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Since the adjournment of the Third Session of the Fifty-Fifth Legislature
of New Brunswick on December 23, 2005, Premier Bernard Lord, shuffled his
Cabinet, an Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission completed
its mandate and released a final report, the House resumed to elect a new
Speaker shortly before the budget was brought down, and a special channel
began broadcasting gavel-to-gavel coverage of legislative proceedings,
giving New Brunswickers access to the political process and their elected
As a result of Premier Lord's restructuring of government following a Five
in Five initiative announced a few days earlier in the state of the province
address, a number of new Ministers were sworn in as Members of the Executive
Council on February 14:
Claude Williams, MLA for Kent South, Minister of Education
Jody Carr, MLA for Oromocto- Gagetown, Minister of Post-Secondary Education
Kirk MacDonald, MLA for Mactaquac, Minister of Business New Brunswick
Brenda Fowlie, MLA for Kennebecasis, Minister of Energy
Bev Harrison, MLA for Hampton-Belleisle, Minister of Supply and Services
and Government House Leader
Retiring to the backbench were: Elvy Robichaud, MLA for Tracadie-Sheila,
Peter Mesheau, MLA for Tantramar and Margaret-Ann Blaney, MLA for Saint
The Final Report of the Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission
saw the boundaries of 20 of the province's 55 electoral districts revised
and the names of nine electoral districts changed as a result of public
input. Major changes were made in the Moncton-Dieppe area, and in western
New Brunswick in the electoral districts of York, Woodstock, Carleton,
and Victoria-Tobique. The commission, which began its work last August,
released a preliminary report on November 21, 2005, followed by the final
report on February 20, 2006.
On February 21, Michael Malley, MLA for Miramichi-Bay du Vin and former
Government Whip, announced his intention to sit as an Independent Member,
bringing the standings in the House on that date to Progressive Conservatives,
27; Liberals, 26; and Independents, 2.
On March 23,Deputy Speakers Cy (Richard) LeBlanc, MLA for Dieppe-Memramcook
and John Betts, MLA for Moncton Crescent, announced the launch of a New
Brunswick parliamentary channel dedicated to broadcasting proceedings to
keep the public informed of the important work of the House and the province's
elected representatives. The Legislature acquired a professional broadcasting
system with five state-of-the-art cameras located throughout the chamber
and operated remotely by Rogers Television, the company commissioned to
manage the new channel. The new channel will be offered in both official
languages on televisions with secondary audio programming (SAP) features
in major centres across the province. Question period will continue to
be shown on the community channel in the smaller communities. The Assembly
will also approach satellite providers to expand coverage throughout the
The House resumed in the forenoon March 28 and elected Mr. Malley to be
Speaker, subsequent to the resignation of Speaker Harrison.
The House resumed in the afternoon when Finance Minister Jeannot Volpé,
MLA for Madawaska-les-Lacs, brought down his third budget, stating: This
budget supports our vision of New Brunswick and our balanced approach.
It builds on our results and our policies, further implements our commitments,
takes steps in meeting the Premier's Five in Five Initiative and makes
new investments for people.
Highlighted in the 2006-2007 budget:
$2.46 billion for record investments in health and senior care, a 75 per
cent increase since 1999;
$893 million for record investments in Kindergarten to Grade 12 education,
including 240 new teaching positions;
Over $100 million in energy relief, including the rebate of the provincial
portion of the HST on home electricity and heating fuels;
$28.8 million more for senior care, including covering nursing home health
care costs and fully protecting the value of seniors' homes;
$17 million in additional personal income tax reductions for New Brunswickers,
resulting in 50,000 New Brunswickers removed from the income tax rolls
$20 million in tax reductions for New Brunswick businesses, including the
reduction of the New Brunswick small business income tax rate to 1.5 per
$25 million over five years for a new Wellness Infrastructure Fund;
$15 million for regional economic development funds in Miramichi, Restigouche-Chaleur
and the Acadian Peninsula;
$26 million over two years in tax relief and incentives as part of the
$250-million, five-year Forestry Assistance Support Package to help the
$9.2 million for culture, including an additional $1 million for the Cultural
Policy and a new book policy;
A 27.8 per cent net debt-to-GDP ratio, for the seventh consecutive annual
A $22.2 million surplus for another balanced budget.
In his response to the budget speech, Opposition House Leader Kelly Lamrock,
MLA for Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak, pinch hitting for Finance Critic Michael
Murphy, characterized the budget as a budget that mentions everything
but solves nothing. He submitted that the budget neglected to address
job creation, affordable housing, the uncertainty facing mills in the province,
the cost of nursing home care and post-secondary education, the lack of
spaces in community colleges, the prolonged care of special needs children,
the clean-up of municipal harbours, or the lack of support for small business
He was critical of the numbers contained in the budget. While acknowledging
a $5 million increase in spending on special education, he submitted that
New Brunswick is one of only two provinces to cut education in real dollars.
He agreed more money is being spent in the budget, an increase of 1.7%
from the previous budget, but stated that this was inadequate when inflation
rose by 2.5%. He further stated when I look at this budget, we have a
government that cannot even meet its own priority areas, a government that
cannot deliver change, a government that has been given $1.6 billion more
in revenue and has not delivered a single bit of transformative change.
On April 7 Speaker Malley cast his first deciding vote following a division
on the budget motion. In casting his vote in the affirmative, Mr. Speaker
stated that :
Questions of confidence are of such importance that an expression of nonconfidence
should clearly be stated by a majority. In addition to my responsibilities
as Speaker, I have a responsibility to the constituents of my riding of
Miramichi-Bay du Vin and to the people of New Brunswick. In this instance,
I am guided by the principles of the Speaker's casting vote, on questions
On April 11, Speaker Malley ruled on a question of privilege raised earlier
by Government House Leader Harrison regarding a letter from Abel LeBlanc,
MLA for Saint John Lancaster, published in the Telegraph-Journal on April
6, 2006, which characterized the election of the Speaker as a sham. In
giving notice of his motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee
on Privileges, the Government House Leader claimed the comments in the
letter demonstrated contempt, disrespect, and called into question the
legitimacy of the Speaker and the proceedings in the House. Opposition
House Leader Lamrock argued that the letter concerned only the process
by which the Speaker came to Office and that it did not reflect negatively
on the Speaker himself but was critical of the government. However, Speaker
Malley found that the remarks reflected on the Legislature as a whole and
on the Office of Speaker and made it more difficult for the Speaker to
fulfill his duties by diminishing the respect owed to the Office and to
the institution. In ruling that a prima facie case of contempt had not
been made, Speaker Malley ruled that it would not be productive to allow
the matter to go forward for a debate and would only serve to give more
significance to the remarks than they merit. Speaker Malley noted that
the letter was in poor taste and did a disservice to the House and the
Office of the Speaker; the Member subsequently apologized to the House.
On April 13, Speaker Malley announced his intention to rejoin the Government
caucus while continuing to fulfill the duties of the Office of Speaker
in a fair and impartial manner, bringing the standings in the House to
Progressive Conservatives, 28; Liberals, 26; and Independent, 1.
Among the government bills introduced were Bill 34, to amend the Municipalities
Act introduced by Local Government Minister Rose-May Porier, and Bill 35,
to amend The Residential Tenancies Act introduced by Justice and Consumer
Affairs Minister Bruce Fitch. The amendments would give municipal bylaw
enforcement officers the tools necessary to ensure that negligent landlords
address issues of health and safety in residential properties including
ticketing landlords for violations and undertaking repairs where a landlord
fails to do so, with remedial costs being added to the owner's property
Bill 47, An Act to Amend the Members' Conflict of Interest Act, introduced
by Opposition Leader Shawn Graham, would prohibit any member of the Executive
Council from accepting any salary, financial assistance, or any other benefit
from a registered political party or a registered district association.
In introducing the Bill, Mr. Graham noted that the Conflict of Interest
Commissioner would have the discretion to approve such a salary if certain
conditions were met. The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on
Law Amendments for review.
On April 26, the Opposition House Leader gave notice of his intention to
move a motion of non-confidence in the Speaker. The motion was expected
to come up for debate in May during the two hours reserved on Tuesday and
Thursday for Private Members' Motions.
Restoration continues in the Legislative Council Chamber. Used almost exclusively
by committees in recent years, the newly restored room promises to reveal
the original elegance of the 1882 Second Empire sandstone building. The
meticulous and diligent work of conservators uncovered rich colours and
details, including the discovery of paint chips from the original ceiling.
The room is the former home of the Legislative Council, or New Brunswick's
The last submission outlined certain changes to the composition of party
caucuses in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. These changes included the
resignation of Haakon Arntzen (formerly the independent member for Copperbelt,
and before that the Yukon Party member for the same constituency), the
election of Liberal Party leader Arthur Mitchell in the Copperbelt by-election;
and the resignation of Peter Jenkins (Klondike) from the governing Yukon
Party cabinet and caucus. Mr. Jenkins now sits as an independent member.
As a result the House standings which had been Yukon Party 11, NDP 5,
Liberals 1 and one independent member during the 2005 Spring Sitting
were Yukon Party 10, NDP 5, Liberals 2, and one independent by the end
of the 2005 Fall Sitting.
This, however, was not the end of the changes. On February 28 the leader
of the official opposition, Todd Hardy (Whitehorse Centre, NDP) announced
that his House leader, Gary McRobb (Kluane), had been dismissed from caucus.
McRobb's transgression came in the form of a letter to his constituents
wherein he asked them to express their view as to whether he should contest
the next general election (due later this year) as a New Democrat, Liberal
or independent candidate. The following day Mr. Hardy excised Eric Fairclough
(Mayo- Tatchun) from the caucus for having conducted a similar, if less
formal, survey of his constituents. As a result the party standings were
now: Yukon Party 10, NDP 3, Liberals 2, and three independent members.
Given the reasons for the change in the NDP caucus speculation was high
that Mr. McRobb and/or Mr. Fairclough would join the Liberal caucus. On
March 16 Mr. McRobb did so, giving the Liberal caucus the same number of
members as that of the NDP. Mr. Fairclough, however, remained an independent
member as the 2006 Spring Sitting began on March 30, 2006.
However, on May 1, 2006 Mr. Fairclough announced that he had joined the
Liberal Party caucus. This changed the House standings to: Yukon Party
10, Liberal Party 4, NDP 3 and one independent. As a result the Liberals
have now supplanted the NDP as the official opposition.
During the controversy over changes within the NDP it has also been revealed
that the minister of Education, and Justice, John Edzerza (Yukon Party,
McIntyre- Takhini), spoke with Mr. Hardy during the fall of 2005 on the
prospect of Mr. Edzerza leaving the Yukon Party caucus for the NDP. Mr.
Hardy indicated that his party could not accept a member who had been elected
under another party's banner. Mr. Hardy suggested Mr. Edzerza either sit
as an independent member or resign and contest a by-election as the NDP
candidate. Mr. Edzerza has stayed with the Yukon Party.
Premier Fentie did not follow Mr. Hardy's example and expel Mr. Edzerza
from the Yukon Party caucus for talking with the NDP. Premier Fentie suggested
that Mr. Hardy's eviction of Mr. McRobb and Mr. Fairclough had been precipitous.
He said Mr. Edzerza has contributed much to the government and has much
more to contribute.
These issues received a substantial airing in the Assembly on May 3 when
members debated Bill No. 112, Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
This private members' bill, introduced by Mr. Hardy on April 13, proposed
to prohibit a member elected as a member of a given party from joining
the caucus of another party during the course of a given legislature. The
second reading debate proved acrimonious with various allegations of improper
motive and nefarious behaviour being exchanged between the opposition caucuses.
Despite this the bill passed second reading on a vote of 14-1. Both the
Yukon Party and Liberal caucuses said they voted for the bill to give it
more discussion in Committee of the Whole. Oddly, the only member to vote
against second reading was Glenn Hart (Riverdale South), a Yukon Party
cabinet minister. There was more acrimonious debate in Committee of the
Whole before the Assembly reached its normal hour of adjournment. The bill
may be recalled for debate on May 17, which is the next day when opposition
private members' business has precedence.
2006 Spring Sitting
The 2006 Spring Sitting began on March 30. Pursuant to Standing Order 74
the government introduced all the bills it wanted to see dealt with during
this Sitting by the fifth sitting day, April 6. Subsequently, pursuant
to Standing Order 75, the three House leaders met to determine the length
of the sitting. On April 11 the government House leader, Brad Cathers (Lake
Laberge, Yukon Party) informed the Assembly that the House leaders could
not reach agreement on the length of the sitting. As a result the Speaker,
Ted Staffen, declared, pursuant to Standing Order 75(3), that the 2006
Spring Sitting would last 30 sitting days, the 30th sitting day to be May
Nine government bills were introduced during this Sitting. These bills
Bill No. 18, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2006-07
Bill No. 19, Third Appropriation Act, 2005-06
Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07
Bill No. 66, Act to Amend the Securities Act
Bill No. 67, Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act
Bill No. 68, Act to Repeal the Physiotherapists Act
Bill No. 69, Canadian Blood Services Indemnification Act
Bill No. 70, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (2006)
Bill No. 71, Dawson Municipal Election Act (2006)
Bill No. 20 is the main appropriation act for the 2006-07 fiscal year.
Through it the Government of Yukon is seeking authority to spend $793 million
for the twelve months ending March 31, 2007. It is the largest appropriation
bill in Yukon's history.
The impetus behind Bill No. 67 was a motion brought forward by Mr. Hardy
on November 9, 2005. The motion urged the Yukon Government to develop a
Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act similar to that which is in effect
in Saskatchewan. The motion was not adopted that day, as the government
moved an amendment that had not been agreed to by the normal hour of adjournment.
On November 14 the government brought forward its own version of Mr. Hardy's
motion, one that incorporated the amendment proposed on November 9. This
motion passed unanimously on that day.
On April 5, 2006 the Minister of Justice, Mr. Edzerza, introduced and received
first reading for Bill No. 67. The bill received unanimous support at all
stages, passing second reading on April 27, being reported by Committee
of the Whole on May 1, and receiving third reading on May 4. With the passage
of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act Yukon becomes the third
Canadian jurisdiction, behind Manitoba and Saskatchewan, to pass such legislation.
The Municipal Act provides that Yukon municipalities will hold elections
this October. However, Bill No. 71 was required to allow the Town of Dawson
City to hold municipal elections by June 15, 2006. In a controversial move
the Yukon Government had removed the previous council from office in April
2004 due to financial irregularities. The government had appointed a trustee
to run the municipality since then.
Despite the controversy engendered by the government's policy in dealing
with Dawson City, the bill passed through the Assembly rather quickly.
All members realized that whatever their differences it was in the best
interest of Dawson City that it become self-governing as soon as possible.
After introduction and first reading on April 3, the bill received second
reading on April 10. The following day the Dawson Municipal Election Act
(2006) was reported by Committee of the Whole, received third reading and
was assented to by Commissioner Geraldine Van Bibber.
Four private members' bills were also introduced during this Sitting. They
were Bill No. 111, Act to Repeal the Dawson Municipal Governance Restoration
Act, the aforementioned Bill No. 112, Bill No. 113, All-Party Committee
on Appointments Act, and Bill No. 114, Yukon Ethics and Accountability
Act. So far, Bill No. 112 is the only private members' bill to be brought
forward for debate.
On April 4, 2006, Premier Ralph Klein announced that he would be retiring
in September 2006. The Premier stated he would remain in office until
his successor is chosen which is anticipated to occur sometime in November
2006. The Premier's announcement occurred following a Progressive Conservative
convention at which time the Premier received an approval rating of 55.4
To date, the following individuals have announced their intentions to seek
leadership of the Progressive Conservative party: former Ministers Ed Stelmach
(PC, Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville), Dave Hancock (PC, Edmonton- Whitemud),
Lyle Oberg (Ind, Strathmore-Brooks), and Private Member Ted Morton (PC,
Foothills-Rocky View). Former Provincial Treasurer Jim Dinning, who left
politics in 1997 and former Cabinet Minister Mark Norris, who was defeated
in 2004 have also announced their intentions to run. There is speculation
that Preston Manning may announce his candidacy.
One candidate, Dr. Oberg, was removed from Cabinet and suspended from the
Progressive Conservative caucus for six months following remarks made to
his constituency association. Dr. Oberg reportedly told members of the
association that he would not be asking them to support Premier Klein at
the March 31, 2006 leadership review. He now sits as an independent in
Spring Sitting of the Twenty-Sixth Legislature
On February 22, 2006, Lieutenant Governor Norman L. Kwong delivered the
Speech from the Throne. The Speech outlined the Government's pledge to
reduce the incidence of cancer and mortality from cancer by improving cancer
prevention, screening and research initiatives. It also outlined the government's
plans in areas such as health, education and the environment. Other highlights
the exploration of new uses for coal and clean coal technology;
new legislation to protect children exposed to drug manufacturing and trafficking
in their homes;
new standards for seniors' lodges, supportive living and long-term care
changes to legislation to protect people from family violence.
During the Spring Sitting, the Assembly approved supplementary estimates
totalling $1,354,485,000 for 12 departments. This amount included a $1,000,000,000
payment to the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. The Assembly also
approved interim estimates totalling $6,384,900,000.
At the time of writing, 15 Government Bills and 1 Private Members' Public
Bill had been passed by the Assembly.
Some Bills before the Assembly include:
Bill 1, Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Act, creates and expands cancer
screening and detection programs; creates a virtual cancer institute to
coordinate research in the province; and promotes the coordination of public,
private, provincial, national and international cancer research and screening
Bill 4, Daylight Saving Time Amendment Act, 2006, extends Daylight Saving
Time in Alberta in accordance with legislation passed in the United States,
beginning with the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in
November, commencing in 2007.
Bill 20, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act,
2006, makes eight amendments to the Act including the following; limits
access to ministerial briefing material for five years; limits access to
records relating to audits of the chief internal auditor of Alberta for
15 years; enhances the security of Albertans' personal information by making
it less vulnerable to collection by foreign agencies; and increases penalties
for disclosing personal information to foreign courts. The opposition
has expressed significant criticism regarding the amendments limiting access
to ministerial information and audit information.
Bill 24, Fiscal Responsibility Amendment Act, 2006, amends the Act to increase
the limit of the use of non-renewable resource revenue to $5.3 billion
from $4.7 billion for budgetary purposes.
- Bill 26, Mandatory Testing and Disclosure Act, replaces the
Act (a Private Members' Bill in 2004 which has not yet been proclaimed).
The Bill allows front-line medical workers, police officers, firefighters,
and correctional officers to require a blood sample from an individual
whose bodily fluids they have come in contact with.
- Bill 28, Local Authorities Election Amendment Act, 2006, amends the Act
by setting and outlining standards and processes for the election of municipal
councils and school board trustees. The legislation incorporates recommendations
from an investigation into voter fraud regarding the use of special ballots
in the 2004 municipal election in Calgary.
Private Members' Public Bills
One Private Members' Public Bill was passed by the Assembly:
- Bill 203, Railway (Alberta) (Heritage Railway) Amendment Act, 2006, sponsored
by LeRoy Johnson (PC, Wetaskiwin-Camrose), amends the Railway (Alberta)
Act by creating a special designation for heritage railways so that they
are not subject to the same regulations as freight and short line railways.
Two Private Members' Public Bills before the Assembly include:
- Bill 208, Protection of Fundamental Freedoms (Marriage) Statutes Amendment
Act, 2006, sponsored by Ted Morton (PC, Foothills-Rocky View) would, as
introduced, amend three statutes to add provisions concerning same-sex
marriage. The Bill would amend the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Act by not allowing anyone to be deprived of any benefit or subject to
any sanction for exercising their freedom of speech or of conscience and
religion by expressing or exercising their beliefs about same-sex marriage;
the Marriage Act by allowing clergy and marriage commissioners to refuse
to perform marriages between persons of the same sex where to do so would
violate their religious beliefs or moral values and not to be liable for
any action arising from that decision; and the School Act by allowing students
not to attend and teachers not to teach that part of a course that has
in its curriculum that marriage may be the union of persons of the same
- Bill 210, Election (Fixed Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2006, sponsored
by Kevin Taft (Lib, Edmonton-Riverview) amends the Election Act by requiring
that an election be held in the province of Alberta on the third Monday
in November every four years, beginning in 2008.
A motion that the Chair now leave the Chair was moved during Committee
of the Whole consideration of Bill 201, Human Tissue Gift (Notification
Procedure) Amendment Act, 2006, introduced by Ron Liepert (PC, Calgary-West).
The Member is now the sponsor of a Government Bill on the same topic.
Hoist amendments were moved in connection with the following Private Members'
- Bill 202, Environmental Protection and Enhancement (Methamphetamine) Amendment
Act, 2006, sponsored by Ivan Stang (PC, West Yellowhead), proposed amendments
that would penalize individuals who release waste generated by the manufacturing
of methamphetamine into the environment. The Bill was hoisted during Second
Reading consideration after the Minister of Environment explained that
the changes proposed in the Bill could be done by regulation. Another
reason given for the hoist amendment was that the scope of the legislation
was limited only to methamphetamine drugs.
- Bill 204, Parental Consent to Medical Treatment for Minors Act, introduced
by Tony Abbott (PC, Drayton Valley-Calmar), proposed a requirement for
minors aged 15 and under to obtain written consent of a parent or guardian
prior to receiving medical treatment. During Second Reading debate a hoist
amendment was agreed to after several Members raised concerns about minors
being denied access to medical care. Concerns were also raised that the
legislation was too broad given that the intent of the sponsor was to address
the issue of access to abortions by minors.
- Bill 206, Designation of Child Access Exchange Centre Act, introduced by
Alana DeLong (PC, Calgary Bow), proposed the designation of facilities
in Alberta as centres where children can associate with their parents or
guardians. These facilities would be subject to the same regulations as
day care facilities. A hoist amendment was moved after both the Minister
of Justice and Attorney General and the Minister of Children's Services
outlined projects currently in place to deal with the problem the legislation
was addressing. Several Members also outlined issues that the Bill poses
for rural communities.
On March 22, 2006, Shirley McClellan, Minister of Finance, presented the
Budget and the estimates for the 2006-07 fiscal year. Revenue for the
2006-07 fiscal year is estimated to be $32.4 billion and total resource
revenue is expected to be $11.35 billion. The Minister projected total
expenditures of $28.31 billion in 2006-07. Surplus revenue is estimated
to be $4.1 billion. The Budget increases the base budget for the Department
of Health and Wellness by 7.7 per cent to $10.3 billion which accounts
for 37 per cent of the Budget. Funding for Advanced Education (which oversees
post-secondary education programs) will increase by 19 per cent to $2.2
billion while program support for Education will increase by 6.7 per cent
for a total of $5.3 billion. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, Education expenses
account for 26.9 per cent of the Budget. Funding for Infrastructure programs
will be increased by 45 per cent to $13.3 billion over the next three years.
Other elements of Budget 2006 include:
- an additional $1 billion to be placed into the Heritage Savings Trust Fund
in the 2006-07 fiscal year;
- a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 11.5 per cent to 10 per cent;
- funding for 80 new RCMP officers, 25 prosecutors and several judges;
- a base operating spending increase of 8.3 per cent;
- the assumption that prices will be $50.00 US a barrel for oil and $7.50
Cdn per gigajoule for natural gas.
Premier Klein announced changes to the Cabinet on April 5, 2006. A new
Cabinet position of Associate Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
and Minister Responsible for Capital Planning was created, bringing the
number of Cabinet Members to 25, including the Premier.
Ministers changing portfolios are
Ty Lund, Minister of Infrastructure and
Transportation and Gary Mar , Minister of International and Intergovernmental
New Ministers are: Denis Herard, Minister of Advanced Education;
Ducharme, Minister of Community Development; George VanderBurg, Minister
of Government Services; and Barry McFarland, Associate Minister of Infrastructure
and Transportation, and Minister Responsible for Capital Planning.
Gene Zwozdesky was appointed Government House Leader while Minister of
Justice and Attorney General Ron Stevens and Minister of Municipal Affairs
Rob Renner will serve as Deputy Government House Leaders.
On March 13, 2006, Speaker Ken Kowalski hosted a ceremony in the Legislature
Building Rotunda recognizing Alberta's Francophone community. Les Rendez-vous
de la Francophonie is a celebration of the province's French culture and
history. Joining Speaker Kowalski during the recognition ceremony were
Premier Klein, Premier of Alberta; Harry Chase, MLA, Calgary-Varsity, representing
the Official Opposition; Raj Pannu, MLA, representing the Third Party Opposition;
Jean Johnson, President, Canadian Francophone Association of Alberta; and
Denis Ducharme, MLA, Bonnyville-Cold Lake, Chair, Francophone Secretariat.
On March 13, 2006, Speaker Kowalski unveiled in the Assembly Alberta's
Westminster chairs which were copied from Augustus Welby Pugin's design
of the chairs that continue to be in service in the New Palace of Westminster.
Conceived as a Legislative Assembly Centennial project three years ago,
three dozen chairs were fabricated by craftsmen who were employees of Alberta
Infrastructure and Transportation. The chairs, all individually numbered
and embossed with Alberta's Mace, have been placed in the lobbies and lounges
of the House.
On March 13, 2006, the Assembly approved a motion to allow former Member,
Ray Speaker, onto the floor of the House to address the Assembly to mark
the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the convening of the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta on March 15, 1906. On March 15, 2006, Speaker Kowalski
hosted current and former Members of the Legislative Assembly at a noon
hour reception in the Legislature Building. Following the reception, a
special ceremony was held in the Assembly honouring 100 years of democracy.
To mark the occasion, Lieutenant Governor Kwong, Speaker Kowalski, former
Member Speaker, Premier Klein and Leaders of the Opposition parties spoke
of the achievements of the Assembly and the contributions of current and
former Members over the last 100 years.
The day was highlighted by a gala dinner attended by 475 guests and hosted
by Speaker Kowalski. That evening, over 200 current and former Members
were presented with commemorative medallions for each term served as an
MLA since 1905. A series of plaques tracing the history of the first 25
Legislatures as well as the history of the province prior to 1905 were
also unveiled at the dinner. Guests were presented with a coffee table
book highlighting the Legislature Building. A new Legislative Assembly
tie and scarf have also been created to commemorate the centennial.
Their Excellencies, the Right Honourable
Michaëlle Jean, Governor General
of Canada and Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond visited the Legislature on May 4,
2006. Her Excellency addressed the Legislative Assembly and guests from
the Speaker's Chair. It was the first time in Alberta's history that a
Governor General took the throne inside the Chamber.
Clerk of Journals/Table Research
The first session of the 37th Legislature was prorogued on Friday, March
10, 2006. The Lieutenant-Governor's address and the delivery of the Opening
Speech by the Premier for the second session took place on Tuesday, March
14, 2006. The twenty-five hour debate on this speech was interrupted by
the Budget Speech, on Thursday, March 23, and concluded in time to allow
for the adoption of one quarter of the estimates of expenditure before
April 1, 2006. It should be noted that the full speeches are available
on the Internet site of the National Assembly, under the heading Travaux
At the second sitting of the new session, the Government House Leader moved
a motion to return to the Order Paper nineteen of the twenty-six bills
that had remained there at the end of the first session.
Changes in the Assembly
The Premier of Québec,
Jean Charest, carried out a minor Cabinet shuffle
on February 27, 2006. The new Member for Outremont, Raymond Bachand, was
given the duties of Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export
Trade. His predecessor, Claude Béchard, became Minister of Sustainable
Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House Leader,
replacing the Member for Chomedey, Thomas Mulcair. Finally, Henri-François
Gautrin was named Minister of Government Services, replacing the Member
for Orford, Pierre Reid.
The Member for Taillon, Pauline Marois, who had been in politics for twenty
years, resigned at the beginning of the sitting, on Monday, March 20, 2006.
A few days earlier, the Member for Pointe-aux-Trembles, Nicole Léger, announced
she would end her term of office on June 1, 2006.
On April 10, 2006, a by-election was held in the electoral division of
Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques. Martin Lemay, representing the Parti Québécois,
was the candidate returned. The composition of the Assembly now stands
as follows: Québec Liberal Party, 73 Members; Parti Québécois, 45 Members;
Independent, six Members, five of whom are from the Action démocratique
du Québec; and one vacant seat.
The steering committee of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of the
Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) met in Toronto, Ontario,
on January 18-19, 2006. The committee more particularly discussed the implementation
of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Québec parliamentarians also took part in other APF activities: the Meeting
of the Committee on Cooperation and Development (Délémont, Jura, March,
14-16, 2006); the Meeting of the Committee on Education, Communications
and Cultural Affairs (Antana- narivo, Madagascar, March 21-22, 2006); the
Meeting of the Conference of the Section Presidents of the America Region
(Augusta, Maine, March 21-24, 2006) and the Meeting of the Committee on
Parliamentary Affairs (Ottawa, March 27-29, 2006).
In March 2006, Québec delegates participated in the meetings of the Executive
Committee of the Parliamentary Conference of the Americas (PCOA) and of
the Executive Committee of the Network (Puebla, Mexico).
As part of the delegation for Relations With the United States (DANRÉU),
Québec parliamentarians took part in three activities during winter 2006:
the meeting of the Legislative Summit of the Committees on Agriculture
(Tempe, Arizona, January 20-22, 2006), the meeting of the Executive Committee
of the National Conference of State Legislatures (Santa Barbara, California,
January 27-28, 2006) and the mission of the Canada/United States Committee
of the Eastern Regional Conference on The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
(WHTI) (Washington, D. C., January 31-February 2, 2006).
As part of the delegation for Relations With the French Community of Belgium/Walloon
Region/Belgium (DANRB), Québec MNAs participated in the 19th Session of
the Joint Committee of the National Assembly/Parliament of the French Community
of Belgium held in Québec City from March 28 to April 2, 2006. On this
meeting's agenda were the comparison of electoral systems and the school
Finally, the beginning of 2006 was marked by two activities in relation
to interparliamentary cooperation: a fact-finding visit of those responsible
for documentation services, libraries and archives of parliaments and assemblies
benefiting from the special support of the Noria programme of the Assemblée
parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), from January 30 to February 3,
2006, and, from February 20 to 24, 2006, a working visit of the directors
of legislative services of parliaments and assemblies benefiting from the
generalized support of the Noria programme.
Student Forum, Youth Parliament and President's Tour
Over 140 participants hailing from 27 Québec cegeps took part in the Student
Forum parliamentary simulation in January 2006, at the Parliament Building.
The bills examined this year focussed on the promotion of the role of Members,
sustainable development and the conservation of natural resources. Cegep
students examined these bills in parliamentary committee before proceeding
to their final passage following a debate in the National Assembly Room.
Participants who did not have a Member's seat took on either the role of
clerk, press agent or journalist; one of them was even given the duty of
During the 4th Legislature of the Youth Parliament (composed of secondary
3 and 4 students), the apprentice Members and young clerks experienced
significant events in parliamentary life at the Parliament Building: the
swearing-in of Members, the debate on the opening speech of the session
and oral question period. Three bills were discussed: the Act concerning
the improvement of the health of Québec's youth (passed); the Act concerning
certain measures fostering the reduction of Québec student debt (passed);
the Act concerning certain measures fostering a peaceful climate in elementary
and secondary schools (negatived). An interesting fact to be mentioned
is that, in addition to having a student play the role of sergeant-at-arms,
for the first time, two participants were given the role of page.
Again this year, in mid-February, the President of the National Assembly
began his tour of 14 high schools in 5 Québec regions (Côte-Nord, Capitale-Nationale,
Montérégie, Nord-du-Québec and Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean). During this tour,
the students were able to exchange views with Mr. Bissonnet on the themes
of democracy and Québec parliamentary life, thus improving their knowledge
of the role of the National Assembly, its history and achievements, as
well as the role of Members and of the President.
Rulings from the Chair
On November 23, 2005, the President communicated to the Assembly a directive
relating to the tabling of petitions after having noted that the texts
submitted, particularly since the resumption of proceedings in the fall,
contained a significant number of words. Standing Order 63 provides that
a petition shall make a clear, concise, accurate, and temperate statement
of the facts for which the intervention of the Assembly is prayed.
The Chair had never been required, until this day, to interpret the word
concise stipulated in this Standing Order; each petitioner thus interpreted
it according to his understanding thereof and petitions containing between
500 and 1500 words were regularly submitted. The tabling of such petitions
substantially prolongs the period set aside for Routine Proceedings, which
in turn has the effect of delaying the proceedings of the Assembly and
of the committees.
President Bissonnet specified that he deemed it advisable, for the proper
conduct of parliamentary proceedings, to provide a framework for the length
of the statement of facts contained in the petitions. Inspired by the consensus
reached by the members of the Standing Subcommittee on Parliamentary Reform,
he stated that the statement of facts and the intervention prayed for would
be restricted to no more than 250 words. The President further stated that
this directive would be available the following day on the Internet site
of the Assembly, thus ensuring that all persons interested in tabling a
petition would be informed before undertaking their endeavour.
Therefore, all petitions tabled in the Assembly since the beginning of
the 2nd session are subject to the application of this directive.
Secretariat of the National Assembly
This spring, after having received an order of the Assembly, the Committee
on Social Affairs held a general consultation and public hearings on the
document entitled Guaranteeing Access: Meeting the Challenges of Equity,
Efficiency and Quality concerning the Government orientations on health
and social services.
In keeping with the Government's desire to improve the health and social
services system's capacity to adequately meet the current and future needs
of Quebecers, this document presents avenues of resolution to the numerous
internal and external pressures it faces as well as the political response
to the Chaoulli case, rendered in June 2005 by the Supreme Court of Canada,
regarding the private sector's place in health.
By mid-April 2006, the Committee had received 131 submissions and had heard
38 individuals and organizations that came to present their points of view
on the solutions advocated by the Ministère. Also, in parallel with this
open public debate, the Committee members had the opportunity to examine
the results of an on-line consultation of citizens with regard to the Ministère's
document. Over 3572 individuals answered the five questions on the proposals
to improve the health and social services system.
The public hearings will continue after the examination of the estimates
of expenditure, in mid-May 2006.
Within the framework of its order of initiative on Québec's religious heritage,
the Committee on Culture selected two members, Bernard Brodeur, the Member
for Shefford and chairman of the Committee, and Nicole Léger, the Member
for Pointe-aux-Trembles, as well as a Committee clerk to carry out a study
mission in Belgium and France, from February 5 to 10, 2006.
The choice of these two countries, which have characteristics quite similar
to Québec since they are mostly Francophone and Catholic, was mainly based
on their internationally recognized experience in the conservation and
enhancement of the religious heritage.
This mission in Europe enabled the Québec delegation to broaden the Committee's
reflection with respect to this complex issue in the preparation of the
report that will be tabled in the Assembly in spring 2006.
During this tour, the parliamentary delegation held hearings complementary
to those conducted during the public hearings held in autumn 2005; developed
its understanding of the various church ownership characteristics and decision-making
processes of parish councils; compared different religious heritage management
and financing models; examined the property inventory methods and archiving
methods used abroad; observed certain European initiatives with regard
to religious tourism and heritage presentation; visited several places
of worship recycling projects.
On February 23, the members of the Committee on Culture elected
Turp, the Member for Mercier and Official Opposition critic for culture
and communications, as vice-chairman. Elected by the majority of the members
of each parliamentary group, Mr. Turp replaces André Boulerice, former
Member for Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, who resigned from politics last
The Committee on Public Finance launched a general consultation on the
protection of investors in Québec in the mutual funds sector. Close to
a dozen experts were heard prior to the consultation, in a deliberative
meeting, to provide some orientation regarding the mandate.
The consultation focuses on four major issues: 1) governance shortcomings;
2) problems related to the exchange of information between audit organizations,
police services and the Autorité des marchés financiers; 3) investor indemnity;
4) the penalties imposed.
Furthermore, the Committee will examine the issues surrounding investor
education, the role of the Autorité des marchés financiers and exit fees
for fund investment withdrawal owing to a change in manager.
It is important to note that the Committee is also holding an on-line consultation
from its Internet site. The Committee hopes to hold its public hearings
before the summer.
Two Members of the Québec National Assembly took part in the Spring Forum
of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which was held
in Washington, D.C., from April 6-8, 2006.
On this occasion, Jean-Pierre Soucy, the Member for Portneuf and member
of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, took part in the
meeting of the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources of the
For her part, Cécile Vermette, the Member for Marie-Victorin, participated
in the proceedings of the Committee on Economic Development, Trade and
Cultural Affairs. Mrs. Vermette delivered an address on a resolution concerning
the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative of the American Government which
will require all travelers who wish to enter the United States to have
a passport or other accepted document. For the occasion, these Members
were accompanied by a committee clerk and an interparliamentary relations
advisor of the National Assembly.
The Assembly has been an international associated member of the NCSL since
2000 and has been taking part in its activities for several years. Established
in 1975, this non partisan organization brings together representatives
from the legislative assemblies of the 50 United States and territories.
On April 11, in compliance with an order of the Assembly, the Committee
on Transportation and the Environment heard John Harbour, chairman and
chief executive officer of the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
(SAAQ), concerning the proposals for increasing insurance contributions.
The head officer of the SAAQ presented his opinion before the parliamentarians
for more than an hour. Subsequently, two exchange periods totalling two
and a half hours shared equally between the Members of the parliamentary
group forming the Government and the Members in opposition enabled the
Members to further question Mr. Harbour on the announced increases.
Within the framework of the special consultations of the order of initiative
on highway safety in Québec, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment
heard 23 individuals and organizations on the subject.
A noteworthy fact, Michel Després, the Minister of Transport, was heard
in compliance with Standing Order 163, which stipulates that every committee
shall hear any minister who asks to speak to some matter that is before
it for consideration.
Furthermore, over 830 citizens answered the on-line consultation by filling
in the questionnaire on the Committee's Internet site. The Committee members
are currently preparing the report that will eventually be tabled in the
Secretariat of Committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
The Third Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Nunavut reconvened
on February 21, 2006. Finance Minister and Baker Lake MLA David Simailak
delivered his first Budget Address on February 22. The proceedings of the
House during the February-March sitting were dominated by the Assembly's
scrutiny of the Government of Nunavut's 2006-2007 Main Estimates and departmental
During the morning of February 27, the Nunavut Leadership Forum, an informal
body consisting of all MLAs, met to select a new member of the Executive
Council of Nunavut, to replace Pangnirtung MLA Peter Kilabuk, who resigned
from Cabinet in January. Nanulik MLA Patterk Netser and Uqqummiut MLA James
Arreak were nominated to serve on Cabinet. Mr. Netser was chosen in a secret
ballot election following remarks from both candidates. A formal motion
to recommend Mr. Netser's appointment was made during the afternoon sitting
of the House.
On March 1, the Legislative Assembly recommended by way of motion the appointment
of the members of the Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission, which was
established pursuant to the Nunavut Elections Act. Beverley Browne of Iqaluit,
Senior Judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice, serves as Presiding Member
of the Commission. John Ningark of Kugaaruk and Bernadette Niviatsiak of
Rankin Inlet also serve on the Commission. The Commission has a mandate
to examine Nunavut's current electoral boundaries and develop recommendations
for consideration by the Legislative Assembly. The Commission is required
to report its findings to the Legislative Assembly by the fall of this
On March 6, Mr. Kilabuk was appointed by the Assembly to serve as Deputy
Speaker and Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole. He also sits on
two Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly.
A total of six Bills were passed during the February-March sitting, including
amendments to the Conflict of Interest Act, the Financial Administration
Act and the Exemptions Act. A new Statistics Act and Bills to amend the
Liquor Act, the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief
Act and the Fire Prevention Act are presently under consideration by Standing
Committees of the Legislative Assembly. Substantive amendments to the Nunavut
Elections Act were passed during the fall 2005 sitting.
The Legislative Assembly recessed on March 14. On March 15, Premier
Okalik announced the appointment of Mr. Netser as Minister of Environment
and Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board.
The Standing Committee Ajauqtiit held hearings on April 6 on the most recent
Report of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut to the Legislative Assembly,
which was tabled in the House in March. Languages Commissioner Johnny Kusugak
appeared before the Standing Committee to respond to Members' questions
on his first report since being appointed to the position. The Languages
Commissioner is one of five independent Officers who report to the Legislative
Assembly. The others are the Integrity Commissioner, the Information and
Privacy Commissioner, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Auditor General.
The Standing Committee is chaired by Akulliq MLA Steve Mapsalak. The other
Members are Co-Chair Mr. Kilabuk, Mr. Arreak, Kugluktuk MLA Joe Allen Evyagotailak
and Sanikiluaq MLA Peter Kattuk.
On April 18, Governor General
Michaëlle Jean was in attendance at the swearing-in
ceremony for Helen Maksagak, Nunavut's new Deputy Commissioner. Mrs. Maksagak
previously served as Nunavut's first Commissioner. The swearing-in ceremony
took place in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly. The Governor General
was in attendance as part of her first official visit to the territory.
The Standing Committee on Government Operations and Accountability held
hearings from April 25-27 on the most recent Report of the Auditor General
of Canada to the Legislative Assembly, which was tabled in the House in
February. Auditor General Sheila Fraser made her fourth appearance before
a Committee of the Legislative Assembly. The Standing Committee is chaired
by Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo. The other Members are Co-chair and
Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson, Arviat MLA David Alagalak, Quttiktuq
MLA Levi Barnabas and Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley. A number of
senior Government of Nunavut officials, including the Deputy Minister of
Finance, appeared before the Standing Committee to respond to Members'
questions concerning issues raised in the Auditor General's Report.
On April 22, Speaker Jobie Nutarak passed away following an accident while
hunting on the land in the vicinity of his home community of Pond Inlet.
A memorial ceremony for the Speaker was held in the Chamber of the Legislative
Assembly on April 28. Mr. Barnabas delivered the eulogy. All Members and
staff of the Legislative Assembly have appreciated the expressions of condolence
that have been received from legislatures across Canada and as far away
MLAs are scheduled to conduct the Mid-Term Leadership Review of the Executive
Council of Nunavut from June 6-8. This review will take place under the
auspices of the Nunavut Leadership Forum. A similar review was held during
the First Legislative Assembly (1999-2004). The Third Session will reconvene
on June 9 for the spring sitting of the House.
Director, Research and
As outlined in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia's parliamentary
calendar, Members adjourned the first session of the 38th Parliament on
November 24, 2005. The eight-week fall session included the conclusion
of the debate on estimates, as well as the introduction of several pieces
of legislation. The second session began sitting on February 14, 2006,
and is scheduled to conclude on May 18, 2006.
The first session marked a more cooperative working relationship between
government and opposition Members. On the final sitting day, both the Government
House Leader Mike De Jong and Opposition House Leader Mike Farnsworth commented
on the positive tone the new agreement has had on the workings of business
in the house. Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo congratulated the Members
of the house for the extraordinarily and unprecedented courteous manner
during the debates of the first session and commented that the Members
had done a remarkable job in bringing a new sense of civility to public
Bill 14, Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act passed third reading
on November 15, 2005. The Act expands the mandate of the Electoral Boundaries
Commission in its work in reconfiguring the province's electoral boundaries.
In addition to making recommendations for redrawing the province's electoral
map for up to an additional six electoral districts (for a total of 85),
the Electoral Boundaries Commission is required to construct an electoral
map for both the current first-past-the-post and proposed single transferable
vote (STV) electoral systems. The Commission is required to make the recommendations
for the revised electoral maps by February 2008 in order to ensure that
British Columbians have the information in advance of a second electoral
reform referendum. The referendum originally scheduled to coincide with
BC's 2008 municipal elections will be held at the time of the next provincial
election in May, 2009.
Bill 16, the Apology Act
which was originally introduced as a private
member's bill by Lorne Mayencourt, MLA (Vancouver Burrard) will allow for
corporations, governments and individuals to offer an apology without fear
of legal liability. This is the first such legislation introduced in Canada.
Other bills receiving Royal Assent include: Bill 6,
Initiative Trust Amendment Act, which provides additional funds to the
northern communities to help fight the pine beetle infestation and diversify
their economies; Bills 7 and 8, Southern Interior/North Island-Coast Development
Initiative Trust Acts, which infuses more regional funds to create economic
growth and jobs; Bill 11, Workers Compensation Amendment Act, which recognizes
certain cancers as occupational diseases associated with long-term employment
as a firefighter under the Workers Compensation Act; and Bill 11, the New
Relationship Trust Act which establishes a not-for-profit corporation
and a seven-member board of directors to manage a $100 million fund to
support First Nations capacity building.
Parliamentary Committee Activities
The Special Committee to Appoint an Information and Privacy Commissioner
concluded its deliberations and recommended the re-appointment of David
Loukidelis for a second, six-year term as British Columbia's Information
and Privacy Commissioner.
The Special Committee to Appoint an Ombudsman has completed its work and
unanimously recommended that Kim Carter be appointed as British Columbia's
next Ombudsman. She will be taking over for Howard Kushner, who has completed
his six-year term as the province's Ombudsman.
Parliamentary Committees have also been assigned to recommend individuals
to fill vacancies for two other Statutory Officer positions. Currently,
a special committee has been established to appoint a Merit Commissioner,
while the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts has been mandated
to appoint an Auditor General.
The Special Committee to Appoint a Merit Commissioner is unique as it will
be creating a newly established Statutory Office for the Legislative Assembly.
Although the previous Merit Commissioner was appointed through a special
committee, it did not hold a Statutory Officer title.
For the first time, a member of the Official Opposition will both chair
and have a majority of members on a British Columbia parliamentary committee.
The Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture has been tasked to make
conduct a comprehensive reviews and public consultations on the environmental
and economic impacts of aquaculture on the local and the provincial economies;
review options for sustainable aquaculture to balance economic goals with
environmental imperatives; and assess British Columbia's aquaculture regulatory
regime vis-à-vis other jurisdictions.
The Select Standing Committees on Health and Education have both been provided
with interesting and pertinent topics. The Health Committee has been asked
to make recommendations on effective strategies to change behaviour and
encourage children and youth to adopt healthy lifestyle choices to curb
the rate of child obesity. The Education Committee will be finding strategies
to address the specific challenge of adult literacy. In addition, the Committee
is to specifically examine strategies to improve literacy rates among aboriginal
people, English-as-a-Second-Language adults, and seniors. Both Committees
are to report back to the House by November 30, 2006.
On April 24, the ninth select standing committee the Select Standing
Committee on Children and Youth was established. The creation of this
committee follows recommendations from an independent review of B.C.'s
child-protection system completed in April. It is also expected that a
new independent children and youth representative appointed to oversee
the child- protection system and report directly to the legislature will
also be established.
On March 7, 2006 the Governor General of Canada
Michaëlle Jean's made her
first official visit to British Columbia by visiting the Parliament Buildings
and addressing Members of the Legislative Assembly. Her speech focussed
on the historically-strong linkages between British Columbia and Canada,
as well as highlighted the important role multiculturalism plays in breaking
Committee Research Analyst
The Assembly began its spring session on March 14th and proceeded to consider
a number of special debates. The first took the form of an emergency debate
on the challenges faced by agricultural producers. Introduced by the Agriculture
Minister, Mark Wartman, the motion called upon the federal government to
provide a fair and equitable formula for the 2006 Canadian Agricultural
Income Stabilization program with a disaster component and a minimum one-time
cash payment of $200 million to Saskatchewan producers. The amendment moved
by the Opposition agriculture critic, Bob Bjornerud (Melville-Saltcoats),
focused on the position taken by the provincial government by urging it
to take a leadership role in the future design of Federal and Provincial
agriculture programs by attending the national negotiations as well as
[by] properly funding the province's share of the programs. Several members
participated in the debate before it was adjourned to be continued on a
The following day, a second emergency debate was held. This motion concerned
the urgency of the nursing shortage in the province and was introduced
by the Opposition Health critic, Don McMorris (Indian Head - Milestone).
The Health Minister, Len Taylor, responded with an amendment that recognized
the challenges in the recruitment and retention of health care professionals
and encouraged a united support for the recommendations of the Working
Together: Saskatchewan Health's Workforce Action Plan. At the hour of
normal adjournment, the debate was unresolved and held over for further
consideration on a later date.
On March 16th, the Minister of Learning,
Deb Higgins, introduced a motion
to recognize the importance of child care and to express the Assembly's
dissatisfaction with the federal government's announcement to withdraw
its support for families by cancelling the early learning and child care
agreements with provinces and to not fulfill commitments made by the previous
federal government. Ted Merriman (Saskatoon Northwest) then moved to amend
the motion by urging the federal government to continue to fund the current
child care agreements in addition to implementing its new child care allowance.
The debate continued throughout the day until the amendment was defeated
on a recorded division. The motion in its original form was then agreed
Peter Prebble (Saskatoon Greystone) was appointed Deputy Chair of Committees
on March 16th. Mr. Prebble had previously served in this capacity from
December 1999 until March 2001 when he was appointed a legislative secretary
for energy conservation and later entered cabinet.
On April 6th, Finance Minister
Andrew Thomson delivered his first budget
under the title Building a better future Right here. Four broad themes
were identified. Firstly, business tax cuts amounting to $95.3 million
were to be implemented to improve tax competitiveness, attract and stimulate
capital investments and create jobs and opportunities for youth. Communities
and farm families were to be assisted by increases in revenue sharing with
municipalities, and by additional funding for health, crop insurance, crime
prevention and highway improvements. Incentives to encourage young people
to build their futures in the province included a freeze on university
tuition increases until 2008, funding for 32,000 university seats and 34,000
training spaces, a tax credit for employed trades people and $100 million
for student assistance. The fourth theme centered on ensuring that the
most vulnerable were not left behind on the path to opportunity by increasing
funding for assistance rates, the Transitional Employment Allowance and
child care subsidies. $18.2 million was also provided to Project Hope to
enhance treatment, detox beds, Secure Care, outreach services and drug
The response of the official opposition was delivered by its Finance critic,
Ken Cheveldayoff, on April 7th. Pleased that the government had implemented
tax cuts, Mr. Cheveldayoff argued that growth in the population and job
areas would not be achieved unless changes were made to labour laws and
limits placed on government intervention in the economy. His leader, Brad
Wall, summed up the budget as Sask Party light in that his party had
long advocated for business taxes to be reduced but that what was needed
was the Saskatchewan Party's plans to create jobs and keep young people
in the province.
During the Budget debate on April 11th, Acting Speaker, Mr. Prebble, was
called upon to name Allan Kerpan (Carrot River Valley) for his refusal
to withdraw unparliamentary language. Mr. Kerpan had opined that the government
had lied about its involvement in SPUDCO. SPUDCO was a government initiative
in the potato industry which resulted in significant losses. An internal
report found that the government's financial risk and the nature of the
private sector involvement were not fully disclosed to the public. This
was the first naming in the Saskatchewan Assembly since May 1996.
The start of the spring session saw a number of changes in the chairmanship
of committees. Warren McCall (Regina Elphinstone-Centre) has taken the
helm of the Economy Committee while Sandra Morin (Regina Walsh Acres) now
heads up the Crown and Central Agencies Committee. Judy Junor (Saskatoon
Eastview) serves as chair of two committees Human Services and most recently,
the Private Bills Committee. Finally, Joanne Crofford (Regina Rosemont)
has assumed the deputy chair position on the Public Accounts Committee.
The Economy Committee, under the lead of
Ron Harper (Regina Northeast),
initiated its review of regulations on April 28th. The scrutiny of delegated
legislation had previously been the mandate of the Special Committee on
Regulations. The restructuring of the committee system in 2003-04 resulted
in the dissolution of the Regulations Committee and the transferring of
its duties to the four policy field committees. An orientation for Members
and staff on the history and practices of the review of delegated legislation
in Saskatchewan took place on March 30th.
