| British Columbia
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| House of Commons
On November 26, 2002, the Third Session of the 37th Parliament adjourned, bringing to a
close the first fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly established by the
parliamentary calendar. In total, 73 Government Bills, one Private
Members’ Bill and four Private Bills were passed during the Session. Some
of the major pieces of legislation include: the Residential Tenancy Act
(Bill 70), the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (Bill 73), and the
Forest and Range Practices Act (Bill 74).
The Residential Tenancy Act
repeals the former version of the Act, first passed in 1984. The new Act
will allow the government to set limits for rental increases by regulation, add
a requirement for move-in and move-out condition inspections and reports, and
provide for a system of arbitration to resolve disputes between landlords and
tenants. The legislation also provides for pets in residential tenancies
and terms in tenancy agreements respecting pet damage deposits.
The Community Care and
Assisted Living Act establishes two separate categories of care facilities:
community care facilities which must be licensed, and a new category of
assisted living residences which need to be registered. Assisted living
residences provide varying degree of support to residents who can live
“relatively independently.” Another purpose of the bill is to modernize
governance of these facilities by creating a results-based framework that
enhances local authority and streamlines decision-making but requires adherence
to overall provincial standards. The legislation also contains new
provisions that protect people who report abuse so that they can complain in
good faith without fear of recrimination.
Another major piece of legislation
passed by the House this fall is the Forest and Range Practices Act.
The introduction of this bill implements the government’s election
commitment “to establish a workable, results-based Forest Practices Code
with tough penalties for non-compliance." The new Act provides for a
simplified planning and approval process and enables forest practice standards
to be set by regulation; strengthens penalties for non-compliance; and
continues the Forest Practices Board. The new Act is expected to replace
the current Forest Practices Code in April 2003.
Various acts were also
amended. The Election Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, for example,
amends both the Election Act and the Recall and Initiative Act.
This legislation repeals the limit on third party election advertising,
and prohibits charitable organizations from making political contributions
under the Election Act or recall contributions under the Recall and
In addition, the Miscellaneous
Statutes Act (Bill 62) contains an amendment to the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act that allows the
Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council to designate government caucus committees to be
exempt from complying with freedom-of-information requests. The purpose
of the amendment is to confirm that cabinet confidentiality applies to
government caucus committees, which consist of backbenchers and ministers and
meet regularly to review policy and legislative changes. The amendment
under Bill 62 requires that at least one-third of the government caucus
committee members be cabinet ministers, that the deliberations of the committee
relate specifically to the work of cabinet, and that the committee exercise the
functions of cabinet.
The passage of the Hunting
and Fishing Heritage Act (Bill M 204) is also noteworthy. This
Private Members’ Bill was introduced by Bill Bennett (East Kootenay),
and recognizes that a person has the right to hunt and fish in accordance with
the law. It particularly engaged the interest of MLAs in rural ridings,
and was passed on division on Third Reading. Its enactment represents the
passage of the first Private Members’ Bill in the 37th Parliament.
Parliamentary Committee Activities
Various select standing
committees have recently issued reports. The Select Standing Committee on
Finance and Government Services reported on the pre-budget consultation process
on November 14. The Committee concluded that the government should stay
the course and continue with its plan to balance the budget by 2004/05. However,
the Committee also recommended that some “fine-tuning” should be done in the
next two budgets in the form of providing assistance to resource-dependent
communities, as well as more funding for K-12 education, transportation
infrastructure, and child care subsidies.
On December 13, the Finance
and Government Services Committee released its second report on the
2003/04-2005/06 budget proposals of the statutory officers. The report
recommends budget cuts for five of the six independent offices of the
Legislative Assembly. The Committee also recommended that the six
statutory officers should continue to pursue their shared services activities.
Another oversight committee,
the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, also tabled its report on
November 7. The report contains the results of its reviews of the service
plans and annual reports of selected Crown corporations – namely, the BC
Buildings Corporation, the BC Lottery Corporation, Tourism BC and BC Transit.
The Select Standing Committee
on Health was reactivated in October, and released its follow-up report on
December 12. The report, entitled Patients First 2002: the Path to
Reform, provides a summary of all the reforms and government initiatives
underway in response to the committee’s December 2001 report, and also examines
major health care reports released during 2002 (including the Romanow, Kirby,
and Mazankowski reports). The Committee made 37 new recommendations, such
as that there be a firm commitment to public information and transparency in
the process to foster a positive climate for change, and that all health
reforms be carefully evaluated to ensure they do achieve their intended aims.
On November 21, 2002, the
Special Committee to Appoint a Police Complaint Commissioner tabled its report
in the House, recommending that Dirk Ryneveld be appointed as the
province’s second Police Complaint Commissioner. Mr. Ryneveld has more
than 30 years of experience in the legal profession, most of which was spent in
British Columbia as a deputy regional Crown counsel. For the last four
years, he has been serving as a senior trial attorney with the United Nations
at The Hague. He is expected to assume his new duties in February 2003.
Just prior to adjournment, the
Conflict of Interest Commissioner was also reappointed upon the expiration of
his term. On November 26, the House adopted a motion in the Premier’s
name to reappoint H.A.D. Oliver as the province’s Conflict of Interest
Commissioner, pursuant to section 14(2) of the Members’ Conflict of Interest
Act. By statute, the appointment procedure for this position differs
from the usual practice for other statutory officers of appointing individuals
upon the recommendation of a legislative committee.
In October 2002, the
Legislative Assembly launched an educational CD titled “Discover Your
Legislature,” which was developed by the Public Education and Outreach Office.
This multimedia resource is designed for teachers, students and the
general public. It features a virtual reality tour of the Parliament
Buildings, and extensive information about the history and role of the Assembly
in the democratic governance of our province. The resource is available
on the Assembly website at: www.legis.gov.bc.ca.
On November 19, Paul
Nettleton (Prince George-Omineca) departed the Liberal caucus to sit as an
Independent Liberal. The current party standings in the House, as a
result, are: 75 Liberals, two New Democrats, and two Independent Liberals.
Office of the Clerk of Committees
The Manitoba Legislature sat this fall from November 27 to
December 12. In addition to considering the fourth Throne Speech from the
NDP government, the House also passed four Bills, including Bill 2 - The Civil
Remedies Against Organized Crime and Liquor Control Amendment Act.
The intent of the Bill is to address businesses controlled by members of
criminal organizations, businesses used for unlawful purposes, and persons who
conspire to commit unlawful activities that would harm the public. Under
this legislation, a chief of police may apply to the Court of Queen's Bench for
an order to address these concerns.
The House is currently in
recess at the call of the government until sometime this spring.
Changes to our Rules
The Manitoba Legislative
Assembly adopted a number of rule changes at the end of the recent fall
session. The changes (which took effect January 1, 2003) incorporate a
number of significant revisions to our procedures, in some cases revamping and
modernizing our practices and in others deleting rules no longer followed.
Some of the highlights from this package include the following:
- A Sessional Calendar has been added to identify when the House
can meet during the year.
- Our Usual Adjournment Hour has been moved up to 5:30 from 6:00.
