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National Assembly Proceedings
Visit of Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
The President of the National Assembly, Jacques Chagnon, welcomed the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, to the National Assembly on September 21. At the invitation of Québec Premier Philippe Couillard, Ms. Wynne addressed the Québec parliamentarians in the House. This was the first time that the head of government of a Canadian province took the floor in the Québec National Assembly Chamber.
Ms. Wynne was in the national capital for the seventh joint meeting of the Cabinet ministers of both governments. Several topics of common interest were addressed during this meeting, which took place in Québec City on September 22.
New Sergeant-at-Arms at the National Assembly
Work in the Blue Room resumed on September 19, 2017, with a first. Indeed, Catherine Durepos, Coordinator of the Sittings Service of the General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs, was asked to take on the duties of Sergeant-at-Arms in addition to her current tasks. She thus became the first woman to hold this position in Québec.
Furthermore, the Sergeant-at-Arms’ duties will now be shared with an Associate Sergeant-at-Arms and a Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms. Daniel Lavoie, Assistant Director of Security, will act as Associate Sergeant-at-Arms for security. He will be in charge of the “security” component that has traditionally been under the responsibility of the Sergeant-at-Arms. Gilles Jourdain will continue carrying out the duties of Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms in close collaboration with Ms. Durepos.
Since the resumption of proceedings, the National Assembly has passed Bill 121, An Act to increase the autonomy and powers of Ville de Montréal, the metropolis of Québec, which, among other things, changes the title of the Charter of Ville de Montréal to “Charter of Ville de Montréal, Metropolis of Québec,” as well as Bill 137, An Act respecting the Réseau électrique métropolitain, whose purpose is to facilitate the construction and operation of a new shared transportation infrastructure publicly announced as the “Réseau électrique métropolitain.”
Rulings and Directives from the Chair
On September 27, 2017, the President of the Assembly, Mr. Chagnon, gave a ruling following requests for an urgent debate from the Second Opposition Group House Leader and from the Official Opposition House Leader. These requests involved the US Department of Commerce’s decision to impose preliminary countervailing duties bordering on 220 per cent on Bombardier C Series aircraft.
The Chair indicated that to determine whether a request for an urgent debate is receivable, the Chair must base its decision on the criteria set out in the Standing Orders and established by jurisprudence. To be receivable, a request for an urgent debate must concern a specific, important matter that falls under the Assembly’s jurisdiction and that concerns a sudden, acute crisis or the worsening of such a crisis. The Chair must also take into consideration whether the matter has been discussed in other circumstances and whether there will be upcoming opportunities to do so.
In this case, the US Department of Commerce’s decision to impose preliminary countervailing duties bordering on 220 per cent on Bombardier C Series aircraft constitutes a specific, important matter that falls under the Assembly’s jurisdiction. This decision could have significant repercussions for the Québec economy. It is a situation in which everyone, particularly the parliamentarians, has a keen interest.
Given the decision’s importance, its potential consequences and the fact that the public is entitled to expect a reaction from Québec’s elected officials, the Chair indicated that it considered that the Members must be allowed to express their views on this subject and that, as we were just beginning the sessional period, we would have ample time for the Government’s legislative agenda. Therefore, these requests for an urgent debate were ruled admissible.
Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie (APF)
It is within the framework of the 43rd Session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), held in Luxembourg from July 6-11, 2017, that the Québec National Assembly was elected to chair this organization. This being a two-year elective position, the Assembly will therefore carry out its mandate from July 2017 to July 2019. The position is filled by the President of the National Assembly, Mr. Chagnon, who chose to place this mandate under a unifying theme, that of the digital age. It should be noted that the APF is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Québec-Massachusetts Parliamentary Association (QMPA)
The fifth session of the Québec-Massachusetts Parliamentary Association (QMPA) was held in Boston, Massachusetts, from August 9-11. On this occasion, the President of the National Assembly, Mr. Chagnon, and the Québec delegation were received by the Speaker of the Senate, Stanley Rosenberg, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Robert DeLeo, accompanied by senators and representatives of the General Court of Massachusetts. Together, they discussed energy, climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to reach the targets set with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada
The Professional Development Seminar and the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada was held in Québec City, from July 31 to August 4, 2017. Among the items of business on the meeting’s agenda, we should note the separation of powers, citizen participation, the organization of debates and parliamentary privileges.
Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments (ERC/CSG)
A resolution concerning the NAFTA, sponsored by the Québec National Assembly, was adopted unanimously at the conclusion of the 57th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments (ERC/CSG), held in Uncasville, Connecticut, from August 12-16, 2017. The ERC/CSG is thus the first American interparliamentary organization to take a position on the renegotiation of NAFTA. The Québec National Assembly delegation, led by the Member for Chomedey, Guy Ouellette, was also composed of the Member for Mégantic, Ghislain Bolduc, and the Member for Marie-Victorin, Catherine Fournier.
On August 14, 2017, the standing committees resumed their proceedings after the summer break. From mid-August to the end of September, they held 48 sittings for a total of close to 180 hours of work, 70 of which were set aside for public hearings. Whether during special consultations or clause-by-clause consideration, the examination of bills made up 75 per cent of the work carried out.
During this period, six standing committees held public hearings linked to eight mandates. Four committees held special consultations, including the Committee on Culture and Education (CCE) for Bill 144, An Act to amend the Education Act and other legislative provisions concerning mainly free educational services and compulsory school attendance. The main purpose of this bill is to extend the scope of the right to free educational services and strengthen measures to ensure compliance with compulsory school attendance by clarifying, among other things, certain provisions with regard to the situation of a child exempted from compulsory school attendance because the child receives appropriate homeschooling. In order to obtain the necessary information for the clause-by-clause consideration of this bill, the Committee members heard 19 witnesses over a three-day period, totalling slightly over 17 consultation hours. The Committee on Public Finance also began special consultations on Bill 135, An Act to reinforce the governance and management of the information resources of public bodies and government enterprises. This bill introduced by the Minister responsible for Government Administration and Ongoing Program Review and Chair of the Conseil du trésor, Pierre Moreau, aims, among other things, to modify the functions of information officers and the structure of their group of positions, to strengthen the governance of information resources by establishing a committee and to give the chief information officer the power to require a public body to report on an information resources project. Within the framework of these consultations that took place over a four-day period, 13 witnesses were heard.
The National Assembly also instructed the Committee on Institutions (CI) to hold a general consultation. This consultation, which was held in September, was on the 2016 five-year report on the application of the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal informationand the Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector. For this mandate, 27 witnesses were heard and the same number of briefs was tabled.
Two committees also carried out orders regarding the accountability of public bodies pursuant to the National Assembly’s Standing Orders 293.1 and 294. The Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources heard the Régie des marchés agricoles et alimentaires du Québec on its policy directions, activities and administrative management. The Committee on Labour and the Economy did the same with Québec’s three research funding agencies, namely: the Fonds de recherche du Québec – société et culture, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – santé, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – nature et technologies. It was the first time that these funding agencies were heard by this committee for such a mandate.
The Committee on Public Administration held its first fall 2017 hearing by receiving, for a three-hour sitting, the Department of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change on chapter 3 of the Auditor General of Québec’s spring 2017 report, entitled “Contaminated Land Rehabilitation”.
Clause-by-clause Consideration of Bills
From mid-August to the end of September, four committees examined a total of six public bills. The CI concluded the examination of Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies (modified title). The consideration of this 18-section bill required slightly over 37 hours of work during which 55 amendments and subamendments were tabled, including 22 that were adopted, among which one that adds a preamble to the bill. The CI also concluded, in a single sitting, the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 133, An Act to make wearing of the uniform by police officers and special constables mandatory in the performance of their duties and respecting the exclusivity of duties of police officers who hold a managerial position (modified title). After 30 hours of sittings, the Committee on Health and Social Services (CHSS) concluded the examination of Bill 99, An Act to amend the Youth Protection Act and other provisions, which contained 88 sections. Finally, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment ended the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 137, An Act respecting the Réseau électrique métropolitain, which had begun in early June, after 37 hours of work.
The consideration of Bill 130, An Act to amend certain provisions regarding the clinical organization and management of health and social services institutions, which had been interrupted for the summer break, resumed in August and was still underway in late September. The CHSS, which was mandated to examine this bill, had accumulated over 45 hours of work from mid-May to the end of September.
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs
British Columbia’s minority parliament continued to evolve following the closest electoral result in the province’s history in the May 9 provincial general election.
Following the June 29, 2017 defeat of the minority government led by BC Liberal Members, BC New Democratic Party (NDP) leader John Horgan was sworn in as Premier on July 18, 2017, along with a 22-Member Cabinet. The Cabinet is the province’s first to have an equal number of men and women, and the first to have an Indigenous female Cabinet Minister. Premier Horgan’s mandate letters to Ministers stated that the “2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus” will be critical to the success of the new government.
Resignation of BC Liberal Party Leader
Former Premier Christy Clark announced her resignation as BC Liberal Party leader and as MLA for Kelowna West effective August 4, 2017. Former Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman was selected as interim party leader and Leader of the Official Opposition, and the party will elect a new leader on February 3, 2018. Party standings in the House are now: 41 BC Liberals; 41 BC NDP; 4 Independent (BC Green and Speaker); and 1 vacancy.
Second Session of the 41st Parliament
The first session of the 41st Parliament prorogued on September 8, 2017, following the acclamation of Darryl Plecas as Speaker. Speaker Plecas, a former BC Liberal Member, was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, and is sitting as an Independent. Raj Chouhan, Assistant Deputy Speaker in the previous Parliament, was selected to serve as Deputy Speaker. Linda Reid, Speaker in the previous Parliament, now serves as Assistant Deputy Speaker. Spencer Chandra Herbert is Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole.
The second session opened in the afternoon of September 8, 2017 with the Speech from the Throne, followed by the presentation of the provincial budget on September 11, 2017 by Minister of Finance Carole James.
In addition to an interim Supply Act, which was adopted on September 21, 2017, and legislation to implement the provincial budget, government introduced the following bills to implement key electoral platform commitments:
Bill 3, Election Amendment Act, 2017, which would make a number of campaign finance changes, including eliminating corporation and union donations, limiting political donations by individuals, and establishing publicly financed annual allowances for eligible political parties for a 2017-21 transitional period; the amendments also propose a special parliamentary committee to review the annual allowance provisions to determine whether the allowance should continue beyond 2022;
Bill 6, Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act, provides the legislative framework for the conduct of a province wide referendum, in fall 2018, on whether to change from the current first-past-the-post voting system to a form of proportional representation; and
Bill 8, Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, 2017, which would ban former public office holders and senior staff from lobbying government for two years after leaving government.
To implement a commitment in the “2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC Green Caucus and the BC New Democrat Caucus” to amend the statutory threshold for official party recognition, government introduced Bill 5, Constitution Amendment Act, 2017, which proposes to lower the threshold for recognition as an official party in the House from four Members to two Members. Once adopted, the legislation would result in official party recognition for the three BC Green Party Members. The bill also proposes to move the fixed election date from May to October and provides the authority to appoint acting Cabinet Ministers to ensure the continuity of government.
Pursuant to Standing Order provisions, the Legislative Assembly established nine select standing committees on September 8, 2017, along with the membership of the Special Committee of Selection.
On September 14, 2017, the Legislative Assembly adopted Terms of Reference for the mandate and membership of the Select Standing Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, given the Committee’s requirement under the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act to hold province-wide public consultations on the upcoming provincial budget. The Committee launched public consultations along with a new online Consultation Portal to facilitate public participation, and is statutorily required to release its report and recommendations to the Legislative Assembly by November 15. Membership and terms of reference for additional committees are expected in the coming weeks.
Change to Standing Orders
The Legislative Assembly unanimously agreed on September 18, 2017 to amend its Standing Orders to move the daily Question Period to the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, confirming a previous sessional arrangement. Question Period remains in the afternoon on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The Legislative Assembly continued a series of administrative and procedural orientation programs to support new and re-elected Members following the provincial general election. On September 20, 2017, an Open House was held to provide an opportunity for Members to meet and learn more about the role of the Statutory Officers and their staff. The Assembly also hosted its second Constituency Assistant Seminar on October 23 and 24, 2017.
Following the January 2017 signature of a twinning agreement between the Legislative Assembly and the Parliament of Guyana, the Assembly welcomed three senior Guyanese procedural officials for a three week attachment program at the Legislative Assembly to strengthen their procedural and operational experience and abilities in the fields of parliamentary procedure, parliamentary committee operations, Hansard broadcasting, and parliamentary research activities.
Alayna van Leeuwen
Committee Research Analyst
Prince Edward Island
Third Session, Sixty-fifth General Assembly
The Second Session of the Sixty-fifth General Assembly shall prorogue on November 13, 2017, and the Third Session shall commence with a Speech from the Throne on November 14, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. in the Legislative Chamber of the Honourable George Coles Building.
New Lieutenant Governor
On September 14, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Antoinette Perry as the next Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. Ms. Perry has had a distinguished career as a teacher in Tignish, PEI, and is an active member of various community and cultural organizations. She will be the first female Acadian to serve as Lieutenant Governor of the province. Her installation ceremony will take place on October 20, 2017, in Tignish, which shall mark the first time the ceremony will be held outside of Charlottetown. Ms. Perry will be the 42nd Lieutenant Governor of PEI, following Frank Lewis, who has served as Lieutenant Governor since 2011.
Live-streaming of Committee Meetings
As of September 1, 2017, meetings of the standing and special committees of the Legislative Assembly have been live-streamed on the Assembly’s website and Facebook Live page. This change was made at the direction of the Standing Committee on Legislative Management. The change necessitated some operational adjustments, primary among which is the use of the Legislative Chamber for committee meetings due to the lack of live-streaming capability in the room previously used by committees. Audio recordings and transcripts of committee meetings continue to be available. A video archive of meetings from September 1 onward is available at the Legislative Assembly website.
Committees of the Legislative Assembly
The various standing committees of the Legislative Assembly met multiple times to conduct their business during the late summer and early fall, 2017. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries examined fish kill events in Island waterways, receiving a briefing from the Department of Communities, Land and Environment. The Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment has received briefings on the Workers Compensation Board, PEI’s property tax system, and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development has looked into the federal government’s proposed tax changes for private corporations. The Standing Committee on Health and Wellness has examined smoking cessation, suicide prevention and the province’s mental health and addictions strategy. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts met several times with the Auditor General to review her 2016 and 2017 annual reports.
Canadian Regional Seminar, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
From October 10-13, 2017, the Legislative Assembly hosted the 39th Canadian Regional Seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Canada Region. Delegations of parliamentarians and parliamentary officers from across Canada met to discuss topics such as partisanship in parliaments, sustainable arctic communities, and women in politics. Delegates also enjoyed social events and tours that showcased PEI’s culture and traditions.
Clerk Assistant – Research and Committees
Third Session of the 29th Legislature
The Legislative Assembly was scheduled to resume for its fall sitting on October 30, 2017, and adjourn on December 7, 2017. One of the items for the Assembly to consider is Bill 203, Alberta Standard Time Act, which proposes to remove the daylight savings time change in Alberta so that the province would be six hours behind coordinated universal time all year round. On October 2, 2017, the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future released its report on the Bill, which had been referred to the Committee for consideration on April 3, 2017, prior to the Bill receiving Second Reading. As part of the consultation process the Committee received over 13,500 written submissions from stakeholders and members of the public, and eight stakeholders made oral presentations to the Committee. In addition, the Committee appointed a five-member subcommittee to conduct public hearings on the Bill in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Grande Prairie. After completing its review the Committee recommended that Bill 203 not proceed. The Committee further recommended that the Government of Alberta engage with other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States to discuss a coordinated approach to eliminating the practice of observing daylight saving time. The Assembly will consider a motion to concur in the report this fall.
In July 2017, the Wildrose Party (WR) and the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PC) each held a vote regarding a proposal to merge the two parties into a new United Conservative Party (UCP). Party members supported the proposal, with approximately 95 per cent of the voters in each organization voting in favour of the merger, and the new UCP was registered with Elections Alberta. Most Members who were previously affiliated with the WR or PC parties joined the new UCP caucus. However, Richard Starke, MLA (Vermilion-Lloydminster), decided to maintain his designation as a Progressive Conservative Member, and Rick Fraser, MLA (Calgary-South East), who initially opted to be affiliated with the UCP, has since decided to sit as an Independent. Nathan Cooper, MLA (Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills), is serving as interim leader of the UCP until the leadership contest due to be held on October 28, 2017, determines the new leader of the party. Brian Jean, MLA (Fort McMurray-Conklin) resigned as leader of the WR and announced his candidacy for leader of the UCP.
On August 15, 2017, Derek Fildebrandt, MLA (Strathmore-Brooks), announced he would leave the UCP caucus to sit as an Independent MLA. Earlier that week, media reports indicated that Mr. Fildebrandt had made errors in his expense claims and that he had rented out his apartment in Edmonton, for which he claimed a temporary residence allowance, on Airbnb.
On October 4, 2017, Karen McPherson, MLA (Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill), announced that she was leaving the New Democrat (NDP) caucus to sit as an Independent Member.
When the Assembly reconvenes on October 30, 2017, if there are no further changes to caucus affiliation before that time, the composition of the Assembly will be: 54 NDP, 27 members of the UCP Official Opposition, one Member each for the Alberta Liberals, the Alberta Party, and the Progressive Conservatives, and three Independent Members.
On July 19, 2017, the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship released its report regarding its review of the Lobbyists Act. The report included five recommendations related to reducing the annual threshold for organization lobbyists, tightening restrictions on gifts, prohibiting contingency fee payment arrangements for consultant lobbyists, expanding the definition of “lobby” to include grassroots communication, and removing restrictions on the application of the Act regarding responses to requests from public officer holders for advice or comment. The Committee is now reviewing the 2016 Annual Report of the Property Rights Advocate Office.
At a meeting on September 14, 2017, the Special Standing Committee on Members’ Services passed a motion referring consideration of the subject matter of a letter to the Speaker, who is also Chair of the Committee, from Greg Clark, MLA (Calgary-Elbow), to the Subcommittee presently reviewing the Members’ Services Committee Orders. In the letter, Mr. Clark raised concerns relating to the temporary residence allowance provisions of the Orders, asked whether penalties might be applied in circumstances where Members claim more than their actual expenses, and inquired about the possibility of auditing Members’ claimed living expenses. The Committee also passed an amendment to the Members’ Services Orders to prohibit MLAs from renting out a residence as a vacation rental or other short-term accommodation when the temporary residence allowance is also claimed for that residence.
Effective September 1, 2017, a vacancy occurred in the membership of the House following the resignation of Liberal MPP Glen Murray. Mr. Murray was the MPP for Toronto Centre, as well as the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
On September 11, 2017, the House welcomed its newest Member, Ross Romano (MPP for Sault Ste. Marie). Mr. Romano was returned as duly elected following a by-election on June 1, 2017.
During this period, the House expressed its condolence on the death of Edward Michael Havrot, Member for the Electoral District of Timiskaming from October 21, 1971 to September 17, 1975 and from June 9, 1977 to May 1, 1985.
On September 21, 2017, the Deputy Speaker Soo Wong(Scarborough-Agincourt) cast a deciding vote on the motion for Second Reading of Bill 146, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 to provide transparency in gas pricing. The motion for Second Reading of the Bill carried on the following division: 17-16, and the Bill was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. This is the tenth time in the history of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that a presiding officer was required to deliver a casting vote. The previous nine occasions also occurred during Private Members’ Public Business, most recently in November 2009.
Temporary Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario
On September 27, 2017, an Order in Council was issued appointing J. David Wake as the temporary Financial Accountability Officer of Ontario, commencing September 26, 2017.
Standing Committee on Estimates
The Standing Committee on Estimates began its consideration of the 2017-2018 Estimates of selected ministries and offices.
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs met for consideration of Bill 148, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and to make related amendments to other Acts. The Committee, having been referred the Bill after First Reading, held public hearings in 10 cities across the province in July and conducted clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill in August. The Bill was subsequently reported back to the House as amended and ordered for Second Reading on September 11, 2017. Among other things, the Bill would raise the provincial minimum wage; and mandate equal pay for part-time, temporary, casual and seasonal employees doing the same job as full-time employees.
Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly
Following the changes made to the Executive Council, in which the Office of Francophone Affairs was succeeded by a new Ministry of Francophone Affairs, the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly updated the list of the ministries and offices assigned to the Standing Committees pursuant to Standing Order 111(b).
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts attended the annual CCPAC/CCOLA Conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick from September 10 to September 12, 2017. With the resumption of the House, the Committee began report writing on six separate sections of the 2015 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, following reviews conducted during the winter session.
A cabinet shuffle was announced by Premier Brian Gallant in September. Three new ministers joined cabinet: Benoît Bourque, Minister of Health; Andrew Harvey, Minister of Agriculture, Mines and Rural Affairs; and Gilles LePage, Minister of Labour, Employment and Population Growth.
Ministers Donald Arseneault, Victor Boudreau and Ed Doherty announced their departure from cabinet. The three members were joined by Bertrand LeBlanc in announcing that they would not be seeking re-election in 2018.
An informal system of regional ministers that had previously been in place in New Brunswick was also formalized during the cabinet shuffle. Five ministers were tasked with the additional responsibility of “regional minister” to advocate on behalf of five provincial regions at the cabinet table.
In October, following an extensive search process, Gilles Côté was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. Mr. Côté brings with him over 27 years of service and experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Mr. Côté replaced Daniel Bussières, who had served the Legislature as Sergeant-at-Arms since 2002.
On September 1, the Select Committee on Cannabis, chaired by Mr. Bourque, released its final report entitled Consulting New Brunswickers: The Legalization of Recreational Cannabis in New Brunswick. The report is based on public consultations held in seven locations across the province during the month of July.
The committee met with the public following the release of the Report of the New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis, which looked at the challenges and opportunities of legalizing recreational cannabis and proposed a model for a legal cannabis industry. The working group report was used as a discussion guide during public consultations.
Although the select committee heard varying viewpoints on the proposed model for a legal cannabis industry, presenters agreed that a strategy for the legalization of recreational cannabis should include priorities such as: keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth; shutting out organized crime; investing in education; addressing health concerns; and ensuring public safety.
The Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Crown Corporations, chaired by Trevor Holder and Chuck Chiasson, reviewed various government departments, Crown corporations and other entities during September and October. On October 3, the committees met jointly to review the Report of the Auditor General of New Brunswick 2017, Volume II - Performance Audit. The report presented a special examination which detailed findings and work performed to address remaining unanswered questions from the 2015 Report “Financial Assistance to Atcon Holdings Inc. and Industry.”
From July 30 to August 4, the Legislature hosted the 33rd Regional Conference for the North American Region of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF). Thirty-six delegates, representing provincial and national Canadian members of the APF, attended the six-day conference. Special guests from the European Region and Haiti were also in attendance. Business sessions revolved around the demographic decline in francophone populations within Canadian provinces, as well as jurisdictional updates.
New Brunswick also hosted the 38th annual joint conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees (CCPAC) and Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors (CCOLA). Held from September 10-12, presenters included parliament consultant and former MLA Elizabeth Weir and the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation, who released their latest research publication entitled Accountability in Action: Good Practices for Public Accounts Committees. The CCPAC also voted on a revised constitution for their council.
In recognition of National Peacekeepers’ Day, held annually on August 9, the United Nations flag was raised at the Legislative Assembly and members of the Blue Helmets, a Veteran Peacekeepers Association, planted a “Vimy Oak” sapling on the grounds of the Legislature.
Youth in Transition
During one evening in September, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., the grounds of the Legislature were occupied by Youth in Transition to raise money for Chrysalis House, a residence focusing on the lives of homeless and at-risk teenage youth through education, engagement and life skills development.
The Legislature is scheduled to open the 4th Session of the 58th Legislature on October 24. The standings in the House are 26 Liberals, 22 Progressive Conservatives, and 1 Green.
In the Chamber
Toward the end of the third quarter, Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), was read a third time and sent to the House of Commons for study. In September, the second reading debate began on three government bills, C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, C-25, An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act, and C-36, An Act to amend the Statistics Act. In addition, Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada, was read a second time and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on September 26, 2017.
In September, two reports of the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations, one dealing with documents incorporated by reference and the other with marginal notes, were adopted along with requests for government responses. The Senate also adopted a report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration designating Jacqueline J. Kuehl as Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel.
In addition, several committee reports were tabled with the Clerk of the Senate over the course of the summer adjournment. These included two reports of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Getting Ready: For a new generation of active seniors and Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability and Predictability in Federal Infrastructure Programs), a report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the crisis in Venezuela, and a report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce entitled Study on the current and emerging issues of the banking sector and monetary policy of the United States.
Late in the second quarter, it was announced that Senator Terry Mercer would become the Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals, effective June 29, 2017.
As previously reported, many of the independent senators appointed since the beginning of the current session, together with other non-affiliated senators, have created a group called the Independent Senators Group (ISG). The group held its first elections at the end of this quarter. On September 25, Senators Yuen Pau Woo and Raymonde Saint-Germain were named Facilitator and Deputy Facilitator.
Senator David Adams Richards was introduced and sworn in on September 19, 2017, the first sitting day following the summer adjournment. He was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in late August 2017, following the selection process the Prime Minister has implemented. Senator Richards is an acclaimed Canadian novelist, essayist, screenwriter and poet. He was a co-winner of the 2000 Giller Prize for his novel Mercy Among the Children> and has received numerous other prestigious awards. He is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick. Senator Richards opted to join the ISG.
In terms of departures from the Upper House, Senators Robert Runciman, George Baker, and Elizabeth Hubley retired this quarter (as of August 10, September 4 and September 8, respectively), while Senator Daniel Lang resigned as of August 15.
Senator Baker was appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2002. He served on numerous Senate standing committees, such as National Security and Defence, National Finance, Human Rights, Aboriginal Peoples, and Legal and Constitutional Affairs. He was also vice-chair of the latter from 2013 to 2015. Senator Baker was previously a Liberal member of the House of Commons, representing the constituency of Gander–Grand Falls from 1972 to 2002. He served in a number of Critic roles, as well as Parliamentary Secretary (Environment and National Revenue), Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) and as Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Senator Hubley was appointed by Prime Minister Chrétien in 2001, and was a member of many Senate standing committees during her tenure, including Banking, Trade and Commerce, Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, as well as Fisheries and Oceans, of which she was vice-chair from 2004 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2017. Senator Hubley served as Deputy Opposition Whip from 2006 to 2015, Deputy Opposition Whip of the Senate Liberals from 2015 to 2016, and Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals from 2016 to 2017. She was previously a Liberal member of Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly, representing the district of 4th Prince from 1989 to 1996, and served as Deputy Speaker from 1991 to 1995.
Senator Runciman was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010. He was a member of several Senate standing committees, including National Finance, Aboriginal Peoples, and Fisheries and Oceans, and from June 2011 until his retirement he served as chair of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Senator Runciman was previously a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, representing the riding of Leeds–Grenville from 1981 to 2010. During that time he was responsible for a number of portfolios, including Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, Minister of Public Safety and Security, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and he also served as Leader of the Official Opposition.
Senator Lang was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009, and from 2013 until his retirement served as chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence. He was previously a Progressive Conservative member of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, representing the electoral district of Whitehorse Porter Creek East from 1978 to 1992, during which he was responsible for numerous ministerial portfolios. Prior to the creation of the legislative assembly in 1978, he served a term on the non-partisan Yukon Territorial Council from 1974 to 1978.
Following the departure of Charles Robert, who was appointed Clerk of the House of Commons, Nicole Proulx was appointed Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments in July 2017. As noted above, Ms. Kuehl was appointed Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel in September. They are both the first women to serve in their respective role.
The Second session of the 41st Legislature resumed on October 4, 2017. The House will sit until November 9 to complete consideration of the following five Designated Bills selected by the Official Opposition in the Spring for further consideration this Fall:
- Bill 23 – The Fisheries Amendment Act, which eliminates the monopoly that the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation had on the marketing of freshwater fish in Manitoba;
- Bill 24 – The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act, 2017, which amends several Acts and repeals three Acts to reduce or eliminate regulatory requirements or prohibitions and to streamline government operations;
- Bill 27 – The Elections Amendment Act, which establishes a new permanent register of voters and requires voters to present proof of identity and address when they vote;
- Bill 30 – The Local Vehicles for Hire Act, which will allow municipalities to make by-laws regulating the vehicle-for-hire industry, including taxis, limousines, and vehicles hired through an online application, a digital network or platform or a website;
- Bill 31 - The Advanced Education Administration Amendment Act, which amends the restrictions on tuition increases and removes the restrictions on course-related fees.
The House may also consider other government bills that did not fall under the Specified or Designated categories, as well as completing consideration of the Estimates of the Departmental Expenditure in the Committee of Supply and concluding the remaining steps for the passage of the Budget.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts met in August to consider the newly tabled Auditor General Report on the management of the Manitoba’s Apprenticeship Program.
In addition, the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations met in September to consider the Annual Reports and Financial Statements of Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
The Newly Renovated Chamber
During the summer months, the Chamber underwent extensive renovations to enhance accessibility. On October 2, the Speaker held a ceremony for the official re-opening of the 97-year-old Chamber. This last segment of works was the final stage of a four-year-old program to make the centre of Manitoba’s politics wheelchair accessible.
The floor was raised to allow the construction of a ramp on the left side of the Speaker’s Chair. Thanks to this addition, it is now possible to have wheelchair access to the floor of the Chamber and the entire first row. Once five levels, the Chamber now has three levels of flooring, which will allow persons with disabilities to access also the Speaker’s Dais as well as the Clerks’ Table. The front benches in the first row will now be accessible as well, as the desks in this row have been moved closer to the center of the room to allow for the proper turning radius of mobility devices. Although the front benches were moved a little closer to the Clerks’ Table, there was no need to alter its position.
Last year the entire third row of desks was made completely accessible by raising the flooring and modifying the desks, which means that now two of the three rows of desks for members are fully accessible.
At the same time the renovations took place, a new Hansard sound system and new wiring was also installed, together with new audio consoles on each member’s desk. In addition, the Hansard desk was raised from the level of the floor to give the Recorders better sight lines.
New Leader of the Official Opposition
On September 16, 2017, the New Democratic Party of Manitoba held a leadership election to find a successor for Greg Selinger, who resigned following the defeat in the 2016 Manitoba General Election. In a two candidate race, Wab Kinew, MLA for Fort Rouge, was elected new Leader of his Party and also became the new Leader of the Official Opposition in the Manitoba Legislature. The 35-year-old is originally from the Onigaming First Nation and in the past has worked as journalist, broadcaster, musician, and author. He was first elected on April 19, 2016 and in the past year and a half served as critic for Education and Training.
New Security Measures at Legislative Building and Grounds
On October 5, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Myrna Driedgerannounced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to implement new security measures at the Legislative Precinct that will include improved security planning and response protocols.
The agreement outlines how security programs for the Legislative Building, Government House and the grounds will be managed by Manitoba Justice and the Speaker together. The Legislative Security Act and the agreement between the Speaker and the Minister, which came into effect on October 7, implements the following:
- establishment of the position of director of legislative security, responsible for providing direction of legislative security officers on the legislative precinct;
- establishment of a Legislative Security Management Working Group consisting of the director of legislative security, the sergeant-at-arms, the deputy clerk of the legislative assembly and officials from the Community Safety Division of Manitoba Justice;
- provision of peace officer status to legislative security officers and authorization of the use of reasonable force by security officers to deny entry or evict a person;
- authorization of security officers to refuse entry of a person or enforce eviction for a variety of reasons including refusal to verify identity, refusal to be screened for weapons, threats to safety or interference with the operations of the assembly, or if an individual refuses to comply with a reasonable request by a security officer to ensure safety;
- authorization of the director of legislative security to enter into information sharing arrangements with police and government agencies, and to also enter into arrangements with police to provide security services in the legislative precinct when warranted; and
- authorization of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to disclose vehicle licensing records to legislative security officers.
Current Party Standings
The current party standings in the Manitoba Legislature are: Progressive Conservatives 39, NDP 13, with five Independent members.
Clerk Assistant/Clerk of Committees
Premier Brad Wall Announces Retirement
On August 10, 2017, Premier Brad Wall announced that he will retire from politics. In his statement, he said he would continue to serve as Premier until the new leader is chosen.
Concurrent Leadership Races
The nomination filing deadline for candidates for the Saskatchewan Party leadership race is November 24, 2017, and a new leader will be elected at a leadership convention in Saskatoon on January 27, 2018. At the time of submission, five candidates are seeking the leadership.
The provincial NDP is also seeking a new leader. The leadership convention scheduled for May 2018 was moved to March 3, 2018. This will allow the new leader to be in place for the spring sitting on March 6, 2018. Thus far, two candidates have declared their intention to run for the leadership.
Resignation of Member for Kindersley and Conflict of Interest Commissioner Report
Bill Boyd, the member from Kindersley, announced on August 15 that he would resign effective September 1, 2017. Questions began to be asked about the use of his public office to influence and promote a private business interest during a trip to China. He was the keynote speaker at a seminar in China, and the advertisement poster incorrectly stated that he was the Minister of the Economy and featured a government logo.
Mr. Boyd, as well as the Leader of the Opposition, Nicole Sarauer, requested Conflict of Interest Commissioner Ronald Barclay provide an opinion regarding his compliance with The Members’ Conflict of Interest Act. On August, 28, 2017, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner stated, “. . . I conclude that he inaccurately represented the involvement of the Government of Saskatchewan in this irrigation project he was promoting in China . . . Mr. Boyd’s actions in respect of this matter fall below the standards expected of Members of the Legislative Assembly”.
Mr. Boyd resigned from the Saskatchewan Party caucus later that day. No date has been set for the by-election in the Kindersley constituency.
With several cabinet ministers resigning their portfolios to run for the leadership of the Saskatchewan Party, Premier Brad Wall announced a number of changes to his cabinet.
Five cabinet ministers switched portfolios:
- Kevin Doherty became the Minister of Advanced Education;
- Dustin Duncan became the Minister of Environment and Minister Responsible for SaskPower, SaskWater, Water Security Agency, and Global Transportation Hub;
- Bronwyn Eyre became the Minister of Education and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women;
- Donna Harpauer became the Minister of Finance; and
- Don Morgan became the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and remains as the Deputy Premier and minister responsible for Labour and Workers’ Compensation Board.
Five MLAs are entering cabinet, four of which are new to cabinet:
- Steven Bonk became Minister of the Economy and Minister Responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan and Innovation and Trade;
- Larry Doke became Minister of Government Relations and Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs;
- Nancy Heppner re-enters cabinet as Minister of Energy and Resources and Minister Responsible for the Public Service Commission;
- Gene Makowsky became Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport and Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority; and
- Paul Merriman became Minister of Social Services.
Six other cabinet ministers retained their current portfolios:
- Joe Hargrave, Minister Responsible for Crown Investments Corporation, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, and adds Minister Responsible for SaskTel and SaskEnergy to his portfolio;
- Dave Marit, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure;
- Greg Ottenbreit, Minister of Rural and Remote Health;
- Jim Reiter, Minster of Health;
- Lyle Stewart, Minister of Agriculture and Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance; and
- Christine Tell, Minister of Central Services and Minister Responsible for SaskGaming Corporation and Minister Responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission.
Nadine Wilson remained in the role of Provincial Secretary and Legislative Secretary to the Premier. Warren Kaeding became the Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Responsible for SaskTel (Cellular and Internet Coverage) in addition to his duties as Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture (Irrigation Expansion).
Greg Brkich was appointed as Government House Leader and Jeremy Harrison as Government Deputy House Leader.
Given all the changes to cabinet, there were many changes to the membership of the standing committees. Two new chairs and a new deputy chair were elected: Laura Ross was elected as the chair for the Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice, David Buckingham was elected as the chair for the Standing Committee on the Economy, and Don McMorris was elected as the deputy chair for the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Saskatoon Fairview By-election
The resignation of Jennifer Campeau led to a by-election in the constituency of Saskatoon Fairview on September 7, 2017. The NDP candidate, Vicki Mowat, won the election and was sworn-in on October 5, 2017.
As a result of one member resigning and one member being elected in the by-election, the composition of the Assembly is now 48 Saskatchewan Party members, 12 NDP members, and one vacancy.
Usher of the Black Rod
Gwen Bourque was appointed as the new Usher of the Black Rod upon the recommendation of the Premier. She performed her inaugural duties at prorogation and the opening of the new legislature in October.
Prorogation and the Opening of a New Session
At the request of the government and pursuant to the order adopted by the Assembly on May 18, 2017, the first session of the twenty-eighth legislature was prorogued on the morning of October 25, 2017. The second session of the twenty-eighth legislature was opened in the afternoon with Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield delivering the Speech from the Throne.
Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities
From August 31 to September 1, 2017, Kevin Murphy, Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly hosted the inaugural Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting of Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities. Twenty-nine parliamentarians from 12 Commonwealth countries participated in meaningful exchanges and deliberations which lead to the recommendation that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association International Executive Committee move forward with the creation of a network to be known as the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD).
1st Session of the 63rd General Assembly
On September 21, 2017, Lieutenant Governor Arthur J. LeBlanc, delivered his first Speech from the Throne opening the 1st Session of the 63rd General Assembly.
The Budget for the fiscal year 2017-2018 had been presented on April 21, 2017 during the Spring sitting of the House of Assembly but had not been passed as the House of Assembly was dissolved when the writs of General Election were issued on April 30, 2017. As a result, a new 2017-2018 budget address was given by the Minister of Finance on September 26, 2017 and the estimates were referred for consideration to the Committee of the Whole on Supply. On October 13, 2017, the estimates and the Appropriations Bill were passed by the House.
On October 2, 2017, Bill # 16, An Act Respecting Representative Decision-making was introduced to fill the void created when the Incompetent Persons Act was struck down by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on June 28, 2016. The effective date of the Bill will be December 28, 2017 – the court imposed deadline by which the new legislation was ordered to be in place.
On October 5, 2017, Bill # 27, An Act Respecting the Unauthorized Distribution of Intimate Images and Protection Against Cyber-bullying was introduced to fill the void created when the Cyber-Safety Act was struck down by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on December 11, 2015.
Annette M. Boucher
The 2nd Session of the 34th Legislative Assembly reconvened on October 3. The 2017 Fall Sitting must be a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 30 sitting days. Should the House sit for the maximum number of days permitted, the final day of the Sitting will be November 27.
The following government bills were introduced:
- Bill No. 6, Public Airports Act– Richard Mostyn, Minister of Highways and Public Works
- Bill No. 7, Act to Amend the Dental Profession Act (2017) – John Streicker, Minister of Community Services
- Bill No. 8, Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2017) – Jeanie Dendys, Minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board
- Bill No. 9, Act to Amend the Pounds Act (2017) – Ranj Pillai, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources
- Bill No. 10, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (2017) – Sandy Silver, Premier and Minister of Finance
- Bill No. 11, Act to Amend the Health Act (2017) – Pauline Frost, Minister of Health and Social Services
- Bill No. 12, Act to Amend the Hospital Act (2017) – Ms. Frost, Minister of Health and Social Services
- Bill No. 13, Missing Persons Act – Tracy-Anne McPhee, Minister of Justice
- Bill No. 14, Legal Profession Act, 2017 – Ms. McPhee, Minister of Justice
- Bill No. 202, Third Appropriation Act 2016-17 – Mr. Silver, Premier and Minister of Finance
- Bill No. 203, Second Appropriation Act 2017-18 – Mr. Silver, Premier and Minister of Finance
Standing Order Changes
On the first day of the Fall Sitting, Paolo Gallina, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, presented the Committee’s First Report to the House.
The Committee’s report contained two recommendations – one concerning Tributes, the other calling for fixed Sitting dates. With regard to its first recommendation, the Committee’s report recommended amending the Standing Orders to limit the time that could be spent on the Daily Routine rubric “Tributes” to 20 minutes per sitting day (formerly, there was no time-limit on Tributes).
The Committee’s second recommendation concerned establishing fixed Sitting dates for the Assembly. The Committee recommended that the Standing Orders be amended to stipulate that each Spring Sitting commence the first week of March, and each Fall Sitting begin in the first week of October. The Committee further recommended that adjustments to the start date could be made in years in which there is a general election, or should the Premier decide that “extraordinary circumstances require that the established start date for a Sitting be changed.” (While the existing Standing Orders had long provided for a Spring Sitting and a Fall Sitting, they were silent as to when the Sittings would begin.)
On October 5, Mr. Gallina moved a motion in the House for concurrence in the Committee’s report; the motion carried.
Public Accounts Committee Reports
On October 3, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Official Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard, presented the Committee’s First and Second reports to the House. The reports concerned public hearings that the Committee had held on June 28 and 29 on two performance audits of the Auditor General of Canada, Michael Ferguson. The Committee’s report on Yukon government transfers to societies (the Committee’s first report) was made public on August 11; the report on capital asset management was made public on September 18 (the Committee’s second report).
Women’s Caucus Outreach
From September 18-21, the Yukon branch of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) hosted the 10th CWP Outreach Program. That month also marked the 50th anniversary of the election of the first woman to the Yukon Territorial Council (the Yukon Legislative Assembly’s predecessor). Whereas at the time of her election, Jean Gordon was the lone female in the Chamber, the current makeup of the House is nearly 38 per cent women, with women holding seven out of 19 seats.
An opening reception for the outreach event was hosted by Equal Voice at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse. Participants were welcomed by Chief Doris Bill of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Deputy Chief Michelle Telep of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, and Saskatchewan MLA Laura Ross, Vice-Chair, CWP Canadian Region and delegation leader. The guest speaker was Ione Christensen, who had in the past held the roles of Yukon Commissioner, Senator, and Mayor of Whitehorse. Yukon MLA Kate White, who is the CWP Yukon Chair, unveiled an archival project to commemorate 50 years of women in the Assembly. Ms. Gordon’s daughter also delivered remarks at the reception (also present at the reception was Ms. Gordon’s granddaughter).
As part of the outreach program, on September 19, young women leaders from Yukon took part in a Daughters of the Vote event held in the Yukon Legislative Assembly Chamber in Whitehorse. At the outset of proceedings, the participants were welcomed by Speaker Nils Clarke. Equal Voice and Daughters of the Vote gave a presentation on the state of women in politics. The presentation was followed by a discussion in the Chamber with women parliamentarians, who shared their experiences of what it is like to run for and work in political office. A discussion with attendees on “systemic change for gender sensitive parliaments” was chaired by Yukon MLA and former Speaker Patti McLeod.
Participants toured the government and opposition offices and the Legislative Assembly. Later that day, participants travelled to Haines Junction for a cultural event and to meet with high school students from rural Yukon at the Da Ku Cultural Centre.
On September 20, proceedings held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre included a session on women in First Nations government (guest speaker Chief Bill), a blanket exercise, and a brainstorming session on barriers to access and challenges facing women in politics.
During the program, the young women had the opportunity to meet with women parliamentarians not just from Yukon, but from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick.
Electoral District Boundaries Commission
As noted in its June 14 new release, the Electoral Boundaries Commission, created by Yukon’s Elections Act to “consul[t] with the public after every two elections to review the electoral district boundaries and make proposals to the Legislative Assembly”, has begun its work.
The 2017/2018 Electoral District Boundaries Commission is chaired by Ronald S. Veale, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Yukon. The other members of the Commission are Darren Parsons, Jonas Smith, Anne Tayler, and Yukon’s Chief Electoral Officer, Lori McKee.
Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s Report
On June 29, Yukon’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner, David Phillip Jones, provided the Commission’s 2016-17 annual report to Speaker Clarke; the same day, the report was distributed to members and the public. On October 3, the annual report was tabled in the House. The report is available at: http://www.conflictofinterest.gov.yk.ca/pdf/2016_17_annual_report.pdf
House of Commons
The First Session of the Forty-Second Parliament continued as the House reconvened on September 18, 2017, having adjourned for the summer on June 21, 2017. The report below covers the period from August 1 to October 6, 2017.
On September 26, 2017, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women met in order to elect a new Chair. When a motion was moved nominating Rachael Harder (Lethbridge) to be Chair, the Liberal Members of the Committee expressed their opposition to the motion and left the room, resulting in a lack of quorum. As a consequence, the election could not continue and the Members dispersed. On October 3, 2017, the Committee met again to elect a new Chair. Another motion was moved nominating Ms. Harder to be Chair. The question was put on the motion and it was defeated. Subsequently, a motion was moved nominating Karen Vecchio (Elgin—Middlesex—London) to be Chair. Despite Ms. Vecchio’s expressed desire to not occupy the position of Chair, there was no unanimous consent for the motion to be withdrawn. The question was put on the motion and she was duly elected Chair of the Committee.
On September 18, 2017, the Speaker informed the House of the resignation of Rona Ambrose (Sturgeon River—Parkland) effective July 4, 2017. On September 18, 2017, the Speaker informed the House of the resignation of Denis Lebel (Lac-Saint-Jean) effective August 9, 2017.
On September 18, 2017, the Speaker informed the House that a vacancy had occurred for the Electoral District of Scarborough—Agincourt, by reason of the death of Arnold Chan who passed away on September 14, 2017, after a battle with cancer. Immediately after Oral Questions, the House paid tribute to Mr. Chan. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister), Andrew Scheer (Leader of the Official Opposition), David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre) and Members from unrecognized parties, Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette), the Bloc Québécois and Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands), the Green Party, made statements in tribute to Mr. Chan. The Speaker then invited Members to observe a moment of silence in his honour.
On September 28, 2017, Judy Foote (Bonavista—Burin—Trinity) made a statement on the occasion of her imminent resignation as Member of Parliament. Prime Minister Trudeau, Tom Lukiwski (Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan), Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing), as well as Ms. May and the Speaker, also made statements in tribute to Ms. Foote. On October 2, 2017, the Speaker informed the House of the resignation of Ms. Foote, effective September 30, 2017.
On October 2, 2017, the Speaker informed the House of the resignation of Dianne Watts (South Surrey—White Rock) effective September 29, 2017.
On October 3, 2017, the Speaker informed the House of the resignation of Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster), effective October 2, 2017.
On September 26, 2017, the House held an emergency debate on the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Pursuant to a motion passed by the House on September 22, 2017, the order of business for the House was modified for October 2, 2017, in order to allow Members of Parliament to attend the investiture of Canada’s 29th Governor General, Julie Payette. The ceremony took place in the Senate Chamber.
On September 21, 2017, the House adopted by unanimous consent a resolution that the House respect democracy and reaffirm Québec’s right to debate and legislate on all issues under its jurisdiction.
On September 26, 2017, the House adopted by unanimous consent a resolution that the House reiterate its desire to fully preserve supply management during the NAFTA renegotiations.
On September 27, 2017, the House adopted by unanimous consent a resolution that the House acknowledge the importance of the aerospace industry and the fact that Bombardier is a major employer in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, as well as reiterate the importance of standing up to protect the industry and jobs against Boeing’s unjustified complaint and the United States government’s preliminary decision.
Table Research Branch
Newfoundland and Labrador
On August 1, Tom Osborne, MHA (Waterford Valley), former Speaker of the House, was appointed Minister of Finance and Lisa Dempster, MHA (Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair) former Deputy Speaker was appointed Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development.
On August 8, the House convened for the election of a Speaker to succeed Mr. Osborne. There were two candidates for the position: Pam Parsons, MHA (Harbour Grace-Port de Grave) and Perry Trimper, MHA (Lake Melville). Mr. Trimper was elected Speaker and is the first Member representing a Labrador District to occupy the office.
Brian Warr, MHA (Baie Verte-Green Bay), former Deputy Chair of Committees was elected Deputy Speaker and Scott Reid, MHA (St. George’s- Humber) was elected Deputy Chair of Committees.
On October 11, Steve Kent, MHA (Mount Pearl North) resigned his seat.
The House reconvened on October 16 to debate an amendment to the Elections Act, 1991 which became necessary as a result of a decision of Madam Justice Gillian Butler who ruled that certain provisions of that statute, relating to special ballots, were unconstitutional.
The Second Session of 18th Legislative Assembly reconvened on September 19, 2017. Premier Robert R. McLeod delivered a sessional statement which highlighted the government’s Mandate successes over the first two years of its term, including protection of the environment, growing demand for natural resources and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
On September 19, Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod tabled the capital estimates for the fiscal year 2018-19. The following day he delivered a fiscal update, summarizing the infrastructure projects which the Government of the Northwest Territories has deemed a priority for the coming year. These estimates were considered in Committee of the Whole from September 25-28. On September 28, the Finance Minister made a statement in Committee of the Whole reflecting on the recommendations of Members with regard to the capital budget and committing an additional $1.255 million to advance projects associated with the implementation of junior kindergarten in 2018-2019.
On October 4, 2017 newly-appointed Commissioner Margaret M. Thom entered the Chamber and gave assent to bills and prorogued the Second Session.
During the final sitting of the Second Session the following legislation was considered:
- Bill 24: An Act to Amend the Coroners Act,which allows for the assembly of a jury panel from which an inquest jury may be selected, outlines procedures for selecting jurors from a jury panel, allows for persons to be excused from jury service in certain circumstances, allows the Chief Coroner to create rules of procedure, and improves clarity and readability of certain provisions.
- Bill 25: An Act to Amend the Residential Tenancies Act which adjusts the definition of tenant, provides authority to rental officers to correct minor errors in decisions, orders and decisions of rental officers must be filed in accordance with regulations, and addresses inconsistencies and improve clarity and readability of provisions.
- Bill 27: An Act to Amend the Environmental Protection Act which makes several amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, including provisions for the creation of air quality regulations.
- Bill 28: Interpretation Act which sets out fundamental concepts governing all territorial statutes.
- Bill 29: Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017 whichcorrects inconsistencies and errors in the statutes of the Northwest Territories. The bill also deals with other matters of non-controversial and uncomplicated statutes.
- Bill 30: Health Statutes Law Amendment Act (Cremation Services) which isa Private Member’s Bill introduced by Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly, that clarifies that the Commissioner may make regulations respecting cremations and crematoriums. The bill also amends the Vital Statistics Act to define cremations and crematoriums and prohibit cremation except by a funeral planner in a crematorium operated by a funeral planner.
- Bill 33: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2018-2019, whichauthorizes the Government of the Northwest Territories to make appropriations for infrastructure expenditures for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
All of the aforementioned bills received Royal Assent on October 3, 2017.
Five bills were referred to the Standing Committee on Social Development during the May/June sitting. Bill 24: An Act to Amend the Coroners Act, Bill 25: An Act to Amend the Residential Tenancies Act, Bill 28: Interpretation Act, Bill 29: Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, and Bill 30: Health Statutes Law Amendment Act (Cremation Services). The Standing Committee held public hearings and clause-by-clause reviews of each of these bills on August 22. All five bills were reported to the House on September 21.
Bill 27: An Act to Amend the Environmental Protection Actwas referred to the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment on May 31. The Committee held a public hearing on August 29, 2017, and had a clause-by-clause review on September 26, 2017. An amendment was brought forth during the clause-by-clause review which was carried by Committee and concurred with by Environment and Natural Resources Minister, Robert C. McLeod. The bill was reported to the House on September 28.
The Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories, 2016-2019, established by all Members at the beginning of the 18th Assembly, describes the strategic direction that the Government of the Northwest Territories will undertake to advance the priorities of the 18th Assembly. Members agreed to review the Mandate as part of a broader midterm review process.
Members of the 18th Assembly held a 3-day caucus retreat starting on August 23, 2017 in the Inuvik region. Members and staff travelled to Inuvik, and proceeded by boat to Reindeer Station, where they reviewed potential changes to the Mandate document.
A revised Mandate document was tabled in the House on September 19, 2017. It was considered by Committee of the Whole on October 4, 2017. Five motions to adjust specific action items and related wording in the Mandate were introduced and subsequently adopted. The final revised and updated Mandate that will guide the Government for the remaining two years of the 18th Assembly will be tabled in the House at a later date.
Ms. Thom was sworn in as the 17th Commissioner of the Northwest Territories on September 18, 2017, by Jurica Capkun, Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council for the Government of Canada. In contrast to the provinces, the Northwest Territories is not given the authority to govern under the Constitution Act, therefore the position of Commissioner is created by the federal Northwest Territories Act and has a similar function to that of a provincial lieutenant governor. The position also has a ceremonial role by representing the Government of the Northwest Territories at important events across the Territories. Ms. Thom, born on the land in the Deh Cho region of the Northwest Territories, was initially named as the new Commissioner on June 26. Commissioner Thom served as Deputy Commissioner from 2005-2011 and succeeds George L. Tuccaro who served as Commissioner from 2010-2016.
Committee Clerk Trainee