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| House of Commons
On November 20, 2007 Lieutenant Governor John Harvard delivered the NDP
governments eleventh Speech from the Throne since 1999, commencing the
second session of the 39th Manitoba Legislature. The address conveyed a
range of government commitments and proposals, including:
- A commitment to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba below
2000 levels over the next two years;
- New restrictions on household use of dishwashing detergents and lawn fertilizers
to help protect lakes and rivers;
- Further capital investments for university campuses in Winnipeg and Brandon;
- An enhanced drivers licence to be offered beginning in the fall of 2008;
- Beginning the phase-out of the provinces corporate capital tax and making
the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit 70 per cent refundable;
- Expansion of child-care spaces by another 2,500 over the next two years;
- New nurse training spaces to be added at Manitobas universities and colleges;
- New training spaces to be added at the University of Manitoba school of
- Adding two new investigative teams to assist communities in tackling organized
- Introducing new legislation to provide protection for witnesses who testify
- An increase in the minimum wage based on previous public consultations;
- An increase to the child benefit to provide support to working families;
- Appointment of a new privacy commissioner with the power to issue orders
under Manitobas freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation;
- An increase in the farmland tax rebate to 70 per cent; and
- Finalize agreements to be signed for the Museum for Human Rights that will
trigger the establishment of the first national museum outside Ottawa.
In his non-confidence amendment to the Address in Reply motion, Official
Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen identified a number of government shortcomings,
- the governments misguided directive to Manitoba Hydro to construct the
BiPole III transmission line on the west side of the province, resulting
in more than $500 million in additional capital costs, 40 megawatts of
line loss and more than $17 million annually in lost sale revenues;
- the governments refusal to provide answers to the 34,000 Manitobans who
lost over $100 million of their savings in the Crocus Investment Fund scandal;
- the governments failure to ensure that the safety of children in the care
of Child and Family Services is a paramount consideration;
- the governments failure to address the unprecedented number of shootings
and criminals in possession of illegal firearms;
- the governments lack of efforts to develop strategies to help the agricultural
sector dealing with challenges such as the effects of the rising Canadian
dollar, high input costs, and the potential effects of Country of Origin
- the governments ineffectiveness in addressing ongoing infrastructure challenges
in key areas such as bridges, highways, roads, sewage and water treatment,
and telecommunications such as rural broadband; and
- the governments chronic under-funding of post-secondary institutions for
almost a decade.
Jon Gerrard (Independent Liberal River Heights) identified a number of
additional faults with the governments performance in his sub-amendment
to Mr. McFadyens amendment, including:
- the lack of real targets set out in the reduction of nutrient-loading into
- the governments refusal to move forward with a comprehensive Liberal initiative
to ban plastic bags;
- the governments continuing to commit an injustice to children by failing
to reduce child poverty; and
- the governments continuing refusal to sufficiently address the societal
issues surrounding crime.
Following the defeat of Mr. Gerrards sub-amendment on a voice vote, Mr.
McFadyens amendment was defeated on a recorded vote of yeas 21, nays 32.
On November 30, 2007 the main motion carried on a recorded vote of yeas
32, nays 19.
The government introduced 13 bills during this fall sitting, addressing
a variety of governance areas including:
- Bill 2 The Public Schools Amendment Act (Trans Fats and Nutrition) requires
every school to have a food and nutrition policy. Also, school boards
must ensure that schools do not sell or distribute food products containing
artificial trans fats, with certain exceptions.
- Bill 3 The Highway Traffic Amendment Act. Under provisions of
Traffic Act, a person who is convicted of certain offences can have his
or her vehicle forfeited or drivers licence automatically suspended.
This Bill makes those provisions apply in the case of street racing offences
recently added to the Criminal Code.
- Bill 7 The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Child Pornography
Reporting) requires that child pornography be reported, and sets out what
actions are to be taken when such a report is made.
These bills are all awaiting the conclusion of Second Reading debate before
proceeding through the rest of the legislative process.
The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations met on several occasions in
November and December 2007 to consider Annual Reports from the following
- Manitoba Liquor Control Commission
- Manitoba Lotteries Corporation
- The Workers Compensation Board
On the last day of the session the House passed a motion establishing a
Special Committee on Senate Elections. The all-party Committee has been
tasked with consulting the public on how federal senators from Manitoba
should be elected should the federal government amend the process for appointing
senators. The Committee, with representation from all political parties
in the legislature, will conduct several public hearings across Manitoba
in 2008, reporting its findings and recommendations to the legislative
assembly in June.
The Elections Reform Act, passed by the assembly in 2006, called on the
legislature to establish an all-party committee to consult with Manitobans
on matters relating to the election of federal senators. The preferred
position of Manitoba, as represented in the legislation, is the abolition
of the Senate of Canada. Manitoba abolished its upper house in 1876.
The House rose for the winter on December 6, 2007. In accordance with a
sessional order passed in June of 2007 the House will sit from no later
than April 9, 2008 to June 12, 2008 to consider the next budget and legislative
On February 4, 2008, Andrew Swan (NDP - Minto) was appointed minister of
Competitiveness, Training and Trade. First elected in a 2004 by-election,
Mr. Swan has served as the legislative assistant to the ministers of justice
and labour and immigration. In addition to assuming the responsibilities
for competitiveness, training, and trade, he will also be responsible for
the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and Manitoba Lotteries Corporation.
Additionally, Premier Gary Doer made four other appointments:
- Drew Caldwell (NDP - Brandon East), as legislative assistant to the premier
with special responsibility for Brandon and western Manitoba;
- Flor Marcelino (NDP - Wellington), as legislative assistant to the minister
of culture, heritage, tourism and sport;
- Marilyn Brick (NDP - St. Norbert), as legislative assistant to the ministers
of justice, and labour and immigration; and
- Bonnie Korzeniowski (NDP - St. James) as Manitoba's special envoy for military
Clerk Assistant /
Clerk of Committees
The Senate was occupied during the early days of the Second Session of
the Thirty-ninth Parliament with the customary duties of a new session.
Debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the formal
response from the Senate to the Governor General's recitation of the Government's
agenda for the session, began immediately and continued until its adoption
on November 27. Twenty-three senators spoke, including Senator Bert Brown,
a new senator who took the occasion to make his maiden speech in the Senate.
There is also business that must be completed at the beginning of a new
session so that committees can begin their work. On November 1, the Senate
confirmed the appointments of senators nominated by the Committee of Selection
to serve on standing committees for the session. Each committee subsequently
reported on expenses incurred during the previous session, in accordance
with the Rules of the Senate. Several committees also received their mandates
from orders of reference adopted by the Senate and approval for new budgets
to carry out their special studies.
At times it becomes necessary to expedite the passage of legislation, especially
when a lengthy adjournment is imminent. This occurred in December when
three important Government bills arrived during the final week before the
Senate adjourned for the holidays.
Due to the urgency of these bills, the Senate considered two of them in
Committee of the Whole. Bill C-38, to mandate the re-opening of the Chalk
River nuclear plant, impacted on the health and safety of Canadians and
for this reason was perhaps the more critical. The legislation was created
to end the medical emergency caused by the shutdown of the nuclear facility
which resulted in a shortage of medical isotopes. On December 12, the Minister
of Health, Tony Clement, and the Minister of Natural Resources,Gary Lunn,
in addition to officials from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the Canadian
Nuclear Safety Commission, appeared as witnesses to answer questions about
the bill. Twenty-one senators took part during the course of the meeting
which lasted over three hours before reporting the bill to the Senate without
amendment. Third reading and Royal Assent by written declaration, signified
by Governor General Michaëlle Jean, proceeded immediately afterwards.
All voters are required by the
Canada Elections Act to demonstrate their
identity and residence before they vote. This was a problem, in particular,
for electors living in rural and northern communities who lost their right
to vote because they did not have identification containing a residential
address. On December 14, the Senate met once again in Committee of the
Whole, this time to examine an amendment to the Canada Elections Act which
corrected the problem of verifying the residency of voters. Bill C-18 meant
that voters who have identification containing an address with a rural
route number, for example, can establish their residence before they vote
if this mailing address is consistent with information on the list of electors.
More broadly, Bill C-18 was about protecting the Charter and ensuring that
legitimate voters are able to exercise their constitutional right to vote
in the next federal election. Called as witnesses, the Leader of the Government
in the House of Commons and Minister of Democratic Reform, Peter Van Loan,
and Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, responded to 14 Senators who
asked questions. Bill C-18 was also reported without amendment.
The Senate revived a method it had not used since 1993 to deal with the
third piece of urgent legislation, Bill C-28, the Budget and Economic Statement
Implementation Act. It was important to pass this bill before January 1,
2008 when a reduction in the goods and service tax was to take effect.
The Rules of the Senate allow for the pre-study of bills that have been
introduced in the Commons but not read the first time in the Senate. It
is a way to move a bill more swiftly when it formally arrives in the Senate
without forfeiting a thorough and proper review of the bill. The subject-matter
of Bill C-28 was therefore studied by the National Finance Committee on
December 12 while the bill was still before the Commons. Approximately
32 witnesses appeared before the committee during its hearings and approval
of the bill in general was reported to the Senate on December 13. With
the pre-study completed, the Senate was then able to pass all stages of
the bill on December 13 when it was received from the Commons.
A traditional Royal Assent ceremony took place in the Senate Chamber on
December 14, with Marshall Rothstein presiding as Deputy Governor General.
Six bills, including bills C-28, C-18 and C-35, the first supply bill of
the session, received Royal Assent.
The Agriculture and Forestry Committee tabled its Fourth Report on December
11. In this interim report, entitled Livestock Industry, the Committee
addressed the crisis in the cattle and hog industry brought about by a
decrease in livestock prices and an increase in feed prices. One of its
recommendations was for an interest-free loan program that would help producers
cover their living and operating costs until conditions improve.
Also on December 11, the Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations
released its Second Report which explained its position that the incorporation
by reference in regulations of external material is proper only where a
fixed text is incorporated, as opposed to a text as amended from time
The Fifth Report of the Legal and Constitutional Committee entitled
Section 35 Rights Seriously: Non-derogation Clauses relating to Aboriginal
and treaty rights was tabled in the Senate on December 13. The Committee's
main recommendation urged the government to add a comprehensive non-derogation
provision to the Interpretation Act which would apply to all federal legislation.
This was the final report on the Committee's study of non-derogation clauses
relating to constitutional Aboriginal and treaty rights in federal legislation
started in 2003.
Senator Sharon Carstairs rose on a point of order on November 29 to challenge
the propriety of a motion seeking, in accordance with rule 131. (2), to
adopt the report of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee
on Sub-Saharan Africa, tabled in the last session, and to request a government
response. The senator argued that the report itself was not actually before
the Senate and could not be amended, since as an item of business it had
died with the prorogation of the previous session. On December 11, Speaker
Noël A. Kinsella, ruled on the point of order. The Speaker began by explaining
that a report of a committee only becomes a report of the Senate if and
when it is adopted. He then reviewed the issues of reinstatement or revival
of business from a previous session. Finally, the Speaker suggested the
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament Committee might revisit
and clarify the process for requesting government responses to committee
reports. In this case, however, debate on the current motion could not
proceed and the motion was discharged from the Order Paper.
The Senate adopted a motion on November 21 urging the Government of Canada
to update the 1989 Phosphorus Concentration Regulations to prevent the
growth of toxic algae in Canada's lakes, rivers and streams.
The Senate paid tribute on November 28 to the memory of former Senator
Maurice Riel, who died on July 20, 2007. Appointed in October 1973, Senator
Maurice Riel served as Speaker from December 1983 to November 1984. He
was also active for over ten years on the Agriculture and Forestry Committee
and participated in several other committees before his retirement in 1996.
On December 12 and January 31, the Senate joined in paying tribute to two
retiring senators from British Columbia. Senator Pat Carney, who announced
her resignation effective January 31, 2008, was a former Member of Parliament
and the first female Minister of International Trade. In 1990 she became
the first Conservative senator to be appointed from British Columbia since
1931. During her time in the Senate, Senator Carney was a strong advocate
for the protection of heritage lighthouses and the rights of Aboriginal
Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, who retired on February 4, was also honoured
by his fellow senators. Appointed ten years ago, senators noted how ably
he represented his home province. The senator was acknowledged for his
work on behalf of the Aboriginal people of British Columbia in addition
to his business experience which was an asset to the Banking, Trade and
Commerce Committee of which he was a member for many years.
Following the general election of October 10, 2007, the 39th Parliament
of Ontario was convened by Lieutenant Governor David Onley on Wednesday,
November 28, 2007. The election resulted in re-election of the Liberal
Party led by Dalton McGuinty. The new 107 Member Legislature is now composed
of 71 Liberals, 26 Progressive Conservatives and 10 New Democrats. Twenty-nine
women were elected, up from twenty-six at dissolution.
In preparation for the ceremonial opening of the Legislature, the Clerk
of the House held a seminar on parliamentary procedure for Members of Provincial
Parliament in the Chamber. Although this exercise was aimed at first-time
elected Members, it also drew the attendance of a number of veterans. The
program led MPPs through a typical day in the Legislature with the emphasis
on Chamber protocol.
On the opening day of parliament, five Members let their names stand for
election to the prestigious post of Speaker and after four ballots, Steve
Peters, a Member of the Assembly since 1999 from the riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London,
Immediately preceding the election of the Speaker, an old tradition of
many decades ago was revisited with the taking of an official photograph
of all the Members seated in their places in the Chamber, together with
the Table Officers, Sergeant-at-Arms and Chamber attendants. The photograph
was taken from the West end of the Speaker's gallery by Matthew Plexman,
a widely recognised Toronto-based leader in digital commercial photography.
The Legislature began its regular sittings on Monday, December 3, and before
adjourning on Thursday, December 13, 2007, the House adopted the following:
- Appointment of Bruce Crozier as Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee
of the Whole House; Ted Arnott as First Deputy Chair; Jim Wilson as Second
Deputy Chair and; notwithstanding S.O. 4(c), Andrea Horwath was appointed
Third Deputy Chair.
- Ordered the creation of an all party panel to make recommendations to the
Speaker on ways to make working at the Ontario Legislature more family
friendly for MPPs.
- Established nine Standing Committees, its memberships and meeting schedules.
- Authorized the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the
Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Standing Committee on Social
Policy to meet during the Winter Adjournment.
- Passed Bill 2 - Fairness for Military Families Act, 2007 to provide job
protection for reservists and to eliminate the waiting period for families
coverage for publicly funded health services.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs conducted public
hearings for pre-budget consultations 2008 across the province and will
be tabling a report to the House when the Legislature resumes.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts will also meet in February to
review the 2007 Annual Report of the Auditor General.
Newfoundland and Labrador
As reported in the last issue the General Election took place on October
9, 2007 however there was some unfinished business flowing from that event.
The deferred election in the District of Grand Falls-Windsor- Buchans occasioned
by the untimely death of the Liberal candidate, Dr. Gerry Tobin, took place
on November 6. Susan Sullivan was the successful candidate. The Liberal
candidate had withdrawn leaving just Ms. Sullivan representing the Progressive
Conservative Party and James Downey representing the New Democratic Party
to contest the election.
In the District of The Isles of Notre Dame
Derrick Dalley was confirmed
as the winner following the official recount. Mr. Dalley narrowly defeated
the Leader of the Opposition Gerry Reid. The standings in the House are
now 44 Progressive Conservatives, three Liberals and one New Democrat.
The Liberal Party selected Yvonne Jones the Member for Cartwright L'Anse
au Clair as interim leader. Ms Jones was elected to the House in 1996 and
served as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister Responsible
for the Status of Women in the administration of Premier Grimes. The Liberal
Party will hold a leadership convention in the Spring of 2010.
In January the Audit Committee, a committee of the House of Assembly Management
Commission, held their first meeting. The Audit Committee comprises two
Members of the House and two external members who are Chartered Accountants.
The Committee has oversight of audit reviews and advises the Clerk on matters
pertaining to financial practice and governance in the House administration,
similarly to the Audit Committees of the House of Commons, Westminster.
Their duties are set out in Section 23 of the recently adopted House of
Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act.
The House has a new Information and Privacy Commissioner (Acting),
Ring who succeeds Phil Wall. Mr. Wall had served in the office since December
of 2004. The appointment of the Privacy Commissioner is subject to confirmation
by the House.
On February 4, 2008, John C. Crosbie was sworn by
Clyde K. Wells, Chief
Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador as the 12th Lieutenant Governor of
The 46th General Assembly is expected to convene in mid-March.
The Fall sitting of the 3rd Session of the 26th Legislature adjourned on
December 5, 2007, after 17 sitting days, including a record 21-hour and
53 minute sitting from December 4, 2007, to December 5, 2007. This was
the second all-night sitting in the Third Session, the first of which occurred
during the Spring sitting. At the conclusion of the sitting, 29 Government
Bills and one Private Members' Public Bill had been passed by the Assembly.
During the Fall sitting the Assembly also approved supplementary estimates
for 16 departments totalling $1,530,638,000.
Notable Bills passed during the Fall sitting include:
- Bill 1, Lobbyists Act, requires lobbyists to register and allows individuals
to access the lobbyist registry regarding people, groups and organizations
who lobby the Provincial Government. The Bill also prohibits lobbyists
from simultaneously lobbying and being paid by the Government to provide
advice to the Government on the same issue and contains provisions to have
the listing of entities who receive payment from the Government posted
online. The Policy Field Committee recommended several amendments which
were adopted. A Government amendment broadened the exemption for non-profit
- Bill 31, Mental Health Amendment Act, 2007, amends the Act by broadening
the criteria for involuntary admission and introducing community treatment
orders in Alberta. Substantial Government subamendments were proposed to
the recommended Policy Field Committee amendments in the case of Bill 31.
In the Spring, Bill 1, Lobbyists Act was referred to the Assembly's new
Standing Committee on Government Services. Bill 31, Mental Health Amendment
Act, 2007, was referred to the new Standing Committee on Community Services.
After holding public hearings, both Committees recommended that the respective
Bills proceed with amendments. A great deal of time was spent in Committee
of the Whole on Bills 1 and 31 despite the Bills having received substantial
consideration by the relevant Policy Field Committees.
- Bill 46, Alberta Utilities Commission Act, separates the Alberta Energy
and Utilities Board into two separate regulatory bodies: a new Energy Resources
Conservation Board and the Alberta Utilities Commission. The Bill would
have established a Utilities Consumer Advocate as part of the Commission
and restricted intervener funding. The opposition was critical of the Bill
and outlined numerous concerns including what they felt was an insufficient
amount of time to debate the legislation. During Second Reading consideration
the Official Opposition moved a hoist amendment and the New Democrat Opposition
moved that the Bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Resources
and Environment. The Government moved substantial amendments in Committee
of the Whole which the Committee decided to divide into 24 parts for the
purposes of voting. The amendments lessened the restriction on intervener
funding and struck out the provisions concerning the Utilities Consumer
Advocate. There were a record number of 25 standing votes in Committee
of the Whole. Time allocation motions were also moved at Second Reading,
Committee of the Whole and Third Reading. During Third Reading consideration
the Official Opposition moved that the Bill be recommitted to Committee
of the Whole to reconsider certain sections of the Bill.
Private Members' Public Bills
The Private Members' Public Bill passed by the Assembly was Bill 212,
Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, sponsored by Art Johnston (PC, Calgary-Hays).
This Bill provides a tool to help combat crime in neighbourhoods by holding
property owners accountable for threatening activities regularly occurring
on their property. The Bill also creates a new safety agency responsible
for observing disruptive behaviour in communities and subsequent complaints
by residents. It received Royal Assent on December 7, 2007.
On November 5, 2007, Ray Martin (ND, Edmonton-Beverly-Clare- view) requested
leave to move, pursuant to Standing Order 30, that the ordinary business
of the Assembly be adjourned for an emergency debate regarding the failure
of the Government to promptly introduce and pass royalty legislation to
prevent the loss of billions of dollars to the public treasury as oil prices
rise dramatically. Speaker Ken Kowalski ruled in favour of the motion,
indicating that given that it did not appear, based on the Order Paper,
that there would be another opportunity to debate the issue and that much
of Alberta's economy revolves around nonrenewable energy resources, it
would be difficult to find that the matter of royalty rates in the province
is not a genuine emergency. He did, however, express concern with the provocative,
pejorative, and in parts simply incorrect wording of the motion. The last
Standing Order 30 application to proceed in the Assembly was in 2005 regarding
the Auditor General's report which concluded that basic standards of care
were not being met in several long-term facilities.
On November 5, 2007, Laurie Blakeman, the House Leader of the Official
Opposition raised a purported question of privilege regarding deliberately
misleading statements delivered to the Assembly during Oral Question Period
on April 30, 2007, by the Minister of Energy, Mel Knight. The statement
that was the essence of the purported question of privilege related to
a 2005-06 internal royalty review. When responding to a question, the Minister
said that there is nothing in any of those documents that would indicate
to anybody that we have not collected a fair share of royalties for Albertans.
The Official Opposition House Leader alleged that the Minister's statements
intended to mislead the House and that this became evident following the
release of the Auditor General's October 2, 2007, report.
Speaker Kowalski ruled that there was no
prima facie question of privilege
as the Minister's statement was clearly subjective when he referred to
a fair share of royalties. In his ruling the Speaker also noted that
it was interesting that the Member raising the question of privilege referred
to the Auditor General's report as the basis for the allegation. He commented
that while the Auditor General is an Officer of the Legislature and performs
important work for Members, his views on policy do not supplant the views
of those chosen by the people of Alberta to represent them.
Select Special Committee Report
On November 14, 2007, the Report of the Select Special Personal Information
Protection Act Review Committee was tabled in the Assembly. The Committee
outlined 48 recommendations in its report including notifying individuals
about security breaches that place personal information at risk and protecting
personal information when it moves outside the borders of Alberta.
Standing Committee on Resources and Environment
On July 11, 2007, the Minister of Environment requested the Standing Committee
on Resources and Environment review key issues affecting the Beverage Container
Recycling Regulation, that expired on October 31, 2007. The Committee,
one of the four Policy Field Committees established in the Spring of 2007,
received 114 written submission and heard 14 oral presentations in Calgary
and Edmonton. The Committee tabled its report in the Assembly outlining
several recommendations including establishing different deposit rates
for different sized containers and equal deposit rates of 10 cents on pop
cans and beer cans. The committee also included milk cartons in the system
and recommended that the impacts be monitored closely. It also made recommendations
concerning the operation of the Beverage Container Management Board.
Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing
In the Spring of 2007, the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections,
Standing Orders and Printing was assigned the task of reviewing the temporary
Standing Orders and recommending additional changes or reforms. The committee
was to report to the Assembly by the conclusion of the Fall 2007 sitting
regarding the process used for Committee of Supply, and by February 2008
with respect to the other temporary amendments to the Standing Orders.
The Committee met on November, 26 and December 3, 2007, and was scheduled
to meet on December 5 to review the draft report on the Supply process,
but was unable to do so as the Assembly was sitting. As a result, the
report on the Supply process was not given final approval by the Committee
for subsequent tabling in the Assembly until its January 2008 meeting,
and was therefore incorporated in the Committee's final report which is
expected to be tabled in the Spring sitting of 2008.
After reviewing the temporary Standing Orders and relevant procedural research,
and considering presentations from two House Leaders, the Committee decided
at its January 7, 2008, meeting to recommend to the Assembly that the temporary
amendments to the Standing Orders have effect until the end of the 2008
calendar year and that the process for Committee of Supply as it currently
exists under the temporary Standing Orders also be extended for one calendar
year in order to provide Members of the Assembly with time to further consider
and evaluate its effectiveness.
Information and Privacy Commissioner
On November 20, 2007, the Assembly approved a motion to concur in the November
15, 2007, Report of the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices to reappoint
Franklin J. Work as Information and Privacy Commissioner for a four-year
On November 8, 2007, the Speaker invited
Nicole Stewart, a grade 10 student
from Catholic Central High in Lethbridge, to recite the poem she wrote
in commemoration of Remembrance Day, entitled Eyes. Miss Stewart's poem
placed first in the Alberta 2007 Intermediate Poem Competition, Alberta-Northwest
Territories Command, and second place in the Dominion 2007 Intermediate
Poem Competition, Royal Canadian Legion.
Spring Sitting and Election Call
The Spring sitting of the Fourth Session of the 26th Legislature commenced
on February 4, 2008, with the Speech from the Throne by Lieutenant Governor
Norman Kwong. The same day the Legislative Assembly was dissolved for a
provincial election to be held on March 3, 2008.
Micheline S. Gravel
Clerk of Journals/Table Research
The Fall sitting of the Second Session of the 56th Legislative Assembly
of New Brunswick, which opened on November 27, 2007, adjourned on December
20, 2007, after sitting a total of 15 days. The agenda of the House for
the Fall sitting was devoted to debating the Throne Speech, capital budget,
and various pieces of legislation and private members' resolutions.
On December 11 the Minister of Finance, Victor Boudreau, introduced the
2008-2009 Capital Budget, which totals $486 million. Excluding the one-time
Trans-Canada Highway payment made in 2007-2008, the 2008-2009 Capital Budget
is the largest in New Brunswick history. The focus of the capital budget
is the $325.8 million investment in the rehabilitation of the province's
existing roads, bridges and highway infrastructure. The province will also
move from the current approach of road infrastructure management to an
Asset Management System, which is the first of its kind in Canada. The
capital budget also includes $57.5 million for health care; $41.6 million
for K-12 schools; $3.0 million for community colleges; $5.5 million investment
in tourism infrastructure; $16.1 million for municipal infrastructure;
$22.5 million for buildings and other public infrastructure; and $14.0
million to upgrade the provincial fleet of vehicles.
Premier Shawn Graham introduced twenty-three Bills during the course of
the Fall sitting. Among the noteworthy pieces of government legislation
introduced in the House were the following:
- Bill 4, An Act Respecting Payday Loans, introduced by the Minister of Justice
and Consumer Affairs, Thomas J. Burke, to provide a consumer protection
framework for short-term, small-dollar amount loans. The Bill sets limits
on the costs of borrowing and regulates business practices of payday lenders
within the province.
- Bill 8, Public Interest Disclosure Act, introduced by the Minister of Human
Resources, Wally Stiles, to facilitate the disclosure and investigation
of wrongdoing in the public service. The Bill provides for processes by
which employees can make good-faith disclosures of suspected government
wrongdoing; empowers the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to receive and
investigate any disclosed incidents; and provides job protection should
any employee suffer workplace reprisal after making a disclosure.
- Bill 11, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, introduced by the
Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Dr. Ed Doherty,
to protect the civilian jobs that reservists leave behind when they are
serving their country. The Bill allows reservists to be away on unpaid
leave for up to eighteen months and return to their previous civilian jobs
or to positions at a similar level.
- Bill 12, An Act to Amend the Workers' Compensation Act, introduced by Minister
Doherty, to protect paid and volunteer firefighters who suffer a heart
attack or who are diagnosed with a specified cancer. Specifically, the
Bill permits certain cancers to be treated as an occupational disease and
defines a heart attack occurring within twenty-four hours of active firefighter
duty as a work-related illness.
- Bill 21, An Act to Amend the Municipal Elections Act, introduced by the
Minister of Health and Government House Leader, Michael Murphy, to provide
for better service and to improve voting options with respect to municipal
elections. The Bill addresses the technological advances in the municipal
election process and simplifies the procedures for candidates, voters,
poll workers, and other election officials.
The Official Opposition, led by Opposition Leader
Jeannot Volpé, introduced
nine Bills for the consideration of the House. Among the noteworthy pieces
of opposition legislation were Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicle
Act, introduced by Wayne Steeves, which places certain restrictions on
novice drivers of motor vehicles; Bill 24, Referendum Act, introduced by
Bev Harrison, which regulates the use of referendums in the province; and
Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Harmonized Sales Tax Act, introduced by Mr.
Volpé, which provides for a tax credit on the purchase of home heating
MLA Compensation Review
On January 14, 2008, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner,
Ryan, submitted the Report of the MLA Compensation Review Commission 2007,
Volume I & II, to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Among the recommendations
contained in the report are: converting the annual tax free allowance into
taxable salary; increasing the salary by 3.93%, for a total salary of $85,000
to each Member; providing for the payment of a taxable and non-pensionable
sum for each day a Member is engaged in the work of a committee; making
the expense allowance for committee meeting attendance reimbursable only
upon the production of receipts; capping the re-establishment allowance
at six years, instead of eight sessions, and providing the allowance to
former Members regardless of pension entitlement; reimbursing a maximum
of $5,000 for career counseling, which includes education and training,
to former Members, upon the production of receipts; monetary sanctions
for the failure to attend a sitting of the Legislature; increasing the
Premier's additional salary to $79,000; linking the additional salaries
of Ministers, the Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and other House Officers
to a percentage of the Premier's salary; vesting pensions after six years
of service, instead of eight sessions; and a mandatory review of Members'
compensation by an independent body at regular intervals.
Resignation from Cabinet
On January 17, 2008, Supply and Services Minister Roly MacIntyre announced
his decision to step down from Cabinet. Mr. MacIntyre was first elected
to the Legislative Assembly in 1995, and served as Minister of Advanced
Education and Labour, and later as Minister of Economic Development, Tourism
and Culture. Re-elected to the Legislature in 2003 and 2006, Mr. MacIntyre
was sworn in as Minister of Supply and Services and Minister responsible
for the Regional Development Corporation on October 3, 2006. He will continue
to represent his constituents as the Member for Saint John East. Finance
Minister Victor Boudreau has assumed the duties as Acting Minister responsible
for the Regional Development Corporation, and Energy Minister Jack Keir
is Acting Minister of Supply and Services.
Since the adjournment of the House on December 20, Committees have maintained
an active schedule. The Select Committee on Wellness, chaired by Chris
Collins, held public hearings throughout the province in January and February,
2008. The Committee is consulting New Brunswickers on the importance of
adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles and engaging stakeholders in
discussions on wellness and its connection to other public policy areas.
Both the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by John Betts,
and the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, chaired by Rick Miles,
have also been active in their review of the annual reports and public
accounts of various government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations.
On January 25, 2008, the Select Committee on Life Long Learning held its
first meeting and elected Joan MacAlpine-Stiles as chairperson.
The Legislative Assembly, which had been adjourned to March 11, 2008, was
recalled to consider back-to-work legislation for striking CUPE workers
on February 13, 2008. The strike commenced on January 10, 2008, and includes
approximately five hundred community college custodians, corrections officers
and human service counsellors. Several of the community colleges in the
province have been closed as a result of the strike. Once the labour relations
issues have been resolved, it is expected that the House will again adjourn
until March 11, 2008.
The current standings in the House are 32 Liberals and 23 Progressive Conservatives.
Clerk Assistant & Committee Clerk
Premier Brad Wall introduced his first cabinet on November 21, 2007 at
a ceremony at Government House. While none of the eighteen ministers had
previous cabinet experience, fourteen had served on the opposition benches.
All but one of the original founding members of the Saskatchewan Party
who retained their seats in the Assembly received appointments. The last
original member, Don Toth, was later elected Speaker of the Assembly. Premier
Wall provided each minister with a letter outlining the expectations and
priorities expected of each. These mandate letters were then posted on
the government website.
Ken Krawetz was named Deputy Premier and Minister of Education.
will lead both the Finance ministry and the government in the Chamber as
House Leader. The Health portfolio will be headed by Don McMorris while
Bill Boyd takes on Energy and Resources and Intergovernmental Affairs.
June Draude will oversee First Nations and Métis Relations and Northern
Affairs. Bob Bjornerud, Don Morgan and Dan D'Autremont will lead the Agriculture,
Justice and Government Services ministries.
Premier Wall also announced the appointments of seven legislative secretaries,
each of whom was assigned responsibility for specific tasks. Randy Weekes
will serve as whip while Doreen Eagles was chosen as caucus chair.
Appointments were also announced on the opposition side of the House. The
shadow cabinet announced by Leader of the Opposition Lorne Calvert included
sixteen former ministers and three members entering the Assembly for the
first time. Among the assignments were Pat Atkinson as Deputy Leader of
the Opposition and critic for Agriculture and Immigration. Len Taylor will
serve as Opposition House Leader, Andy Iwanchuck as whip and Frank Quennell
as caucus chair.
New Presiding Officers
Following tradition, the 26th Legislature opened with the selection of
new presiding officers. Don Toth was elected by acclamation as the Assembly's
23rd Speaker. Mr. Toth has represented the Moosomin constituency since
1986, first as a Progressive Conservative and then as one of the founding
members of the Saskatchewan Party. The role of presiding officer is not
entirely new to Speaker Toth as he served as Deputy Chair of Committees
from 1989 until 1990. Over the course of his political career, he has served
as the Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Health and as chair of
the Standing Committees on Crown Corporations and on Regulations. He has
held many critic responsibilities and served as Opposition Deputy House
Leader and Deputy Whip. Mr. Toth continues to participate in the running
of the family's farming operation in Langbank.
Greg Brkich was elected the 22nd Deputy Speaker, also by acclamation. Mr.
Brkich has served as the representative of the Arm River - Watrous constituency
since 1999. He has served as the Deputy Chair of the Private Members' Bills
Committee and as a member of the House Services and Crown Corporations
Committees. He also served as Deputy Whip on both the Opposition and Government
sides of the House. Mr. Brkich operates a comprehensive grain and cattle
operation near Bladworth.
The Assembly subsequently endorsed the Premier's nomination of
as Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole. Mr. McMillan was elected for
the first time in the November general election. He operates an oilfield
service company and runs a 300 head of cattle ranch near Lloydminster.
Opening Session of 26th Legislature
The themes of growth and security dominated the Speech from the Throne
that was delivered on December 10th. Relying heavily on the main tenets
of the Saskatchewan Party's recent campaign platform, Lieutenant Governor
Gordon Barnhart's speech outlined the government's short and long term
The government's policy regarding the province's fiscal management was
laid out with the introduction of The Saskatchewan Growth and Financial
Security Act. This act requires the General Revenue Fund to be balanced
annually and the yearly preparation of four-year financial plans and public
debt management plans. The act further specifies that annual surpluses
are to be divided equally between the Growth and Financial Security Fund
and the Debt Retirement Fund.
A new approach to economic development was the subject of the government's
second piece of legislation. The creation of a public-private partnership
entitled Enterprise Saskatchewan was a prominent feature of the party's
platform. The agency will be governed by a twelve-member board representing
a cross-section of stakeholders.
Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister
Rob Norris introduced
legislation to address a third priority of the government. The Public Service
Essential Services Act will set out the framework in which the rights of
workers are balanced with the need to ensure essential services are provided
during labour disputes. The act defines what services are essential and
established the processes to identify which employees are necessary to
maintain those services during a work stoppage. Amendments were also introduced
to The Trade Union Act which will require 45% written support for an application
to certify or decertify a union and for any such votes to be by secret
ballot. Employers will be permitted to communicate their views and positions
to their employees.
The opposition challenged the government's Throne Speech, claiming that
it fell short of fulfilling the promises made during the election campaign.
In particular, the government was accused of misleading the public on the
province's financial situation and on the reopening of the Prince Albert
pulp mill. Equalization and the 100% exclusion of non-renewable natural
resource revenues from the equalization formula were other issues that
divided the parties, with the Opposition leader accusing the premier of
backing away from his earlier positions.
The fall session adjourned on December 20th. The spring session is scheduled
to resume in early March.
In a serious of brisk meetings, five standing committees met on the morning
of December 18th to attend to a number of administrative matters and to
consider supplementary estimates carried over from the previous administration.
All committees agreed to the appointment of steering committees and authorized
the broadcasting of their public proceedings. Veteran members from both
sides were elected to the positions of chair and deputy chair, including:
- Dustin Duncan (SP) and Kim Trew (NDP) for the Crown and Central Agencies
- Yogi Huyghebaert (SP) and Ron Harper (NDP) for the Economy Committee;
- Glen Hart (SP) and Judy Junor (NDP) for the Human Services Committee;
- Delbert Kirsch (SP) and Deb Higgins (NDP) for the Intergovernmental Affairs
and Infrastructure Committee;
- Harry Van Mulligen (NDP) and
Warren Michelson (SP) for the Public Accounts
The procedural reform that was initiated in the previous legislature was
brought to a conclusion when the Assembly convened in December. The first
report of the Standing Committee on House Services recommended a number
of revisions to the Rules of the Assembly. These revisions were intended
to simplify and streamline existing rules, codify current practices, eliminate
out-dated or irrelevant rules and rebalance the competing interests of
the government and the opposition. The Assembly agreed to immediately implement
the new Rules and directed that a revised rule book be published in due
Margaret (Meta) Woods
In accordance with British Columbia's parliamentary calendar, the fall
sitting of the Third Session adjourned on November 29, 2007. Since the
previous legislative report, only a few additional public bills were passed
by the House prior to adjournment.
Fulfilling the government's Throne Speech commitment to take concerted
provincial action to halt and reverse the growth in greenhouse gas emissions,
the Minister of Environment Barry Penner introduced Bill 44, Greenhouse
Gas Reduction Targets Act. The bill requires British Columbia to reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 33 percent below 2007 levels by
2020; obligates the Government to set interim targets for emission reductions
for 2012 and 2016; and further establishes an emission reduction target
of 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050. The bill also requires the provincial
government including provincial ministries and agencies, schools, colleges,
universities, health authorities and Crown corporations to become carbon
neutral by 2010.
At committee stage debate, opposition members put forward several amendments
to Bill 44, including setting the ultimate reduction in B.C.'s greenhouse
gas emissions to 1990 levels; capping future emissions at 2007 levels;
establishing an independent body to monitor and report on B.C.'s progress;
as well as creating a new parliamentary committee to receive and review
emission reports. While all proposed amendments were either defeated or
ruled out of order, the Opposition ultimately voted in favour of the Bill.
Additional legislation to support a cap-and-trade system for large emitters
and low-carbon fuel standards is anticipated to be presented to the House
in upcoming sessions.
The fall sitting also saw the signing of the second modern-day treaty in
2007. Introduced by the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation,
Michael de Jong, Bill 45 Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement Act, provides
the five Maa-nulth First Nations with a capital transfer of $73.1 million;
annual resource revenue payments averaging $1.2 million for 25 years; and
a land package totalling approximately 24,550 hectares. The treaty also
recognizes the Maa-nulth First Nations' Aboriginal rights and title and
defines rights regarding the ownership and management of lands and resources.
Immediately following first reading of Bill 45, elders from the five Maa-nulth
First Nations were invited to address the Assembly from the Bar of the
House. The speakers included Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes of the Uchucklesaht
First Nation; Chief Councillor Violet Mundy of the Ucluelet First Nation,
and Ucluelet member Richard Mundy; Chief Councillor Therese Smith of the
Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:- k:tles7et'h' First Nation; Chief Councillor Robert
Dennis Sr. of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, and Hereditary Chief Bert Mack
of the Toquaht First Nation.
While widely supported by Members from both sides of the House, a handful
of government and opposition Members opted to abstain or vote against the
Electoral Boundaries Commission
On August 15, 2007, British Columbia's Electoral Boundaries Commission
submitted its preliminary report on the proposed new electoral boundaries
and riding names for both the current single member plurality (SMP) and
B.C. single transferable vote (BC-STV) electoral systems. Under the framework
established by the Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2005,
the Commission was authorized to re-configure B.C.'s electoral map to accommodate
between 79 and 85 electoral districts and MLAs in time for the 2009 provincial
In its report, the Commission stressed the importance of relative voter
parity between the province's electoral districts. The Commission noted
that while considerable population growth had occurred in urban centres,
significant population declines had occurred in B.C.'s rural and remote
ridings. In total, 13 of B.C.'s 79 ridings had populations below the province's
permitted deviation of +/- 25 percent of the provincial quotient a significant
increase over the four very special circumstances identified in the previous
electoral boundaries commission's report. After a thorough review of the
jurisprudence concerning the use of exceptional population deviations in
electoral re-districting, the Commission concluded that a comprehensive
revision of B.C.'s electoral map was required
The Electoral Boundaries Commission's preliminary report recommended that
the total number of electoral districts and Members be increased by two
to 81 seats. In making this suggestion, the Commissioners recommended
the reduction of one seat in each of the North, Cariboo-Thompson, and Columbia-Kootenay
geographic regions. Additional electoral districts were to be provided
to the Fraser Valley, Tri-Cities, Okanagan regions as well as to the cities
of Vancouver and Surrey.
As stipulated in the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, the Commission
commenced with a second round of 27 public hearings to solicit the public's
feedback on the proposed boundaries in September 2007. However, after holding
five community hearings in which northern residents and elected official
turned out in full force to voice their displeasure with the Commission's
recommendations Premier Gordon Campbell informed Speaker Bill Barisoff
that the government would introduce legislative amendments to the Electoral
Boundaries Commission Act to ensure that no region in the province would
have a reduction in its existing level of representation. Consequently,
the Commission ceased public hearings on its preliminary report in anticipation
of its new mandate.
On October 24, Attorney General
Wally Oppal introduced Bill 39, Electoral
Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2007 in an effort to allay some of
the concerns voiced by northern residents. The stated objectives of the
legislation were twofold. First, the proposed amendments acknowledged that
B.C.'s three most sparsely populated and geographically isolated regions
require special treatment under the Act to ensure effective representation.
To that end, the Commission would be ordered to maintain the current allotment
of seats in the North, Cariboo-Thompson, and Columbia-Kootenay regions.
Second, recognizing the considerable population growth in the province's
urban centres, the Commission would be mandated to allocate an additional
eight seats between the province's nine remaining regions. In total, the
Commission would have been ordered to increase the number of seats under
both the SMP and BC-STV electoral systems to 87.
Although Opposition Members had expressed a strong preference for maintaining
the current allotment of rural seats, they were opposed to the government's
amending legislation. Finance critic Bruce Ralston outlined the primary
reasons why the Opposition would not support the proposed amendments
citing the Government's interference with an independent body, the added
expense of eight additional MLAs, and the dilution of rural representation
by increasing the number of representatives in urban areas.
After hearing the protracted debate on Bill 39, Mr. de Jong indicated that
the government was not prepared to invoke closure on the amendments to
ensure the bill's passage prior to the last sitting day of the House. As
the Opposition was unwilling to provide its support for changes which
go to the heart of our electoral process, Bill 39 was left on the Order
Paper without proceeding to committee stage debate.
On December 7, 2007, the Electoral Boundaries Commission issued a press
release indicating that it would continue with its consultation process
albeit with reduced public consultations due to the looming reporting
deadline. The Boundaries Commission's final report was tabled with the
Speaker on February 14, 2008.
New Conflict of Interest Commissioner
On November 22, 2007, the Special Committee to Appoint a Conflict of Interest
Commissioner unanimously recommended the appointment of Paul D. K. Fraser
as B.C.'s third Conflict of Interest Commissioner. Mr. Fraser has practiced
law in British Columbia for more than 40 years and is a former president
of the Canadian Bar Association and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.
Committee Research Analyst
The parliamentary proceedings of the first session of the 38th legislature,
which were adjourned on June 21, 2007, resumed for the fall sessional period
on October 16, 2007. At the end of this period, on December 19 the Members
of the Québec National Assembly had adopted 38 public bills, nine of which
were introduced by Members, and 14 private bills.
On November 28 and December 11, 2007, the Members of the Assembly unanimously
carried two motions moved jointly by the Minister of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks, the Member for the electoral division of Marguerite-D'Youville,
and the Member for the electoral division of Vachon, concerning the Kyoto
In follow-up to the by-election held on September 24, 2007, the new Member
for Charlevoix and Leader of the Second Opposition Group, Pauline Marois,
was sworn-in last October 11. During the fall, two Members resigned from
office, namely Diane Lemieux, Member for Bourget, who stepped down on October
17, and André Boisclair, Member for Pointe-aux-Trembles, who resigned on
November 15. These departures have left two vacant seats in the National
Assembly, which is now composed as follows: Québec Liberal Party, 48 Members;
Action démocratique du Québec, 41 Members, Parti Québécois, 34 Members.
Directive from the Chair
Since the beginning of the 38th legislature, a list of all of the papers
tabled in the National Assembly is available on its Internet site. To facilitate
access to information for parliamentarians and citizens alike, a large
number of these documents may now be accessed directly on the Internet
site of the Assembly. In addition to the paper version, a digital copy
of all annual reports and strategic plans of the ministries and agencies
will be tabled in the Assembly. Documents produced by persons appointed
by the Assembly will also be tabled in both formats. In addition to promoting
access to information, the tabling of a digital version of these documents
will allow the Assembly to significantly reduce the number of copies required
from ministries and agencies, in the perspective of sustainable development.
It should be noted, however, that the paper version remains the only official
version of any document tabled in the National Assembly.
On September 26, 2007, the Member for Pontiac,
Charlotte L'Écuyer, was
elected Vice-chair of the Network of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians,
a first for a Member hailing from the Canadian Region of the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association since the Network's creation in 1989. Mrs. L'Écuyer
has been Chair of the Canadian Region of this organization since July 2006.
The 8th legislature of the Seniors' Parliament was held at the National
Assembly from September 10-12, 2007. Two bills reflecting the concerns
of seniors were assented to upon the conclusion of this parliamentary simulation,
namely the Act establishing the responsibility of citizens and government
as regards the environment and sustainable development, and the Act ensuring
the implementation of the rights and duties of persons.
Organized respectively by the Association québécoise des jeunes parlementaires
and the Assemblée parlementaire des étudiants du Québec, the Youth Parliament
and the Student Parliament are two parliamentary simulations that are carried
out by university students aged 25 years and under. Both parliaments sit
each year in the National Assembly Chamber during the Christmas holidays,
that is, from December 26-30 for the Youth Parliament and from January
2- 6 for the Student Parliament.
From January 6-10, 2008, over 140 college-level students gathered at the
National Assembly for the 16th edition of the Student Forum. Education,
labour and resources management were key concerns in the course of this
parliamentary simulation in which students from more than 30 cegeps took
On November 14, 2007 the 6th edition of the Conférences Jean- Charles-Bonenfant
was held. Under the theme Comment dessiner une carte électorale équitable?,
Marie Grégoire, William Cusano and Michel Létourneau, all former parliamentarians,
as well as renowned political scientist Louis Massicotte discussed the
challenges currently posed by the revision of Québec's electoral map. Michel
C. Auger, journalist and political correspondent, led this debate, of which
the video version is available on the National Assembly site at:
The fall programming of the series entitled
Mémoires de députés, which
is presented on the National Assembly Channel, featured interviews with
Jeanne Blackburn, Claude-Gilles Gosselin, Bernard Pinard,
Jean-Noël Tremblay, Gérald Harvey, François Aquin and
William Tetley. These
shows may also be viewed on the Internet site of the National Assembly.
On November 3, 2007, Gérard Martin, Liberal Party Member for the electoral
division of Montcalm from 1962 to 1966, passed away at the age of 85. Also
working as an insurance broker in Saint-Esprit (1961-1983), he was the
returning officer for the new riding of Joliette-Montcalm (1973-1978) and
mayor of his native municipality, Saint-Esprit (1992-1996).
The year 2008 will mark the 400th anniversary of Québec City and, within
the framework of the celebrations that will take place in the Old Capital,
the National Assembly, last 13 November, released a programme containing
a wide variety of activities. Among the more notable events, let us mention
the launching of the work entitled L'hôtel du Parlement, mémoire du Québec,
as well as the creation, in collaboration with the Law Faculty of Laval
University, of the Research Chair in Democracy and Parliamentary Institutions.
The complete programme of activities organized by the National Assembly
is broadcast on its Internet site.
In keeping with its commitment to protect Québec's political heritage,
the National Assembly recently acquired the Collection Richard G. Gervais,
an imposing collection comprised of some 2000 objects and works highlighting
the political, military and religious history of Québec and Canada since
1875. Owing to this acquisition, the National Assembly contributes to the
outreach of Québec's political heritage, both to the citizens of today
Having opened its doors on December 4, 1917, the
Le Parlementaire restaurant
celebrated its 90th anniversary last December. Originally named Café du
Parlement, the restaurant was renamed Le Parlementaire on October 26, 1972
in a ruling from then President of the National Assembly, Jean-Noël Lavoie.
It should be mentioned that it is one of the few parliamentary restaurants
that is open to the public, thus enabling citizens to be close to their
The fleurdelisé flag, Québec's official flag, is celebrating its 60th anniversary
in 2008. Indeed, on January 21, 1948, at exactly 3.00 o'clock p.m., the
new official flag of Québec was hoisted atop the Parliament Building's
central tower, thus replacing the Union Jack, the British flag. That very
morning, the Government had granted the fleurdelisé flag the status of
official flag of Québec.
Secretariat of the Assembly
The Committee on Public Administration was given an order by the National
Assembly on October 17, 2007, for the first time since its creation in
1997. Until this date, the Committee had carried out only those orders
explicitly provided for in the Standing Orders. The order stems from a
proposal made by a Member of the Official Opposition that was adopted on
division. It reads as follows: That the Committee on Public Administration
shed all the light, beginning on November 1, 2007, on the application of
the Balanced Budget Act and propose, if necessary, by December 20, 2007
recommendations to correct the artificially balanced budget.
For this purpose, on November 29 the Committee heard the Auditor General,
and on December 14, the Deputy Minister of Finance, the Comptroller of
Finance and Government Accounting and the Secretary of the Conseil du trésor.
The Committee's report, containing 6 recommendations, was tabled in the
Assembly on December 19. It should be mentioned that the Balanced Budget
Act (R.S.Q., c. E-12.00001) was adopted in 1996 and that its purpose is
to eliminate budgetary deficits.
The Committee on Labour and the Economy
Following special consultations, in December the Committee on Labour and
the Economy gave clause-by-clause consideration to Bill 41, An Act to foster
transparency in the sale of gasoline and diesel fuel. The object of this
bill is particularly to impose on the concerned enterprises the obligation
to notify the Régie de l'énergie of any change in the sale price of these
products and of the reasons justifying any increase, the Régie must make
such notices public. When the question was put on the sections of the bill,
each section was rejected owing to an equality of votes. This was also
the case for all of the amendments proposed.
The Committee on Labour and the Economy also examined Bill 39,
An Act to
amend the Forest Act and other legislative provisions, which was introduced
within the context of the difficulties prevailing in Québec's forest industry.
The Committee on Planning and the Public Domain
On December 17, the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain heard the
interested parties and gave clause-by-clause consideration to Private
Bill 204, An Act respecting Ville de Lévis. In keeping with the favourable
report from the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement on the
project to construct and operate the Rabaska liquefied natural gas terminal,
the bill aims to enable the realization of this project which is contingent
on certain actions of the Government under certain Acts and the determination
of municipal taxes payable to Ville de Lévis. On this occasion, several
interested parties presented their opinion on the day of the hearing and
examination, which began at 10.00 a.m. and ended at 10.30 p.m.
In November, the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain also held
special consultations on Bill 22, An Act to amend various legislative provisions
concerning the urban agglomeration of Montréal. This bill aims particularly
to grant Ville de Montréal a general taxation power in its territory.
The Committee on Transportation and the Environment
Last fall, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment jointly
held special consultations on two bills concerning highway safety in keeping
with the report from the Table québécoise sur la sécurité routière. They
are Bill 42, An Act to amend the Highway Safety Code and the Regulation
respecting demerit points, and Bill 55, An Act to again amend the Highway
Safety Code and other legislative provisions.
The Committee also gave clause-by-clause consideration to Bill 42, which
concerns, among other things, drinking and driving, new traffic control
technologies, gradual acquisition of driving privileges, the use of telephones
at the wheel. Several amendments were brought to the bill, particularly
concerning the obligatory use of winter tires and the regulation on publicity.
Furthermore, an important element, the reduction of the permitted blood
alcohol concentration, was rejected.
Moreover, on November 7 the Committee adopted an order of initiative on
the management of residual materials within the framework of the renewal
of the Politique québécoise de gestion des matières résiduelles
to an end in 2008. The online consultation currently underway gives citizens
the choice of filling out the questionnaire or attaching a brief.
The Committee on Public Finance
Following the interpellation of the Minister of Finance on the crisis in
the non-bank sponsored asset-backed commercial paper sector last October
26, the Committee on Public Finance held a hearing with the representatives
of the Caisse de dépôt et de placement on this matter, on November 28.
Also in November, the Committee held public hearings within the framework
of special consultations on Bill 32, An Act to promote rigorous management
of public infrastructures and large projects, whose purpose is to ensure
that investments in public infrastructures are properly apportioned between
maintenance and development, as well as to promote rigorous planning and
monitoring of large projects so as to reduce the risks of cost overruns
and delays in project completion. The Committee then examined this bill
The Committee on Institutions
After having held a general consultation last October on Bill 9,
respecting the safety of persons on certain premises and amending the Act
respecting safety in sports, the Committee on Institutions examined this
bill clause-by-clause in November and December. It should be mentioned
that this bill particularly aims to prohibit the possession of firearms
in educational institutions and that it was introduced following the shooting
at Dawson College in Montréal, in September 2006.
The Committee on Social Affairs
The office of vice-chairman of the Committee on Social Affairs having been
left vacant following the resignation, last August, of Rosaire Bertrand as Member for Charlevoix, the Committee members unanimously elected, on
October 30, 2007, Bernard Drainville, Member for Marie-Victorin, as vice-chairman.
In pursuance of the Act respecting health services and social services
(R.S.Q., c. S-4.2), the Committee must examine the annual management reports
and, for this purpose, hear the health and social services agencies at
least once every three years. In autumn 2006, 10 agencies were heard by
the Committee within the framework of this mandate. During the month of
January 2008, the Committee continued this exercise in accountability and
heard the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Chaudière- Appalaches, Estrie, Mauricie et
Centre-du-Québec and Outaouais agencies, as well as the Centre de santé
et de services sociaux de la Baie-James.
An article concerning the Greffier site was published in the October
2007 issue of the Bulletin of the National Assembly Library. This site,
which was introduced in May 2006 on the Assembly's Intranet, hosts a large
number of documents that are useful to Members within the framework of
their work. Interested readers may consult the aforementioned article at
the following address:
Secretariat of committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
On October 25, 2007, the Fall Sitting of the First Session of the 32nd
Legislative Assembly resumed. On December 13th, the 28-day sitting adjourned.
During the meeting period, reports were tabled on electoral boundaries,
MLA salaries, and anti-smoking legislation. Much of the meeting period
was devoted to consideration of the supplementary budget, which had been
introduced at the outset of the sitting, and was still actively under debate
in Committee of the Whole on the final day. That day at 5 p.m., as per
Standing Order 76, Committee of the Whole debate was interrupted, and all
outstanding Government bills (including the supplementary budget bill)
were advanced through remaining stages without further opportunity for
debate or amendment. The Fall Sitting concluded with Assent being given
in the Chamber by the Commissioner of Yukon, Geraldine Van Bibber. The
twelve government bills to which Commissioner Van Bibber granted assent
- Bill No. 38, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
- Bill No. 44, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (2007)
- Bill No. 36, Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act (re: reimbursement
for out-of-town MLAs' accommodation in Whitehorse)
- Bill No. 45, Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act, No. 2 (re: MLAs'
- Bill No. 42, Act to Amend the Municipal Finance and Community Grants Act
- Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the Subdivision Act
- Bill No. 39, Act to Amend the Territorial Court Judiciary Pension Plan
- Bill No. 40, Act to Repeal the Motor Transport Act
- Bill No. 7, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2006-07
- Bill No. 37, Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act, 2007
- Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08
- Bill No. 41, Securities Act
Electoral District Boundaries Commission
On the first day of the Fall Sitting, Speaker
Ted Staffen tabled the Interim
Report of the Electoral District Boundaries Commission. The report of this
independent Commission recommended the addition of one more seat to the
Assembly. If implemented, this recommendation would increase to nineteen
the total number of MLAs forming the next Legislative Assembly. The Commission's
final report is expected in March 2008. Legislation would remain to be
enacted to put the Commission's final recommendations into effect.
MLA Salaries and Benefits Commission
On October 31st, the report of the MLA Salaries and Benefits Commission
was tabled. Entitled Report to the Members' Services Board of the Yukon
Legislative Assembly respecting MLA Salaries and Benefits, the report
is posted on the Assembly's website http://www. legassembly.gov.yk.ca/pdf/MlaSalariesBenefits.pdf.
The report, prepared by former Clerk of the Assembly, Patrick Michael,
recommended significant increases in MLAs' pay and benefits, and a reduction
of the non-taxable expense allowance. The report noted that Yukon MLAs'
pay was the lowest in the country, and that the salaries of party leaders,
ministers, and presiding officers were all less than half the national
average for persons in their position. While the report recommended that
the increases take effect on January 1, 2008, enabling legislation passed
during the Fall Sitting deemed the increases to have come into force on
June 1, 2007.
Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act, 2007
This Act, introduced on the first day of the 2008 Fall Sitting, and Assented
to on the last, replaced the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances
Act, 1991. Since it was passed by the Legislative Assembly on December
18, 1991, the Act had been subject only to minor amendments. A number of
events occurred since that time that necessitated a review of the Act.
In particular, amendments to the Income Tax Act (Canada) led to changes
being required to the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowance Act to
bring it into conformity with the direction found in that overarching federal
legislation. Further, an entirely new approach, which needed to be covered
in the Act, has been taken with respect to the manner in which the assets
of the plan are held and managed. This included the establishment of a
trust fund (in part to comply with Income Tax Act requirements) to hold
the assets of the registered portion of the plan.
The action required to draft a new
Legislative Assembly Allowances Act
was approved by the Members' Services Board at its meeting of December
Select Committee on Anti-smoking Legislation
On November 21, 2007, the report of the Select Committee on Anti-smoking
Legislation (http://www. legassembly.gov.yk.ca/pdf/asl_report.pdf) was tabled
in the House. Before the House resumed in the Fall, the Committee had held
territory-wide public hearings, traveling to 17 communities, including
the territory's northern-most community, Old Crow, a fly-in community north
of the Arctic Circle. The hearings marked the first time in 14 years that
a Committee of the Legislative Assembly had traveled, and the first time
in 15 that a Select Committee had been appointed.
The bill referred to the Select Committee on Anti-smoking Legislation
Bill No. 104, Smoke-Free Places Act was a private member's bill that
had been introduced in the Spring Sitting by NDP Leader Todd Hardy (Whitehorse
Centre). The bill, modeled on Nova Scotia anti-smoking legislation, received
first reading on April 30, 2007. On May 9th, the bill passed second reading
and was referred to Committee of the Whole. On June 13th, the motion forming
the Committee and setting out its terms carried in the House. The Select
Committee was also tasked with determining the views of Yukoners and interested
groups on legislative options for banning smoking in public places, and
reporting its findings and recommendations to the House. The motion specified
that any decisions taken by the all-Party Committee comprised of Chair
Brad Cathers (Lake Laberge, Yukon Party), Darius Elias (Vuntut Gwitchin,
Liberal) and John Edzerza (McIntyre-Takhini, NDP) be unanimous. In addition
to the public hearings, opinions were registered with the Committee through
an online questionnaire and written submissions.
In its report, the Select Committee recommended that legislation either
as a private member's bill, or as a government bill be passed to ban
smoking in public places. Among the Committee's other recommendations were
that the legislation ban the display and advertising of tobacco products
in stores, provide for regulations permitting the banning of candy cigarettes,
and not exclude bars, mom and pop operations, and temporary facilities.
On November 28, 2007, during time set aside for private members' business,
Committee of the Whole debate on Bill No. 104 (which had adjourned during
the Spring Sitting) resumed. The bill did not come to a vote, but it remains
on the Order Paper.
On December 5th, 2007, the first lecture in a series funded by the Yukon
Legislative Assembly was held at Yukon College. Entitled Political Evolution
in Yukon, 1961-1979, the lecture brought together key players from this
period: former Yukon territorial councilor (1958-61) and Commissioner (1966-76)
Jim Smith, former MLA (4 terms between 1961-78), and Commissioner (1986-95)
Ken McKinnon; and former MLA Dan Lang (1974-92). The evening, emceed by
Mr. Michael, provided a rare opportunity to hear, first-hand, about some
of the personalities and developments that led to the achievement of responsible
government in Yukon in 1979.
The lecture series is named in memory of
Aron Senkpiel, a Yukon College
professor who had displayed a keen interest in northern development. The
focus of the lecture series is the evolution of democracy and the circumpolar
Reports of the Auditor General
On February 7, 2008 the Auditor General of Canada,
Sheila Fraser, was in
Whitehorse to release two reports of the Office of the Auditor General:
Government of Yukon's Investment in Asset-backed Commercial Paper, and
Government of Yukon's Role in the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
The Auditor General's findings with regards to the 2007 Winter Games were
that the Government successfully met all major challenges related to the
Games, although the Government's risk management practices need to be strengthened.
On February 12th, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by
Leader of the Official Opposition Arthur Mitchell (Copperbelt, Liberal),
held a public hearing in the Chamber to consider the Auditor General's
report on the Yukon Government's role in the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
Officials from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada were present
to advise the committee. Witnesses from the Department of Community Services
were also present to answer questions posed by the Standing Committee.
The Committee will prepare a report on this report by the Auditor General
and on the related public hearing. The Committee's report will be tabled
in the 2008 Spring Sitting.
On January 23, 2008, during the Winter adjournment, Premier
(Watson Lake) announced the appointment on a permanent basis of Elaine
Taylor (Whitehorse West) as Deputy Premier. Ms. Taylor retained her responsibilities
as Minister of Tourism and Culture, Minister responsible for the Women's
Directorate, and Chair of the Assembly's Standing Committee on Appointments
to Major Government Boards and Committees. During the Premier's absence
through part of the Fall Sitting (while Mr. Fentie convalesced from surgery),
Ms. Taylor had served as the Deputy Premier. Before the Premier's announcement,
the position of Deputy Premier had been assigned to members of Mr. Fentie's
Cabinet on a rotating basis.
Prince Edward Island
The First Session of the Sixty-third General Assembly adjourned to the
call of the Speaker on November 2, 2007, after 13 sitting days. On February
8, 2008, Premier Robert Ghiz announced that the First Session of the Sixty-third
General Assembly will be prorogued and that the Second Session will be
opened officially on April 4, 2008. Premier Ghiz has indicated his preference
for a parliamentary calendar to provide notice well in advance of when
sessions of the Legislative Assembly are to begin.
Indemnities and Allowances Commission
The three-member Indemnities and Allowances Commission was appointed on
October 31, 2007, by Speaker Kathleen Casey, to review the salaries and
benefits of Members of the Legislative Assembly. The Commission's authority
arises from a 1994 amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act, which established
the independent commission for the purpose of reviewing the salaries and
benefits of Members, and reporting its decisions to the Speaker each year
by December first. The Commission has recommended a salary increase of
2% effective as of April 1, 2008.
On November 1, 2007, a motion was passed in the Legislative Assembly of
Prince Edward Island giving the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry
and Environment a mandate to review the implementation and potential impacts
of a province-wide ban on the use of cosmetic lawn pesticides. The Committee
was authorized to meet after prorogation of the First Session of the Sixty-third
General Assembly and make report to the House during the Spring 2008 session.
In tandem with this work, the Committee initiated a series of briefings
for its members, primarily on issues of concern to the agricultural industry.
The Standing Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development was
charged, by motion, on October 26, 2007, with conducting public hearings
on Sunday shopping to solicit the views of Islanders, and to report back
to the Legislative Assembly in the spring of 2008. Currently Prince Edward
Island defines holiday to include every Sunday that falls between December
25 of any year and the Friday before Victoria Day of the following year,
and retail business are not permitted to be open. The Act does not apply
to a variety of operations, including gas stations, convenience stores,
restaurants, drug stores, bakeries, video stores, and flower stores. Public
response to the Committee has been mixed, with some input reflecting the
belief that Sunday should be preserved as a day for religious observance
or family togetherness; and others requesting that businesses be allowed
to determine their own times and days for opening without legislation.
On November 1, 2007, a motion was adopted by the Legislative Assembly instructing
the Standing Committee on Fisheries, Intergovernmental Affairs and Transportation
to conduct a thorough review of the collapse of Polar Foods International
Inc., a business failure the Auditor General identified as costing Island
taxpayers approximately $31 million. The Committee will report in the spring
2008 sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is reviewing the annual Report
of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly. For the first time
since 1987, the Committee will not be aided in this examination by Ron
MacKinley, who is now Minister of Transportation and Public Works. According
to the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, ministers of the Crown are prohibited
from serving on this committee. The current chairman, Jim Bagnall is the
former vice-chairman and brings considerable experience to the position;
and the new vice-chairman is Buck Watts.
The Standing Committee on Social Development is charged with matters concerning
education, health and social development. It is responsible also for recommending
to the Legislative Assembly persons to serve on the Prince Edward Island
Human Rights Commission. The Committee is undertaking several subject matter
studies, including support and services for persons with disabilities and
the impact of the high price of home heating fuel.
Re-establishment of Parliamentary Library
In September 2007, the Standing Committee on Legislative Management approved
the idea of once again having a Legislative Library and Research Service
to support Members, Committees, and House Officers in their work. The new
positions of Research Librarian and Research Officer were filled in October,
and offices were constructed across from the space set aside for the library
in the Coles Building, located adjacent to Province House. Library staff
moved into their new offices in early 2008, putting them to good use providing
consultations and research services to Members and Committees.
A design plan for the library was recently presented and renovations will
begin soon. Housed within the physical library space will be a government
documents collection, periodicals collection, computer access, seating,
and reference services, as well as a small collection on public policy
and public administration.
Co-op Education Program with University of Prince Edward Island
The Legislative Assembly has established a new working relationship with
the University of Prince Edward Island through creation of a Co-op Educational
Program for third and fourth year Arts students. A student (majoring in
History and/or Political Science) will be assigned to the Legislative Assembly
during the fall and winter semesters and exposed to the operations of the
Office of the Legislative Assembly, Office of the Speaker, Government and
Opposition Members' Office, Hansard Office, Legislative Library and Committees
Branch. The Program is designed to promote an understanding of the workings
of the Legislative Assembly at the University, to support students by providing
work in their chosen field of study and to increase the Assembly's profile
at UPEI. This initiative is part of an ongoing effort to provide information
to the public about our Provincial Parliament and about the specific work
that is conducted at the House.
New Poet Laureate
Poet, novelist and essayist
David Helwig was appointed as the new poet
laureate for Prince Edward Island in January 2008. The poet laureate program
was established in 2002. Its objectives are to celebrate Prince Edward
Island and its people, to raise the profile of Prince Edward Island poets
and poetry in general, to promote a higher standard of literacy, and to
provide for the expression of culture and heritage through the literary
arts. There are no fixed duties associated with the post, and previous
poets laureate have used a variety of approaches to making poetry a more
central part of the lives of Islanders. Mr. Helwig indicated that he would
be exploring ways of using an internet web page to make the excellent work
being done by Island poets better known.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
House of Commons
The final months of 2007 in the House of Commons were the stage for unusual
events in parliamentary history. The Chalk River nuclear plant, used to
produce the radioisotopes needed for medical diagnostics tests, was shut
down on November 18, 2007. The shutdown, the cause of which was controversial
and disputed, eventually led to a shortage of radioisotopes in Canada and
around the world.
On December 11, 2007, Government House Leader
Peter Van Loan obtained unanimous
consent for a motion to revert to the Introduction of Government Bills
and, accordingly, Bill C-38, An Act to permit the resumption and continuation
of the operation of the National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River
was introduced, read a first time and ordered printed.
The Government House Leader then obtained unanimous consent for another
motion allowing the House to sit beyond the usual adjournment time for
consideration of the said Bill. Also pursuant to the motion, the Bill was
deemed read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, the
Committee of the Whole was authorized to hear certain witnesses, whose
names were listed in the motion, and the Bill was able to be read a second
and third time in the same sitting.
At the beginning of consideration by the Committee of the Whole, Chair
Bill Blaikie made a brief statement, noting the rarity of hearing witnesses
on the floor of the House of Commons. After consideration in the Committee
of the Whole was completed, the Bill was concurred in at report stage and
passed at third reading. The Senate passed the bill without amendment the
The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics held
hearings on the Brian Mulroney-Karlheinz Schreiber affair, and presented
its First Report to the House on November 27, 2007, recommending that the
Speaker of the House issue the necessary warrants for Mr. Schreiber, who
was in prison in Toronto at the time, to appear before the Committee as
soon as possible and to remain available to the Committee as long as necessary.
The House concurred in the report the same day by unanimous consent and
the Speaker subsequently issued a warrant, the first such warrant regarding
a witness to be issued since 1913. The Speaker warrant was duly executed
and Mr. Schreiber, still in custody, appeared before the Committee on November
On December 4, 2007, the Standing Committee on Finance struck a subcommittee
to examine Bill C-28, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget
tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 and to implement certain provisions
of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2007, and
agreed the next day to report it back to the House without amendment.
Order and Decorum
On November 19, 2007, the Speaker of the House,
Peter Milliken, addressed
the House with respect to the remarks exchanged by Member John Cannis and
the Minister of Veterans Affairs Greg Thompson during Question Period on
November 1, 2007. These Members had used the terms intellectually dishonest
and hypocrite respectively. Citing the House of Commons Procedures and
Practice, the Speaker pointed out that the Members' remarks had clearly
caused disorder in the House and so called upon both Members to withdraw
their remarks, which they immediately did. The Speaker added that he regularly
receives messages from members of the public concerned about decorum in
the House and urged Members to refrain from making offensive or disrespectful
remarks to each other.
On November 22, 2007, the Speaker returned to an incident on the previous
day involving the Minister of the Environment John Baird, who had referred
to certain visitors in the gallery during Question Period. Several Members
had asked the Speaker to not allow the Minister to address the House for
30 days, a practice invoked on previous occasions. The Speaker pointed
out that when Members had not been recognized to speak for such an infraction
of the rules and practices of the House, they were again recognized to
speak once they admitted their error. He therefore considered the matter
closed since the Minister of the Environment had apologized and indicated
that he would not make the same mistake again.
The legislative committee on Bill C-2,
An Act to amend the Criminal Code
and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, established following
an Order agreed to on October 26, 2007, reported the Bill back to the House
of Commons without amendment on November 21, 2007. On November 26, 2007,
this omnibus Bill intended to fight violent crime was concurred in at report
stage. On November 28, 2007, the Bill was passed by the House.
On December 12 and 13, 2007, the Leader of the Government in the House
moved two motions using Standing Order 56.1, which stipulates that, in
relation to any routine motion for which unanimous consent is required
and has been denied, a Minister of the Crown may ask the Speaker to put
the question to the House. If fewer than twenty- five Members rise, the
motion is deemed to have been adopted.
The first motion, adopted on December 12, using Standing Order 56.1 provided
that, in relation to the third reading stage of Bill C-28, An Act to implement
certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007
and to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in
Parliament on October 30, 2007, no amendments would be permitted. The following
day, the motion adopted allowed for the notice requirement for debate that
day on Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (verification
of residence) to be waived, and the adjournment of the House until Monday,
January 28, 2008 provided that, when the House adjourned that day, Bill
C-18 and Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Canada-United States Tax Convention
Act, 1984, had been read a third time and passed.
Moreover, both of these motions provided that, on the day the Bills were
under consideration, the House would sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily
adjournment, and would not be adjourned before such proceedings had been
completed except pursuant to a motion proposed by a Minister of the Crown.
Private Members' Business
On June 13, 2007, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development
and the Status of Persons with Disabilities had reported back an empty
Bill C-284, An Act to amend the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
(Canada access grants). On November 21, 2007, when the House defeated
Report Stage Motion No. 1 and, in consequence, Motions Nos. 2 and 3, which
were to re-establish the title and clauses of the Bill, the Speaker stated
that the defeat of the motions meant that the Bill remained empty of all
content, thereby creating a precedent in the House. Since there was nothing
left of the Bill other than its number, the Speaker ordered the Bill struck
from the Order Paper.
When necessary, the Speaker has indicated that, if a bill did not receive
a Royal Recommendation or the bill was not amended so as to no longer necessitate
a Royal Recommendation, at the conclusion of the debate on the motion for
third reading, the question would not be put to the House. On November
22, 2007, before beginning consideration of second reading of Bill C-357,
An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (Employment Insurance Account
and Premium rate setting) and another Act in consequence, Deputy Speaker
Bill Blaikie rendered a decision on the point of order raised by Tom Lukiwski
on October 18th regarding the need for a Royal Recommendation. Since the
Bill repeated provisions of Bill C-280 from the 1st Session of the 38th
Parliament, on which the Speaker had ruled on June 13, 2005, that the Bill
required a Royal Recommendation, the Deputy Speaker stated that the question
would not be put at third reading unless a Royal Recommendation was obtained.
The motion for second reading was then rejected on November 28, 2007.
On November 30, 2007, at the conclusion of debate on Bill C-269,
to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance
system), as the Bill still required a Royal Recommendation, the Speaker
declined to put the question, and the order for third reading was discharged
and the item was dropped from the Order Paper
Due to allegations concerning the legitimacy of his electoral campaign
financing, Blair Wilson left the Liberal caucus to sit as an Independent
Member as of January 29, 2008.
Wajid Khan withdrew from the Conservative caucus on November 23, 2007,
in response to allegations that he had exceeded the authorized spending
limit in the 2004 general election. Mr. Khan decided to sit as an Independent
Member in the House of Commons and to resign as personal advisor to the
Prime Minister on the Middle East. He subsequently returned to the Conservative
ranks on February 4, 2008.
Last November 28, a motion moved by
Olivia Chow, seconded by, Barry Devolin,
and, by unanimous consent, by Meili Faille and Derek Lee, concerning the
acquisition of young women, known as comfort women, by the Imperial Armed
Forces of Japan during World War II, was agreed to. Amongst its provisions,
the motion encouraged the Government of Japan to express a formal and sincere
apology to all of those who were victims.
On December 12, 2007, Lucienne Robillard
announced her resignation as the
Member for Westmount- Ville-Marie, effective January 25, 2008. Serge Ménard,
Thomas Mulcair, Lawrence Cannon, Michael Ignatieff and Speaker Milliken
paid tribute to the Honourable Member.
On January 29, 2008, Mr. Van Loan rose on a point of order to convey on
behalf of all Members their congratulations on the occasion of the seventh
anniversary of the election of Mr. Milliken as Speaker of the House.
The House held a special sitting on October 25, 2007 for the purpose of
electing a Speaker, since the Speakership fell vacant by reason of the
former Speaker, Cecil Clarke, becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney
General, and at that sitting, Alfred MacLeod, member for Cape Breton West,
was elected Speaker and Wayne Gaudet, member for Clare was elected Deputy
Also at that sitting, the new member for Cole Harbour Eastern Passage,
Becky Kent, elected in a by-election to fill a vacancy arising from the
resignation of Kevin Deveaux was introduced to the House and took her seat.
After the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the House adjourned
and reconvened on November 22, 2007 in order to hear the Lieutenant Governor
prorogue the old session and start a new session by reading the Speech
from the Throne.
By far the most controversial bill introduced at this sitting was a Bill
that did not pass. This Bill, if passed would have taken away the right
of nurses to strike and would have provided for the settlement of such
strikes by binding arbitration. This Bill was strongly objected to by the
nurses' union and by both opposition parties. Nevertheless, the Government
introduced the Bill as its first piece of legislation and called it for
second reading debate. However, after a few hours, the Government adjourned
debate and did not call the bill for further debate.
Two Bills that raised a good deal of debate and publicity were both introduced
by opposition members. One of these was Bill 38 introduced by Percy Paris,
a member of the NDP caucus, which gives the Governor in Council power to
impose restrictions, including the regulation or prohibition of expiry
dates on goods, including gift certificates or gift cards that are exchangeable
or redeemable for goods or services.
The other Bill prohibits the conduct of a wide range of businesses on a
designated day. The Bill defines a designated day as Boxing Day, Canada
Day, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday, Labour Day, New Year's
Day, Thanksgiving Day and any other day the Governor-in-Council prescribes
as a designated day. This bill was introduced by Stephen MacNeil, the
Leader of the Liberal Party.
The House adjourned on December 13, 2007, to reconvene at the call of the
During the sitting 32 bills were passed and given Royal Assent, 3 of which
were Private or Local Bills and 29 of which were Public Bills and of the
29 Public Bills passed 4 were introduced by Liberal members, 2 by NDP members
and the balance of 23 by the Government.