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| House of Commons
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 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 CharleswoodSt. JamesAssiniboia.
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 Generals 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 Canadas 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.
Clerk Assistant /
Clerk of Committees
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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".
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 worldGeorgia, Hong Kong, Jamaica,
Korea, Namibia, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri
Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zambiaparticipated
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
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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;
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The Third Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Nunavut convened
on November 15, 2005, with an Opening Address, delivered by Commissioner
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.
Director, Research and
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
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
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
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
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.
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees