presently serving as the Mayor of his Central Arctic community. 

Alex Baldwin
Director, Research and
Library Services 

New Brunswick

Several Standing Committees have been active since the adjournment of the House on June 30, 2005. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations each held several weeks of meetings in an effort to bring the review of government departments and Crown agencies up to date. In New Brunswick, all government departments appear annually before the Public Accounts Committees and the majority of provincial agencies, boards and commissions appear before the Crown Corporations Committee. Due to the ongoing restoration of the plaster ceilings in the Legislative Council Chamber – which serves as the main committee room – legislative committees have been holding hearings on the floor of the Legislative Assembly Chamber. 

The Standing Committee on Procedure was active during the adjournment period, considering possible changes to the Standing Rules of the House. The Legislative Administration Committee (LAC) held several meetings to review issues surrounding security as well as proposed improvements to the historic Legislative Assembly Building, originally built in 1882. A Building Assessment and Master Plan for the Restoration, Preservation and Maintenance of the Legislative Assembly Building was commissioned by the Legislative Administration Committee. The Plan proposes a planned phase of restoration over the next 15 years. 

On October 13, 2005, former NDP Leader Elizabeth Weir was named President and CEO of the new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Agency of New Brunswick. The agency's aim is to help consumers lower energy bills and better deal with energy price impacts through conservation; to provide financial incentives to help working and middle class families make better energy choices; to provide incentives for businesses to improve energy conservation, and to increase competitiveness for business and industry in the province. The Agency will be headquartered in the City of Saint John, often referred to as the energy hub of Atlantic Canada. 

In accepting the new appointment, Ms. Weir announced her resignation as a Member of the Legislative Assembly.  She was first elected in the1991 general election, representing the constituency of Saint John South, and was reelected in three subsequent elections as the Member for Saint John Harbour. Ms. Weir stepped down as the Leader of the provincial New Democratic Party in September. At a convention held on September 25, 2005, Allison Brewer of Fredericton was elected the new Leader of the NDP. Ms. Brewer does not currently hold a seat in the House. 

On October 15, 2005, a by-election was called to fill the vacancy created in the riding of Saint John Harbour. The hard-fought by-election, held on November 14, resulted in the election of Liberal candidate Dr. Ed Doherty, a well-know Saint John Ophthalmologist. 

With the results of the by-election, there is no longer a third-party represented in the Legislative Assembly. The Progressive Conservative Government, led by Premier Bernard Lord, maintains a majority of one seat. With Speaker Bev Harrison in the Chair there will be an equal number of members on either side of the House. 

On October 31st, the Premier accepted the resignation of Tony Huntjens as Minister of Family and Community Services and Minister responsible for the New Brunswick Advisory Council on Seniors. Privacy concerns were raised when Mr. Huntjens, in discussions with a newspaper reporter, had inadvertently referred to the surname of an individual under the care of his department. Mr. Huntjens stated that he deeply regretted the situation and felt that his resignation was the best course of action at the present time. Mr. Huntjens, who had served as Minister since 2003, continues as the Member for Western Charlotte. 

Trevor Holder, the Member for Saint John Portland, was named to cabinet on November 21. Mr. Holder will serve as Minister of the Environment and Local Government. Mr. Holder, who was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in June 1999, has served as a Deputy Speaker of the House since 2003. At age 32, Mr. Holder will be the youngest member of the provincial cabinet. 

The Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission released its preliminary report on November 21, 2005. The seven- member Commission is co-chaired by Madam Justice Margaret Larlee of Fredericton and Madam Justice Brigitte Robichaud of Moncton. Under a new electoral map being proposed by the independent Commission, two new electoral districts will be created and two current districts will be eliminated. In response to shifts in population, the commission proposes adding electoral districts in the Fredericton and Dieppe-Moncton areas, and eliminating one in each of the southwest and northern regions. 

The commission, which was selected by the all-party Legislative Administration Committee, is mandated to redraw the province's electoral boundaries to ensure that the population is more evenly distributed among the 55 electoral districts. Pursuant to the Electoral Boundaries and Representation Act, the population of a district cannot be 10 per cent above or below the average of 13,263 (electoral quotient). The Commission will hold public hearings in January, 2006, to receive public input on the contents of the preliminary report. 

The Legislative Library has seen significant changes and will face new challenges as it attempts to deal with the retirement of three long-serving employees including the Director, Margie Pacey, who retires at the end of November after over 30 years with the Legislative Assembly. The Library has implemented numerous improvements in recent years, including a new online catalogue which is more reliable, easier to search and allows patrons to save searches. Further, a newly automated circulation system is linked to the online catalogue, allowing patrons to check loan status and place requests online. 

The Legislative Assembly will meet on the morning of December 6, 2005, for the purpose of proroguing the Second Session of the Fifty-fifth Legislature. The Opening of the Third Session, to be presided over by Lieutenant Governor  Herménégilde Chiasson, has been announced for later the same day. Upon resumption, the standings in the House will be 28 Conservatives and 27 Liberals. As has been the case in recent years, it is expected that the government will bring in a Capital Budget for consideration during the fall sitting, prior to adjourning for the Christmas season. 

Donald Forestell
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees 


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 28 no 4
2005






Last Updated: 2019-07-15