- A number of provisions have been added regarding General Decorum
including allowing Members to use laptops in the Chamber (except during
- Private Members' Business will now be held on Thursday mornings
from 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, instead of 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. daily.
- A number of provisions have been added regarding Speeches
by Members in the House:
- The time allotted for speeches by Members in the House
has been reduced from 40 minutes to 30 minutes.
- A general rule on the rotation of speakers between
recognized Parties has been added to the rules.
- A new concept in debate has also been included. Members
may now divide their 30-minute speaking time with other Members from the same
- Time Allocation, a new procedure for Manitoba, has been
added to our rules. This can be applied to either Bills or
- Consideration of Departmental Estimates / Committee of
- The maximum time allowed each year for the Consideration
of Departmental Estimates has been reduced from 240 hours to 100
- In addition to regular afternoon sittings from Monday to
Thursday during the estimates process, the Committee of Supply will also sit
Friday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- A provision has been added to the rules to specify that no
Standing Committee may consist of more than 11 members. In addition, a
number of provisions have been added regarding public presentations in Standing
Committees, including time limits for presentations and limitations on how late
in the evening Committees may sit to hear presentations.
- Two stages of the Bill consideration process, Concurrence
and Third Reading, are being combined into one motion. If Report Stage
amendments are filed, a Report Stage is held. Otherwise, there is no
These rules are currently in effect, but they will not be
fully tested until the House returns sometime this spring.
Since our last report, three more MLAs have announced their
retirement from our legislature, including our current Dean, Harry Enns (Lakeside). First elected in 1966, Mr.
Enns served in the cabinets of Premiers Duff Roblin,
Walter Weir, Sterling
Lyon, and Gary Filmon. Mr Enns held many
portfolios during his long tenure including Agriculture, Mines, Public Works,
Highways, Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation, Government Services, and
A member of the current NDP cabinet, Becky Barrett (Inkster), has also joined the list of
Members not seeking re-election. Since her first election victory in 1990,
Ms. Barrett served as critic for several departments while in opposition before
moving into cabinet herself as the Minister of Labour and Immigration when the
NDP came to power in 1999.
(Gimli) is most recent member to make a retirement
announcement. First elected in 1988, Mr Helwer served as Party Whip for
the PC Government Caucus from 1990 to 1999. In opposition, Mr Helwer has
served as Chair of our Public Accounts Committee.
All three Members have indicated they will remain active as
MLAs for the balance of the current legislature. Manitoba held its last
general election on September 21, 1999.
2003 CCPAC/CCOLA Conference
Manitoba is pleased to be hosting the 2003 joint conference
of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and the Canadian Council
of Legislative Auditors. The conference will be held in Winnipeg from
September 14 - 16, 2003.
Clerk Assistant /Clerk of Committees
The pace of business in the Senate increased during the
month of December not because of the usual influx of legislation that precedes a
lengthy adjournment, but rather to one bill in particular. Bill C-10, an
amendment to the Criminal Code, was the subject of
extensive debate, numerous points of order and rulings from the Speaker. In
addition, a motion asking the Senate to call upon the government to ratify the
Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change took up much of the time of the Senate in the
weeks leading up to the Christmas adjournment.
Debate at second reading was already well underway when
Senator David Tkachuk suggested splitting Bill C-10,
an amendment to the Criminal Code (cruelty to
animals and firearms) because it contained two separate issues. The events that
followed were reminiscent of an incident in 1988 when the Senate attempted to
divide the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Bill. A number of procedural
complications were immediately brought forward by some Senators who approved of
the principle but had concerns about the process of splitting a bill. They
wondered whether the split would happen in committee or in the Senate Chamber,
and how it would be reported to the Senate. In the end the Senate agreed to
refer the bill to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee with an
instruction to divide the bill.
On November 28 the Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Committee reported that it had in fact divided Bill C-10 into two bills, Bill
C-10A, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and
the Firearms Act, and Bill C-10B, an Act to amend
the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals). As well, it reported Bill C-10A
without amendment and was continuing to examine Bill C-10B.
Senator John Lynch-Staunton,
Leader of the Opposition, was the first to raise a point of order on December 3.
He argued that Bill C-10A was a document without status, at best a brand new
bill that had not gone through the proper procedures. Not only that, but the
committee was at fault for proceeding in a manner that did not respect the
privileges and rights of the House of Commons. Many Senators took part in the
discussion before the Speaker ruled later that day. His conclusion was that the
order of the Senate had been properly dealt with by the committee and the Senate
proceeded to third reading of the bill.
The second point of order occurred on the same day and
concerned the message to the House of Commons that accompanied Bill C-10A after
third reading. Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Noël A. Kinsella, questioned the text of the message
that informed the Commons that the Senate had divided Bill C-10 and had passed
Bill C-10A. He asked if the Senate would follow the same procedure as 1988 when
another message, also related to a bill that was divided by the Senate, was
discussed. The Speaker ruled on December 4 that points of order could be raised
on the content of the message but that a message was not a debatable motion.
What happened in 1988 was, in his view, an exceptional occurrence. In this case,
he declared the message on Bill C-10 in order.
This led to points of order on the content of the message.
Some Senators argued that the message was flawed because it sent back a complete
bill when in fact the committee had dealt with only a part of the bill. The
Speaker based his opinion on rulings given in 1988 on similar subjects and found
the message on Bill C-10 to be correct.
Finally, on another point of order, the Speaker was asked
to clarify the location of Bill C-10. He reasoned, in his ruling on December 9,
that from the point of view of the House of Commons Bill C-10 was the only bill
in existence. For the moment, the Senate was in a position of waiting for a
decision from the House of Commons as to whether it agreed to the division of
The Senate made every effort to accommodate the commitment
made by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to ratify the
Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change by December 31, 2002. Debate on the motion
asking the Senate to call upon the government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol was
intense as Senators presented their opinions and concerns. Some approved of the
principle of the accord and anticipated further opportunities for debate on the
enabling legislation when and if it was required. Others did not agree with the
process and argued that by approving the motion, the Senate was bound to the
enabling legislation that would follow ratification. Prior to the motion adopted
on December 12 an amendment was made urging cooperation between the Provinces,
Territories and the Federal Government.
Although the content of the Second Report of Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee was the subject of a great deal of discussion
in the Chamber, other committees also presented reports for the approval of the
The First Report of the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee
on the committee's permanent order of reference was adopted by the Senate on
December 5. Two reports from the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament Committee were presented as well. In its Fifth Report, adopted on
December 10, the committee recommended an amendment to Rule 95(3) in order to
clarify the procedure when a committee wants to meet during an adjournment of
the Senate that exceeds a week. On December 5, the Senate approved the Sixth
Report which amended Rule 86(1)(o) to change the name of the Fisheries Committee
to the Fisheries and Oceans Committee.
Several major committee reports were also tabled in the
Senate. On December 11, the Transport and Communications Committee tabled its
Third Report entitled Intercity Bus Service in
Canada which concluded the committee's study, begun in the First Session of
the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, of public policy issues relating to the bus
industry. As a key means of transportation, the committee recommended ways
to maximize the full potential of bus service in Canada.
The Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee determined that a
limited number of bank mergers would enhance Canada's growth and prosperity but
this could only happen if the federal government diminished its power to reject
mergers. The report, entitled Competition in the Public
Interest: Large Bank Mergers in Canada, was tabled in the Senate on December
Also on December 12, the Social Affairs, Science and
Technology Committee reported on its examination of the document entitled Santé en français-Pour un meilleur accès à des services de
santé en français. The committee's Seventh Report recommended ways of
improving access to French language health care service in Canada's Francophone
and Acadian communities.
The Fourth Report of the National Security and Defence
Committee was tabled on December 12. It urged the Government of Canada to
reconsider the proposal of the Valiants Group to erect statutes in downtown
Ottawa in commemoration of valiant men and women during wartime.
Although the National Security and Defence Committee found
some improvements in screening passengers at airports, it still identified major
security lapses behind the scenes in the Canadian travel industry. Its report
entitled The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports
was tabled with the Clerk of the Senate on January 21.
Other committees presented reports of a more routine nature
for adoption by the Senate. The Senate approved budgets that permitted the
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Agriculture and
Forestry Committee, Transport and Communications, Foreign Affairs Committee,
National Security and Defence Committee, Aboriginal Peoples Committee, Banking,
Trade and Commerce Committee, Fisheries and Oceans Committee, Human Rights
Committee, Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration Committee and Official
Languages to conduct special studies on a variety of subjects.
On December 12, Senator Leo
Kolber, Chair of the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, rose on a
question of privilege concerning the unauthorized disclosure of the committee's
report on bank mergers before it was tabled in the Senate. The Speaker ruled on
that day that the leak of a document constituted a prima facie case of
privilege. Following the newly established practice with respect to the
unauthorized disclosure of committee reports, the Speaker suggested that the
next step would be for the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee to investigate
and report to the Senate before considering further action.
During debate for the adoption of the Second Report of the
National Finance Committee, Senator Anne Cools
raised a point of order. She contended that by adopting the committee report the
Senate was by implication also adopting the Supplementary Estimates contained in
that report. She was concerned that the Estimates referred to the National
Finance Committee were no longer correct since they had been amended in the
House of Commons after being sent to the Senate committee. Other Senators
participated in the debate on the question of whether the Senate was being asked
to vote on the Estimates or simply on the study made by the National Finance
Committee. The Speaker found no point of order in his ruling later that day. In
his view, the committee had fulfilled its obligation to discuss and report on
the Estimates. Debate on the Estimates concurred in by the House of Commons
would occur during the Senate's consideration of Bill C-21, the interim supply
Royal Assent was given to the following bills on December
12 by Governor General Adrienne
- S-2, Tax Conventions
Implementation Act, 2002
- C-14, Export and Import of Rough
- C-11, An Act to amend the
- C-21, Appropriation No. 3,
- C-8, Pest Control Products
- C-5, Species at Risk
Usher of the Black Rod
Christopher, a retired Lieutenant-Commander, was appointed Usher of
the Black Rod of the Senate on December 3.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Spring sitting of the House of Assembly adjourned
sine die on May 22nd, 2002. The House reconvened on June 18th for an unusual,
but not unprecedented, special sitting to debate a Resolution concerning the
Statement of Principles relating to the development of the nickel deposit at
Voisey's Bay in Labrador. The Members agreed to special rules for the
debate which was conducted over a three-day period and lasted for approximately
twenty hours. The Resolution was approved by the House with all Government
Members, one Member of the Official Opposition and one Member of the New
Democratic Opposition voting with the yeas. All other Opposition Members
voted against the motion.
On July 24th a by-election
took place in the District of Bonavista North. The seat was won by Harry Harding representing the Official Opposition.
The Liberal candidate was Beaton Tulk who had
resigned the seat to run in the federal by-election in
The House lost a Member on August 2nd when Robert French died suddenly and prematurely. Mr.
French had represented the District of Conception Bay South since
In the by-election on November 12th Terry French was elected in the district succeeding his
The Province now has a Child and Youth Advocate in the
person of retired provincial court judge Lloyd L.W.
Wicks. The creation of this office was a recommendation of the Select
Committee on Children's Interests chaired by Patt
Cowan, who was then the Member for Conception Bay South, which was tabled in
1996. Mr. Wicks officially took office on September 16th.
The Province experienced the withdrawal of services of
physicians from October 1st to October 17th. In
December the House passed legislation to give effect to the agreement made
between government and the physicians to resolve the dispute.
As of November 1st the Province
has a new Lieutenant Governor. Edward M.
Roberts, Q.C. succeeded A. Maxwell House who had
occupied the office since 1997. The new occupant of the office has
considerable experience of the workings of government having served in the House
of Assembly for over 22 years on both sides of the Speaker's Chair.
The House conducted a second special debate during this
sitting. On November 21st Members
debated a Resolution concerning the proposed imposition of a moratorium on
the cod fishery in NAFO regions 2J3KL and 4RS3PN. The Resolution passed
unanimously and resulted in two meetings between provincial Members and federal
Members and officials.
The House passed 20 Bills in the fall sitting including
an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act, yet
to be proclaimed, prohibiting the use of hand-held cellular telephones by
drivers while operating a motor vehicle. Newfoundland and Labrador is the first
jurisdiction in the country to introduce such legislation.
On December 19th, 2002, the
House adjourned for the Christmas break following the granting of Royal Assent
by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor.
The Third Session of the 24th Legislature was
reconvened on December 9, 2002 for a short eight day winter session. The
normal House procedures presented a challenge in enabling the Members from
achieving their objectives during the short time frame. As a result an
agreement was reached between the Government and the Opposition that set out a
schedule for the business to be conducted.
The first order of business was the tabling of the Final
Report (with Addenda) of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The
Commission conducted hearings around the province during 2002 and prepared a
report that ensured that no constituency (the two northern constituencies
excepted) was more than plus or minus 5% larger or smaller than any other
constituency. The total number of constituencies remained unchanged
although the boundaries were redrawn. One rural riding was cut to create a
new constituency north of Saskatoon. A debate ensued and the report was
approved and adopted with only three dissenting votes. This was
immediately followed by the introduction of The
Representation Act, 2002, which constituted the final step in establishing
new constituency boundaries in Saskatchewan. The swift passage of the Act
ensures that the new boundaries will be in force for the next provincial
The bulk of the session was devoted to debating a series of
emergency motions on topical issues. The first debate concerned the Kyoto
Protocol and its impact on Saskatchewan. Eldon
Lautermilch, the Minister of Industry and Resources, moved a motion setting
out the Assembly's support for the 12 principles adopted by the provinces and
territories as a basis for negotiations with the federal government on a
national climate change plan to address the Kyoto Protocol targets. The
opposition responded with an amendment opposing ratification of the Protocol.
After two days of debate, the amendment was defeated and the motion was
The next debate was on provincial finances. The
Opposition finance critic, Ken Krawetz, moved that
the government adopt the Provincial Auditor's recommendation to use summary
financial statements in its budgets documents. The government responded
with an amendment indicating support for the current practice and recognition
for the on-going steps taken to improve the accountability and transparency of
the public finances. After a daylong debate, the motion as amended was
Independent Member, Jack
Hillson, proposed the third motion calling on the government to call a
general election within six months to avoid a costly by-election in the vacant
Battleford - Cut Knife constituency. A lively debate ensued before the
motion was defeated.
December 16th saw two
resolutions adopted. The first expressed the Assembly's condemnation for all
forms of racism, and in particular the comments made by David Ahenakew, an executive member of the Federation
of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. The second resolution endorsed " … the
positive vision for renewing universally accessible, publicly funded health care
as presented in the Final Report of the Romanow Commission …" and the progress
made by the provincial government over the past year towards implementing its Action Plan for Saskatchewan Health Care. An
Opposition amendment questioning the government's policies was defeated.
The Leader of the Opposition, Elwyn Hermanson
sponsored the first motion while Health Minister John Nilson proposed the
The sixth emergency debate took place on the final day of
the session. The Opposition agriculture critic, Donna
Harpauer, and Clay Serby, Minister of
Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization led the debate on the situation
facing farmers and the role played by the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance
In a departure from normal practice, the Private Members'
Bills Committee met during the December session to consider a petition from the
Saskatchewan Wheat Pool to amend its Private Act.
The committee agreed to dispense with the provisions of Rule 64, which
stipulates that petitioners must file their request by the 20th sitting day. As the December sitting was a
continuation of the earlier spring session, this Rule could not be complied
with. However, the committee accepted the Wheat Pool's position that there
were valid reasons not to delay consideration of the bill until the spring of
2003. The committee further recommended to the Assembly that the timelines
laid out in Rules 71 to 83 should be modified to enable consideration and
passage of the amending bill before the anticipated adjournment of the Assembly
on December 18th. This was accepted by the
House and the bill progressed through all stages, including the holding of
public hearings, before receiving Royal Assent on December 18th.
The December session saw the Assembly bid farewell to one
colleague while welcoming a new one. The Assembly observed a moment of
silence in remembrance of Rudi Peters on December 9,
2002. Mr. Peters, the late member for Battleford - Cut Knife, passed away on
November 30 after a battle with cancer. Colleagues on both sides of the
House shared their thoughts and memories of Mr. Peters during a debate on a
motion of condolence. Immediately afterwards, Jason Dearborn was welcomed into the Assembly as the
newly elected Member for the constituency of Kindersley. He replaces Bill Boyd who resigned in the Spring of
On January 21, 2003, Chris
Axworthy announced his intention to step down from his cabinet duties as
Minister of Justice, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs. Later on
February 17th, he resigned
his seat in the Legislature. Mr. Axworthy had served as a Member of
Parliament from 1988 until 1999. He was first elected to the Saskatchewan
Legislature in a by-election and then re-elected in the subsequent general
election. Mr. Axworthy's resignation and the release of a review of the Spudco
potato venture prompted Premier Lorne Calvert to
shuffle his cabinet on February 17th. Former Finance Minister Eric Cline assumed the portfolios of Justice and
Industry and Resources. Jim Melenchuck took
over as Finance Minister and was replaced as Minister of Learning by Judy Junor. Eldon
Lautermilch moved to Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs while
Government Relations Minister Ron Osika added the
Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation to his
Carrot River Valley MLA Carl
Kwiatkowski passed away suddenly on February 2, 2003. Mr. Kwiatkowski
was first elected in the 1999 general election and served as the Saskatchewan
Party's critic for environment and deputy critic of labour. He had earlier
served three terms as the mayor of Porcupine Plain. Mr. Kwiatkowksi was
noted for his work improving the lives and opportunities of individuals
challenged by mental and physical disabilities.
The standings in the House are now 28 New Democrats, 24
Saskatchewan Party, 3 Independents and three vacancies.
Margaret (Meta) Woods
On November 30, 2002 the recently elected Yukon Party
government's cabinet was sworn into office by Commissioner Jack Cable at a public ceremony in Whitehorse. In
addition to his duties as first minister Premier Dennis
Fentie assumed ministerial responsibility for the Executive Council Office,
which includes responsibility for Devolution, Land Claims, the Women's
Directorate, and the Youth Directorate. Mr. Fentie will also be the Minister of
Finance. Other cabinet members include:
- Peter Jenkins, Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister
responsible for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety
- John Edzerza, Minister of Education and Minister responsible for the
Public Service Commission;
- Elaine Taylor, Minister of Business, Tourism and Culture, and Minister
- Archie Lang, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources; Minister
responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation; and Minister responsible
for the Yukon Energy Corporation;
- Glenn Hart, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Community
Services, Minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, Minister
responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation; and
- Jim Kenyon, Minister of Environment.
In addition to his ministerial responsibilities Mr. Jenkins
has been named Government House Leader. Patrick
Rouble, MLA for Southern Lakes, will serve as caucus chair, and Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge, has been given
responsibility as caucus whip.
New Democratic Party leader Todd
Hardy announced the Official Opposition's shadow cabinet on November 22,
2002. In addition to his responsibilities as party leader Mr. Hardy will take on
critic responsibilities for the Executive Council Office, the Public Service
Commission and the arts branch of Tourism. He will also share critic
responsibility for the Department of Finance with Eric
Mr. Fairclough has also been assigned critic
responsibilities for Health and Social Services, and the public schools branch
of the Department of Education. He will share critic responsibilities for First
Nations relations and Youth with Lorraine
will take on critic responsibilities for the Department of
Tourism (other than the Arts Branch), the Department of Energy, Mines and
Resources, the Yukon Development and Yukon Energy Corporations, and for
Transportation and Information & Communications Technology within the
Department of Infrastructure.
In addition to her shared duties Mrs. Peter will be the
Official Opposition critic for the Departments of Environment and Justice, and
for the Women's Directorate.
has been given critic responsibilities for the Community
Services department, advanced education, the property management and programs
components of the Infrastructure department, the Yukon Workers' Compensation
Health and Safety Board, the Yukon Liquor Corporation, the Yukon Lotteries
Commission, and the Yukon Housing Corporation.
In addition to his critic responsibilities Mr. McRobb will
continue as Official Opposition House Leader. Mrs. Peter will serve as caucus
chair and Mr. Cardiff will be caucus whip.
On December 13, 2002 it was announced that Premier Dennis Fentie, seconded by the Leader of the Official
Opposition, Todd Hardy, and the Third Party Leader,
Pat Duncan (Liberal), would nominate Ted Staffen as Speaker when the Legislative Assembly
convenes. Mr. Staffen will be the 22nd Speaker since
the Yukon Territorial Council became a fully elected body in 1909.
On February 10,
2003 it was announced that the First Session of the 31st Legislature would
convene on February 27, 2003.
Prince Edward Island
The Fourth Session of the Sixty-first General Assembly of
Prince Edward Island opened on November 14, 2002, with the reading of the Speech
from the Throne by J. Léonce Bernard, Lieutenant
Governor of Prince Edward Island. The sitting adjourned on December 18,
2002, after 19 sitting days. Prince Edward Island does not have a
legislative calendar; however, the session is expected to resume in the late
March-early April timeframe.
During the fall sitting 29 Government Bills were
introduced, 28 of which received Royal Assent. Three of the more
significant pieces of legislation considered by the House were:
- Smoke-free Places Act (Bill No. 11) which prohibits smoking in a workplace or
public place unless it is carried out in an area designated for smoking in
accordance with the Act. It requires the posting of signs respecting
smoking and provides for the investigation of complaints by
- An Act of Amend the Family Law Act (Bill No. 22) which replaces references to “a man and a
woman” with references to either “two persons” or to a “common-law partner”
with respect to domestic contracts.
- An Act to Amend the Election Act (Bill No. 23) which incorporates changes recommended by
the Special Committee on the Election Act in its
report tabled in the Legislative Assembly on April 24, 2001. These
changes include replacing the enumeration process with a door-to-door
confirmation process to facilitate the speedy completion of the list of
electors, and allows electors confined to a hospital, community care facility
or nursing home an opportunity to vote.
One Private Bill was introduced, An
Act to Amend the Anglican Church Act (Bill No. 200), and it received Royal
A total of 95 written questions were submitted by the
Leader of the Opposition.
As reported in the Winter 2002-03 issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review, a decision from The
Honourable Justice Wayne D. Cheverie stating whether
two subpoenas issued by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and
Environment were valid and enforceable was expected by the end of
The background to the case is as follows.
The Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and
Environment was charged with the responsibility of conducting a full and
complete examination of the events leading up to and subsequent to the discovery
of potato wart fungus in the Province in October 2000. As part of its
investigations, the Standing Committee invited two representatives from the
federally-mandated Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to appear before it on
three separate occasions. All invitations were declined, and the Standing
Committee took the unusual step of issuing warrants to compel their
The Federal Government made application to have the
subpoenas stayed. The matter was heard on January 7, 2002, and an interim
declaration was made, granting a temporary exemption to the CFIA officials from
complying with the summonses. The case, with its implications for limiting
inquiries between provincial governments and the Federal Government, drew the
attention of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for Ontario who was granted
On January 14, 2003, the challenge by the applicants, the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency and two of its employees, against the authority
of the legislative committee to compel their attendance as witnesses was
Justice Cheverie determined that committees of the
Legislative Assembly are extensions of the Legislative Assembly itself and enjoy
a constitutional power to compel the attendance of witnesses. This power
exists notwithstanding the witnesses sought to be compelled to appear are
employees of another level of government.
He stated, “It is my conclusion the Legislative Assembly of
Prince Edward Island has the power to summon witnesses and order them to produce
documents. This power is constitutional by virtue of the fact it is an
exercise of inherent parliamentary privilege. The Committee of the House
is an extension of the House and possesses the same constitutional power to
summon witnesses and order them to produce documents. For reasons already
given, I see no reason why the witnesses (the applicants Love and MacSwain)
should be excused or exempt from the summonses. Finally the Judicial Review Act does not apply to a decision of the
Committee. Therefore the application (from CFIA) and the application for
judicial review are dismissed.”
The complete text of the decision can be read at:
Carruthers, retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward
Island, has been appointed to head the Prince Edward Island Commission on
Electoral Review. The Commission is mandated to engage Islanders on the
issue of electoral reform so that the Election Act,
associated legislation and the manner in which the Legislative Assembly is
selected continues to be relevant and effective. It is expected the
Commission will present an interim report in the fall of 2003, with a final
report due in 2004.
Ms. Karen Rose of Charlottetown
was appointed Prince Edward Island's first information and Privacy Commissioner
on November 19, 2002. The Freedom of Information
and Protection of Privacy Act was passed by the Legislative Assembly in the
Third Session of the Sixty-first General Assembly, and was proclaimed into force
in November 2002.
Boylan was named the first recipient of the IPAC-Lieutenant
Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Administration which recognizes
outstanding contributions made on a sustained basis in the public sector.
He was presented with the award by Lieutenant Governor J. Léonce Bernard, Premier Pat
Binns and the P.E.I. regional group of the Institute of Public
Administration of Canada on December 10, 2002. Mr. Boylan had a long and
distinguished career in the provincial public service, serving as secretary to
the cabinet and clerk of the executive council for 16 years. He also
served as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for three years and as Clerk
Assistant for 18 years.
In 2001, to mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of
Responsible Government on Prince Edward Island, the Premier, on behalf of
Executive Council, requested that the Governor General grant the province the
honour of a Full Achievement of Arms. Her Excellency agreed, and Her
Majesty the Queen approved the use of the Royal Crown in the new Armorial
On December 13, 2002, Premier Binns was joined by Governor
General Adrienne Clarkson, and Lieutenant Governor
J. Léonce Bernard, in unveiling Prince Edward Island's Full Achievement of
The Full Achievement of Arms augments the shield of arms,
granted to the province by King Edward VII in 1905, with the addition of a
helmet, mantling, crest, supporters and compartment. It is rich in symbols
of provincial identity, history and authority.
The helmet is
golden and represents the province's co-sovereign status in Confederation.
It sits above the mantling and wreath in the official colours of Canada.
Atop the wreath, a blue jay-the provincial bird--holds a leaf of red oak
and wears the Royal Crown. The Full Achievement of Arms incorporates the
original coat of arms, featuring a large oak tree and three oak saplings, as its
shield. Silver foxes, representing industry and ingenuity, serve as
supporters. A Mi'kmaq star is centred at the base of the shield,
surrounded by floral references to the Island's early European settlers, and
flanked by Lady's Slippers-the provincial flower. The province's motto, Parva sub Ingenti (the small under the protection of
the great) completes the design.
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
When the Assembly adjourned on 19 December 2002, 37 public
bills, 7 private bills and 4 public Members' private bills, had been passed
since the resumption of proceedings on 15 October 2002.
Among the bills adopted were the following:
- the Act to combat poverty and
social exclusion, whose object is to guide the Government and the
community as a whole towards a process of planning and implementing actions to
combat poverty and counter social exclusion. The bill establishes an advisory
committee on the prevention of poverty and social exclusion, an observatory on
poverty and social exclusion, and a fund to finance initiatives to fight
poverty and social exclusion.
- the Act to amend the Act
respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions, which
provides in particular that the labour standards apply to domestics whether or
not they reside with their employer. The labour standards will also apply,
subject to the duration of the work, to all farm workers and to persons having
custody or taking care of a child or a sick, handicapped or elderly person,
unless the work is performed occasionally or as part of family or community
- the Act to amend the Act
respecting health services and social services as regards the medical
activities, the distribution and the undertaking of physicians, which
introduces new measures concerning the preparation of the medical and dental
staffing plans of institutions and the regional medical staffing plans of
- the Act respecting the Agence
nationale d'encadrement du secteur financier, which creates the Agence
nationale d'encadrement du secteur financier, whose mission is to administer
all the legislation governing the regulation of the financial sector, in
particular in the fields of insurance, securities, deposit-taking institutions
and the distribution of financial products and services.
