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On September 24, 2007, the new Leader of the Parti Québécois, Pauline Marois,
was elected in the Electoral Division of Charlevoix, which had become vacant
last August 14 following the decision by Rosaire Bertrand to step down.
Accordingly, the composition of the Assembly stands as follows: Québec
Liberal Party, 48 Members; Action démocratique, 41 Members; Parti Québécois,
Two former Members passed away in September 2007. Carrier Fortin was the
Liberal Party Member for the Electoral Division of Sherbrooke and Minister
of Labour from 1963 to 1966, and Fabien Cordeau, of the Union nationale,
was the Member for the Electoral Division of Saint-Hyacinthe from 1976
National Assembly channel
To further enrich the program schedule of its channel, last July the Assembly
launched seven new video vignettes on the services it provides to Members
and citizens and on its heritage conservation. These vignettes focus on
the following themes: the broadcasting of parliamentary debates; the National
Assembly's communications tools; the parliamentary institution's Library;
the statues and ornaments adorning the premises of the Parliament Building;
the interior ornaments on display in this heritage building; the history
of the Parliament Building; the Central Tower of the Parliament.
In the same perspective, the second season of Mémoires de députés was launched
last September 9. This programme features former Québec parliamentarians
providing sensitive and sometimes humourous insight into the more memorable
events of their career. To mark this event, the invited guest was former
Minister Victor Charles Goldbloom, who was the first Cabinet member to
hold the office of Minister of the Environment in 1973.
Last August 12 to 15 at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Regional
Conference of the Council of State Governments (ERC) President Michel
Bissonnet welcomed some 800 delegates to Québec City to discuss the theme
Regional Challenges, Innovative Opportunities: Sharing State-Province Expertise
and to take part in workshops on agriculture, trade and border security
with the United States, education, energy and the environment, criminal
justice, health as well as transportation.
At the conclusion of the meeting, important resolutions were adopted, particularly
with regard to climate change, the passport requirement at the Canada-United
States border, the promotion of train and maritime transportation as well
as the elimination and recycling of electronic waste.
The Member for Arthabaska and Chairman of the Committee on Democracy and
Peace of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA) Jean-François
Roux, led an electoral observation mission to Guatemala, from September
5-10, 2007. Over twenty parliamentarians hailing from Argentina, Brazil,
Mexico, Surinam and Venezuela also took part in this mission.
The interns of the Jean-Charles- Bonenfant Foundation for 2007- 2008 are
Julien Domingue, Bachelor of Applied Political Studies, Nicolas Fontaine,
Bachelor of Biology, Mathieu Fraser, holder of a Master's Degree in History,
Alexandre Paré, Bachelor of Political Science, and Alexandre Regimbal,
Bachelor of Law. The internship programme, which spans a ten-month period,
comprises three elements: the discovery of the National Assembly and a
comparative study with other Canadian and foreign parliamentary institutions,
the alternate twinning with a Member from each of the three parliamentary
groups and, finally, the drafting of a research paper on the parliamentary
institutions of Québec.
Francine Boivin Lamarche
Secretariat of the National Assembly
Autumn began with the launching of consultations. For the past several
years now, the triennial planning of immigration in Québec (in terms of
volume and composition) has been the object of general consultations. In
keeping with this practice, the Committee on Culture, within the framework
of an order of the Assembly, has been holding public hearings since September
18 on the consultation document "Planning for 2008-2010 Québec Immigration
Levels" produced by the Ministère de l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles.
An on-line consultation is also being held concurrently for this year's
exercise, thus increasingly aiming towards cyberdemocracy.
The Committee on Institutions followed in these footsteps and, by order
of the Assembly, held a general consultation, along with an on-line consultation,
within the framework of the consideration of Bill 9, An Act respecting
the safety of persons on certain premises and amending the Act respecting
safety in sports. This bills aims particularly to prohibit the possession
of firearms in the buildings and on the grounds of childcare facilities
and educational institutions and in conveyances used for public transportation
and school transportation. Public hearings began October 10.
In accordance with the obligation stipulated in the Sustainable Development
Act (R.S.Q.., c. D-8.1.1), assented to in 2006, the Government presented
last September its Sustainable Development Strategy project and ordered
the Committee on Transportation and the Environment to hold special consultations
beginning on October 17, as well as an on-line consultation.
The Committee on Public Administration carried out several orders in pursuance
of the duties conferred upon it by the Standing Orders. Last September
18, it heard the Deputy Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment
and Parks, as well as the chief executive officer of RECYC-QUÉBEC concerning
residual waste. On 26 September, the Committee examined the financial commitments
of the Auditor General for the period from April 2006 to March 2007. It
also took the opportunity hear the latter on his 2006-2007 annual management
report and on his 2006-2009 strategic plan. Furthermore, last October 10,
the Committee heard the Deputy Minister of Transport on the annual management
report of this ministry.
For more information on the proceedings of the standing committees, please
visit the Internet site of the National Assembly of Québec at the following
Secretariat of committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
Newfoundland and Labrador
In 2004 the House of Assembly amended the House of Assembly Act to provide
for fixed election dates quadrennially on the second Tuesday of October.
The Forty-Fifth General Assembly was dissolved on September 17th and the
General Election took place on October 9th. The results were: 43 Progressive
Conservatives, three Liberals and one New Democrat elected.
There was a judicial recount in the District of the Isles of Notre Dame
which had been held by Leader of the Opposition Gerry Reid as there was
a difference of only seven votes between the Progressive Conservative,
Derrick Dally and the incumbent. Upon completion of the recount on November
8th Mr. Dalley, the Progressive Conservative candidate, was confirmed as
the Member for the District by a 12-vote margin.
In the District of Grand Falls - Windsor - Buchans the election had to
be postponed owing to the untimely death of the Liberal candidate, Dr.
Gerry Tobin, on October 1. The seat was won by Susan Sullivan, the Progressive
Conservative candidate, at the election on November 6th increasing the
number of Progressive Conservative seats to 44.
The Members elected on October 9th were sworn on November 1st. Roger Fitzgerald,
Member for Bonavista South, was acclaimed Speaker. Mr. Fitzgerald was
twice acclaimed as the other candidate for the District of Bonavista South,
Clayton Hobbs had to withdraw from the campaign because of illness. Jack
Byrne was elected Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees and Tom Osborne
was elected Deputy Chair of Committees.
Auditor General Reports
On September 14th the Auditor General tabled a review of Constituency Allowance
Claims for the period 1989-90 to 2005-06. The review identified inappropriate
expenditures and claims for which there was no documentation or inadequate
documentation. The Auditor stated in the Report that he is confident that
with the adoption of the Green Commission Report and the restoration of
independent scrutiny by the Auditor General and Comptroller General and
the hiring of professional accountants to staff the Corporate and Members'
Services Division of the House of Assembly the financial management and
controls have significantly improved.
On September 17th the Auditor General table a report pursuant to section
16 of the Auditor General Act which allows the Auditor General to "inquire
into and report on a person or organization that has received financial
aid from the government of the province or in respect of which financial
aid from the government of the province is sought." The House, by Resolution,
had requested that the Auditor General investigate and report on the Government's
decision to invest $15 million in the installation of a fibre optic link
between St. John's and Halifax. The Auditor General concluded, inter alia,
that there was no evidence that the Premier was involved in the project;
that although the Department concerned had not complied with the Guidelines
for Hiring External Consultants nor the Atlantic Procurement Agreement
it had complied with the Public Tender Act; that Government had exercised
due diligence in assessing the proposal and negotiating the final agreement
although the initial assessment process at the department level had been
weak and that the Province had received good value for its investment.
Access To Information And Protection of Privacy Act
Pursuant to Recommendation No. 6 of the Report of Commissioner J. Derek
Green "Rebuilding Confidence" the Access To Information And Protection
of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) now applies to the House of Assembly and statutory
offices. Personal and constituency records of a Member; records of a registered
political party; House of Assembly records the non-disclosure of which
is required for the protection of the privileges of the House and records
connected with the investigatory functions of Statutory Offices are among
those records which are exempt from ATIPPA.
The ATIPP co-ordinator and senior privacy analyst for the House of Assembly
has received 174 requests for information since October 9th when the sections
of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act
relating to the application of ATIPPA to the House and related offices
came into force.
Whistle Blower Legislation
The House of Assembly Accountability Integrity And Administration Act includes
measures providing protection for whistle blowers within the House of Assembly
service. The Premier made a commitment during the election campaign to
introduce similar legislation for Government as a whole. It is expected
that this legislation will be introduced when the House next sits.
The Deputy Premier, Tom Rideout advised on October 17th that the Forty-Sixth
General Assembly would open in the Spring of 2008.
House of Commons
On August 14, 2007, mid-way through the summer adjournment and in anticipation
of the Second Session of the 39th Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper
shuffled his Cabinet for the second time, reassigning a number of key portfolios.
Peter MacKay replaced Gordon O'Connor as Minister of National Defence and
Maxime Bernier replaced Mr. MacKay as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
At the beginning of September, the Prime Minister announced that he would
recommend to the Governor General that Parliament be prorogued. The official
announcement, however, came only on September 14, 2007, when the Governor
General prorogued the First Session and set the date for the opening of
the Second Session as October 16, 2007. The time for the Throne Speech
was set in the evening in a subsequent proclamation, issued on October
In the September 17, 2007 by-elections, conducted in a climate of controversy
regarding veiled voting, the Outremont seat left vacant by the departure
of Liberal Jean Lapierre was won by New Democrat and former Quebec Liberal
Minister Thomas Mulcair. St-Hyacinthe--Bagot elected Bloc Québécois candidate
Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac, who replaces Yvan Loubier, also a member of the
Bloc. In Roberval-Lac-St-Jean, Conservative Denis Lebel replaced Michel
Gauthier, who had retired.
Parliament was convened for a new session on October 16, 2007. While awaiting
the arrival of the Usher of the Black Rod to summon the members of the
House to the Senate Chamber for the Speech from the Throne, a number of
events occurred in the House of Commons: the Speaker announced vacancies
in several ridings, two of the three newly-elected Members were introduced,
a question of privilege was raised, and the Speaker made a statement regarding
Private Members' Business.
As they had done in the previous Throne Speech, the Conservative government
set out five new priorities: strengthening Canada's sovereignty, building
a stronger federation, providing more effective economic leadership, improving
the environment and continuing to tackle crime. The New Democratic Party
and the Bloc Québécois announced that they would not support the Throne
Speech, leaving the Liberals to decide the fate of the government. On October
24, 2007, the Liberals abstained from the final vote on the motion for
an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, thus avoiding the defeat
of the government.
On October 30, 2007, Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, tabled a Notice
of Ways and Means motion and the text of an economic statement. Soon thereafter,
he held a press conference during which he unveiled a mini-budget, outlining
$60 billion in cuts to personal and corporate taxes, as well as a one percentage
point cut to the GST. The three parties in Opposition condemned the proposed
tax reductions, seeking instead renewed program investments. Nonetheless,
the Liberals abstained again on the vote on the Ways and Means motion related
to the economic statement. With the adoption of the motion, the government
is now able to introduce legislation to implement the measures outlined
in the economic statement.
On September 11, 2007, the Standing Committee on Access to Information,
Privacy and Ethics instructed its clerk and research staff to prepare a
draft report on its access to information request for the Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade internal report entitled Afghanistan
2006: Good Governance, Democratic Development and Human Rights. The clerk
was also instructed to bring the draft report to the Committee once it
has been reorganized in the new session.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs met on the morning
of September 13, 2007, to hear testimony from the Chief Electoral Officer,
Marc Mayrand on the question of veiled voters. Later that day, the Committee
unanimously adopted a motion calling upon the Chief Electoral Officer to
use his discretionary powers to require facial identification at polling
stations, in the September 17, 2007 by-elections. This was communicated
to Mr. Mayrand by letter, but he rejected this unanimous call to reverse
his decision. The Committee also considered the legitimacy of electoral
campaign financing during the 2006 campaign. Little progress was made on
the matter before Parliament was prorogued.
On October 31, 2007, the House concurred in the First Report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, setting out the membership for
the standing committees. Committee organization meetings took place when
the House returned to business during the week of November 12, 2007.
Of the 63 government bills introduced in the First Session of the 39th
Parliament, 27 had not yet received Royal Assent at the time of prorogation
and thus died on the Order Paper. With the adoption of a motion on October
25, 2007, the government was authorized to reintroduce some or all of these
bills within the first 30 sitting days of the Session. Provided that the
bills are in the same form as they were at prorogation, they will be deemed
to have been considered and approved at all legislative stages completed
at the time of prorogation.
On October 18, 2007, the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, tabled an
omnibus bill targeting violent crime. Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal
Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, groups together
five bills from first session, namely C-10, C-22, C-27, C-32 and C-35.
(Three of these bills had been adopted at third reading and sent to the
Senate during the First Session of the 39th Parliament.) Opposition critics
have characterized the omnibus bill format as ineffective, contending
that three of the lapsed bills could have been adopted more quickly by
way of reinstatement. In a motion adopted by unanimous consent on October
26, 2007, the Bill was deemed read the second time and referred to a legislative
committee. The legislative committee was established, Rick Dykstra named
chair, and the committee was ordered to report the Bill back to the House
by November 23, 2007.
Also on October 26, 2007, Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Canada Elections
Act (visual identification of voters) was introduced and read a first time.
Other bills to amend the Canada Elections Act have been introduced by the
government this session (Bills C-16 (expanded voting opportunities) and
C-18 (verification of residence). Several private Members' bills aimed
at amending the Canada Elections Act have also been introduced this Parliament:
Bills C-203 (telephone, fax and Internet service to campaign offices);
C-341 (military dependants); C-353 (date of general election); C-419 (closed
captioning); and C-465 (identity of electors).
On October 16, 2007, the Official Opposition House Leader, Ralph Goodale,
rose on a question of privilege alleging that the Speech from the Throne
had been leaked to the media. He sought to have the circumstances of the
leak investigated and the responsible parties identified. On October 23,
2007, the Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, ruled that there was no
procedural authority for the claim that premature disclosure of the Speech
from the Throne constituted a breach of the privileges of the members of
On October 18, 2007, NDP MP Nathan Cullen rose on a question of privilege,
contending that Richard Harris had impeded his ability to function as a
Member of Parliament by stating that someone other than he was the de facto
Member of Parliament for his riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. Specifically,
Mr. Cullen noted, Mr. Harris had held interviews and issued a press release
stating that people of Skeena-Buckley Valley should contact the Conservative
candidate Sharon Smith when they have concerns or issues with the government.
On October 30, 2007, the Speaker ruled that while the allegations were
not to be dismissed lightly, Mr. Cullen had not been obstructed in the
performance of his parliamentary duties and therefore no prima facie breach
of privilege could be found.
Private Members' Business
During the last session, the Speaker ruled that several private Members'
bills before the House would require a Royal Recommendation. On October
17, 2007, the Deputy Speaker, Bill Blaikie, reminded the House that the
Speaker's rulings and comments made during the First Session regarding
these bills would continue to apply in the current session.
On June 13, 2007, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development
and the Status of Persons with Disabilities reported back to the House
Bill C-284: An Act to amend the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
(Canada access grant). The Committee had deleted the title of the bill
and all its clauses. On October 29, 2007, the sponsor of the Bill, Geoff
Regan, proposed three motions at report stage to restore the bill's title
and clauses.The Speaker has ruled that if the Motion No. 2 is adopted by
the House, the bill would require Royal Recommendation before the question
on the motion for third reading could be put.
By unanimous consent, the House of Commons adopted a motion on October
17, 2007, granting honorary citizenship to Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung
San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy. The House
noted Ms. Suu Kyi remains one of the leading forces in the continuing struggle
for democracy and human rights and a symbol of the desire of the people
of Burma for political freedom.
Prince Edward Island
The First Session of the Sixty-third General Assembly opened on July 6,
2007, and adjourned to the call of the Speaker that same day. The Session
resumed on October 16, 2007, with the presentation of the Budget Address
by Wes Sheridan, Provincial Treasurer; and adjourned to the call of the
Speaker on November 2, 2007. In total, the Assembly sat for 13 days to
date this Session.
Mr. Sheridan presented his first budget address as Provincial Treasurer
on October 16, 2007. In his address to the Legislative Assembly, he characterized
the budget as a bridge between the former and the current administration.
Budgetary commitments made in the spring of 2007 by the former government
were largely respected in the new financial plan. The Treasurer indicated
priorities identified during the election campaign, including a reduction
in the gasoline tax, an improvement to the disability tax credit, and a
freeze on owner-occupied residential property tax assessments would be
Health and Social Services and Seniors expenditures continued to account
for the largest share of the provincial budget at just over $495.8 million,
or 39.4% of the total operating expenditure of almost $1.26 billion dollars;
followed by Education at $247.7 million, or 19.7 % of the total.
Full texts of the budget address, estimates of revenue and expenditure
and supporting schedules are available on the province's website at www.gov.pe.ca/budget.
A number of pieces of significant legislation received Royal Assent during
the Session. They include:
Tobacco Tax Act (Bill No. 2) sets out the tax rate on the purchase of tobacco
and defines various offences relating to the sale, purchase, possession,
marking and transportation of tobacco. As well, various punishments including
fines, imprisonment, and seizure, with regard to illegal traffic in tobacco
An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (Bill No. 6) received, with
unanimous consent, its three readings on November 18, 2007. The Act amends
the Employment Standards Act to provide job protection for members of the
reserve force of the Canadian Forces. It establishes the right of employees
who have worked for an employer for at least six months and who are in
the reserve force to take unpaid leave to participate in military training
or active service. Employees are required to give their employers reasonable
notice for their leave of absence. In addition, the Act provides for the
reinstatement of the employee upon return from military service or training.
An Act to Amend the Real Property Assessment Act (Bill No. 14) provides
for owner-occupied residential property tax assessments to be "frozen"
for the years 2008 and 2009 at the same level as that assessed in the year
An Act to Amend the Dog Act (Bill No. 18) adds provisions with respect
to the responsibilities and liability of an owner of a dog. An offense
and penalty provision has been included in respect of an owner of a dog
who fails to exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from biting
or attacking a person or a domestic animal or behaving in a manner than
poses a menace to the safety of persons or domestic animals.
Charles McGeoghegan (Liberal) was elected in the by-election of October
15, 2007, for the district of Belfast-Murray River, a seat left vacant
by the resignation of former premier, Pat Binns on August 31, 2007. The
by-election win gave the Liberals 24 of the 27 seats in the legislature.
Mr. McGeoghegan was sworn in on October 31, 2007, and took his seat in
the House for the first time that same day. Prior to entering public life,
Mr. McGeoghegan was a fisherman and a competitive arm wrestler.
New Positions for the PEI Legislature
In September 2007, the Standing Committee on Legislative Management, Chaired
by Speaker Kathleen Casey, announced its approval for the re-establishment
of a Legislative Library and Research Service to support the work of Members,
House Committees and House Officers. In addition, a new part time Committee
Clerk position was established in anticipation of an expanded role for
standing committees in reviewing issues and public policy initiatives.
Recruiting efforts started immediately with advertisements placed in all
the daily and weekly newspapers in the province. Applications were received
from all across Prince Edward Island, as well as from several other provinces.
Successful candidates were introduced to members in the House on October
30, 2007: Laura Morrell is the Legislative Assembly's Research Librarian;
Ryan Conway is the Research Officer; and Melissa Keefe is the new Committee
The Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Environment will be
reviewing the implementation and potential impacts of a province-wide ban
on the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides over the next several months. The
Committee will report in the spring 2008 Session.
The Standing Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development has
been mandated to conduct public hearings on the issue of Sunday shopping
to solicit the views of the Islanders. The Committee will hold public
hearings throughout the province and make its report, including any recommendations
for legislative changes, in the spring of 2008.
Standing Committee on Fisheries, Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation
has been instructed, by motion of the Legislative Assembly, to conduct
a thorough review of the collapse of Polar Foods International Inc., a
business failure which cost Island taxpayers approximately $31 million.
This Committee will also be reporting its findings in the spring 2008
Participate in PEI
In late August, government launched a new initiative calling for public
participation in over 70 of the province's agencies, boards and commissions.
A website is under development which will contain a profile of each organization
and will include qualifications, length of term, current make-up, nomination
requirements and vacancies. The Premier indicated that the process is intended
to fill openings, and to provide Islanders with information on their agencies,
boards and commissions, engaging them in the governing process.
Report of the Indemnities and Allowances Commission
Effective as of the first day of the commencement of the Sixty-third General
Assembly, MLAs on Prince Edward Island began receiving a base salary of
$62,500 (tax free expense allowance has been eliminated). Previously, compensation
had consisted of an indemnity of $36,689 plus a tax-free expense allowance
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
Summer 2007 was a quiet time at Queen's Park as the Legislative Assembly
was prorogued on June 5 and all focus shifted to the future general election
legislated to occur on October 10.
During the break, however, the David C. Onley was installed as Ontario's
28th Lieutenant Governor on September 5. A champion of disability issues,
he was Canada's first senior newscaster with a visible disability. He has
chaired the Government of Ontario's Accessibility Standards Advisory Council,
and served on both the SkyDome Accessibility Council and Air Canada Centre
Mr. Onley had little time to settle in before being called upon to dissolve
the 38th Parliament on September 10, and issue the writs for the 39th provincial
The election resulted in the Liberal Party under Dalton McGuinty winning
re-election, and little change in the composition of the House. The Liberals
took 71 seats (up 3), the Progressive Conservatives under John Tory took
26 seats (up 1) and the New Democratic Party of Howard Hampton kept 10
seats in a Legislative Assembly that had grown by 4 seats due to the realignment
of electoral districts.
While the election did not produce a dramatic change from the previous
Parliament, it was the first time in 70 years that the Liberal Party won
back-to-back majorities in Ontario. This was last accomplished under Premier
Mitchell Hepburn in 1937.
The race in the riding of Don Valley West was likely the most observed
of the election. It pitted 2 highly respected parliamentary incumbents
against each other, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Mr.
Tory, and Kathleen Wynne, the Minister of Education. In the end, Ms. Wynne
took the riding for the Liberals.
Also on the October 10 ballot (actually a separate ballot placed in the
same ballot box) was a referendum question on electoral reform. Ontarians
were asked Which electoral system should Ontario use to elect members
to the provincial legislature? The choices were:
The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post).
The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens' Assembly (Mixed
In order for Ontario to change its electoral system, the Mixed Member Proportional
(MMP) system would have to attain a double majority, consisting of:
At least 60% of all the valid referendum ballots cast province-wide; and
More than 50% of the valid referendum ballots cast in each of at least
64 electoral districts.
The MMP received only 36.9% of the ballots cast and achieved more than
50% support in just 5 of 107 electoral districts.
The 39th Parliament resumed on November 28, 2007, with the election of
The Governor General, the Senate and the House of Commons-the three components
of Parliament-assembled in the Senate Chamber on October 16 for the Opening
of the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament. In keeping with tradition,
the Governor General read the Speech from the Throne, but on this occasion,
and for the first time, the Speech was read by Her Excellency Michaëlle
Jean early in the evening for broadcast during prime time television.
The Speech outlined the Government's agenda for the new session and included
sovereignty and security, environmental protection, economic growth, modernization
of Canada's federation, and safe communities as priorities. The Government
remains committed to Senate reform, as it was during the First Session
of this Parliament. In particular, two pieces of complex and controversial
legislation not passed during the last session will be re-introduced: one
to shorten Senators' tenure from a maximum of 45 years to eight years;
and the other to allow for direct consultation of voters in the selection
Although the Speech was the highlight of the day, the Senate also attended
to other business. The appointment of the Bert Brown who was summoned to
the Senate early in the summer and sworn in on October 16 further demonstrated
the Government's belief that Canadians must have a say in who will represent
them in the Senate. Senator Brown, a long time advocate of Senate reform,
won an Alberta province-wide Senate election in 2004. This was only the
second time in Canada's history that an elected Senator was appointed to
the Senate. In 1989, the people of Alberta chose Stan Waters who was summoned
to the Senate in 1990 and served until his untimely death a year later.
The presentation of the pro forma bill and the appointment of the Committee
of Selection also occur on the first sitting day of the session. Bill S-1
relating to railways, only receives first reading. It's purpose is to symbolize
the independence of the Senate and its authority to discuss matters not
set out in the Speech from the Throne. The Committee of Selection is formed
to nominate a Speaker pro tempore and to name Senators to serve on committees
for the session. It must report within five sitting days regarding the
nomination of the Speaker pro tempore which occurred on October 23 when
the Senate approved the nomination of Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool as
Speaker pro tempore. Senator Losier-Cool will serve as Speaker when Speaker
Noël A. Kinsella is unable to attend a sitting.
By independent resolution adopted on October 17, the Senate granted honorary
citizenship to Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's National League
for Democracy and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The idea for this resolution
was proposed in the Government's Throne Speech in recognition of her dedication
to the cause of democracy. The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Raoul Wallenberg
are also honorary Canadian citizens.
The first session of the 39th Manitoba legislature resumed on September
25, 2007. In accordance with the sessional order passed during our June
sitting, the House immediately began consideration of the departmental
estimates of expenditure in the Committee of Supply flowing from the reinstated
budget. The entire budget process concluded on October 25.
In addition to completing the financial business, 21 government bills and
two opposition private member's bills also completed their journey through
the legislative process during this fall sitting, receiving Royal Assent
before the House rose on Thursday, November 8. These bills included:
Bill 12 - The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (Leave for Reservists)
- which amends the Employment Standards Code to provide job protection
for members of the reserve force of the Canadian Forces. It gives them
a right to an unpaid leave to participate in training or active duty in
Bill 15 - The Biofuels Amendment Act - which expands the Biofuels Act to
include biodiesel and other types of fuels derived from biomass material
that are specified in the regulations. The Bill creates the Ethanol Fund,
which will be funded by a portion of provincial gasoline tax revenues for
eight years. The fund will be used to pay grants to producers for denatured
ethanol produced and consumed in Manitoba.
Bill 16 - The Statutory Holidays Act (Various Acts Amended) - which establishes
the third Monday in February as a statutory holiday to be known as Louis
Bill 17 - The Firefighters, Peace Officers and Workers Memorial Foundations
Act - which establishes foundations to honour firefighters and peace officers
who have died in the line of duty as well as workers who have died in the
Bill 19 - The Fair Registration Practices in Regulated Professions Act
- which is designed to help ensure that regulated professions and people
applying for registration to practise those professions are governed by
registration practices that are transparent, objective, impartial and fair.
The Bill provides for the appointment of a fair registration practices
Bill 202 - The Apology Act, a private member's bill sponsored by Jon Gerrard
(Independent Liberal - River Heights), Bill allows a person to make an
apology about a matter without the apology constituting an admission of
- Bill 209 - The Historic Highway No. 1 Act, a private member's bill sponsored
by Gerald Hawranik (PC - Lac du Bonnet), designates Provincial Trunk Highway
No. 44 as the "Historic Highway No. 1" to commemorate its historical significance
- A sessional order identifies a series of dates when certain steps in the
legislative and budget processes must be completed. Additionally, the
order outlines our sitting schedule up to the spring of 2008, as follows:
- The House sat from September 25, 2007 to November 8, 2007 to conclude the
current budget process and to consider the bills re-introduced from the
- The House will sit from November 20, 2007 to December 6, 2007 to hear and
debate the throne speech commencing the second session of the 39th Manitoba
- The House will sit from no later than April 9, 2008 to June 12, 2008 to
consider the next budget and legislative agenda.
The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations met in October and November
2007. The committee considered several years of Annual Reports from Manitoba
Hydro and the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
Clerk Assistant / Clerk of Committees
On October 1, 2007, Steven Point
was sworn in as 28th Lieutenant Governor
of British Columbia during a historic ceremony in the legislative chamber.
He served as an elected Chief of the Skowkale First Nation for fifteen
years and as the tribal chair of the Stólo Nation Government. He was appointed
a provincial court judge in 1999 and as Chief Commissioner of the British
Columbia Treaty Commission in 2005. One of Mr. Point's first legislative
duties will be to proclaim the first urban, modern-day treaty negotiated
by a B.C. First Nation with the provincial and federal governments.
Treaty Settlement Legislation
The third session of the 38th Parliament resumed on October 15th, 2007,
two weeks after the scheduled start date in the parliamentary calendar.
The first three bills introduced in the House related to the treaty settlement
with the Tsawwassen First Nation. They were:
- Bill 40, Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
- Bill 41, Final Agreement Consequential Amendments Act, 2007
- Bill 42, Treaty First Nation Taxation Act
At first reading, Michael de Jong, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation,
explained that this landmark legislation gives legal force to the Tsawwassen
First Nation Final Agreement. Under the agreement, the Tsawwassen people
will receive title in fee simple of 724 hectares of settlement land and
some $16 million in cash transfers over the next 10 years. The agreement
also includes a long-term renewable harvest agreement for salmon and crab,
as well as a governance model setting out the First Nation's law-making
authorities, with provision for a seat on the regional board of Metro Vancouver
(formerly the Greater Vancouver Regional District).
Immediately following first reading,
Kim Baird, the elected Chief of the
Tsawwassen First Nation, was invited to address the Assembly from the Bar
of the House, a rare event in the legislature's history. She described
her presence as symbolic of true reconciliation
born of hard work and
hard-fought compromises, so very painful to my community. In her address,
Ms. Baird urged both parliamentary parties to support the treaty settlement.
At second reading, Mr. de Jong explained that Bill 40 is intended to help
achieve reconciliation for past injustices, recognize the Tsawwassen First
Nation's aboriginal rights and title, and enable the Tsawwassen people
to become an independent and self-reliant community. Leader of the Official
Opposition Carole James also spoke in support of the Final Agreement, but
expressed some reservations relating to the government's approach to treaty-making
and its handling of overlapping claims from other First Nations. Another
concern of the opposition caucus was the proposed transfer of land from
the jurisdiction of the Provincial Agricultural Land Commission.
At the start of committee debate on October 29, the Chair explained that
as it is a Crown prerogative to make agreements, parliament could debate,
accept, reject or amend Bill 40; however, it could not amend the final
agreement, except for technical amendments.
Subsequently, Bills 40, 41 and 42 were all reported complete with minor
technical amendments. A handful of members from both sides of the House
abstained or voted against the treaty settlement legislation.
Three bills left on the order paper at the end of the spring sitting have
now passed third reading. The bills amend existing legislation and were
debated during October 2007:
- Bill 27 proposes changes to the Business Practices and Consumer Protection
Act, 2004 to promote fairness in the marketplace and prevent the charging
of excessive fees, or debt traps, for consumers. The provisions will
require payday lenders to be licensed, in line with the recent amendment
to the Criminal Code; limit the fees that can be charged for cashing government
cheques; and require the full disclosure of the terms and conditions of
- Bill 28 makes targeted amendments to the
Securities Act as part of the
drive to harmonize and streamline securities laws across the country. It
strengthens the compliance and enforcement powers of the British Columbia
Securities Commission; improves investor protection; and establishes a
new statutory civil liability framework that is already in effect in Ontario,
Manitoba and Alberta.
- Bill 29 amends the Adult Guardianship Act in order to reflect modern guardianship
principles of individual autonomy and dignity. It clarifies and modernizes
the laws governing how decisions are made for vulnerable adults who are
or become incapable of managing their own affairs. Similar legislation
was originally introduced in the spring of 2006 (Bill 32) but did not proceed
in order to allow for additional changes to advanced care directives and
more extensive public and stakeholder consultation.
Also introduced on October 23, 2007 was a bill proposing major amendments
to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Act. Transportation Minister
Kevin Falcon explained that Bill 43 replaces a similar bill introduced
in the spring sitting. It is intended to build a solid foundation for an
expanded, high-quality public transportation system in the lower mainland,
by establishing a new planning framework, governance structure, and funding
measures for the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink).
Bill 43 had not concluded second reading by the end of October 2007.
This fall, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
conducted its eighth consecutive pre-budget public consultations. The budget
2008 consultation paper contained six questions, three of which asked the
public for responses on options to reduce greenhouse gases. The Finance
Committee received some 5,800 submissions, about 2,700 fewer than last
year. Four methods of consultation were used: public hearings at 14 locations
throughout the province, written submissions, on-line responses, and a
flyer mailed out to households around the province by the Ministry of Finance.
Following its appointment during the spring sitting, the Special Committee
to Appoint a Conflict of Interest Commissioner was briefed by incumbent
H.A.D. Oliver before embarking on the search for his successor. The Committee
has interviewed a number of applicants and is likely to make a unanimous
recommendation to the Legislative Assembly in the near future. To facilitate
a smooth transition, the House adopted a motion on October 30 extending
Mr. Oliver's term to December 31, 2007.
In other committee-related business, the Select Standing Committee on Public
Accounts hosted the 28th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of Public
Accounts Committees. This was held in Victoria from August 19 to 21, in
conjunction with the 35th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of
Legislative Auditors. In attendance were delegates from most parts of Canada
and observers representing the countries of Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan,
Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Naomi Adams, Erin Bett,
Lindsay Gardner, Jeremy Wood
Clerk of Committees - Research
The Fourth Session of the Second Legislative Assembly of Nunavut reconvened
on October 23, 2007, for the fall sitting. The House adjourned on November
The fall sitting began with Finance Minister and Baker Lake MLA
presentation of the government's mid-year fiscal update and introduction
of the 2008-2009 capital estimates. The proceedings of the Committee of
the Whole during the fall sitting were dominated by Members' scrutiny of
the proposed capital estimates.
A total of 68 bills have been passed to date during the Second Assembly.
Eight bills were passed during the fall sitting and received assent. These
included a new Workers' Compensation Act, which had been introduced earlier
in the year by the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board
and Nanulik MLA Patterk Netser, and a new Emergency Measures Act, which
had been introduced earlier in the year by Community and Government Services
Minister and Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove MLA Levinia Brown.
In two cases, recommendations have been made that certain bills that had
been introduced earlier in the year not proceed any further in the legislative
process and be allowed to fall off the order paper. The Standing Committee
on Infrastructure, Housing and Economic Development, chaired by Rankin
Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley, C.M., recommended that Bill 5, An Act to
Amend the Local Authorities Elections Act, be allowed to fall off the order
The Standing Committee on Government Operations and Accountability, chaired
by Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo, recommended that Bill 13, the proposed
Nunavut Energy Efficiency Act, be allowed to fall off the order paper.
Following the presentation on November 8, 2007, of Mr. Tootoo's report
on the Standing Committee's review of the Bill, Energy Minister and Iqaluit
East MLA Ed Picco rose to move a motion to have Bill 13 referred to the
Committee of the Whole. Speaker Peter Kilabuk ruled that inadequate notice
had been given for the motion and invited the Minister to revisit the matter
when the House reconvenes for its winter sitting.