Margaret (Meta) Woods
The Opening of Parliament is a special event steeped in tradition that
is over three centuries old with the Governor General, the Senate and the
House of Commons coming together. In keeping this tradition, the formal
ceremony to open the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament took
place on April 4. At that time, the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, read
the Speech from the Throne.
Senator Noël A. Kinsella was appointed Speaker on February 8. Summoned
to the Senate in 1990, Senator Kinsella has held numerous partisan positions,
including Whip, Deputy Leader and Leader of the Opposition. A university
professor, Senator Kinsella also chaired the New Brunswick Human Rights
Commission and was President of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation for
many years. The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General
on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Michael Fortier, a Montreal lawyer, was called to the Senate on February
27 after being appointed Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
The decision to place a high ranking Government minister in the Senate,
although controversial, was not without precedent. Over the years, a number
Senators have served as members of the Cabinet. Senator Fortier was formally
sworn in and took his seat as a Member of the Senate on April 3.
The appointment of the Committee of Selection is a matter that must be
dealt with promptly at the start of each parliamentary session. Its role
is to nominate a Speaker pro tempore and to propose the names of Senators
to serve on all standing committees. On April 6, the Senate confirmed the
nomination of Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool as Speaker pro tempore. Senator
Losier-Cool held this position before from 1999 to 2002. A list of Senators
nominated by the Selection Committee to serve on committees was also approved
by the Senate the same day.
Once established and organized, committees are required by the
the Senate to report any special expenses incurred during the preceding
session. Most standing committees tabled reports of these expenses during
the last week in April. At the same time, the Senate also approved orders
of reference for some committees. With their membership in place and other
preliminary matters taken care of, these committees are ready to begin
In recent years there have been several complaints about the use of wireless
electronic devices in the Senate. The point of order raised by Senator
Eymard Corbin on April 27 was the latest in a series of objections to the
use of cell phones and BlackBerries in the Chamber. He was concerned, in
particular, with the interference to the sound system which interrupts
speeches being made by Senators. A number of Senators supported his complaint,
citing the Rules of the Senate which clearly ban such electronic instruments
from the Chamber. Others suggested instead that the Senate install proper
filters to eliminate this interference. In his preliminary statement, the
Speaker called on Senators to respect the Rules and to turn off these electronic
Two highly respected Senators died before the opening of the new Parliament.
Senator Bill Doody advanced the interests of Newfoundland and Labrador
in provincial politics and later at the federal level in the Senate. Appointed
in 1979, he served as the Deputy Leader of the Government from 1984 to
1991. Senator Doody died on December 27, 2005. Senator Shirley Maheu, who
ably represented her home province of Quebec, was summoned to the Senate
in 1996. In October of 2004 she became Speaker pro tempore, a position
she held until her death on February 1, 2006.
The Senate also paid tribute to the late
Ian Sinclair and Duncan Jessiman.
Mr. Sinclair, who died on April 7 at the age of 93 years was a Senator
from 1983 to 1988. He was remembered for his service as Chairman of the
Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. The death of Duncan
Jessiman occurred on April 19. Appointed to the Senate in 1993, he was
active on numerous committees until his retirement in 1998.
On April 6, the Senate bid farewell to Senator
John Buchanan who retired
on April 22. Senator Buchanan, who was premier of Nova Scotia for 12 years
before his appointment to the Senate in 1990, held the distinction of being
the longest-serving Conservative premier in the history of that province.
On April 6, for the first time, the Speaker's Parade opening the sitting
took a new and longer route through the Hall of Honour before entering
the Senate Chamber. The Parade consists of a member of the security staff,
the Usher of the Black Rod, the Mace Bearer, the Speaker, two Pages, the
Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Reading Clerk. The Parade will take the longer
route every Thursday so that visitors to the Centre Block can see the procession
as it passes down the Hall of Honour.
House of Commons
Like its predecessor, the 39th Parliament is a minority Parliament. The
new Conservative Government appears confident of its ability, despite its
slim plurality of 125 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, to form
alliances with opposition parties on an issue-by-issue basis in order to
facilitate the passage of key legislation. In this, it is strengthened
by widespread public antipathy to a premature end to this Parliament.
Opening of Parliament
On April 3rd, Members of Parliament gathered in the Chamber to elect their
Speaker. Presiding for the second time over such an election was the Dean
of the House, Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg-Transcona, NDP). Following a single
ballot, the Presiding Member declared Peter Milliken elected as Speaker
of the House, a clear indication of the confidence Mr. Milliken enjoys
from all parties in his exercise of this office.
It is worthy of note that no Conservative Member stood for election, the
number of government MPs currently being barely sufficient to ensure passage
of any motion with the support of any one of the opposition parties.
The Speech from the Throne, delivered on April 4th, was of exceptional
brevity, omitting much of the usual rhetoric, and focusing on the fulfillment
of the new Government's five main election promises.
On April 24th, following the prescribed days of debate, the motion in respect
of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was adopted by the
House without a recorded division.
On April 4, 2006, Standing Order 81 was amended (for 2006 only) to facilitate
the Business of Supply via changes in tabling dates, etc.; it was determined
that 15 allotted days were to be designated for the period ending Dec.
The following day, Standing Orders 104(2), 106(2), 108(3)(d), and 108(3)(e)
were amended, increasing the number of Standing Committees by four, requiring
that the Chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women be a Member
of the Official Opposition, and modifying the mandates of the Standing
Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons
with Disabilities, and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
On April 28th, pursuant to Standing Order 112, the Speaker appointed a
panel of Chairs of Legislative Committees.
On April 11th, the Government introduced Bill C-2, An Act providing for
conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures
respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, the
much-discussed Accountability Act, and the first Government Bill of this
Consequential amendments included in the Bill would affect literally dozens
of federal statutes. Specific measures of the proposed Act include: a ban
on corporate, union and large personal political donations; a five-year
lobbying ban on former ministers, their aides and senior public servants;
increased protection for government whistleblowers; increased powers for
the auditor general; extension of the Access to Information Act to some
Crown corporations, federal foundations and agents of Parliament; and the
creation of a new Officer of Parliament the Procurement Auditor", charged
with oversight of the awarding of government contracts.
The Bill was introduced by Treasury Board President
John Baird, who described
it as the toughest of its kind in Canadian history. Second Reading of
the Bill, will be followed by its referral for study to a legislative committee
constituted, pursuant to Standing Order 113(1), by concurrence of the House
in the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
on April 28, 2006.
Significant Government legislative initiatives introduced in the House
during the week beginning Monday April 24th, also included: Bills C-3,
An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential
amendment to another Act; C-5, An Act respecting the establishment of the
Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts; and C-7, An Act
to amend the National Defence Act.
Bill C-3, also known as the
Bridges and Tunnels Act, will give the Government
exclusive authority over 29 bridges and tunnels to the U.S. which are currently
controlled by a mix of public and private interests. Its aim is to permit
thorough and coherent management of trade and security at important border
Bill C-5 provides for the establishment of a Public Health Agency of Canada
to assist the Minister of Health in the exercise of his or her duties in
relation to public health. The Bill also provides that the Governor in
Council may make regulations respecting the collection and management of
public health information and the protection of confidential information,
including personal information.
Bill C-7 seeks to respond to the need for a fair, just and transparent
parallel system of justice to meet the unique requirements of the armed
forces. The Bill proposes: to clarify the roles and the responsibilities
of the Minister of National Defence and the Judge Advocate General; to
structure the system's investigative, prosecutorial, defence and judicial
functions; to institute summary trial reform; to eliminate the death penalty;
and to establish a Canadian Forces Grievance Board and a Military Police
On Tuesday, April 4th, the House adopted a motion respecting membership
of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is required
by the Standing Orders (S.O. 104(1)) to serve as the striking committee
for all Standing Committees of the House and Standing Joint Committees
of the House and Senate.
Membership lists must be prepared and reported to the House within the
first ten sitting days after the appointment of the Standing Committee
on Procedure and House Affairs. This requirement was satisfied with the
presentation of the First Report of the Committee to the House on Wednesday,
April 26, 2006, and the adoption of a motion for concurrence in the report
later that day. The election of Chairs for the new Standing Committees
is currently pending, with numerous meetings scheduled.
On April 27th, the House concurred in the Second Report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, recommending that the guidelines
for access to committee meetings by the electronic media, contained in
the Nineteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs, which was presented and adopted by the House on May 16, 2001,
continue in place until the end of the First Session of the 39th Parliament.
Standing Order 87 requires that the Order of Precedence for items of Private
Members' Business be determined on the twentieth sitting day, after a draw
to establish the List for the Consideration of Private Members' Business.
The aforementioned draw was held on Friday, April 7th, 2006, and the Order
of Precedence should be determined on Wednesday, May 17, 2006. On Monday,
May 1, 2006, a take note debate was held on the subject of the ongoing
crisis in Darfur (Sudan).
On the evening of April 6th, the third sitting of the new Parliament, a
take note debate was held on agricultural issues. A second take-note
debate, on the subject of Canada's significant commitment in Afghanistan,
took place on Monday, April 10, 2006.
By Order of the House, a minute of silence was observed on Thursday, April
27, 2006, in memory of four fallen Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Table Research Branch
On March 6, 2006 the Manitoba Legislature assembled as the Fourth Session
of the Thirty-Eighth Legislature resumed. Finance Minister Greg Selinger
delivered his speech on the NDP Government's seventh budget. The total
operating expenditure for the 2006-2007 Budget was listed as $8.7 billion,
an increase of 6.8% from 2005-2006. The government based this year's financial
plan on the following four building blocks: Growing Green, Growing Smart;
Healthy Families, Healthy Communities; Tax Savings for Manitoba Families
and Business; and Responsible Approach to Government Finances. Specific
highlights from the budget included:
- More hydroelectric development in partnership with Aboriginal and local
- New wind-farm projects, attracting $2 billion in potential investment
- New environmental enhancement loan program for farmers
- New children's physical activity tax credit to parallel federal proposal
- $60-million, three-year funding plan for universities and colleges
- Resources to fight crystal meth, auto theft and gangs
- Reduction in farmland school tax increased to 60 per cent
- Business tax reductions to reach $146 million annually
- Personal income and property tax cuts to total $472 million annually
- $148 million summary budget surplus forecast for 2006-07
- $110 million payment towards debt and pension liabilities
In his last budget speech as party leader, on March 9, 2006 Official Opposition
Leader Stuart Murray moved a motion expressing non-confidence in the government.
The motion noted the opposition's regrets that the budget ignored the
present and future needs of Manitobans, listing a number of deficiencies,
- failing to be accountable to Manitobans for overspending and fiscal mismanagement;
- failing to be accountable for the dismal state of agriculture in Manitoba;
- failing to provide opportunities for Manitoba youth to remain in the province;
- failing to be accountable for the province's unprecedented level of debt;
- failing to provide adequate funding for post-secondary institutions;
- failing to be transparent and accountable for health care spending;
- failing to be accountable for the increased court backlog and probation
- failing to provide a long-term strategy for the revitalization of rural
Manitoba and continuing to ignore rural Manitobans.
Jon Gerrard (Independent Liberal - River Heights) moved a sub-amendment
to Mr. Murray's amendment on May 1, 2006. Mr. Gerrard perceived a number
of other shortcomings in the government's financial plan, including:
- failing to call a public inquiry into the Crocus Investment Fund scandal;
- failing to take adequate measures to protect children in the care of Manitoba
Child and Family Services;
- failing to provide an effective strategy to deal with child poverty; and
- failing to provide Manitobans with the legal right to timely, quality health
On May 9, 2006 Mr. Gerrard's sub-amendment was defeated on division, while
Mr. Murray's amendment was defeated on a recorded vote of yeas 21, nays
34. The main budget motion carried on a recorded vote of yeas 34, nays
While the rules allocate eight sitting days for debate on the budget, just
over two months passed in the Legislature this spring between the time
of the Minister's budget speech and the final votes. The official opposition
Progressive Conservatives, in cooperation with the two independent Liberals,
orchestrated a series delaying tactics as a means of holding up the debate.
The combined opposition launched this initiative after Premier Gary Doer
did not agree to their calls for a public inquiry into circumstances surrounding
the failure of the Crocus Fund, a labour-driven investment fund. More than
33,000 Crocus investors lost millions of dollars in 2004-05 when the company
stopped trading and was forced into receivership following allegations
that it misled shareholders and overvalued its assets. The fund was the
object of an investigation and report by the Auditor General of Manitoba
(released in May 2005).
The government has stated that a public inquiry is not needed as the Auditor's
report, as well as investigations by the Manitoba Securities Commission,
addressed the outstanding questions and issues regarding the Crocus fund.
The opposition maintains that a public inquiry is necessary to determine
the extent of government involvement in the collapse of the fund. They
further suggest that the Auditor General's report raises questions about
when the government became aware of red flags at Crocus.
This impasse over the Crocus issue led to the delay in the debate on the
budget. In the first few sitting days of the budget debate, following (or
during) question period the opposition began to interrupt proceedings with
a series of challenges to rulings of the Chair. Our rules allow for almost
all decisions of the Speaker to be appealed to the House for a recorded
vote. Our rules also allow the division bells to ring for up to one hour
summoning members for recorded votes. With this in mind several MLAs, including
Official Opposition House Leader Len Derkach and Kevin Lamoureux (Independent
Liberal - Inkster), began to raise many points of order and matters of
privilege. When Speaker George Hickes ruled against a point of order or
matter of privilege, the opposition would then challenge that ruling, requesting
a recorded vote and thus delaying house business for an hour while the
division bells ring. This process would continue until the hour of adjournment.
In this manner, debate was delayed on the budget for many weeks.
The impasse broke on May 1, 2006 when the opposition began debating the
budget. The House spent a total of 22 sitting days occupied with the delaying
The spring legislative package features a number of high profile Bills,
- Bill 11 The Winter Heating Cost Control Act, which prohibits any further
increases in natural gas prices for customers of Centra Gas during the
2005-06 winter heating season, and allows the government to limit such
price increases in 2006-07. The Bill also requires Manitoba Hydro to establish
a stabilization and affordable energy fund.
- Bill 21 The Public Health Act, which replaces the existing Act, includes
new and updated measures to deal with health hazards, communicable diseases,
epidemics and public health emergencies.
- Bill 22 The Elections Reform Act, encompassing several components, this
bill includes an extensive revision of The Elections Act, written and organized
to make the Act clearer and easier to understand. It deals with all aspects
of elections to elect Members of the Legislative Assembly. The Act proposes
a number of changes to the electoral system intending to improve voter
turnout, strengthen the democratic process, prevent sitting members of
the assembly from joining another caucus, and completely remove the ability
of the legislature to determine electoral boundaries. The amendments flow
from changes recommended by the chief electoral officer.
- Bill 36 The Youth Drug Stabilization (Support for Parents) Act is designed
to help parents deal with children who have serious drug problems. They
can apply to have the young person taken to a safe and secure facility
for up to seven days, where his or her condition would be assessed and
stabilized, and a plan for treating the drug abuse developed.
Progressive Conservative Leadership Contest
Following the resignation last fall of Mr. Murray as leader of the Progressive
Conservative party, the race to find a new leader began in earnest. The
Leadership convention took place in Winnipeg on April 28 and 29, 2006.
While speculation flourished over the winter regarding potential leadership
hopefuls, three official candidates emerged in the race.
The newest member of the House (winning a by-election in December 2005)
Hugh McFadyen (PC - Fort Whyte), is a Manitoba native who has been involved
in politics for many years as Chief of Staff to former Premier Gary Filmon
and also as an advisor to current Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. Mr. McFadyen
served as the critic for Intergovernmental Affairs and Trade.
Ron Schuler (PC - Springfield), began his political career in 1995 as a
school trustee and was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in the
general election September 1999. Re-elected in the June 2003 election,
Mr. Schuler has served as critic for Labour & Immigration, Energy, Science
& Technology, (Kyoto Accord), Lotteries & Gaming and the Public Service
The only candidate who was not currently a sitting MLA,
Ken Waddell is
the former mayor of the rural Manitoba town of Neepawa. Mr. Waddell is
the publisher and editor of two weekly community newspapers.
After the ballots were counted on April 29, Mr. McFadyen emerged as the
new leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives, garnering support
from 66.6% of delegates. Mr. Schuler received 21.4% of the votes while
Mr. Waddell came in third with 12% of delegate support.
During this leadership process, the party's membership grew to over 13,000
members. The Progressive Conservative party's last contested leadership
race occurred in 1983 when Mr. Filmon became leader.
According to a sessional order passed last year, the House is scheduled
to sit until June 13, 2006.
Clerk Assistant /Clerk of Committees
The Ontario Legislative Assembly sat for three weeks, from February 13,
2006, to March 2, 2006 before beginning the spring session on March 23,
In the Spring 2006 issue of
Canadian Parliamentary Review, we reported
on a number of Bills that were before Committees. Some of these Bills have
since received Royal Assent. Among them:
- Bill 206, An Act to revise the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System
- Bill 210, An Act to amend the Child and Family Services Act and make complementary
amendments to other Acts,
- Bill 27, An Act to amend the Arbitration Act, 1991, the Child and Family
Services Act and the Family Law Act in connection with family arbitration
and related matters, and to amend the Children's Law Reform Act in connection
with the matters to be considered by the court in dealing with applications
for custody and access,
- Bill 21, An Act to enact the Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2005 and
to amend the Electricity Act, 1998, the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
and the Conservation Authorities Act, and
- Bill 36, An Act to provide for the integration of the local system for
the delivery of health services.
On March 29, 2006, the Government introduced Bill 85,
An Act to Amend the
Assessment Act, also known as the More Time to Appeal Act. The Bill proposed
to extend the deadline for complaints with respect to the 2006 taxation
year from March 31, 2006 to June 30, 2006. The Bill received Second and
Third Reading on March 30, 2006 and Royal Assent on March 31, 2006.
On May 10, 2006, the Legislative Assembly met outside its regular meeting
times (sitting from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) for the purpose of considering
three Private Members' Public Bills. All three Bills were developed by
Ontario students involved in a project initiated by CBC News called Making
The Bills involved, and their sponsors, were:
- Bill 93, An Act to Amend the Education Act (Frank Klees, Oak Ridges, on
behalf of the students of Cardinal Carter Catholic High School, Aurora).
This Bill would require school boards: to ensure that pupils receive instruction
in nutrition standards for healthy eating; to establish a committee to
advise on what standards should form part of the subject matter of the
instruction; and, to post a copy of the two publications of Health Canada
in cafeterias they operate.
- Bill 95, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Occupational
Health and Safety Act with respect to providing information to student
employees about employment rights (Andrea Horwath, Hamilton East, on behalf
of the students of St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School, Oakville,
Cardinal Carter Catholic High School, Aurora, and Lisgar Collegiate, Ottawa.)
This Bill would obligate employers to provide their student employees with
information in the form of posters as well as booklets on the Employment
Standards Act, 2000 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Bill 96, An Act to Amend the Education Act (Kathleen Wynne, Don Valley
West, on behalf of the students of Georgetown District High School). The
Bill would impose duties on school boards to ensure that every classroom
has separate recycling containers for paper, plastic and aluminium and
that every school cafeteria has a recycling facility.
All three Bills received Second Reading and were referred to the Standing
Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.
The House originally referred Bill 190,
Good Government Act, 2006 to the
Standing Committee on Social Policy. On April 6, 2006 the Bill was discharged
from that Committee and referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative
On April 20, 2006, the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly conducted
public hearings and clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 190. The Bill
is an initiative of the Liberal Government intended to promote good government
and amends various Acts which are set out in separate schedules. Each schedule
is titled for the ministry under which the amendments fall. The Bill was
reported back to the House, as amended, on April 24, 2006.
The Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly continued its review
of the use of technology in the Chamber, pursuant to an Order of Reference
received from the Speaker. The Committee intends to present its report
to the Speaker in the near future.
The Standing Committee on Government Agencies reviewed approximately twenty-one
intended appointees to agencies, board and commissions in the past three
According to the Committee's terms of reference under the Standing Orders,
the Committee is empowered to review and report to the House its observations,
opinions and recommendations on the operation of all agencies, boards and
commissions to which the Lieutenant Governor in Council makes some or all
of the appointments, and all corporations to which the Crown in right of
Ontario is a majority shareholder, such reviews are to be made with a view
to reducing possible redundancy and overlapping, improving the accountability
of agencies, rationalizing the functions of the agencies, identifying those
agencies or parts of agencies which could be subject to sunset provisions,
and revising the mandates and roles of agencies.
After a ten-year hiatus, the Standing Committee on Government Agencies
has decided once again to review the operation of agencies, boards and
commissions. The Committee will be selecting the agencies, boards or commissions
they wish to review in the upcoming month.
The Standing Committee on General Government considered Bill 53, Stronger
City of Toronto for a Stronger Ontario Act, 2005. The purpose of the Bill
is to give the City of Toronto more autonomy in the decisions that affect
the City. The Committee held public hearings on the Bill on April 26, May
1, 3, 8, and 10. Clause-by-clause consideration was scheduled for May 15
and 17, 2006.
The Standing Committee on Social Policy considered Bill 78,
An Act to amend
the Education Act, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 and certain
other statutes relating to education. This Bill was introduced to set provincial
education outcomes and set clear goals for improved student performance.
The Standing Committee on Justice Policy considered Bill 14,
An Act to
promote access to justice by amending or repealing various Acts and by
enacting the Legislation Act, 2005. Two days of public hearings were held
in April, and additional hearings will be held in September 2006. The Bill
would reform the justice of the peace system and regulate paralegals. It
would also amend the Courts of Justice Act and the Limitations Act, and
create a new act that would be a single source for rules about Ontario's
The Committee is also considering Bill 56,
An Act to amend the Emergency
Management Act, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Workplace Safety
and Insurance Act, 1997. The Bill was introduced to provide the province
with the emergency powers needed to act quickly and effectively in case
of an emergency situation.
Following eight days of public hearings during the winter, the Chair of
the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs presented the Committee's
Report on Pre-Budget Consultation 2006 to the House on Monday, February
On Thursday, May 4, the Finance Committee held public hearings on, and
conducted clause by clause consideration of Bill 81, An Act to implement
2006 Budget measures and to enact, amend or repeal various Acts. All public
submissions were directed to Schedule H of the Budget bill, which provides
for an extension of municipal election terms from the current three years
to four. As directed by the time allocation motion that governed the Committee's
consideration of Bill 81, the Bill was reported back to the House on the
following Monday, May 8, and was reported without amendment.
On January 24, 2006, the Integrity Commissioner
Coulter A. Osborne, tabled
his report regarding Harinder Takhar, Minister of Transportation, and whether
or not he had breached the Members' Integrity Act or parliamentary convention.
The Commissioner's report was in response to a request by John Tory, MPP,
Dufferin-Peel- Wellington-Grey, Leader of the Opposition. The report concluded
that the Minister had breached s. 11 of the Act, and parliamentary convention
associated with the establishment of management trusts by allowing the
treasurer of his riding association to continue as his trustee and by failing
to disclose this under the Election Finances Act. The Commissioner recommended
that since this is a matter of first impression,
it would be unfair
to sanction the Minister beyond issuing a reprimand under s.34(1)(b). Upon
the filing of this Report with the Speaker, that reprimand will be duly
recorded. The Commissioner also recommended that the Minister replace
his trustee with someone who is at arm's length with the Minister.
The report was debated on February 15, 16, and 17, 2006. On March 2, 2006,
the Legislature adopted the Report of the Integrity Commissioner and approved
the recommendations contained therein.
When the federal general election was called for January 26, 2006, three
members resigned their seats to run for the House of Commons: John Baird,
Nepean-Carleton; Jim Flaherty, Whitby-Ajax (both PCs); and NDP Member Marilyn
Churley, Toronto-Danforth. Mr. Baird and Mr. Flaherty were both elected
as MPs for their respective ridings.
By-elections to fill the vacancies were held on March 30, 2006. In Nepean-Carleton,
Lisa McLeod, PC, was elected to replace Mr. Baird, and Whitby-Ajax elected
Christine Elliott, PC. In Toronto-Danforth, the NDP candidate, Peter Tabuns,
was elected. The new Members took their seats in the Legislative Assembly
on April 10, 2006.
During the March adjournment, the Legislative Assembly was convened earlier
than anticipated, returning on March 23, 2006 when the Government tabled
its 2006 Budget. The Budget was debated March 27, 28, and April 3, 2006
and adopted on April 4, 2006.
On April 4, 2006, the Speaker informed the House that he had received a
letter of resignation from Jim McCarter, Auditor General of Ontario, effective
June 9, 2006. Mr. McCarter was appointed Auditor General December 15, 2004
after serving as Acting Provincial Auditor from September 30, 2003.
Prince Edward Island
The Legislative Assembly opened for the Third Session of the Sixty-second
General Assembly on November 16, 2005. It adjourned to the call of the
Speaker on December 15, 2005, after 18 sitting days, and was recalled
on March 30, 2006.
Changes in the House
Veteran MLA, Jim Bagnall, was joined by family, friends and colleagues
on March 27, 2006, as he was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister and Member
of Executive Council. He assumed responsibility for the Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Aquaculture. Mr. Bagnall had previously served as Government
House Leader, Chair of Government Caucus, Chair of the Legislative Review
Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
The agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture portfolio had been the responsibility
of the Premier following the resignation of the former minister, Kevin
MacAdam, in February of this year.
Premier Pat Binns also announced the appointment of
Cletus Dunn (District
26, Alberton-Miminegash) as Government House Leader and Chair of Government
Olive Crane (PC) was elected in the by-election of March 20, 2006, for
the district of Morell-Fortune Bay, a seat left vacant by the resignation
of Mr. MacAdam on February 17, 2006.
Ms. Crane has been a career civil servant with the provincial government
since 1979 working in the Department of Health and Social Services, the
Office of the Attorney General, and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Aquaculture. She has been a board member on the National Council of
Welfare, as well as the Canadian Association of Education. Ms. Crane and
her family operate a wild blueberry farm in Douglas Station, Prince Edward
Helen MacDonald (District 22, St. Eleanors-Summerside), was appointed,
by motion, to the position of Acting Deputy Speaker on April 5, 2006. Deputy
Speaker Andy Mooney (District 1, Souris-Elmira) is absent during the spring
sitting of the Legislative Assembly due to illness.
Appointments of Chief Electoral Officer and Deputy Chief Electoral Officer
Lowell Croken was appointed Chief Electoral Officer for the Province of
Prince Edward Island by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on May 9, 2006.
Since 1996, Mr. Croken held the position of Deputy Chief Electoral Officer
at Elections P.E.I. and is a career civil servant. His appointment fills
the vacancy created by the retirement of Merrill Wigginton in April 2005.
Norma Palmer was appointed Deputy Chief Electoral Officer for the Province
of Prince Edward Island by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on May 9,
2006. Since 1996, Ms. Palmer held the position as Elections Officer at
Elections P.E.I. and is a career civil servant.
The Special Committee on Prince Edward Island's Electoral Boundaries met
six times during March and April 2006 to conduct consultations and receive
opinion concerning recommendations made by the PEI Electoral Boundaries
Commission in its final report, dated October 5, 2004. In addition, the
Committee solicited public input on the desirability of establishing fixed
dates for provincial general elections.
As a result of its deliberations, the Committee made a number of recommendations
to improve the process of adjusting electoral boundaries, including proposals
for legislative changes.
The main recommendation of the Committee was that the area and boundaries
of the existing 27 electoral districts of the Province of Prince Edward
Island be re-distributed so as to balance, as far as practicable, community
concerns as expressed during the public consultations, and that the deviation
in absolute parity in the number of electors in each of the 27 electoral
districts be limited to plus or minus 15% as compared to the electoral
quotient (that is, the total number of electors in the province divided
by 27), with the exception of the district of Evangeline-Miscouche where
the deviation is permitted to be greater to accommodate the cultural diversity
of that area.
During the public consultations, the Committee received feedback concerning
the advisability of holding provincial general elections at fixed intervals
and on fixed dates. Proponents identified several advantages of a fixed
date system including greater certainty for parties and their candidates
in preparing their strategies and campaign policies, economic efficiency
of administering predictable elections, and increased voter confidence
in the process. The Committee also heard that the ability to call an election
at a date of the government's choosing could well constitute a significant
advantage for the party in power. Others were opposed to change, and pointed
out that the maximum time period between general elections is already defined
in legislation, and that fixed date elections would open the door to lengthy
and expensive campaigns.
As a result, the Special Committee on Prince Edward Island's Electoral
Boundaries recommended that a referendum on the question of fixed date
elections be conducted in conjunction with the next provincial general
Speaker Greg Deighan announced the launch of a CD-ROM, entitled Discover
the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island on April 27, 2006. This
educational resource is designed to promote a better understanding and
appreciation of the work of the Legislative Assembly. The CD is interactive,
allowing the user to navigate photos, video and text at his or her own
pace. It will be available at no cost to schools across the province.
The re-designed website for the Legislative Assembly (www.assembly.pe.ca)
was also made public on April 27, 2006. The site receives many thousands
of hits each month, and is used on a daily basis by MLAs, their administrative
and research staffs, and members of the public. The new look is designed
to make the site more useful and attractive.
Speaker Deighan attended the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association mid-year
meeting of the Executive Committee held Douglas, Isle of Man, from May
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
The 2005 Fall sitting of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly began on October
13, 2005, adjourned on November 3, 2005, reconvened on December 8, 2005
and adjourned on December 8, 2005. Just before the House met, several
events of political importance took place including:
- the announcement by Premier John Hamm that he would be resigning after
the Progressive Conservative Party had chosen a new leader,
- the calling of a leadership convention by the Progressive Conservative
party for February 11, 2006; and
- the resignation of the former leader of the Liberal Party,
as member of the House of Assembly for Halifax Citadel.
As a result, the standings in the House, when it started its Fall sitting,
were as follows: Progressive Conservatives 25, New Democrats 15, Liberals
11 and Vacant 1.
Shortly after the House met,
Russell MacKinnon, the MLA for Cape Breton
West, left the Liberal Caucus to sit as an independent.
Twenty-eight public bills were passed at the sitting, twenty-four of which
were introduced by the Government, one of which was introduced by a Government
backbencher and two of which were introduced by NDP members.
There were three candidates at the Progressive Conservative leadership
convention, namely, William Black, former President and Chief Executive
Officer of Maritime Life, who is a newcomer to politics, Neil LeBlanc,
a former Minister of Finance, who was not a candidate in the last election,
and Rodney MacDonald who was Minister of Tourism in the Hamm Government.
The result of the first ballot was as follows William Black 742; Neil
LeBlanc 730, Rodney MacDonald 789 and there were 3 rejected ballots.
Mr. LeBlanc was then dropped from the ballot, and the results of the second
ballot were as follows: William Black 855, Rodney MacDonald 1263 and
12 rejected ballots.
The new Government formed by Mr. MacDonald was sworn in on February 24,
2006. Since the office of Speaker of the House became vacant as a result
of Murray Scott being appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General
and the office of Sergeant-at-Arms was also vacant, a special sitting of
the House to fill these vacancies was held on March 3, 2006. Cecil Clarke,
MLA for Cape Breton North and Energy Minister in the Hamm Government, was
elected Speaker and Kenneth Grantham was named Sergeant-at-Arms.