Rulings from the Chair
On 15 October 2002, at the first sitting of the fall
parliamentary proceedings, the President Louise
Harel read the directive that she had previously given in private concerning
the distribution of main questions during Oral Questions
and Answers in the House. This directive was given when, following the
holding of by-elections, the number of independent Members rose from two to
five, all of whom are from the same party. On the basis of jurisprudence and the
statistics of the 34th Legislature,
during which period the number of independent Members was essentially the same,
the Chair decided to grant the independent Members two main questions per five
Madam President informed the Assembly of the principles
that guide her as regards the distribution of main questions: any Member may ask
a question; question period is set aside mainly but not exclusively for the
Opposition; the recognition of parliamentary groups must be considered within
these principles. The Chair also takes into account more specifically the
preponderant role that the Official Opposition has in the exercise of
parliamentary control and the membership of the Assembly.
Immediately after having rendered the decision concerning
the distribution of questions, the Chair also elaborated on the impact that the
presence of five independent Members has on the distribution of items under
Business Standing in the Name of Members in Opposition. The ruling states that,
as prescribed in the Standing Orders, the President takes into consideration the
presence of independent Members when determining the order in which these items
of business are debated. Generally speaking, a motion standing in the name of an
independent Member may be debated during a session. Given that 14 motions had
been debated since the beginning of the session and that all had been moved by
the Official Opposition, it was decided that an independent Member would be
allowed to move a motion. However, since the Official Opposition must enjoy a
preponderant position in the exercise of parliamentary control, the first motion
of the fall parliamentary session was granted to a Member of this parliamentary
In a decision rendered on 3 December 2002, the Chair
increased the ratio of questions that independent Members may ask during Oral Questions and Answers from two questions per five
sittings to two questions per four sittings. This decision was made following
the arrival, among the independent Members, of a Member who resigned from the
parliamentary group forming the Government.
The ruling also specifies that the questions granted to the
independent Members are for these Members as a group, regardless of their
political affiliation. The manner in which the main questions are distributed
devolves upon the independent Members. If more than one independent Member rises
to ask a question, the Chair alternates among them as regards the granting of
On 29 October 2002, Normand
Jutras was appointed Minister of Justice, thus succeeding Paul Bégin, who became an independent Member.
Furthermore, Serge Ménard, who already was titular
of Transport, added Public Security to his responsibilities.
9th Summit of the Francophonie
Mme Harel, who is also Chairman of the Assemblée
parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), tabled on 19 October 2002 an opinion
from the APF concerning the dialogue of cultures before the heads of State and
Government of 55 Francophone countries gathered together in Beirut within the
framework of the 9th Summit of the
As stated in its Charter
adopted at the Hanoi Summit in 1997, the Francophonie aspires to promote the
development of the dialogue of cultures and civilizations and to bring peoples
closer together through their mutual knowledge. The opinion thus proposes
solutions in order to improve this dialogue.
The 13th General
Assembly of the Ontario-Quebec Parliamentary Association (APOQ) was held in
Toronto on 7 and 8 November 2002. Three working sessions were held during these
two days. The first two dealt respectively with current political events in
Ontario and in Quebec and on the St. Lawrence River, the management of its water
levels, pollution and the economic impact related thereto. As regards the final
session, discussions concerned the expectations of citizens with respect to
their Members in the Internet age.
The National Assembly of Quebec hosted the World Youth Parliament for Water from 18 to 22 November
2002. This activity took place for the most part at the Station écotouristique
Duchesnay (ecological resort), near Quebec City, and concluded with a
parliamentary session at the Quebec National Assembly.
The World Youth Parliament for
Water, which was organized in collaboration with the Quebec National
Assembly and the International Secretariat for Water, united some 75 young
people aged 14 to 18 years and hailing from 22 countries, from Africa, Europe,
and North and South America. The forum proposed the participation of future
generations in activities related to the conservation, protection and prudent
use of one of our most precious common assets on earth: water. Moreover, it is
in keeping with an educational process on solidarity and sustainable development
as part of the preparatory phase of International
Freshwater Year 2003.
During this week, the young participants developed a
concrete proposal on a bill defining access to water and sanitation as a
fundamental human right and selected five youth representatives who will attend
the World Assembly of Water Wisdom that will be held
during the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto in March
On 24 October 2002, the President of the National Assembly
of Quebec unveiled an inuksuk on the grounds of the Parliament Building.
Inuksuks were traditionally used as beacons by the Inuit of Northern Quebec.
Built in the shape of a person, this inuksuk is over 2.5 metres tall and
features stones from the four corners of Nunavik. The names of all of the Inuit
communities are inscribed on the stones surrounding the inuksuk.
The National Assembly held three pedagogical activities
designed for students. The Youth Parliament and the Student Parliament were held
during the Christmas holidays, followed by the Student Forum, which took place
from 6 to 10 January 2003. Some 350 young people from all levels of public and
private educational institutions throughout Quebec took part in these
parliamentary simulations. These young people discussed, among other subjects,
bills concerning the reform of Quebec's electoral system, social housing, and,
in view of the debates on the Kyoto agreement, the control of greenhouse gas
The professional and managerial staff of the Secretariat of
the Assembly, the Secretariat of Committees, the Documentary Studies Directorate
and the Parliamentary Procedure Research Directorate were invited to take part
in training sessions on parliamentary procedure in Quebec.
The purpose of these 14 development sessions, totalling 42
hours, is to enable persons working in the parliamentary affairs sector to
increase their knowledge of the organization and proceedings of the National
Assembly. During these meetings, which will conclude in spring 2003, various
topics will be discussed, more particularly: the foundation of parliamentary
procedure, parliamentary privileges, the Chair, the parliamentary groups, order
and decorum, the legislative process, and the standing committees. Each sitting
begins with an oral presentation made by a senior clerk, followed by a period
set aside for questions or exchanges, where each person can share his own
experience with those present. The course structure is based principally on the
volume entitled La procédure parlementaire du
Quebec, which was published in 2000 by the National Assembly and whose
complete text (in French only) may be consulted at the following Internet
On 11 December 2002, the Office of the National Assembly
approved a modification to the Administrative
Organization Plan of the Assembly for the purpose of creating the
Legislative Translation and Publishing Directorate. Louise Auger, translator-editor, was named director of
this new administrative unit. Furthermore, last January, Carole Lachance, formerly from the Human Resources
branch of the Transport Ministry, was named Director of the Human Resources
branch of the Assembly.
Secretariat of the Assembly
On 19 November last, the Committee on Social Affairs
concluded its general consultation on Bill 112, An Act
to combat poverty and social exclusion. The public hearings took place over
a period of 17 sittings and enabled the Committee to hear 132 of the 166 persons
and organizations that had submitted a brief thereto. The Committee subsequently
gave clause-by-clause consideration to the Bill, which was adopted by the
Assembly in December.
In December, the Committee on Public Administration tabled
in the National Assembly its ninth report on the accountability of deputy
ministers and chief executive officers of public bodies. This report states the
various mandates undertaken by the Committee since February 2002. The Committee
examined personal income tax management, the first report on the implementation
of the Public Administration Act, childcare services
in the education sector, homecare services which come under health and social
services, as well as lodging services for persons with diminishing
During the months of January, February and March, several
general consultations will be held. Among the subjects to be discussed by the
Members, the document entitled Proposal for
Agreement-in-Principle of General Nature Between the First Nations of Mamuitun
and Nutashkuan and the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada
should be noted. The members of the Committee on Institutions will be hearing
some sixty groups and individuals who are interested in this agreement. The
Committee on Transportation and the Environment, for its part, will be examining
the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in Quebec, and the Committee on Public
Finance will be examining the updating of the Act
respecting the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the role of the
Caisse, the relationship between the board of directors and the management of
this organization, the organization's governing rules, and
Secretariat of Committees
The Fall Sitting of the Second Session of the Twenty-Fifth
Legislature adjourned on December 4, 2002 after 10 sitting days. At the
conclusion of the sitting, 9 Government Bills and 1 Private Members' Public Bill
were passed by the Assembly. The only Government Bill left on the Order
Paper was Bill 32, Climate Change and Emissions
Management Act, introduced by Minister of Environment Dr. Lorne Taylor, which sets out goals, targets and actions
for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the Bills passed during the Fall Sitting
- Bill 30-2, Adult Interdependent
Relationships Act, introduced by Minister of Justice and Attorney General
David Hancock, lists the requirements for an adult
interdependent relationship as well as the conditions for interdependent
partner agreements. The Bill was originally introduced as Bill 30 just
prior to the adjournment of the Spring Sitting and held over for further
consideration in the fall. That Bill was substantially amended and
introduced as Bill 30-2 after the Government House Leader requested and
received the unanimous consent of the Assembly to remove Bill 30 from the
- Bill 31, Security Management Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, amends
several statutes to enhance the protection of Alberta's infrastructure,
industry, natural resources, and environment. The Bill was introduced in
response to the findings of a security committee headed by Halvar Jonson, Minister of International and
Intergovernmental Relations, following the events of September 11,
Bill 207, Alberta Wheat and Barley
Test Market Act, sponsored by Mark Hlady (PC,
Calgary-Mountain View). Under this legislation, the Minister of
Agriculture, Food and Rural Development is authorized to enter into an agreement
with the federal government and the Canadian Wheat Board for the purpose of
establishing an open market, on a trial basis, for Alberta grown wheat and
On November 28, 2002 Brent
Rathgeber (PC, Edmonton-Calder) Chair, Select Special Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Review Committee, tabled the final report of the Committee. The report
contained 62 recommendations which included:
the protection of personal banking and credit card
information to support and encourage online transactions between public bodies
and Albertans;– the development of criteria to guide how personal information in
the motor vehicle registry is released and that this criteria balance fair
information principles with the public interest;– establishment of the criteria
for bringing a public body under the act in legislation rather than in policy;
and- the harmonization of privacy legislation in the public and private
During the Fall Sitting, two purported questions of
privilege were raised. On November 19, 2002 a purported question of
privilege was raised by Hugh MacDonald (Lib,
Edmonton-Gold Bar) concerning a newspaper advertisement requesting submissions
to an "MLA Committee" reviewing the Labour Relations
Code. It was not a Committee of the Assembly but a "government"
committee composed entirely of MLAs from the government caucus. The Member
contended that the omission of the word "government" from its title implied that
the committee was an all-party committee of the Assembly which constituted a
contempt of the Assembly as it offended the authority and dignity of the House.
The next day, Deputy Government House Leader and Minister of Gaming, Ron Stevens acknowledged that the word "government"
should have been included in the committee's title and apologized on behalf of
the government. Speaker Ken Kowalski
considered the matter resolved.
On November 26, 2002 Debby
Carlson (Lib, Edmonton-Ellerslie) raised a purported question of privilege
alleging partisan activities by the Speaker. Citing parliamentary
precedents, the Chair indicated that the actions of the Speaker may not be
criticized in debate except by way of substantive motion. The Member
indicated she did not want to proceed with a motion and no further action was
Spring Sitting of the Twenty-Fifth Legislature
The 3rd Session of the
Twenty-Fifth Legislature commenced on February 18, 2003 with the Speech
from the Throne read by Alberta's Lieutenant Governor Lois E. Hole. The Speech focused on the theme "A Bright
Future for Our Children" indicating the government's commitment to a range of
initiatives for youth and children. The priority was underscored by Bill
1, Premier's Council on Alberta's Promise Act, which
is designed to bring together different sectors to further the well-being of
The Speech from the Throne also outlined other government
initiatives including a new sustainability fund, more funding for classroom
resources and electricity industry legislation. On the subject of
federal-provincial relations, the Speech from the Throne indicated that
Alberta's ability to be a partner in Canada was being compromised" by the
current federal government, which often does not listen to the people of this
province." The Speech emphasized that "Albertans are concerned Canadians"
who want to be full and equal partners in Canada.
On November 25, 2002 the Assembly agreed to a resolution
striking a Select Special Ethics Commissioner and Ombudsman Search Committee.
The Committee was appointed due to the announcement of retirement of both
the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta, Robert Clark,
and the Ombudsman, Scott Sutton.
On February 10, 2003 the Alberta Legislative Assembly
launched a new program called Mr. Speaker's MLA for a Day. The program
will see high school students from each of Alberta's 83 constituencies
participating in one of two interactive seminars intended to provide an in-depth
look into a typical day as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Mr.
Speaker's MLA for a Day takes place March 13, 2003 and April 10, 2003, with each
session including up to 42 participants from high schools across Alberta.
Participants will observe the Assembly in session and take part in briefing
sessions with the Speaker, MLAs and others.
Senior Parliamentary Counsel
House of Commons
The period prior to and following the winter recess at the
House of Commons saw the launch of a number of key legislative initiatives,
- Bill C-19 (First Nations Fiscal
and Statistical Management Act);
- Bill C-22 (An Act to amend the
Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act, the
Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion);
- Bill C-23 (Sex Offender
Information Registration Act);
- Bill C-24 (An Act to amend the
Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act), and
- Bill C-25 (Public Service Labour
Bill C-24 (An Act to amend the
Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act) proposes significant reforms to
Canada's electoral and campaign finance laws and will no doubt be the subject of
intense debate in the months ahead. Highlights of the bill include the
introduction of a $10,000 limit on individual contributions to registered
parties and party leadership candidates as well as the prohibition of
contributions from corporations, unions and associations to any registered party
or leadership contestants. The bill provides for financial support to
registered parties based on the percentage of votes garnered in the most recent
Bill C-13 (An Act respecting
assisted human reproduction), which was introduced in the Commons in early
October, was reported back by the Standing Committee on Health in mid-December
and is currently being debated at Report Stage, with amendments proposed from
both sides of the House. The bill has been the subject of considerable
debate both in committee and in the Chamber.
Also of interest was the introduction by the President of
the Treasury Board of Bill C-25 (Public Service Labour
Relations Act), a wide-ranging package of legislative reforms aimed at
renewing the legal framework for federal human resources management. If
passed, the Bill will bring about the most extensive reform to the federal
public service in 40 years.
Royal Assent was granted to both Bill C-5 (Endangered Species Act) and Bill C-8 (Pesticides Act) following stormy passage through both
Houses prior to the December recess.
The complex legislative path of the firearms registry
continued to preoccupy the House during this period as well. In December,
the Senate sent a message informing the House that it had divided Bill C-10 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and
firearms) and the Firearms Act) into Bills C-10A (which passed in the Senate
without amendment) and C-10B (still under consideration). Procedural
arguments ensued regarding the Senate's right to divide a bill passed by the
House. A motion proposing that the House agree to waive its privileges in
this specific case (not to be regarded as a precedent) was debated in December
but had not been decided by the time the House rose for the winter
Other matters that occupied the House over the late fall
and early winter included the possibility of war with Iraq, the consideration of
the Government's motion regarding the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the
recreation of the Special Committee on Modernization and Improvement of
the Procedures of the House of Commons, and the ongoing efforts to reach
agreement on the reform of Private Members' Business.
Procedure and Privilege
A great deal of procedural wrangling occurred in relation
to the Government's motion for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, much of it
centred on the authority of the Government to ratify international treaties and
the requirement for Parliamentary approval. Following several days of
debate on the motion, the Government invoked closure and the motion was adopted
(Yeas: 196; Nays: 77) on December 10th.
In addition to the procedural difficulties that arose in
regards to the Government's legislative proposals related to the firearms
registry, the tabling of the Government's Supplementary Estimates (A) on
December 5th, which included $72 million in additional funding for the
firearms control program, gave rise to intense debate stemming from the
observations made by the Auditor General in her report, tabled by the Speaker on
December 3rd. Negotiations among the parties took place over the
course of the last supply day on December 5th which resulted
in a unanimous decision to reduce the amount of two Justice Department Votes,
thereby removing the additional funding sought for the firearms program. The
associated changes were made to the Appropriation Bill prior to its introduction
later that day. The bill was subsequently passed on division.
On December 9th a question of
privilege was raised by John Reynolds (House Leader
for the Official Opposition) charging Elinor Caplan,
the Minister of National Revenue, with contempt for her failure to table a
report concerning fraudulent claims for GST refunds. In his ruling on the
matter, the Speaker expressed concern that no effort had been made to consult
Parliament at the time the change to Public Accounts reporting practices was
made. The Speaker concluded that while not a procedural issue, the change
did directly affect the right of Members to receive timely and accurate
Two incidents related to the use of unparliamentary
language occurred prior to the holiday adjournment. On November 19th, Yvon
Godin (NDP) raised a question of privilege regarding remarks
made by Jim Pankiw (Ind.) in which he accused
Members of the House of "hiding behind a white sheet" and being the equivalent
of "Klansmen". On November 27th, the
Speaker ruled that Mr. Pankiw had indeed used unparliamentary language and asked
the Member to withdraw his comments. Mr. Pankiw refused and the Speaker
told him that he would not be recognized in the House until such time as the
remark was withdrawn. The following day, Mr. Pankiw apologized and
withdrew the offending words. On December 6th, Jacques Saada (Lib.)
rose to complain that Yvan Loubier (BQ) had used the
word "liar" to describe Lyle Vanclief, the
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The Deputy Speaker asked Mr.
Loubier to withdraw his remarks. When the Member refused to do so, the
Deputy Speaker named him for disregarding the authority of the Chair and asked
him to withdraw from the House for the rest of the day.
Mr. Pankiw was involved in another question of privilege,
this one involving an e-mail survey that he had sent to federal public servants
regarding the Government's bilingualism policy. Mr. Pankiw rose on January
29 to allege that a breach of privilege had occurred when senior officials from
several different government departments had directed their employees not to
reply to the survey and to delete the Member's e-mails. In delivering his
ruling on the matter on February 12th, the Speaker
stated that he could find no contempt or breach of the Member's privileges as
Mr. Pankiw's survey had not been conducted in the context of a proceeding of the
House or one of its committees. The Speaker noted that Mr. Pankiw's
electronic communications had severely overloaded the e-mail systems in the
House of Commons and in a number of government departments and agencies.
He indicated that the House would be developing guidelines to ensure that
similar situations do not occur in the future.
The Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs
tabled its final report on December 12. The report called upon the
Government to establish a strategy to allow for the possession and cultivation
of not more than 30 grams of cannabis for personal use, while recommending
against the decriminalization of possession and trafficking.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
commenced its study on the inclusion of a Code of Conduct as part of the
Standing Orders of the House. It is anticipated that the Committee will
table its report prior to the Easter break. The House Affairs Committee
also commenced a study on security on Parliament Hill following the incident
that occurred on November 19th during the
unveiling of the portrait of former Prime Minister Brian
Mulroney, where a protester approached both the former and current Prime
Ministers, as well as other House officials.
Deputy Speaker Bob Kilger
(Lib.) was named as the Chair of the Special Committee on Modernization and
Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, which was recreated
following three days of take-note debate on procedural reform held November
20-22nd. The Special
Committee is scheduled to report back to the House by the end of April and as
its first order of business, turned its attention to the changes to
Private Members' Business recommended by the Standing Committee on Procedure and
House Affairs. Over the fall, the Procedure Committee resumed work on the
changes that it had proposed in its 66th report,
tabled during the last session. In late October the Committee resubmitted
its earlier recommendations as its 4th report of
the new session. On November 6th the House concurred in that report and
drafting of revised Standing Orders commenced immediately in order to have the
new rules in place on a provisional basis when the House returned in late
January. A final agreement on the new rules could not be reached
however and the Committee subsequently recommended that the existing rules
remain in place pending further consideration by the Special Committee on
Modernization. It is anticipated that the Special Committee will attempt
to finalize an agreement and report back to the House on Private Members’
Business reform prior to the spring recess in early March.
Finally, a number of Standing Committee reports were tabled
in the House prior to the December recess. These included:
- Canadian Coast Guard, Marine Communication and Traffic
Services (Fisheries and Oceans);
- Partners in North America: Advancing Canada's
Relations with the United States and Mexico (Foreign Affairs and International Trade);
- Developments in the area of Official Languages in Canada
and the work of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications
Commission (Official Languages);
- Review of Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations);
- Air Travellers' Security Charge (Transport).
On November 20, Joe Clark (PC)
rose on a question of privilege to pay tribute to Ms.
Ellen Fairclough on the occasion of her 98th birthday.
Ms. Fairclough was a former Member of the House of Commons and the first
woman named to a federal cabinet in Canada.
(Lib.) was elected as chair of the Standing Committee on
Agriculture and Agri-Food, replacing Charles Hubbard
(Lib.) who was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
Two new Bloc Quebecois Members – Roger Gaudet (Berthier— Montcalm) and Sebastien Gagnon (Lac-Saint-Jean-Saguenay) were sworn
in following by-elections held on December 9. The Bloc Quebecois also lost
two members during this period. Pierre Brien
left the caucus in January to sit as an Independent Member, declaring his
intention to run in upcoming provincial elections in Quebec. Michel Guimond replaced Mr. Brien as Party Whip and as
a Member of the Board of Internal Economy. Pierrette
Venne also left the Bloc caucus to sit as an Independent Member in early
February, following differences with the party leader, Gilles Duceppe.
Table Research Branch
House Proceedings and