During the spring sitting of the House, Minister of Culture, Language,
Elders and Youth and Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk introduced Bill 6, Nunavut's
proposed new Official Languages Act and Bill 7, the proposed new Inuit
Language Protection Act. These bills were subsequently referred to the
Standing Committee Ajauqtiit for scrutiny. Standing Committee Chair and
Akulliq MLA Steve Mapsalak delivered the Committee's interim report on
its review of the bills during the fall sitting. Further hearings on the
bills are scheduled to be held in December 2007.
A number of bills were introduced in the fall sitting. These included a
proposed new Education Act, introduced by Education Minister Ed Picco;
a proposed new Midwifery Profession Act, introduced by Health and Social
Services Minister and Nattilik MLA Leona Aglukkaq; and a proposed new Engineers
and Geoscientists Act, introduced by Premier and Justice Minister Paul
Auditor General Sheila Fraser has submitted two reports during 2007 to
the Legislative Assembly on performance audits undertaken by her office.
In June, she appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations
and Accountability during its review of her report on the Financial Assistance
for Nunavut Students program. Committee Chair Tootoo presented the Standing
Committee's own report to the House on November 7. On November 5, Speaker
Kilabuk tabled the Auditor General's report on the Nunavut Business Credit
Corporation. The Auditor General is scheduled to appear before the Standing
Committee when it begins its hearings on this report on November 27.
A number of formal motions have been considered by the Legislative Assembly
during the Fourth Session. During its spring sitting, the House unanimously
adopted a motion introduced by Environment Minister Patterk Netser and
seconded by Tunnuniq MLA James Arvaluk to express the Legislative Assembly's
opposition to the proposal of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
to list the polar bear as a threatened species under that country's legislation.
The House held a one-day sitting on September 17 to consider a motion proposed
by Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson and seconded by Hunter Tootoo. The
motion censured Premier Okalik for certain comments that he made at a public
event held earlier in the year. The Premier apologized for his comments
and urged all Members to support the motion, which was adopted unanimously.
On November 8, the House unanimously adopted a motion introduced by Mr.
Peterson and seconded by Ms. Brown that called on the Government of Canada
to increase the residency portion of the Northern Residents Deduction.
The Fourth Session will reconvene on February 19, 2008, for the winter
Director, Research and
On October 10th, the 25th Legislature was dissolved and a general election
called for November 7th. The standings in the Assembly were 30 New Democrats
and 28 members of the Saskatchewan Party. When all of the ballots were
counted, the Saskatchewan Party received 52% of the popular vote and a
majority 38 seats in the Assembly. The New Democrats saw its share of
the popular vote fall to 36% and 20 seats. The Liberal Party under David
Karwacki received only 9% of the popular vote and no seats. The composition
of the new Assembly will include seventeen new Members and an eighteenth,
Bill Boyd, who returns to the House after not running in the 2003 general
election. Women now hold thirteen of the total 58 seats, an increase of
two from the previous Legislature.
The success of the Saskatchewan Party campaign was noteworthy for several
reasons. Premier designate Brad Wall's government will be the first formed
by the Saskatchewan Party since the party's creation in August 1997. The
seats gained by the party included three in Regina, long a bastion of NDP
strength, three additional seats in Saskatoon and one each in Moose Jaw
and Prince Albert. The in-roads made by the Saskatchewan Party in the
urban centers suggested that the split between urban and rural voting patterns
that were so evident in the 1999 and 2003 elections were weakening.
Premier designate Brad Wall quickly announced that his government would
introduce legislation to set the provincial election date as the first
Monday in November every four years. He then announced that the next election
would fall on November 7, 2011. The cabinet was sworn in on November 21st.
Despite seeing his government defeated, outgoing Premier
retained a sizable caucus of experienced members. Several veteran members
of his administration had chosen not to seek re-election and of those that
did, all but five were successful. Those defeated included Ministers Graham
Addley, Lon Borgerson, Maynard Sonntag and Mark Wartman
and a former Speaker,
In anticipation of a delayed fall sitting in December, administrative and
procedural orientations were offered to the newly elected Members in late
November. The first order of business when the Assembly convenes will be
the election of a new Speaker. Speaker Myron Kowalsky, who chose not to
run in the election, will continue in office until the day before the first
session of the 26th Legislature.
Margaret (Meta) Woods
On October 31, 2007, Premier
Shawn Graham announced the first changes to
Cabinet since the Liberal Government took office in October of 2006. Eugene
McGinley resigned as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and was sworn
in as Minister of State for Seniors and Minister of State for Housing.
Wally Stiles was appointed Minister of Human Resources.
Three additional portfolios which were under the responsibility of other
ministers were announced as separate ministries: Hédard Albert, former
Minister of Human Resources, was appointed Minister of Wellness, Culture
and Sport and Minister responsible for the Francophonie; Carmel Robichaud,
former Minister of Family and Community Services and Minister responsible
for the Status of Women, was appointed Minister of Local Government and
Minister responsible for Community Non-profit Organizations, and Mary Schryer,
former Minister of State for Seniors and Housing, became Minister of Family
and Community Services and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
Minister of Health, Michael Murphy was appointed Government House Leader
replacing Stuart Jamieson who retains his portfolio as Minister of Tourism
The Second Session of the 56th Legislature convened at 11 a.m. November
27 when Members elected former Deputy Speaker and long-time educator Roy
Boudreau as Speaker before recessing until 3 p.m. for the delivery of the
Speech from the Throne by His Honour Herménégilde Chiasson, Lieutenant-Governor.
The Throne Speech proposed a legislative agenda to set in motion transformative
change toward a self-sufficient New Brunswick.
Among the highlights: a balanced budget for 2008-2009; the mandate of Service
New Brunswick to expand; government departments will transfer customer-facing
services to Service New Brunswick; a new Provincial Health Plan to be introduced;
amendments to the Pharmacists Act to enable pharmacists to prescribe certain
drugs; midwifery to be regulated; legislation to legalize living wills
and to provide for substitute decision makers to make health care decisions;
a Task Force on Access to Family Justice to report on options for increasing
access to justice in family law disputes; pay day lenders legislation to
set limits on the cost of borrowing; mandatory coroner's inquests for workplace
fatalities to be instituted; a Domestic Violence Death Review Committee
to be established.
