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The Fall sitting
of the First Session of the 27th Legislature adjourned on December 3,
2008, after 26 sitting days. At the conclusion of the sitting, 41 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 14 departments totalling $1,016,186,000 and
$20,441,000 in transfers.
A notable Government Bill passed during
the Fall sitting was Bill 42, Health Governance
Transition Act. The Bill provides for the
dissolution of the Alberta Cancer Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Commission (AADAC), both of which were established by legislation. The Bill
enables the transfer of the capital assets and liabilities of these boards and
the Cancer Foundation to the new authority. The Bill was introduced to meet
legislative requirements following a ministerial order that consolidated nine
regional health authorities and three boards, the Alberta Cancer Board, the
Mental Health Board, and AADAC into one authority. The opposition raised several
concerns regarding the efficiency and reasoning behind what they termed the new
The Private Members’ Public Bill passed
by the Assembly was Bill 206, Alberta Personal
Income Tax (Physical Activity Credit) Amendment Act, 2008,
sponsored by Dave Rodney
(PC, Calgary-Lougheed). The Bill provides non-refundable tax credits for fees
paid to eligible organizations and programs which promote physical activity. It
received Royal Assent on December 2, 2008.
Policy Field Committees
In 2007 four Policy Field Committees were
established by temporary Standing Orders. An additional Policy Field Committee
was created following the passage of another set of temporary Standing Orders in
2008, which were made permanent during the Fall sitting.
In the Spring five Bills were referred to each
of the Assembly’s five Policy Field Committees:
Bill 10, Security Services and Investigators Act,
was referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and Services;
Bill 18, Film and Video Classification
Act, to the Standing Committee on Community Services;
Bill 23, Weed Control Act, to the
Standing Committee on Resources and Environment;
Bill 24, Adult Guardianship and
Trusteeship Act, to the Standing Committee on Health;
Bill 204, Traffic Safety (Hand-Held
Communication Devices) Amendment Act, 2008, to the Standing Committee
Bills 18, 23, and 24 were
referred to the appropriate Policy Field Committee
following First Reading and Bills 10 and 204 were referred during Second Reading
The committees reviewed the proposed
legislation throughout the Summer and Fall. Three committees also held public
hearings on their Bills. The Chairs of the committees presented reports to the
Assembly on October 22, 2008, recommending that all Bills proceed with the
exception of Bill 204. The reports received the concurrence of the Assembly,
including the report from the Standing Committee on Economy regarding Bill 204,
a Private Members’ Bill proposing to ban the use of hand-held communication
devices while driving. In its report, the committee recommended that the issue
be reviewed by the Departments of Transportation, Solicitor General and Public
Security, and Justice and that an offence of distracted driving be created
either by legislation or regulation. The committee further recommended that the
draft legislation or prospective regulation be referred back to it prior to the
Spring 2009 sitting of the Assembly.
In November the Standing Committee on Health
held three meetings with stakeholder groups and representatives from the
Ministry of Health and Wellness. Under temporary Standing Order provisions that
were in place at the time, Policy Field Committees were given additional powers,
one of which was the ability to hold public meetings on any matter within a
committee’s mandate. The meeting with the Department was the result of a motion
requesting the attendance of the Minister of Health and Wellness and the Acting
Chief Medical Officer of Health to respond to questions related to the delivery
of public health to Albertans. The other two meetings were held as a response to
stakeholders who had asked to present on certain issues within the Committee’s
Prior to the adjournment of the Fall
Sitting, Bill 52, Health Information Amendment Act,
2008, was referred to the Standing Committee on
Health following Second Reading. It is anticipated that the Bill will be
reinstated during the Spring sitting. This would mark the first time the
Assembly has reinstated a Bill from a previous session since a provision to
allow this procedure was added to the Standing Orders in 2001.
On October 23, 2008,
Brian Mason (ND,
Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood) raised a purported question of privilege regarding a
confidentiality agreement referred to by Ron Stevens,
Deputy Premier, in response to a question asked by Mr. Mason during Oral
Question Period on October 23, 2008. Mr. Mason alleged that the Deputy Premier
had misled the Assembly when he claimed that the New Democrat caucus was
provided with an oath of confidentiality to sign had they wished to view
confidential documents regarding children in care.
On October 27, 2008, Speaker
Ken Kowalski heard additional
comments from Mr. Mason concerning the purported question of privilege. The
Speaker also heard from Mr. Stevens who apologized to the Assembly.
The Speaker indicated the matter was
concluded. He then stated that for an allegation of deliberately misleading the
House to be ruled as a prima facie
case of privilege, two criteria were necessary: the
statement must have been misleading; and it must have been established that the
Member intended to mislead the Assembly.
The Standing Orders of the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta have undergone significant review and changes since 2007,
when Premier Ed Stelmach
took office. Key changes that were brought forward in 2007 included an expanded
committee system, additional hours for consideration of estimates, and a
significant reduction in the number of evening sittings. Following the general
election held on March 3, 2008, the Assembly extended most of the 2007 temporary
Standing Orders until the conclusion of the 2008 Fall Sitting and referred the
Standing Orders to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing
Orders and Printing. During the 2008 Fall Sitting, the committee presented its
report, which included the following key recommendations:
The adoption of a sessional calendar with
a Spring Sitting to commence the second Tuesday in
February and concluding no later than the first Thursday in June, and a Fall
Sitting to commence the last Monday in October and conclude the first
Thursday in December;
The elimination of evening sittings;
Revised sitting hours whereby the Assembly
now sits Monday through Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Thursday
from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. (The Assembly previously sat Monday through Thursday
from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from
7:30 p.m. until adjournment). There is a provision in the Standing Orders to
allow the Assembly to meet in the evenings to consider Government Business
upon passage of a Government Motion;
The continuation of five Policy Field
Committees (Standing Committees) in the subject areas of Community Services,
Economy, Health, Public Safety and Services, and Resources and Environment;
Modification to the supply process whereby
department estimates would be referred to Policy Field Committees and the
time for consideration would increase from 60 to 72 hours. The Policy Field
Committees are expected to meet in the evenings for consideration of the
main estimates during the 2008 Spring Sitting (from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.);
A provision whereby
committees of the Assembly are appointed for the life of a
Prior to the conclusion of the Fall Sitting,
the Assembly adopted a resolution outlining permanent changes to the Standing
Orders which reflected the Committee’s recommendations. The amendments took
effect on December 4, 2008.
(Lib, Calgary-Mountain View) was chosen as the new Leader of the Alberta Liberal
Party and Leader of the Official Opposition at the Liberal leadership convention
on December 15, 2008. He replaced Kevin Taft
(Lib, Edmonton-Riverview) who had served as Leader since March 27, 2004.
Dr. Swann was elected to his second term as a
Member of the Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Calgary-Mountain View
on March 3, 2008. He is the critic for health and wellness and executive
council. Prior to being elected to the Legislature, he practised as a family
physician from 1975 to 1984 and then worked as a public health consultant from
1988 to 2004.
On October 23, 2008, the Assembly
approved a motion to concur in the report of the Select Special Ethics
Commissioner Search Committee to appoint Neil
Wilkinson as the provincial Ethics Commissioner. Mr.
Wilkinson is the former Chair of the Board of Directors for Capital Health.
On November 4, 2008, the Assembly passed
a motion to concur with the reappointment of G. B. (Gord)
Button as Ombudsman for a five-year term as
recommended in the October 2008 report of the Select Standing Committee on
Speaker Kowalski hosted a Remembrance Day
service in the rotunda of the Legislature Building on November 5, 2008. Premier
Stelmach, Mr. Taft, and Mr. Mason participated in the service.
The Spring sitting of the Second Session
began on February 10 with the Speech from the Throne by
Norman L. Kwong.
Micheline S. Gravel
Clerk of Journals/Table Research
In September 10, 2008, Government House
Leader Mike de Jong publicly announced that
there would be no fall sitting, as the government had no urgent new legislation
to present. However, in response to the global economic downturn, the
Legislative Assembly has been called back twice — the first time for an
abbreviated fall sitting, and on the second occasion for a special weekend
The short fall sitting commenced on
November 20, 2008, seven weeks later than anticipated in the parliamentary
calendar and with one week remaining before the scheduled adjournment. The
government’s main purpose for reconvening the Legislative Assembly for five
sitting days was to seek passage of Bill 45,
Economic Incentive and Stabilization Statutes Amendment Act, 2008
and Bill 46, Vancouver Foundation Amendment Act,
Bill 45 contained some components of the
government’s ten-point economic plan, which Premier
Gordon Campbell had presented in a televised address
to the province on October 22. For example, the bill proposed amendments to the
Income Tax Act to
accelerate personal and small business income tax reductions, and changes to the
Land Tax Deferment Act
to allow some homeowners to defer payment of their 2009 property taxes.
During second reading debate on Bill 45,
Opposition finance critic Bruce Ralston
claimed that both the economic plan and the enabling legislation lacked
substance, stating that additional provincial investments in housing, public
transit, and forestry were also needed. Opposition members were also concerned
about the proposed changes to the property assessment system, including their
effect on local governments. However, they ultimately voted in favour of the
bill, which received royal assent on November 27, 2008.
On Saturday, January 17, 2009, the House
reconvened for a special sitting to consider Bill 47, Vancouver Charter Amendment Act, 2009.
The Bill was drafted in response to an urgent request from the Mayor of
Vancouver for a legislative amendment to permit the city to borrow money in
order to complete the Athletes’ Village project for the 2010 Olympics, after its
lenders asked the city to guarantee loan repayments for the development.
Following first reading, Mr. De Jong
proposed that, pursuant to Standing Order 81 (Urgency cases), Bill 47 be
permitted to advance through two or more stages in one day due to its urgency.
However, Adrian Dix,
speaking on behalf of the Opposition House Leader, argued that the bill required
the full scrutiny of debate on different days prior to being passed. After
considering the submissions of the two House Leaders, the Speaker ruled that
Standing Order 81 be applied in the case of Bill 47, due to its narrow scope and
the urgency of the occasion. Following more than 18 hours of debate, the
legislative amendment was passed unanimously the morning of Sunday, January 18.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and
Government Services released a report on its annual budget consultations on
November 15, 2008. The report summarizes the public input on the 2009 budget
expressed at seventeen public hearings, and in written submissions, on-line
survey responses and household flyers. In total, more than 2,900 British
Columbians participated in the process.
The report contains 68 recommendations to
government on tax policy, program spending, and capital spending, including: new
tax credits for the digital media and mining industries, home-based caregivers
and for charitable donations; further investments in agriculture and
aquaculture, mental health and addictions services, and the provincial parks
system; and working with partners in the development of rail infrastructure and
commuter rail service on Vancouver Island. However, in light of the uncertain
economic environment, the Committee acknowledged the need for the government to
proceed prudently with respect to new and expanded spending proposals.
The Special Committee to Appoint a
Police Complaint Commissioner, which was appointed in May 2008, released its
report on December 17, 2008. The Committee unanimously recommended
Stan T. Lowe, the
Communications Counsel for the Criminal Justice Branch since 2005. Mr. Lowe is
expected to begin his six-year, non-renewable term as Police Complaint
Commissioner in February 2009, following the formal recommendation of his
appointment in the Legislative Assembly.
Changes in the Legislature
Since B.C.’s last legislative report (Summer
2008), there have been several changes in the composition of the House, due to
by-elections, a cabinet shuffle and the sudden death of a minister. The current
party standings in the Legislative Assembly are B.C. Liberal Party 42, NDP 34
and 3 vacancies.
Two Vancouver by-elections were held on
October 29, 2008, following the resignations of NDP MLA Gregor Robertson and Liberal
MLA Lorne Mayencourt.
The newly elected MLAs are Spencer Herbert
(NDP) for Vancouver-Burrard and Jenn McGinn
(NDP) for Vancouver-Fairview.
An additional two MLAs also recently
resigned their seats, in order to pursue new opportunities. It was announced on
December 18, 2008 that Carole Taylor,
Liberal-MLA for Vancouver-Langara, had been invited to chair the federal
government’s economic advisory council. Richard
Neufeld, Liberal-MLA for Peace River North and
former Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, was appointed to the
Senate on December 22, 2008. By-elections will not be held for either electoral
district, as a general provincial election is scheduled for May 12, 2009,
meeting the requirement to fill seat vacancies within six months.
On January 19, 2009, the Premier
announced a minor cabinet shuffle. Blair Lekstrom
was appointed Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and
Kevin Krueger was appointed
Minister of Community Development. Another change is the creation of a new
Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development, which will be
led by Ida Chong.
On January 20,
Stan Hagen, Minister of
Agriculture and Lands, passed away suddenly. Mr. Hagen represented the Comox
Valley for thirteen years, during which time he held ten different portfolios
under the Social Credit and Liberal governments. Since his passing, many public
tributes have recognized Mr. Hagen’s long contribution to public service, as
well as his kind and generous personal nature.
Subsequently, on January 30,
Nanaimo-Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon
was appointed as the new Minister of Agriculture and Lands.
In November 5, 2008, Premier
Jean Charest asked the
Lieutenant-Governor, Pierre Duchesne,
to end the 38th Legislature that had begun on April 5, 2007. Upon its
dissolution, the Assembly was composed of 48 Members of the Québec Liberal
Party, 39 Members of the Action démocratique du Québec, and 36 Members of the
Parti Québécois, 2 seats being vacant at that time. The general election was
held on December 8, 2008. As had been done in the general election of 2007, the
leaders’ debate was held within the Parliament Building, at the Le Parlementaire
Following the vote, the Québec Liberal
Party was returned to power with the election of 66 Members, including the
Premier and Member for Sherbrooke, Mr. Charest. The Parti Québécois won 51 seats
and forms the Official Opposition, led by Pauline
Marois, the Member for Charlevoix. Lastly, eight
other Members were elected, seven of whom are from the Action démocratique du
Québec and a first Member elected under the banner of Québec Solidaire.
On December 18, 2008, Premier Charest
introduced a Cabinet composed of 26 members, half of whom are women. For her
part, Mrs. Marois announced the Official Opposition Members’ responsibilities on
January 9, 2009. Mario Dumont,
Leader of the Action démocratique du Québec, had done the same on December 19.
Extraordinary Sittings and the Election of the
New President of the Assembly
At the request of Premier Charest, the
National Assembly held extraordinary sittings on January 13-15, 2009.
the Member for Brome-Missisquoi, presided over the election of the new President.
Upon the expiration of the deadline for
the nomination of candidacies, the official list contained a single name,
Yvon Vallières, the Québec
Liberal Party Member for Richmond. Mr. Vallières was thus unanimously elected by
his peers and became the 44th President of the Québec National
Mr. Vallières holds a diploma in teaching and
in the psychology of human relations. He was a Member of the Québec Liberal
Party in the electoral division of Richmond for a first term of office from 1973
to 1976, and has been re-elected without interruption since the general election
of 1981. During his career, he held several parliamentary and ministerial
In addition to the election of the
President and the establishment of the standing committee, the sittings held in
January 2009 enabled Members to pass Bill 1, An Act
to amend the Supplemental Pension Plans Act and other legislative provisions in
order to reduce the effects of the financial crisis on plans covered by the Act, a bill which was given royal assent on January 15, 2009.
As is the case each year during the holiday
period, two parliamentary simulations were held at the Parliament Building. The
59th legislature of the Youth Parliament, brought together young
people from 18 to 25 years of age to express their opinions and defend their
points of view. It was held from December 26 to 30. It was followed by the 26th
edition of the Student Parliament.
Furthermore, from January 6-10, 2009, more
than 140 college-level students hailing from 28 cegeps and colleges throughout
the province of Québec gathered at the Québec Parliament for the 17th edition
of the Student Forum. This parliamentary simulation enables participants to
examine bills dealing with issues that concern them, and this year the focus was
on the nationalization of wind energy, the restructuring of the education
system, and finding ways to strike a balance between studying and working at the
high school and college levels.
From December 21, 2008 to January 4,
2009, the National Assembly Channel marked the 30th anniversary of
the direct broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings by presenting a special
programme schedule. This programme schedule featured the first period of Routine
Proceedings broadcast in 1978, as well as all of the first oral question periods
of each of the subsequent legislatures. Reflecting the major political issues of
the past 30 years and the exchanges between political figures who were the
instigators thereof, each excerpt was put into context by National Assembly
librarian and historian Martin Pelletier.
The Member for Dubuc from 1976 to 1989,
Hubert Desbiens, passed
away in Chicoutimi on 1 January 2009.
Marie-France LapointeSecretariat of the Assembly
The dissolution of the 38th
Legislature, last November 5, ended some forty mandates that had been given to
the standing committees or that they had undertaken on their own initiative. The
committees were very busy during the weeks prior to this dissolution, however,
particularly as regards the holding of public hearings at the Assembly but also
outside of the Parliament.
After having held three days of public
hearings in Montréal, the Committee on Social Affairs continued its regional
tour on homelessness by visiting the cities of Trois-Rivières and Gatineau. Six
days of hearings were subsequently held in Québec City in October and November.
At the time of the dissolution of the Assembly, the Committee had received close
to 150 briefs, heard approximately one hundred individuals and groups and
obtained some twenty answers to the questionnaire that it had made available on
line on the Internet site of the Assembly. However, the Committee was unable to
conclude its hearings and table its report owing to the dissolution of the
The Committee on Labour and the Economy
held special consultations in September, October and November 2008 on the
discussion paper entitled Forest land occupancy and
the constitution of forest conservation authorities
presented by the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife. This paper states
the measures that are likely to be implemented within the framework of a new
forest management plan. The Committee held eleven sittings during which it heard
66 persons and organizations. It also received close to seventy briefs.
Last October, the Committee on
Institutions held special consultations on Bill 99, An Act to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to prevent abusive use of the courts
and promote freedom of expression and citizen participation in public debate.
This bill followed up on the general consultation that had been held in winter
2008 on the reform of the Code of Civil Procedure and strategic lawsuits against
public participation. However, the Committee was unable to give clause-by-clause
consideration to this bill owing to the dissolution of the legislature.
On October29, 2008, the Committee on
Institutions tabled its report within the framework of the mandate on the nature
and context of the signing of the contract granted to Attractions hippiques by
the Government of Québec. In this report, which contains three recommendations,
the Committee focussed on the main elements of the privatization process and the
difficulties that Québec’s horse racing industry is currently experiencing.
Last October 15-16, the Committee on
Transportation and the Environment examined the activities, orientations and
management of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec. It should be
mentioned that, in pursuance of Standing Order 294, each committee is
responsible for the yearly examination of at least one agency under its
authority. However, the Committee was unable to complete its mandate owing to
the dissolution of the Assembly.
In October 29-30, the Committee on
Public Administration held public hearings concerning the special report by the
Auditor General on the use of public funds by the former Lieutenant-Governor
of Québec. On this occasion, the Committee heard, in that order, the Auditor
General of Québec, Renaud Lachance,
the Secretary General of the Executive Council, Gérard Bibeau,
the former Lieutenant-Governor of
Québec, Lise Thibault,
as well as the current Lieutenant-Governor, Pierre
Duchesne. It should be noted that the hearing, by a parliamentary
committee, of a former Lieutenant-Governor or of a Lieutenant-Governor in office
constitutes a first in Canada.
Further information regarding the standing
committee proceedings is available on the Québec National Assembly Internet site
Secretariat of committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
The Third Session of the
56th Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, which opened on November 25, 2008,
adjourned on December 19, 2008, after sitting a total of 16 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’
On December 9, 2008, the Minister of
Finance, Victor Boudreau,
introduced the 2009-2010 Capital Budget, which totals $661.4 million. The budget
represents the first part of a two-year capital investment plan that will exceed
$1.2 billion. The focus of the capital budget is the $378.8 million investment
in transportation-related infrastructure. The budget also includes an investment
of over $100 million in construction and improvements across the community
college network over the next two years. Other capital investments for 2009-2010
include $67.1 million for the health care system; $49.5 million for K-12
schools; $30 million for universities; $21.3 million to modernize corrections
facilities; $18.7 million for the Petitcodiac River restoration project; $7
million to upgrade the provincial fleet of vehicles; $4 million for tourism
infrastructure; and $2.8 million for the ongoing upgrades to the Legislative
The government, under Premier Shawn
Graham, introduced twenty-five bills during the course of the Fall
sitting. Among the noteworthy pieces of legislation introduced in the House were
Bill 6, Modernization of Benefits and
Obligations Act, introduced by the Minister of Justice and Consumer
Affairs, Thomas J. Burke, entitles same-sex common-law
partners to the same benefits and to be under the same obligations as
opposite-sex common-law partners. The bill also incorporates gender-neutral
terminology in reference to persons in common-law partnerships and marital
Bill 10, An Act to Amend the Political
Process Financing Act, introduced by the Minister of Health and
Government House Leader, Michael Murphy, limits how much
third-parties can spend on advertising during election campaigns and
requires all third-party election advertisers who spend more than $500
during an election to register with the supervisor of political financing.
An Act to Amend the Assessment Act,
introduced by the Minister of Business New Brunswick,
Greg Byrne, improves the
property assessment appeal process to make it more transparent and fair,
which includes provisions for public disclosure of real estate sale prices;
a shared burden of proof; and an extended time to appeal.
Limitation of Actions Act,
introduced by the Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs, modernizes the
time limits within which civil proceedings must be commenced, and provides a
defense if a claim is brought too late. The bill provides for a discovery
period of two years beginning on the day the claim is discovered; and an
ultimate period of fifteen years beginning on the day the act on which the
claim is based occurred. The bill was referred to the Standing Committee on
Law Amendments, which is scheduled to hold public hearings in February.
The Official Opposition, led by
Opposition Leader David Alward, introduced three bills for the
consideration of the House. Among those were Bill 17,
An Act to Amend the Harmonized Sales Tax Act,
introduced by Mr. Alward, which provides for a tax credit on the purchase of
home heating fuels; and Bill 18, An Act to Amend the
Taxpayer Protection Act, introduced by
Bruce Fitch, which requires
that the wording of any referendum question to implement a new tax, must first
be approved by the Legislative Assembly before the question is submitted to
This was the first session that the
Legislative Assembly has been able to make Question Period available on line, on
a same-day or next-day basis, as audio and video-on-demand webcasts. Question
Period audio is now available simultaneously in the original language, English
interpreted, and French interpreted feeds, similar to the live proceedings and
other special events, such as the Throne and Budget speeches. In addition, the
Question Period video is searchable in either official language, by session,
name of speaker, or key topics.
On December 12, 2008, the Select
Committee on Tax Review, chaired by Roly MacIntyre,
tabled its Final Report. The Committee had under consideration several options
to restructure the province’s tax system. In the report the Committee
recommended that government consider implementing a flat provincial tax rate of
10%; increasing the non-refundable basic personal amount to $12,000 for taxable
income below $35,000; implementing a non-refundable child tax credit of up to
$400 per child; implementing a universal child care benefit of $600 annually per
child under the age of six; lowering the general corporate income tax rate to
5%; increasing the Harmonized Sales Tax rate and introducing an HST rebate
program for low income earners; and implementing a three-year average assessment
value on property. The Committee also recommended against implementing a carbon
tax until further study is undertaken.
Since the adjournment of the House on December
19, two Standing Committees have maintained active schedules. The Standing
Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by John Betts, and the
Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, chaired by Rick Miles,
have been busy reviewing the annual reports and public accounts of various
government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations.
Appointment to Senate
On January 2, 2009,
Percy Mockler was appointed to
the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. At the time of his appointment, Mr.
Mockler was serving as the MLA for Restigouche-la-Vallée. A Progressive
Conservative Member, he was first elected in 1982. He was re-elected in 1993
(by-election) and 1995. Following his re-election in 1999 he was sworn in as
Solicitor General and Minister of Human Resources Development and Housing. He
was named Minister of Family and Community Services in 2000 and became Minister
of Transportation in 2001. Re-elected in 2003, he served as Minister of
Intergovernmental and International Relations, Minister responsible for the
Francophonie, 2004 Celebrations, Service New Brunswick, and Culture and Sport.
In 2006, he was sworn in as Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport; Minister
responsible for the Immigration and Repatriation Secretariat; and Minister
responsible for La Francophonie. Re-elected in September of 2006, he was
opposition critic for areas of interest related to the Regional Development
Corporation, intergovernmental affairs and the Population Growth Secretariat. A
by-election will be held in Restigouche-la-Vallée on March 9, 2009.
The Legislature is scheduled to resume sitting
on March 17, 2009, at which time the Minister of Finance is expected to deliver
the budget speech. The current standings in the House are 32 Liberals, 22
Progressive Conservatives, and one vacancy.
Shayne DaviesClerk Assistant & Committee Clerk
The recent fall legislative session came to an
end on December 4, 2008. The focus of the 25-day period was the introduction of
legislation and the passage of Supplementary Estimates. Up for debate this fall
were nearly 40 new pieces of government legislation, one bill reinstated from
the previous session, and four Private Members’ Public Bills. The Saskatchewan
Legislature will commence its spring session on March 2, 2009.
Of all the newly proposed legislation, a
few bills are of particular interest. Bill No. 60 –
The Senate Nominee Election Act, has particular
relevance to the current federal scene, but it was introduced by the government
(then in opposition) as far back as 2006. It proposes to elect nominees for any
vacant Senate positions Saskatchewan may have in the future. The opposition,
which favours the abolition of the Upper Chamber, has already begun to voice its
objections to this prospect and more of the same is expected in the spring
Still on the theme of elections,
Bill No. 59 – The
Election Amendment Act, 2008, aims to restrict
advertising by government ministries and agencies in the period prior to an
election. A law implementing fixed election dates was passed in April of 2008,
and this new bill seeks to eliminate any possible or perceived advantage of the
government to increase its advertising prior to the issuance of a writ.
In an attempt to define the work of a
professional artist, protect intellectual property and enforce written contracts
between artists and engagers, the government introduced Bill No. 68
– The Arts Professions Act. A
similar bill proposed by the previous government in 2006 -2007 was the subject
of two weeks of public hearings and a substantive report before dying on the
Order Paper, so it will be interesting to see the path this new legislation
Bill No. 9 –
The Superannuation (Supplementary Provisions) Amendment Act, 2008,
had the honour of being the first bill to be reinstated from a previous session.
According to the new rules adopted in 2007, a bill introduced in one session may
be reinstated by the government in the first five days of the next sitting. Bill
No. 9 was brought back at the exact stage it was left on the
Orders of the Day, and the time
spent in debate was carried forward as well.
The Saskatchewan Legislature passed two
pieces of Private Members’ legislation that acknowledge the work of the
province’s armed service personnel. Bill No. 601 –
The Air, Army, Sea and Navy League Cadets Recognition Day Act,
and Bill No. 602 – The National Peacekeepers
Recognition Day Act, each establish a day for the
province to officially commemorate the contribution and sacrifice made by
Saskatchewan’s cadets and peacekeepers. Both bills were passed through all
stages in one day, by leave of the Assembly.
Over the intersessional period, Saskatchewan’s
standing committees have been busy continuing their work. The Crown and Central
Agencies committee met on January 19, 2009, to discuss the recommendations of
the Provincial Auditor to multiple provincial Crown corporations.
Representatives of both the Auditor’s office and the Crowns were on hand to
respond to questions by the committee members. The following day saw a meeting
of the Public Accounts committee, which received a very interesting presentation
on parliamentary oversight by the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation
(CCAF-FCVI). Following the presentation, the committee reviewed and adopted the
Provincial Auditor’s Business and Financial Plan for 2009-2010.
Saskatchewan New Democratic Party leader
Lorne Calvert announced
his retirement in the fall, and the contest to replace him is beginning to take
shape. The first to toss his cap in the ring was former cabinet Minister and
deputy Premier, Dwayne Lingenfelter.
Out of the political arena since 2000, Mr. Lingenfelter previously served in the
government of Roy Romanow.
Joining Mr. Lingenfelter in the race is relative newcomer,
Yens Pedersen, a Regina lawyer
and former president of the provincial NDP. Several elected members of the party
are also rumoured to be considering challenging the leadership. Former cabinet
Minister Andrew Thomson
has officially declined to enter the race, as has
Nettie Wiebe, who ran for the leadership in 2001 and
was head of the National Farmers Union.
Honour from Ukraine
For his efforts to maintain and
strengthen Saskatchewan’s relationship with Ukraine, Deputy Premier
Ken Krawetz was recently
awarded Ukraine’s highest tribute for non-citizens. The Order of King Yaroslav
the Wise was also presented to three other notable Canadians, including Alberta
Premier, Ed Stelmach. In
2007, Mr. Krawetz sponsored The Ukrainian Famine and
Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act. This
legislation officially recognizes and honours the 75th anniversary of
the famine and establishes an annual day to pay tribute to those who lost their
Joelle M. Perras
The Senate Chamber was the scene of the Opening
of both the First and Second Sessions of the 40th Parliament over the
span of just over two months. The first Opening took place on November 18, 2008,
followed by just 3 weeks of sittings before it was prorogued on December 3,
2008. The Opening of the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament took place on
January 26, 2009.
According to custom, the Speech from the
Throne was given at each Opening by the Governor General,
Michaëlle Jean, and the
pro forma Bill S-1, An Act
relating to railways, was introduced in the Senate. Bill S-1 enables senators to
deal with Senate matters before addressing the issues raised by the government
in the Speech from the Throne. Thus far, Bill S-1 has always consisted of a
simple title page and nothing more. For the first time ever, on November 18,
2008, Bill S-1 contained some text explaining the purpose of the bill. The most
significant part states the following: "This bill asserts the right of the
Senate to give precedence to matters not addressed in the Speech from the
After the Speech from the Throne, it is
customary for the government to choose two senators to move and second a motion
for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. This honour was given to
Senators Michael Meighen
and Andrée Champagne
during the First Session, and to new Senators
Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis and
Irving Gerstein respectively
during the Second Session. Both new senators made their maiden speeches in the
Senate on this occasion.
Former Senators and new Senators
Tribute was paid to former Senator and
businessman Joseph Landry
from New Brunswick, who
passed away on July 25, 2008. He was
appointed to the Senate in
1996 by Prime Minister
Chrétien and retired in
1997 at age 75.
On October 22, 2008
retired from the Senate. Senator Trenholme Counsell was a
former New Brunswick lieutenant governor who took a
special interest in literacy and early childhood development. She was appointed
to the Senate in 2003 by Prime Minister Chrétien.
Senator Leonard Gustafson retired on November 11, 2008. Senator
Gustafson was a wheat farmer from Saskatchewan who worked on issues of concern
to the agricultural sector. He was the Chair of the Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry from 1996 to 2002, and Deputy Chair of the same from
then until his retirement. He was appointed to the Senate in 1993 by Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney.
Stephen Harper appointed 18
senators to the Red Chamber between January 2 and 14, 2009. This is the largest
group of senators appointed to the Senate since Confederation. All 18 senators
will sit as Conservatives. In a statement released on December 22, 2008, the
Prime Minister assured Canadians that all of the new senators support his drive
for Senate Reform, notably his plan to restrict Senate terms to 8 years. Senator
Pamela Wallin has stated
in the media that she plans to step-down and run for election to the Senate as
soon as her province of Saskatchewan has an election for its Senate seats.
The names of the new senators and the
Provinces or Territories they each represent are:
Nancy Greene Raine
is a former alpine skier who has the Canadian record in World Cup victories,
including the Olympics. Yonah Martin
is of Korean and Canadian descent, and has spent her life building bridges
between different cultural communities in BC.
Richard Neufeld has been involved in public life for
many years, most recently as B.C. Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum
Newfoundland & Labrador
Fabian Manning has represented the people
of Newfoundland and Labrador at all 3 levels of government. While he was an MP,
he served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as well as
the Conservative Government’s Atlantic caucus.
was a long-time MLA in New Brunswick, with titles including Minister of
Wellness, Culture and Sport, Solicitor General, and Minister of Human Resources,
Development and Housing. John D. Wallace
was a distinguished lawyer in St. John who after retirement became involved in
is one of Canada’s top legal experts on offshore resource development and a
well-respected lawyer. Stephen Greene
was a senior aide in the Reform Party from 1993 to 1996, and most recently
served as Principal Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to Nova Scotia Premier
Rodney MacDonald. Michael L. MacDonald
is a businessman who is Vice-President of the Conservative Party of Canada and a
Nova Scotia representative on the Party’s national executive.
has been involved in a number of charitable organizations such as St. Michael’s
Hospital Foundation and the National Ballet of Canada, and is a National Post
columnist. Irving Gerstein
is a businessman and former Chair of the Conservative Fund Canada, and a
long-time Director of the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Prince Edward Island
is best known for his role as host of CTV’s daily program on politics,
Mike Duffy Live, and has
honourary degrees from three universities, including the University of PEI.
(Repentigny) was the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples since
2006, helping to promote social and economic equity for off-reserve and
non-status Indians. He is a member of the Algonquin Nation.
(Rougemont) was the MP for the riding of Louis-Hébert from 1984 to 1993 and is a
former member of the board of the Alzheimer Society and the
Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec.
(Wellington) is a businessman who co-founded the Montreal Hellenic Chamber of
Commerce and is currently a Director of Via Rail Canada.
Michel Rivard (The Laurentides)
had a long career in public administration, was President of the Executive
Committee of the Communauté Urbaine de Québec
and was an MNA for Limoilou.
is an award-winning journalist who co-hosted Canada
AM. She is the Chancellor of the University of
Guelph, Senior Advisor on Canada-US relations at the Americas Society and the
Council of the Americas, and served on the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future
Role in Afghanistan.
Hector Daniel Lang was a long-time MLA in
the Yukon Legislative Assembly. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board
of Governors for Yukon College.
All new senators were introduced in the Senate
on January 26, 2009, the day of the Opening of the Second Session of the 40th
In December 15, the
2008 Fall Sitting of the First Session of the 32nd Legislative
Assembly adjourned. The 28-day sitting had convened on October 23rd.
The Sitting concluded with Assent being given in the Chamber by the Commissioner
of Yukon, Geraldine Van
Bibber (to Bill Nos. 12, 54, 55, 56, and 60).
In the Fall Sitting, a total of 11 bills (all
Government bills) were granted Assent by Commissioner Van Bibber. They were:
Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act,
Bill No. 54, Electoral District Boundaries
Bill No. 55, Act to Amend the
Social Assistance Act
Bill No. 56, Act to Amend the
Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act
Bill No. 57, Act to Amend the
Miners Lien Act
Bill No. 58, Act to Amend the
Quartz Mining Act
Bill No. 59, Forest Resources Act
Bill No. 60, Act to Amend the
Bill No. 61, Act to Amend the
Bill No. 62, Act to Amend the
Bill No. 63, Act to Amend the
Seniors Income Supplement Act
Bill No. 54,
Electoral District Boundaries Act,
puts into effect the recommendations of the Final Report of the Electoral
District Boundaries Commission, which had been tabled by Speaker
Ted Staffen in the 2008 Spring
Sitting. The Act provides for the addition of another seat within the city of
Whitehorse. This will increase to nineteen the total number of MLAs forming the
next Legislative Assembly.
As predicted in the Winter edition of
the Canadian Parliamentary Review,
on November 20th, the Select Committee on Human Rights tabled its
Report, bringing to a conclusion the Committee’s work. Earlier in the Fall, the
Committee had held hearings throughout the territory, and accepted written
submissions, in its review of Yukon’s 21 year old
Human Rights Act. The members of the all-Party
committee – whose terms of reference provided for decisions to be taken with
unanimous consent – were Marian Horne
(Pelly-Nisutlin, Yukon Party), Don Inverarity
(Porter Creek South, Liberal) and Steve Cardiff
(Mount Lorne, NDP).
On December 15, 2008, Speaker Staffen
tabled the Interim Report of the Select Committee on Whistle-blower Protection.
The other members of the Committee, of which Speaker Staffen is Chair, are
Steve Nordick (Klondike,
Yukon Party), Mr. Cardiff, Jim Kenyon
(Porter Creek North, Yukon Party), and Eric
Fairclough (Mayo-Tatchun, Liberal). The Committee is
tasked with reviewing and reporting to the Assembly its findings and
recommendations concerning the central issues that should be addressed in
whistle-blower protection legislation.
On December 22, 2008,
(Dan) Lang was
named to represent Yukon in the Senate of Canada. On January 26th
this year, Mr. Lang was officially sworn in as senator. Mr. Lang had been a
member of the Legislative Assembly from 1974-1992, and had held various cabinet
portfolios during his career as an MLA. In the present Legislative Assembly,
Senator Lang’s brother, Archie Lang
(Porter Creek Centre, Yukon Party), is Minister of Highways and Public Works,
and Minister of Community Services. Mr. Lang is Yukon’s third senator. Yukon’s
first senator, Paul Lucier,
served from 1975 until his death in 1999. Ione
Christensen served from 1999 until her retirement in
On January 26, 2009, John Edzerza (McIntyre-Takhini)
resigned from the NDP Caucus to become an Independent member. In light of Mr.
Edzerza’s announcement, party standings in the Yukon Legislative Assembly are as
follows: Yukon Party, 10; Liberal Party, 5; NDP, 2; Independent, 1. Initially,
Mr. Edzerza had been elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2002 as a member of
the Yukon Party and served as Minister of Education, Minister of Justice and
Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission between 2002 and 2006.
Before the 2006 general election, Mr. Edzerza resigned from Cabinet to become an
Independent member. In the 2006 general election, Mr. Edzerza campaigned and was
elected under the NDP banner.
On February 5, 2009,
Todd Hardy, Leader of the Third
Party, publicly announced his intention to step down as Leader of the NDP. Mr.
Hardy, who says he will retain his Whitehorse Centre seat, expects a successor
will be named as NDP Leader this year in Fall. Mr. Hardy was first elected to
Yukon’s Legislative Assembly in 1996. After losing his seat in the 2000
election, Mr. Hardy was re-elected in 2002, and again in 2006. In 2002, Mr.
Hardy won the NDP leadership. Mr. Hardy, who is fighting leukemia, indicates he
will be focusing his efforts on regaining his health. Mr. Hardy and Mr. Cardiff
comprise the NDP Caucus.
On December 15, 2008, Premier
Dennis Fentie (Watson Lake,
Yukon Party) paid tribute in the House on behalf of all Members and Yukoners to
former Yukon MP Erik Nielsen,
who had passed away on September 4th. Mr. Nielsen had represented
Yukon in the House of Commons for 30 years, and from 1984-1986 served as
Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister. In recognition of Mr. Nielsen’s contribution to
the territory and to the country, the Premier announced that Whitehorse
International Airport was being renamed Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International
Former Hansard Contractor, Dave
Robertson passed away on December 18th,
2008, following a long battle with cancer. On December 15th, Speaker
Staffen delivered a tribute on behalf of the House, recognizing Mr. Robertson
for his long service in the production of Hansard
for the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The Speaker noted that the 2008 Fall Sitting
was the first Sitting in more than thirty years in which Mr. Robertson had not
been involved in the production of Hansard.
Mr. Robertson had first taken on the contract to print
Hansard in the 1970s. The
Speaker noted while Mr. Robertson had retired from the editing process ten years
ago, that he had continued to provide technical support to
Hansard, and remained a
familiar presence, coming in daily to see that everything got off to a smooth
Report of the Auditor General
On January 30, 2009, the Auditor General
of Canada, Sheila Fraser,
was in Whitehorse to release a report entitled
Public Schools and Advanced Education: Yukon Department of Education.
That morning, Ms. Fraser provided a briefing on the report to MLAs in the
legislative Chamber. The following week (on February 6), the Standing Committee
on Public Accounts held a public hearing in the Chamber to consider the Auditor
General’s Report. Officials from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada
were present to advise the Committee. Over the course of the day, the Committee
questioned witnesses from the Department of Education and Yukon College with
respect to the findings in Ms. Fraser’s Report. The Public Accounts Committee
will prepare a report on the Auditor General’s Report and the related public
hearing held by the Committee. Both reports will be tabled in the 2009 Spring
Prince Edward Island
he Second Session of the Sixty-third General
Assembly adjourned to the call of the Speaker on December 3, 2008, after 13
sitting days. It was announced on January 30, 2009, that the House will
re-convene on April 2, with a continuation of the Second Session which opened
last April. The announcement marks the first time that a parliamentary calendar
has been invoked to decide the opening day of the spring sitting. In 2008, the
Assembly adopted a recommendation that the spring sitting of the Legislative
Assembly is to start during the first week of April each year.
In December 2008, the Indemnities and
Allowances Commission, which reviews salaries and benefits of members,
recommended a salary increase of 2.5% apply as of April 1, 2009. As of that
date, the salary for a member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward
Island will be $65,344. The Commission’s authority in this regard 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 decision to the Speaker each
year by the first of December.
Premier Robert Ghiz announced changes to his cabinet on
January 13, 2009. Allan Campbell,
formerly Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development will now head
up the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning.
Richard Brown has moved to the
Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry from the Department of Innovation
and Advanced Learning. Neil LeClair,
the former Minister of Agriculture, will now serve as the Minister of Fisheries,
Aquaculture and Rural Development. George Webster
takes the agriculture portfolio as Minister of Agriculture; prior to this, he
was the Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry.
The Standing Committee on Social Development has
maintained an active agenda in recent months. The committee was mandated by the
Legislative Assembly to review the safe use of cell phones in vehicles and was
asked by the Department of Health to review proposed amendments to the
Smoke-free Places Act. For both
issues, the committee sought public input by advertising for submissions and
held several meetings to meet with interested individuals and groups. Regarding
the safe use of cell phones in vehicles, the committee recommended that the
Department of Transportation and Public Works increase educational awareness
campaigns for drivers and review the issue in one year. On the matter of
proposed amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act,
the committee made a number of recommendations, including a recommendation that
provisions to prohibit smoking in a motor vehicles when children are present be
introduced, and that smoking on patios and decks of eating establishments and
licensed premises continue to be permitted. The complete text of both reports
can be found on line at www.assembly.pe.ca.
In its report of November 2008, the
Standing Committee on Privileges, Rules and Private Bills
made the recommendation that the maximum number of
members on a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly be reduced from ten
to eight members, to be effective as of the opening of the Third Session of the
Sixty-third General Assembly. No change was recommended for the number of
opposition members serving on a standing committee, which will remain at two
(unless there are fewer than two members of the official opposition). The report
was adopted by the Assembly.
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 received varied input regarding the causes and outcomes
of the collapse of the company and, after due consideration, made a number of
recommendations in its report, adopted by the Legislative Assembly in November
2008: (1) that the Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development
review, in detail, the testimony received by the committee and take a lead role,
in conjunction with industry, in preparing the strategy for the development and
sustainability of the lobster fishing and processing industries in the province;
(2) that the Companies Act
be amended to make it consistent with similar acts in other Canadian
jurisdictions; and (3) that the Standing Committee on Privileges, Rules and
Private Bills study the advisability of establishing a new standing committee of
the Legislative Assembly to be charged with matters concerning crown
corporations, boards and agencies.
The Standing Committee on Community
Affairs and Economic Development
continued its work on the subject of rural development in
the province. In its report of November 26, 2008, the committee made seven
recommendations, including that government continue to explore appropriate
decentralization of government services across the province, and encouraged
continued public consultations by government on rural sustainability. The report
also noted the recent announcement that high speed internet will be available
throughout the province by the end of 2009.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture,
Forestry and Environment put forward twelve recommendations for the
consideration of the members of the Legislative Assembly in November 2008. Among
them, were recommendations that government continue funding the activities for
the "Buy P.E.I."marketing program and expressing support for initiatives to
establish the necessary infrastructure and technology to meet the demand for
value-added products in agriculture. The committee reported it heard of the
potential value in establishing a province-wide GMO (genetically-modified
organisms)-free zone for canola, and recommended that the provincial Department
of Agriculture work closely with Island producers of this crop to identify the
advantages of such a strategy.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, announced in
collaboration with her Maritime colleagues, that
James W. Macnutt of Charlottetown has been engaged
to write a book on the architectural history of the three Maritime legislative
assembly buildings. Mr. Macnutt has written and lectured on architectural
history and is intimately familiar with the Legislative Assembly of Prince
Edward Island, having served as its first legislative counsel and as law clerk.
The book will document, through pictures and text, the origins and usage of the
architectural styles in which the buildings are constructed. Mr. Macnutt will
also explore the origins of the form and function of the various parliamentary
chambers and spaces in each building as they continue to allow for the
functioning of modern legislatures and the practice of responsible government.
A greater appreciation of the principles
of parliamentary democracy is one of the most effective ways of ensuring the
continuing preservation of our system of government. As part of the role of the
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the office promotes these principles in an
attempt to generate a deeper understanding of our legislature and our system of
responsible government. As such, Speakers Roy
Boudreau of New Brunswick, Alfie MacLeod of Nova Scotia,
and Speaker Casey are in agreement that there is a need for a comprehensive
architectural history of their respective legislative assembly buildings that
will serve as a guide for visitors and users alike to assist in explaining and
interpreting the history, symbolism and uses of their respective buildings in
the democratic process.
"Since being elected as Speaker of the House
in July 2007, I continue to feel privileged and fortunate to come to work every
day at Province House. I am excited that this important book will be written and
made available to Islanders and will serve as an excellent reference for those
interested in Province House and in the practice of parliamentary democracy in
Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia," said Speaker Casey.
To be completed in the fall of 2010, the book
will explore the many common architectural themes shared by legislative assembly
buildings and why they were built in the fashion they were. It will interpret
such things as why the Legislative Council and House of Assembly Chambers are
located on the second floor of the buildings, and why very carefully chosen
locations within the city were selected as the construction sites.
As promised in the April 2008 Speech from the
Throne, government has appointed a commissioner to conduct a comprehensive
review of municipal and land use and development issues in the province. Hon.
Ralph Thompson, who retired from the Prince Edward Island Provincial Court in
2005, has been given the task of conducting a thorough review of land use
challenges and municipal governance issues facing the province. Commissioner
Thompson is expected to submit a report by the end of 2009, outlining
recommendations to address challenges and proposed revenue measures needed to
support suggested changes. He has also been directed to provide a review of the
impact of unincorporated areas on existing municipal structures.
In December 2008, the Environment,
Energy and Forestry Minister George Webster
acknowledged the environmental efforts of Islanders after the findings of a
recent study by Statistics Canada showed that Prince Edward Island households
are the most environmentally active in the country.
"The findings in this report clearly show that
the environment is very important to Islanders," Webster said. In the report, a
nation-leading 64% of Island households were deemed "very active" when it comes
to household environmental activity. P.E.I. also had the highest rate of
composting (92%) and was tied with Nova Scotia and British Columbia for the
highest recycling rate (99%). The Households and the Environment Survey collects
information on a variety of environmental themes. The study identified six
environmental household behaviours: use of reduced volume toilets, use of
low-flow showerheads, use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycling,
composting and lowering temperatures. Households that engaged in four to six
behaviours were considered very active.
The Chairperson of the Prince Edward
Island Human Rights Commission, Richard Montigny,
announced on December 10, 2008, that Barbara Fanning
is the inaugural recipient of the Award for the Advancement of Human Rights on
P.E.I. Ms. Fanning was recognized as a passionate advocate for the rights of men
and women with intellectual disabilities for the past twenty years. The P.E.I.
Human Rights Commission recently created this annual award to recognize
individuals, groups or organizations that have made significant contributions
toward the advancement of human rights on Prince Edward Island. The presentation
was made on International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated every year in
countries all around the world to commemorate the signing of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
House of Commons
In November 18, 2008, having sworn the
oath of office, the newly-elected Members attended the opening of the Fortieth
Parliament. Their first order of business was to elect a new Speaker from among
the eight candidates. Peter Milliken
was re-elected on the fifth ballot for his fourth term as Speaker of the House
In the Speech from the Throne delivered
the next day, Stephen Harper’s
Conservative government put forward a five-point plan to protect the economy,
and a plan to reform some federal institutions. Upon their return to the
Chamber, and on motion of the Prime Minister, the traditional pro forma Bill C-1
was introduced and read a first time. As a departure from the usual practice,
the Prime Minister tabled a copy of the Bill, the text of which asserted the
traditional rights of the House of Commons.
Debate on the motion regarding the Address in
Reply to the Speech from the Throne proceeded without incident; the
sub-amendment was rejected, after it was ordered by unanimous consent that it be
considered on the third of the said days (rather than the second day, as the
Standing Orders provide). The amendment was passed on the fourth of the said
On November 21, 2008, the Speaker
proposed that Andrew Scheer
be appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole, that
Denise Savoie be appointed
Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole and that
Barry Devolin be appointed Assistant Deputy Chair of
Committees of the Whole. Each of these motions were agreed to.
On November 27, 2008, Minister of
Finance Jim Flaherty
presented the government’s economic and fiscal statement. The three opposition
parties indicated that they would not support the statement and expressed the
desire to form a coalition government to replace the Conservative government.
Just 13 sitting days after the session began, on December 4, 2008, at the Prime
Minister’s request, the Governor General prorogued Parliament until January 26,
On January 26, 2009, the Governor
General officially opened the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament with the
Speech from the Throne. It was shorter than usual and focused on a single theme:
the economy. On the same day, the traditional pro
forma Bill C-1 having been introduced and read a
first time, the Prime Minister asked for and obtained unanimous consent for the
Bill to be printed. The Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole and the
Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole were reappointed.
Following the designation of an order of the
day for consideration of a ways and means motion for the presentation of the
budget, the Minister of Finance tabled the first budget of the Fortieth
Parliament in the House on January 27, 2009. Four days of resumed debate ensued.
On the second day, the sub-amendment put forward by the Bloc Québécois was
rejected. On the third day, the amendment put forward by the Liberal Party was
adopted. This amendment enjoined the government to report to Parliament no later
than five sitting days before the last allotted day of each supply period in
2009 on the economic situation and the implementation of the budget, among other
things. Finally, on the fourth day, February 3, 2009, the main motion (as
amended by the Liberal Party’s amendment) calling for the House to approve the
government’s general budget policy was adopted.
A Standing Order change was adopted on
November 27, 2008, providing that the membership of the four standing committees
chaired by an opposition member would be reduced to 11 members as opposed to 12.
During the 1st Session of the 40th
Parliament, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented its
first report on December 2, 2008, on the striking of the membership of standing
and standing joint committees. However, due to the prorogation on December 4,
committees, with the exception of Procedure and House Affairs, did not have time
In the 2nd Session, on February 10,
2009, the House, by unanimous consent, appointed a special committee to consider
the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
On November 27, 2008,
Wayne Easter raised a question
of privilege in the House, arguing that the parliamentary secretary to the
Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board,
David Anderson, had
inappropriately used confidential mailing lists and the franking privileges of
the House for political purposes. Mr. Easter alleged that the parliamentary
secretary had overstepped his privileges by sending a letter to grain producers,
encouraging them to support certain candidates in the upcoming elections for
directors of the Canadian Wheat Board. On Thursday, December 4, 2008, the
Speaker concluded that there was no prima facie
question of privilege since the distribution of the material neither defamed nor
compromised the ability of Members to perform their parliamentary duties.
After learning of allegations of theft
and embezzlement against him from a journalist who had obtained a copy of an
RCMP report through Access to Information, Bill
Casey raised a question of privilege on February 3,
2009. Despite much of the information in the report having been redacted or
removed (except his own name, which could be identified at the end of the
document), he inferred that the transfer of $30,000 between his then riding
association and campaign accounts was what was at issue. Further, the report
contained contradictions about whether or not an investigation was warranted.
However, the mere existence of the allegations and the report had the Member
contending that these had the potential to cast doubt on his credibility and
honesty and, thus, prevent him from effectively fulfilling his duties as a
Member of Parliament. On February 12, the Speaker stated that, while being
entirely sympathetic to the plight of the Member, he was unable to find that the
Member’s ability to fulfil his parliamentary functions effectively had been
undermined, thereby concluding that there was no
prima facie question of privilege.
On February 4, 2009, another question of
privilege was raised. Marlene Jennngs
stated that she and all other Members received an email on their House of
Commons BlackBerry from fellow MP Maria Mourani,
which glorified three organizations that the federal government had deemed to be
terrorist organizations. The Member went on to say that the misuse of
parliamentary services in this manner constituted a violation of her privileges
as a Member of Parliament. Ms. Mourani apologized, acknowledging that she should
have viewed all the material in the links included in her email before sending
it and that she found the material to be hateful propaganda. The Speaker ruled
on February 12, 2009, that he could not find that the privileges of Ms. Jennings
had been violated by this unfortunate incident, although there was no doubt that
she and other Members had been offended by the material received.
Supplementary Estimates B for 2008-2009
were tabled on Monday, November 24, 2009, by the President of the Treasury
Board, Vic Toews, and
referred to the appropriate committees. As the House was prorogued before these
Supplementary Estimates had been adopted, they were tabled again during the
second session on January 29, 2009.