Other highlights: A Commissioner on the Future of Local Governance is
examining the structure and organization of the province's local government;
targeted property tax relief to be introduced to help with the tax burden
associated with rising assessments; new performance-based standards for
municipal wastewater effluent from wastewater treatment facilities to be
adopted; a Special Committee of Cabinet on Early Childhood Development
and Care to be appointed; a long-term plan for early learning and child
care to be tabled; the I'm Ready for School initiative to be introduced;
government to establish and invest in 22 community schools in 2007-2008,
with support from local communities and the private sector; a Diversity
in Learning initiative will support trades and vocational education; a
learning disabilities strategy focussing on on early detection and intervention
to be launched; a literacy strategy to be released; a working group considering
the recommendations of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education's report
will recommend the best model for a post-secondary education system in
New Brunswick and an accompanying implementation plan early next year;
amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act will respect presumptive cancer
coverage for firefighters; minimum wage will increase to $7.75 an hour
by April 2008; a population growth strategy to be introduced; investment
initiatives to be introduced to support the agriculture and aquaculture
sectors to contribute to self-sufficiency; government to address the issue
of access to capital for new and growing small businesses through the newly
launched NB Growth program; the result of the $2.5-million feasibility
study into a potential second nuclear generating station at Point Lepreau
to be announced; government to consider policy options for community wind
development initiatives and review NB Power's renewable portfolio standard
to ensure that it reaches its maximum potential in renewable energy; feasibility
study to be launched into bringing natural gas to northern New Brunswick;
the Electricity Act to be reviewed to ensure that the utility structure
and the electricity market adequately reflect the self sufficiency goals
and energy hub agenda;as outlined in the Charter for Change, initial funding
of the $100-million Northern New Brunswick Initiative to improve the economic
infrastructure of the northern counties of our province will be allocated
in 2008-2009; a trust fund for the Petitcodiac River to be established
and planning to begin for the restoration of the Petitcodiac River.
Bernard LeBlanc moved the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne
which was seconded by Joan MacAlpine-Stiles. The House adopted a motion
appointing Bill Fraser as Deputy Speaker. Brian Kenny remains one of the
In critiquing the Throne Speech, Opposition Leader
Jeannot Volpé stated
that: The speech from the throne, like the Action Plan to be Self-Sufficient,
can be summed up in one word: hope.
Mr. Volpé noted that trusting in hope is not taking control of the future.
People need leadership. He claimed that Shawn Graham's Liberal government
has no confidence in New Brunswickers noting that it has canceled the
tuition rebate program that promoted higher education; it has cut the budget
for highway infrastructure by $60 million; it increased small business
taxes by 500%, which will affect research, innovation, and new product
According to Mr. Volpé, the self-sufficiency plan, like the Liberal government's
speech from the throne, is not for all New Brunswickers-only for the friends
on the campaign bus....He claimed that during its first year in office,
the Liberal government systematically attacked the very foundations of
prosperity in this province.
In concluding, he noted that the provincial economy is built on enhanced
productivity and competitiveness. New Brunswickers must be given the necessary
tools for training and education. This training must meet their needs and
those of business. It must also be ongoing so that it enables people to
constantly adapt to a changing world. The training will enable them to
be more productive, and this will raise their salaries. Once the employee
makes a product, it must be delivered to the client, who often lives outside
the province. That means that a good infrastructure and telecommunications
system are needed. When the product is delivered, it usually generates
taxable income. A competitive taxation system enables businesses to keep
part of the profits to reinvest in marketing or new technology. Innovation
and new technology will enable businesses to make progress and innovate
to become more competitive, create opportunities in the market, and create
even more jobs.
Mr. Volpé submitted this is the Progressive Conservative plan to build
a more prosperous New Brunswick, building New Brunswick with New Brunswickers,
by giving them the necessary tools and by rewarding success instead of
New rules outlined in the First Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure
tabled by Committee Vice-chair Kelly Lamrock and Minister of Education,
were adopted November 28. The new rules propose to facilitate and expedite
the transaction of business in the House by capping debate on departmental
estimates at 80 hours, retaining the Committee of Supply as the main committee
for the consideration of estimates instead of the Standing Committee on
Estimates, allowing government more discretion on controlling the various
stages of Government Bills, expediting the passage of appropriation Bills
through the House, and allowing the Opposition to set the agenda on Thursdays
with regard to Opposition Members' Business (Opposition Members' Public
Bills and Motions).
The Select Committee on Wellness will hold public hearings in January and
February of 2008. The Committee will travel to various communities in the
province to hear from citizens on the importance of adopting and maintaining
healthy lifestyles. In addition, the Committee will hold a series of meetings
aimed at engaging citizens and stakeholders in discussions on wellness
and on understanding the interconnection between wellness and other public
policy areas. The Committee aims to stimulate dialogue and to better identify
the roles and responsibilities of citizens, stakeholders and government
as agents of change with respect to wellness.
On Opening Day, almost 2,000 people watched via live webcast the proceedings
for the election of Speaker and delivery of the Throne Speech. In addition,
hundreds of people watched the recorded proceedings via webcast later that
day. The proceedings continue to be available via the Legislative Assembly
The sculpture Britannia, which has stood at the top of the central north
entrance pediment of the Legislative Assembly building for over 125 years,
was recently removed as part of an ongoing refurbishment of the building's
roof and masonry. The sculpture had to be removed so that the pediment
roof could be reinforced, as it had greatly deteriorated over the years.
Conservation repairs to the Britannia sculpture will be carried out in
the winter of 2008.
It is expected that the government will introduce the capital budget and
a number of initiatives and pieces of legislation prior to the Christmas
Loredana Catalli Sonier
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly