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| House of Commons
This year has continued to be a busy one for Members of the
First Legislative Assembly. In February, three independent officers of the
Legislative Assembly appeared before Standing Committees to present their
On February 18, the Languages
Commissioner, Eva Aariak, appeared before the Standing Committee
Ajauqtiit, chaired by David Iqaqrialu, MLA for Uqqummiut. On
February 19, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Elaine Keenan Bengts,
appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Services,
chaired by Hunter Tootoo, MLA for Iqaluit Centre. On February 20, the
Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, made her second annual
appearance before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Services.
The public hearings extended into the following day, as Members of the
Committee posed questions to a number of Deputy Ministers and other senior
Government of Nunavut officials.
Both Standing Committees
presented their reports on these hearings in June. Under the Rules of the
Legislative Assembly, the Government is required to table a response within 120
days of their presentation.
The House sat in Iqaluit from
March 4th to 28th. Finance Minister Kelvin Ng, MLA for Cambridge Bay,
delivered his fifth budget address on March 11. Much of the March sitting was
subsequently dominated by the line-by-line scrutiny in Committee of the Whole
of the government’s 2003-04 main estimates and departmental business plans.
Major amendments to Nunavut’s
municipal governance statutes were passed in March. The Standing Committee on
Health and Education, chaired by Jobie Nutarak, MLA for Tunnuniq,
recommended that the proposed new Education Act be allowed to fall off
the order paper.
Bill 35, the proposed new Wildlife
Act, was introduced by Sustainable Development Minister Olayuk Akesuk,
MLA for South Baffin, on March 27. Other noteworthy Bills still before the
House include the proposed Human Rights Act, the Tobacco Control Act
and amendments to the Liquor Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Enoki Irqittuq, MLA for Amittuq, introduced a motion in
March recommending that the government establish a Task Force on Suicide
Prevention and Community Healing. The motion was adopted by the House without
opposition. Health and Social Services Minister Ed Picco, MLA for
Iqaluit East, subsequently announced in July the creation of the Task Force and
In April, a Ministerial
portfolio shuffle was announced following the departure from the Cabinet of Jack
Anawak, MLA for Rankin Inlet North.
The House sat in Baker Lake
from June 2nd to 6th. Baker Lake is the closest community to the geographical
centre of Canada, and is the only inland community in the territory. The
traditional Inuktitut name of the community is Qamanituaq. The Host
Member for the community is Glenn McLean, Chair of the Standing Committee
on Community Empowerment and Sustainable Development.
A major issue of debate during
the Baker Lake sitting was the proposed fuel stabilization rider that the
Nunavut Power Corporation had earlier requested permission to apply to power
bills. The Minister of Energy, Mr. Picco, announced during the sitting that the
application was rejected. Another major announcement made during the sitting
concerned the forthcoming signing on September 3 by Premier Paul Okalik
of a Northern Co-operation Accord with the Premiers of the Northwest
Territories and the Yukon.
In July 2003, Speaker Kevin
O’Brien, MLA for Arviat, led the Nunavut delegation to the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association Canadian Regional Conference. Rebekah Uqi Williams,
MLA for Quttiktuq, delivered remarks as a panelist on Health Care Policy and
Reforms: Current Experiences and Perspectives from Nunavut.
The Legislative Assembly will
reconvene in Iqaluit on October 21, 2003. A major item of House business will
be the consideration of the 2004-05 capital estimates. A by-election was held
on September 2, 2003, to fill the vacancy for the electoral district of
Nanulik, which encompasses the communities of Chesterfield Inlet and Coral
Harbour. The Member for Nanulik resigned from the Assembly on June 20, 2003. Patterk
Netser of Coral Harbour won the by-election in a field of three candidates.
The date for the second
general election has now been set for February 16, 2004. The next general
election will be conducted under the new Nunavut Elections Act, which
was passed in October of 2002, when the House was sitting in the Baffin Island
community of Pangnirtung. One particularly interesting development occurred on
October 31, as the Bill entered its second day of consideration in Committee of
the Whole. As a result of that morning’s announcement of the Supreme Court’s
decision regarding voting rights for inmates in federal institutions, Minister
of Justice and Premier Okalik, introduced amendments to the Bill on the floor
of the House later that day to ensure its compatibility with the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. English and Inuktitut versions of the amendments were
prepared on-site in Pangnirtung, and French translations were co-ordinated with
the Department of Justice back in Iqaluit. Deputy Commissioner Lena Metuq,
principal of the Alookie Elementary School in Pangnirtung, gave Assent to the
Bill on November 1.
Elections Nunavut, the
independent agency responsible for the conduct of Nunavut’s territorial
elections, is located in Rankin Inlet. Nunavut’s first Chief Electoral Officer,
Sandy Kusugak, was appointed by Peter Irniq, the Commissioner of
Nunavut, on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly in 2002.
To date, a total of 80 Bills
have been passed by the Legislative Assembly since its first sitting day on
April 1, 1999. Statistics to date for the Sixth Session include:
- 178 Ministers’ Statements
- 595 Members’ Statements
- 582 Oral Questions
- 19 Written Questions
- 8 Petitions
- 6 Reports of Standing and Special
- 125 Tabled Documents
- 32 Formal Motions
- 57 Sitting Days
Director, Research and Library Services
After forty-six sitting days British Columbia’s MLAs
received a well-deserved break to return to their constituencies. A total
of sixty-eight Government Bills, five Private Members’ Bills and three Private
Bills were tabled in the House during the Spring Sitting of the Fourth Session.
By the time the Session adjourned for the summer, forty-three Government Bills
had been granted Royal Assent.
Two major Forestry laws were
passed in May, which address issues regarding market pricing and lumber supply.
The Forests Statutes Amendment Act, 2003 (Bill 27) aimed at reallocating
harvest rights held by the largest tenure holders to new players prepared to
pay market rates. About half the tenure reallocated will go to new entrants,
including First Nations, woodlots, and community forests. The other 50 percent
will be sold at a competitive price via sealed bid at public auction in B.C. in
an attempt to introduce market principles to an ailing BC Forest industry.
The Forest (Revitalization)
Amendment Act, 2003 (Bill 29) addresses issues related to lumber supply.
With the passage of the bill, the government has changed cut control
requirements. Bill 29 also repealed appurtenance and timber-processing
requirements that forced licensees to process timber at specific sawmills or at
sawmills they own or operate. The bill will repeal and replace the requirement
that licensees must have written consent from the Minister of Forests before
tenures can be subdivided or transferred. As a result, tenure holders will be
able to transfer licenses without penalties.
The Opposition argued that
these new forestry Policies would destabilize an industry already in turmoil
from the Canadian-American softwood lumber dispute.
The Miscellaneous Statutes
Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 (Bill 66) was also passed this spring.
One of the provisions of Bill 66 permitted prisoners serving
two-years-plus the right to vote provincially. The Attorney General
explained that the provision was required to align the provincial Election
Act with a recent change to the federal voting rights of prisoners,
following a Supreme Court of Canada decision on a challenge to federal law
under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, eight Members
of the government caucus spoke against this provision of the bill and expressed
their view in a free vote. It was the first time in the current Parliament that
more than one or two Government Members voted against a government initiative.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2003,
(Bill 13) was also passed. It deals with records held by public bodies. The
legislation is designed to clarify a person’s right to their personal
information held by public institutions.
During the penultimate week of
the Spring Sitting, time allocation was invoked when the House adopted a
schedule for debate to conclude government business by May 29, 2003. The
two opposition Members protested the time allocation provisions, arguing that
they did not provide enough time to properly debate ten bills scheduled to be
passed along with the estimates of health, which consumes 40 percent of the
provincial budget. The government argued that they were obligated to
complete consideration of the affected Bills before the Session adjourned for
Despite the sprint-finish to
the Spring Sitting, twenty-five pieces of legislation were left on the order
paper for further consideration in the fall.
A new Special Committee to
review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was
struck to undertake the second of its scheduled six-year review of the Freedom
of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Blair Lekstrom (Peace
River South) was appointed Chair.
The Special Committee on the
Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform endorsed and recommended the appointment
of Dr. Jack Blaney to be chair of this groundbreaking exercise in
grassroots electoral reform. Following his confirmation, Dr. Blaney raised
concerns regarding the $5.5 million budget, implying that it may be
insufficient for the ambitious yearlong process, which begins this fall.
Three select standing
committees have recently become active again. The Finance and Government
Services Committee and the Public Accounts Committee were each re-appointed
with a similar membership and mandate as in the previous Session. The
respective committees elected Brenda Locke (Surrey-Green Timbers) and Jenny
Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant) as Chairs. In May, the Crown Corporations
Committee, chaired by Ken Stewart (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), continued
its review process of the service plans and annual reports of Crown
On June 2, crowds gathered in
legislatures across the country for the unveiling of a portrait commemorating
the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. In attendance at the ceremony was Lieutenant
Governor Iona Campagnolo, Deputy Premier, Christy Clark, and the
Clerk of the House, E. George MacMinn.
The very next day interim
Provincial New Democratic Leader and Leader of the Opposition Joy MacPhail announced
unexpectedly that she would not be running for party leadership, nor would she
be running for re-election in the next provincial election scheduled for May
2005. Ms. MacPhail said she is looking forward to helping the new leader
rebuild the party, as well as spending more time with her teenaged son.
In July, British Columbia
hosted this year’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Canadian Regional
Conference. The Conference was attended by legislators from across
Canada. Observers from Canada, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, and Western
Australia were also in attendance.
The 37th Legislature opened on June 4, 2003, with the
election of the President and the vice-presidents of the Assembly. The previous
day, the election of the President by secret ballot, a procedure provided for
in the temporary Standing Orders and in effect during the 36th Legislature but
not yet extended, had not been carried out, as an independent Member refused to
give consent to set aside the usual procedure. Consequently, a new proclamation
deferred the opening of the session to the following day and the election was
conducted according to the provisions contained in the Standing Orders, that
is, via a motion by the Premier. Michel Bissonnet, the Member for
Jeanne-Mance-Viger, was elected President, while Christos Sirros, the
Member for Laurier-Dorion, Diane Leblanc, the Member for Beauce-Sud, and
François Gendron, the Member for Abitibi- Ouest, were respectively named
First, Second and Third Vice-President.
The brief three-week period of
parliamentary work focussed mainly on the debates following the Opening Speech
by the Premier and the Budget Speech. The new Government tabled a new budget
and new estimates of expenditure to replace those that had been proposed by the
previous Government last 11 March.
During this period, only four public bills and one private bill were passed.
The main piece of legislation was Bill 1, An Act respecting proposals for
the administrative reorganization of certain municipalities and amending
various legislative provisions. However, on June 20, the Minister of
Municipal Affairs, Sports and Recreation, Jean-Marc Fournier, issued a
ministerial statement in which he invited the elected officials of the new
amalgamated cities to submit to him, before October 1, 2003, a resolution
containing an administrative reorganization proposal. He committed himself to
providing in writing, before 31 December 2003, his intention as regards
recommending to the Government the necessary legislative measures to follow up
on such a proposal. This statement caused the first four sections of the bill
(that the Opposition had been opposed to) to lapse and enabled the
consideration of the other sections which concerned, among other matters, the
city contract with Montreal and the funding of certain obligations imposed on
municipalities with regard to pension plans. The bill, with its new title An
Act to amend various legislative provisions concerning municipal affairs,
was finally passed, as were the estimates of expenditure, during an
extraordinary sitting held on July 16, 2003.
Appointments and resignations
On May 20, 2003, a new
election was held in the riding of Champlain as a judicial recount of the votes
had confirmed the equality of votes between two candidates. The representative
of the Parti Québécois, Noëlla Champagne, was finally declared elected
in this electoral division. Appointments were made to fill the various
parliamentary duties. On the Government side, Jacques P. Dupuis was
named Government House Leader; Yvon Vallières, Chief Government Whip;
and Norman MacMillan, caucus chair. On the Opposition side, André
Boisclair was named Official Opposition House Leader, Michel Morin
was named Chief Opposition Whip, and Agnès Maltais was named caucus
One month after having been
appointed Minister for Health, Social Services and the Status of Seniors, the
Member for Laviolette, Julie Boulet, resigned from the Cabinet, as she
was concerned about possibly being in a conflict of interest with regard to a
matter concerning pharmaceutical companies.
The second edition of the
Francophone Youth Parliament and the 29th session of the Parliamentary Assembly
of French-speaking peoples, in which a delegation of Quebec parliamentarians
took part, were held in Niamey, Niger, from July 6 to 10, 2003.
The Francophone Youth Parliament
was composed this year of 81 students chosen by 41 of the member parliaments of
the Francophonie, including two young Quebecers. Incidentally, Quebec shared
its expertise with Niger as regards parliamentary simulations for the
organization of this event. The outgoing president of the Assemblée
parlementaire de la Francophonie, Michel Bissonnet, conducted the
proceedings during which the young francophone parliamentarians adopted a
declaration on sustainable development.
Among other activities, the Assemblée
parlementaire de la Francophonie held a plenary session on the theme of Violence,
the State of Law and Development and elected a new president, Mahamane
Ousmane, who is also President of the National Assembly of Niger.
On May 16, 2003, the Assembly
welcomed 123 sixth-grade elementary students who came to take part in the
seventh edition of the Pupils' Parliament. Representing the main regions of
Québec, the young parliamentarians discussed three bills which they had prepared
with the help of their teachers during the school year, namely:
- the Act obliging school boards to
allow the organization of instructional, cultural or sports activities
every other weekend during the school year,
- the Act obliging elementary schools to
allow an elected student council to manage certain student activities for
the duration of a term, and
- the Act obliging elementary schools to
establish, in each cycle, classes of same-sex students in order to develop
their skills in certain disciplines.
After having examined the
legislative texts section by section in parliamentary committee, the young
Members finally voted in favour of the Act obliging elementary schools to
allow an elected student council to manage certain student activities for the
duration of a term, but rejected both other bills.
On June 18, 2003, the
President of the National Assembly launched an interactive CD-ROM, entitled Écrire
l'histoire de demain (Writing tomorrow's history) on the history, role and
operation of the National Assembly. This tool aims to popularize Québec's
democratic system and comprises six sections: Quebec Parliamentarism,
which deals with the three powers of the State and parliamentary history; The
Role of Members; Debates in the Assembly, which explains the rules
regarding debates; An Accessible Assembly, which lists the activities
offered by the Assembly; Parliamentary Diplomacy; and Discovering our
Parliamentary Heritage, on the architectural and ornamental treasures of
the parliamentary buildings. It will be distributed more particularly
throughout the school network in the fall.
The second edition of La
procédure parlementaire du Québec (Parliamentary procedure in Québec) was
published by the Parliamentary Procedure Research Directorate this spring. The
new text includes recent developments in parliamentary jurisprudence and the
provisional amendments to the Standing Orders and Rules for the
Conduct of Proceedings of the Assembly for the 36th Legislature.
Last 27 May, the National
Assembly adopted an archives acquisition policy. The main objectives of this
policy were to constitute and conserve the institutional memory and to
collaborate in the conservation of the archival heritage of Quebec. It
specifies the roles and responsibilities of the Secretary General, of the
Director of the Library and of the person in charge of the Debates
Reconstruction Archives and Press Documentation Service. It also establishes
the priorities and mechanisms for acquiring archives from the administrative
units, the Members of the National Assembly and from organizations or persons
outside the Parliament such as Press Gallery journalists.
Secretariat of the National Assembly
Pursuant to the provisions of
Standing Order 127, the Committee on the National Assembly met on June 5, 2003,
to determine the membership of committees and to select those that were to be
chaired by a Member from the group forming the Government and those that were
to be chaired by a Member sitting in opposition.
On this date, the Committee on
the National Assembly, which is always chaired by the President of the National
Assembly, was composed only of the President and vice-presidents of the
Assembly as well as of the House leaders and whips of the parliamentary groups,
since the committee chairmen only become members of this committee once they
For the current session, it
was agreed that the following six sector-based committees would be chaired by
Members of the parliamentary group forming the Government:
- Committee on Social Affairs
- Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and
- Committee on Planning and the Public
- Committee on Culture
- Committee on Education
- Committee on Public Finance
The following three committees
will be chaired by Members sitting in opposition:
- Committee on Labour and the Economy
- Committee on Institutions
- Committee on Transportation and the
It should be noted that under
the Standing Orders, the Committee on Public Administration is always chaired
by a Member from the Official Opposition.
The President then convened
each of the committees for June 6, in order that they elect their chairmen and
vice-chairmen. Further details concerning the membership of committees, their
terms of reference and proceedings, can be found on the Internet site of the
Orders of reference by the
As customary every year, the
committees were given orders of reference to examine the estimates of
expenditure that were tabled in the Assembly by the Chair of the Conseil du
trésor last June 13. This activity, which usually takes place in April, was
carried out exceptionally this year between July 2 and 15, owing to the holding
of a general election in April. At the completion of their mandate, the committees
had spent over 195 hours examining and adopting the estimates of expenditure
granted to the ministries and agencies.
committees were ordered to hold special or general consultations next September
including: the Committee on Institutions, the Committee on Planning and the
Public Domain and the Committee on Social Affairs with regard to bills, and the
Committee on Culture with regard to the five-year report from the Access to
Secretariat of committees
Texts translated by Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the National Assembly
Prince Edward Island
On Friday, May 23, 2003, the Fourth Session of the
Sixty-first General Assembly adjourned to the call of the Speaker. Adjournment,
rather than prorogation, is unusual for the Prince Edward Island Legislative
Assembly, occurring only twice in the last decade prior to this most recent
instance. In 1997, the First Session of the Sixtieth General Assembly adjourned
on May 29 and resumed on November 12; and in 1992, the Fourth Session of the
Fifty-eighth General Assembly adjourned on May 6 and resumed on November 3 of
that year. Two bills, six government motions and four motions other than
government remain on the order paper.
To date, during this Session,
there have been 45 sitting days. A total of 47 bills have received Royal
Assent; 38 motions were tabled; 219 written questions were submitted; 155
ministerial statements were read; and 132 members' statements made.
On June 27, 2003, Speaker Mildred
Dover, Speaker, unveiled a commemorative display at Province House to
acknowledge the contributions of Speakers of the Legislative Assembly.
The display incorporates a depiction of the new Prince Edward Island Coat
of Arms and the Parliamentary Mace. A book containing the biographies of
Speakers of the House since Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1873
is prominently featured. J. Léonce Bernard, Lieutenant Governor, and
former Speakers Marion Reid, Edward Clark, Nancy Guptill
and Wilbur MacDonald were in attendance at the unveiling ceremony.
The Chamber of the Legislative
Assembly has been refurbished over the summer months with new carpeting and a
fresh coat of paint. The traditional green colour of the carpet and walls
has been retained. In addition, a tender has been issued for a new audio
system to be installed prior to the resumption of the Session. The new system
is required to be unobtrusive in keeping with the historic integrity of the
Chamber. Plans for further modernization include the installation of a
computer in the office behind the Chamber for the use of Members and Table
Prince Edward Island hosted a
cross-party delegation of Scottish parliamentarians from August 7 through
August 11, 2003. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton MSP; Iain Smith MSP;
Nicola Sturgeon MSP; Bill Butler MSP; Roy Devon,
Secretary, Scottish Branch Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; and Margaret
Neal, Assistant Secretary, travelled to the province to learn more about how
our legislature operates and to foster closer ties between our two parliaments.
The group was able to attend many of the events associated with the 200th
anniversary of the landing of the “Selkirk Settlers” Scottish Highlanders
brought to Prince Edward Island by Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of
Selkirk, in August 1803. The anniversary was a festival of all things
Scottish, and the members of the Scottish Parliament were a very welcome and
The Standing Committee on
Public Accounts has commenced its review of the 2003 Report of the Auditor
General to the Legislative Assembly, the first one prepared by the new Auditor
General, Colin Younker. The Committee will present its recommendations
to the Legislative Assembly when the Session resumes.
The twenty-ninth edition of
the Province of Prince Edward Island Statistical Review was released on
June 13, 2003. The review contains extensive and comprehensive socio-economic
information for Prince Edward Island. It is widely distributed and provides
an extensive reference for government and the general public on economic
indicators, the population and the social situation. The Statistical
Review is available through the official website of the government of
Prince Edward Island at www.gov.pe.ca
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
On June 12, 2003 the Legislative Assembly held a special
sitting in Mayo to commemorate that village's centenary. This sitting marked
the first time that the Assembly had convened in a Yukon community other than
Whitehorse or Dawson City, which was the territorial capital until 1953. Many
MLAs and spectators got into the centennial spirit, donning period dress for
The sitting was held in the
community hall, which was filled to capacity for the event. The evening sitting
began with a prayer offered in Northern Tutchone by Jimmy Johnny, head
of the Elders Council of the First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dun. The festivities
continued with the introduction of special guests including Shanon Cooper,
Mayor of the Village of Mayo; Chief Steven Buyck of the First Nation of
Na Cho Nyäk Dun; and the Consul-General of France, Jean-Yves Defay.
There was also a special
introduction for Jean Gordon. In addition to being a long-time resident
of Mayo Mrs. Gordon was the first woman elected to the Yukon Territorial
Council, as the legislative assembly was known when she was elected on
September 11, 1967. Her election came forty-eight years after the Yukon Act
was amended to allow women to vote in Yukon elections. During her term Mrs.
Gordon and her fellow councillors were instrumental in moving the territorial
political system toward responsible government. She represented Mayo on the
council until 1970.
The business before the House was,
appropriately enough, Motion No. 100, a motion of congratulations to the people
of Mayo for having attained their 100th anniversary. The MLA for the area, Eric
Fairclough (NDP, Mayo-Tatchun) sponsored the motion. In debating the motion
Members reflected upon the history and heritage of the village of Mayo and its
residents, and that of the First Nation of Nacho Nyäk Dun. They also recalled
personal experiences of having lived and worked in, or visited, the Mayo area.
The motion passed unanimously.
The House then briefly
recessed to hear speeches of welcome from Mrs. Cooper and Chief Buyck. Mrs.
Cooper thanked the Members for coming to Mayo for the centenary celebrations
and mentioned the close working relationship that has developed between the
municipal council and the local First Nations government over the past 25
years. Chief Buyck also reflected on the theme of First Nations-government
relations, referring specifically to his First Nation's land claims and
At that point the recess was
to end and the Assembly was to proceed to the adjournment motion. However,
before the Speaker, Ted Staffen (Yukon Party, Riverdale North), could
call the House to order Mrs. Gordon rose on a point of order and asked for
leave to address the Assembly. Despite the unprecedented and unscripted nature
of the request the Speaker quickly offered Mrs. Gordon the floor and the
Sergeant-at-Arms escorted her to the podium.
In her remarks Mrs. Gordon
reflected on her 58 years in Mayo and her time on the territorial council. She
also paid tribute to those who preceded her as the territorial representative
for Mayo. At the conclusion of her remarks Mrs. Gordon received a standing
ovation from the MLAs and spectators.
The transformation of the
community hall into a legislative chamber entailed a substantial logistical
effort. To lend the proper ambience and dignity to the occasion numerous
parliamentary accoutrements were transported to Mayo, including: the Mace; the
Speaker's Chair, mace table, side table and clerk's desk calendar that were
used from 1972-1985; and the bars of the House. Provisions also had to be made
for Hansard recording. Perhaps the greatest challenge was finding accommodation
for the MLAs and their assistants, the table officers and the Hansard staff
in the town of 500.
Legislative activity has been sparse in recent months with
the political landscape dominated instead by the Province's 38th General
Election held on Tuesday, June 3, 2003.
Premier Gary Doer
(Concordia) and the NDP received a second mandate from Manitoba voters in this
election, winning 35 out of 57 seats, an increase of 3 from 1999. The
Progressive Conservatives retained their status as the official opposition with
success in 20 ridings, a loss of four from 1999. The campaign marked PC leader Stuart
Murray's (Kirkfield Park) first performance in a general election. The
Liberals won two seats under the leadership of Jon Gerrard (River
Fifty-four percent of eligible
voters exercised their franchise in this election, down from 68% in the 1999
election. In terms of popular vote the NDP won 49.4%, the PCs 36.3% and the
Liberals, 13.1%. Notable campaign themes included health care, taxes,
education, as well as ways to reduce the outward migration of young Manitobans.
Following a pattern similar to
the 1999 election, two ridings faced recounts in the wake of these results.
An election night plurality of
only 11 votes triggered an automatic recount in the rural riding of Minnedosa. The
second count confirmed the original result with PC candidate Leanne Rowat
eventually declaring victory by 12 votes.
In Fort Garry, the original
result showed NDP candidate Kerri Irvin-Ross winning the Winnipeg riding
by 84 votes. With the judicial recount threshold set at 50 votes a second vote
count occurred here at the request of the PC candidate, incumbent Joy Smith
(who won the seat in 1999 by 30 votes). The requested recount verified the NDP
victory, this time by a margin of 87 votes.
The 38th Legislature began its
first session with a one-day sitting on Monday, June 23. This busy day included
the following events:
- The swearing-in of MLAs in the morning.
- The opening of the House at 1:30
- The re-election of George Hickes
(Point Douglas) to a second term as Speaker of the House.
- An abridged Throne Speech and debate.
- The passage of a motion reinstating the
Budget process begun in the last session of the previous Legislature.
- An emergency debate on the consequences
and required actions flowing from the recent discovery of “Mad Cow
Disease” in one Alberta cow.
The parties have agreed to
resume regular sittings of the House on Monday, September 8.
New MLA Orientation
Eleven new MLAs and one
returning Member constitute the class of 2003. Following the election, these
Members were invited to attend a series of orientation sessions including
presentations from the Table Officers, Legislative Counsel, the independent
officers of the Assembly, as well as Legislative Assembly Administration and Members'
Allowances. The Clerks' session included an emphasis on role playing designed
to help the new Members better understand with their new roles and become more
comfortable in the House and in Committees.
Premier Doer announced that Rosann
Wowchuk (Swan River) would succeed the retiring Jean Friesen as
Deputy Premier. Serving as Minister of Agriculture and Food since 1999, Ms.
Wowchuk has represented the NDP in the Legislature for 13 years.
Cabinet vacancies created by
the retirement of two cabinet ministers have been filled by existing ministers.
There have been no other new appointments to cabinet.
2003 CCPAC/CCOLA Conference
As host of the 2003 joint
conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and the
Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors, Manitoba welcomes delegates from
across the country. Running from September 14-16 at the historic Hotel Fort
Garry in downtown Winnipeg, we look forward to a healthy exchange of
information and ideas as well as a pleasurable social experience for all
Clerk Assistant / Clerk of Committees
The Second Session of the 58th General Assembly reconvened
for its Fall sitting on November 1, 2002.
The most prominent piece of legislation
passed during that sitting was a bill making very substantial changes to the
boundaries of several electoral districts. Other legislation was also passed at
that sitting, all of a non-controversial nature with very little debate.
The House finished its Fall
sitting on November 28, 2002 and then adjourned to be recalled by notice from
On March 27, 2003, the Second
Session of the 58th General Assembly was prorogued and the Third Session of that
General Assembly met on the same day, beginning with the Speech from the
Throne, delivered by he Lieutenant Governor.
On April 4, 2003, the Minister
of Finance delivered the Budget Speech, which included a 10 percent tax
reduction and a tax rebate of $155.00 to each person who paid income taxes.
Several pieces of legislation
were passed at this Spring sitting, including legislation to provide workers’
compensation to certain workers who develop cancer as a result of their work
and amendments to the Insurance Act dealing with auto insurance rates.
Just before the Spring
Sitting, a veteran member of the House and former Cabinet Minister, Donald
Downe, resigned as a member, and just before the end of the sitting, the
longest sitting member of the House, Paul MacEwan also resigned his seat
after having served as a member continuously since October of 1970. Both Mr.
Downe and Mr. MacEwan were members of the Liberal Caucus.
Several other members
announced that they would not run in the next election. These were Neil
LeBlanc, Minister of Finance, Muriel (Fluff) Baillie, member for
Pictou West, both members of the Government Caucus, Robert Chisholm, a
former leader of the Opposition and of the NDP and the NDP House Leader,
John Holm and two members of the Liberal Caucus, Jim Smith and Kenneth
MacAskill, both of whom has served as Cabinet Ministers in previous Liberal
And during the sitting, Brian
Boudreau, member for Cape Breton the Lakes left the Liberal caucus to sit
as an independent.
On May 22, 2003, the House
adjourned and on July 5, 2003, the House was dissolved and an election called
for August 5, 2003.
As a result of the election,
the Progressive Conservatives continue to form the Government, but it is no
longer a majority Government with Progressive Conservatives winning 25 seats,
the New Democrats 15 seats and the Liberals 12. The Liberal Leader, Danny
Graham was elected to the House for the first time.
House of Commons
Set against a backdrop of mounting tensions in Liberal ranks
in the run-up to the leadership convention later this fall, the government
pushed through several contentious bills prior to adjourning the House for the
summer on Friday, June 13th, 2003. Among the pieces of legislation passed
in the Commons was Bill C-24, the Prime Minister's legislation on political
financing, Bill C-39, which amends the Members of Parliament Retiring
Allowances Act and the Parliament of Canada Act and Bill C-25, the Public
Service Staff Relations Act.
Following its tumultuous passage
through the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, where it was
challenged by Liberal and opposition Members alike, the Government's political
financing package, Bill C-24, was subject to time allocation at Report Stage
and Third Reading, and the bill was then moved very quickly through the Senate
to receive Royal Assent on June 29th, 2003. The bill bans donations to
political parties from corporations and unions and restricts corporate
donations to MPs' riding associations to $1,000. The bill also places a $5,000
cap on donations from individuals. According to figures released by the
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, the legislation is expected to increase
the taxpayer-funded portion of political activity from about 60% to 89%.
The bill includes some last-minute government amendments that boost the
public subsidy to political parties. Under pressure from Liberal MPs who argued
the new system was not “revenue neutral,” the Government introduced changes to
the public funding formula for parties from $1.50 per vote to $1.75.
Bill C-39, which sets out the
cost of past elective service for retiring Members of Parliament and provides
for salaries for Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Special Committees, was also moved
quickly through the Commons at all stages in one day, with unanimous consent,
on June 2nd, 2003. It then moved on to the Senate and received Royal
Assent on June 19th, 2003.
Bill C-25, the Public
Service Modernization Act (PSMA), was passed by the Commons on June 3rd and
is at committee stage in the Senate. The wide-ranging legislative package
contains four main public service reform initiatives:
- It will repeal the current Public Service Staff
Relations Act and enact a new Public Service Employment Act to
govern labour relations in the federal public service.
- It will repeal the existing Public
Service Employment Act and enact a new Public Service Employment
Act to regulate appointments to the public service.
- It will bring changes to the Financial
Administration Act to transfer certain human resources management
powers from the Treasury Board to deputy heads of departments.
- It will amend the Canadian Centre for
Management Development Act to pave the way for the amalgamation of the
Canadian Centre for Management Development, and Training and Development
Canada, into the new Canada School of the Public Service.
At the end of May, the
Government introduced the long-awaited legislative reforms related to the
possession of marijuana. Bill C-38, the Act to amend the Contraventions
Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, sets out changes to the
way Canada enforces the law, providing for alternative penalties against
possession of small amounts of marijuana as well as creating new tougher
penalties to target large marijuana grow operations.
During the Spring sitting an
unprecedented number of Private Members' Bills were passed by the Commons (see
the section on Private Members' Business for more information). The end
of the sitting was characterised by the usual flurry of tabling of committee
reports, including the report on “Matters relating to the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner” tabled with the Clerk in early July and a massive report by the
Standing Committee on Heritage following its exhaustive two-year study of the
Canadian Broadcasting system. Finally, the SARS crisis and the effects of
foreign embargoes against the import of Canadian beef, due to the single case
of “mad cow” disease found in Western Canada, dominated Question Period and
formed the basis for two emergency debates.
Shortly after the House rose
for the summer recess, on June 17, 2003, the Prime Minister announced that the
Government would not appeal recent decisions of the courts of appeal in British
Columbia and Ontario on the definition of marriage (the Government subsequently
withdrew its appeal of a similar case in Quebec). At the same time, the Prime
Minister announced that the Government of Canada would refer draft legislation
legally recognizing the union of same-sex couples to the Supreme Court of
Canada. The Government referred three main questions to the Supreme Court
seeking clarification on whether the proposal falls within the exclusive
legislative jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, whether the marriage of
persons of the same sex is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms and finally, whether the freedom of religion guaranteed by
paragraph 2(a) of the Charter protects religious officials from being
compelled to perform such a marriage if it runs counter to their religious
The furor sparked by the
Supreme Court reference ran across party lines and news reports indicate that
it dominated discussions at the national Liberal caucus held in August.
The Canadian Alliance forced a vote on the issue early during the fall
sitting of the Commons by re-introducing the same motion passed by the House in
1999, which re-affirmed marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The
motion was defeated by a narrow margin of five votes. It is not known whether
the Supreme Court will deliver its opinion on the matter this fall, and,
accordingly, there is much speculation that the legislative package will likely
not be introduced in the House until after the current Prime Minister retires
early next year.
During the week of May 12,
2003 two questions of privilege were raised by the Leader of the Government in
the House of Commons, Don Boudria, concerning the role of Parliament in
defining parliamentary privilege. Both cases related to whether Cabinet
Ministers could claim parliamentary privilege as a lawful reason for failing to
attend court proceedings.
The first question of
privilege was raised in regards to a decision rendered by the British Columbia
Court of Appeal (Ainsworth case) that questioned whether Paul Martin
(Lib.) could claim parliamentary privilege as a reason for failing to attend an
examination of discovery. While confirming the existence of parliamentary
privilege, the B.C. Court asserted that there was no legal support for
extending privilege for 40 days before and after a parliamentary session.
The second question of privilege related to a ruling delivered by the
Ontario Superior Court (Telezone case) regarding the failure of John
Manley, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to appear before the
Court. The Ontario Court found that while parliamentary privilege was
clearly a right of Parliamentarians, it is limited to the period that
Parliament is actually sitting and for 14 days after it adjourns.
In his ruling related to the
two questions, the Speaker admonished both courts by stating:
We have parliamentary
privileges to ensure that the other branches of government, the executive and
the judicial, respect the independence of the legislative branch of government,
which is this House and the other place. This independence cannot be sustained
if either of the other branches is able to redefine or reduce these privileges…
The privileges of this House and its Members are not unlimited but they are
nonetheless well established as a matter of parliamentary law and practice in
Canada today and must be respected by the courts.
He found both matters to be
prima facie breaches of privilege. A motion to refer the two questions of
privilege to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was adopted
immediately. The Committee has yet to study the matter in detail.
The Standing Committee on
Government Operations and Estimates captured the spotlight in June with its
report on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Following a review of
the Supplementary Estimates B (2002-2003) and the Main Estimates for 2003-2004
relating to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the members of the
Committee adopted a motion to call George Radwanski, the Privacy
Commissioner, before the Committee to discuss a claim that a copy of a letter
provided to the Committee had been 'falsified.' Following the meeting and some
further investigation of the matter by the Office of the Law Clerk and
Parliamentary Counsel, the Committee decided to hold a series of in camera
meetings with the Commissioner and employees.
The Committee issued its
'interim' report on June 13, 2003, calling upon the Auditor General, Sheila
Fraser, and the President of the Public Service Commission, Scott Serson,
to look into concerns relating to the improper use of expense accounts and the
possibility of intimidation of some of the Commission's employees.
Following days of media scrutiny and speculation, the Privacy
Commissioner resigned his office on June 23, 2003.
The main report of the Committee was tabled with the
Clerk of the House on June 27, 2003 and re-affirmed the unanimous conclusion of
the June 13 interim report that members of the Committee had lost confidence in
the Privacy Commissioner. It re-iterated that the Commissioner had
deliberately misled the Committee on several occasions and indicated that the
Committee would have recommended the removal of Mr. Radwanski from the position
of Privacy Commissioner, had he not resigned himself. The report also
recommended that a standing or special committee be instructed to report on the
role and functions of Officers of Parliament (and delineated some of their
proposed items of study); and that until such a study is completed, no personal
financial arrangements should be entered into between any Officer of Parliament
and any government department or agency. The Committee also indicated
that, in the future, it intends to: scrutinize any prospective candidate prior
to the ratification in Parliament of the appointment of a permanent successor
to Mr. Radwanski; pursue a review of the effectiveness of existing protection
for whistleblowers; and, pursue the issue of possible contempts of Parliament,
as a result of deliberately misleading testimony given during the committee
hearings into the matter. The Committee's report and recommendations can
be considered only once the House resumes sitting in September. In the
interim, the Prime Minister appointed Robert Marleau, the former Clerk
of the House of Commons, as acting Privacy Commissioner effective July 2, 2003
for a six-month period.
The Standing Committee on
Official Languages also made the news this spring following the tabling of its
sixth report in late April, which recommended that a budget of $30,000 be made
available to cover a portion of the legal fees of the committee's chair, Mauril
Bélanger, for his intervention in a court action (Quigley v. Canada).
John Reynolds, House Leader for the Canadian Alliance raised a
point of order when the report was tabled in the House, alleging that Mr.
Bélanger had placed himself in a conflict of interest by signing the report
because he had a direct pecuniary interest in the matter. Mr. Reynolds
asked that the report be withdrawn. In his ruling the Speaker stated that
Standing Order 21 concerns voting on questions in which a member has a direct
pecuniary interest and is very specific that the pecuniary interest must be
immediate and personal, and belong specifically to the person whose vote is
contested. He went on to state that in signing a report, a committee chair does
not take a position for or against its contents; rather, he or she merely
attests that the report reflects the decisions of the committee.
The Special Committee on
Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons tabled
its fourth and fifth reports in the House on June 12. The fourth report
deals with a number of issues ranging from the provision of connections to the
Parliamentary network for Members in the Chamber, the electronic filing of
notices of motion and written questions as well as changes to the Standing
Orders related to speaking times during debate on legislation, the
certification and presenting of petitions, the notice provisions and speaking
times related to the consideration of the Main Estimates. The fifth
report recommends the approval, in principle, of electronic voting in the
Among other key committee
reports tabled in the House prior to the summer break are the following:
- “Our Cultural Sovereignty: the
Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting” (review of the Broadcasting
Act) (Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage);
- “Honouring the pledge: ensuring quality
long-term care for veterans” (Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs);
- Review of the Electoral Boundaries
Commissions' Reports (B.C., Ontario and Quebec) (Reports 39, 41-43 of the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs);
- “Code of Conduct” (Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs);
- “Humanitarian Crisis in sub-Saharan
Africa” (Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs);
- “The 2001 Fraser River Salmon Fishery”
(Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans), and the
- Fifth Report of the Standing
Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources
that the House divide the Committee into two –an Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development committee and a new Natural Resources committee).
Private Members' Business
During the spring sitting an unprecedented
number of Private Members' Bills were passed in the Commons including:
- Bill C-205 (Gurmant Grewal, CA) –
An Act to Amend the Statutory Instruments Act (Royal Assent -
June 19, 2003) – the bill establishes a disallowance procedure for all regulations
subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on the Scrutiny of
- Bill C-227 (Brent St. Denis, Lib.)
– An Act respecting a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy
Ridge (Royal Assent – April 3, 2003) – designates April 9th as a
national day of remembrance for the historic battle;
- Bill C-249 (Dan McTeague, Lib.) – An
Act to amend the Competition Act (Commons, Third Reading – May 13,
2003, at Second Reading in the Senate) – amends the Competition Act
to clarify the powers of the Competition Tribunal to make or not an order
in the case of a merger when gains in efficiency are expected or when the
merger would create or strengthen a dominant market position;
- Bill C-411 (Paul Bonwick, Lib.) – An
Act to establish Merchant Navy Veterans Day (Royal Assent, June 19,
2003) – designates September 3rd as a national day to honour Merchant Navy
- Bill S-5 (introduced in the Senate by
Senator Gerald Comeau and sponsored in the Commons by Mauril
Bélanger, Lib.) – An Act respecting a National Acadian Day –
designates August 15th as National Acadian Day.
In addition to these five
bills, Bill C-250 (Svend Robinson, NDP) – An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (hate propaganda), was considered by the Standing Committee
on Justice and Human Rights and reported back to the House at the end of May.
The bill expands the definition of “identifiable group” relating to the
area of hate propaganda in the Criminal Code to include any section of
the public distinguished by sexual orientation. It was debated in early June
and was adopted at Report Stage and Third Reading on September 17, 2003.
On June 3rd, Rey Pagtakhan,
Minister of Veterans Affairs made a statement to declare June 6th, 2003, a day
of recognition for the official opening of the Juno Beach Centre in
Courseulles-sur-Mer (Normandy, France), to commemorate Canada's contributions
to the Second World War and in particular Canadian participation in D-Day and
the start of the campaign to liberate western Europe from the Nazis. Statements
were also made by representatives of the opposition parties.
By-elections were held in two
ridings in Quebec on June 16, 2003: Gilbert Barrette (Lib.) was elected
in Témiscamingue and Christian Jobin (Lib.) won the riding of
The Fall sitting resumed on
Monday, September 15, 2003.
Table Research Branch
House Proceedings Directorate
The Fifth session of the Fifty-fourth Legislative Assembly adjourned
on April 11, 2003. The House, which opened on November 19, 2002, sat for a
total of sixty-eight days.
The House was dissolved on May
10, 2003, and a provincial election called for June 9. At the time of
dissolution the standings in the House were 46 Conservatives, 7 Liberals,1 NDP
and one vacancy.
The Conservative Party under
Premier Bernard Lord (Moncton East) was returned to power in the June
election with a slim majority government. The Progressive Conservatives elected
28 Members, the Liberals elected 26 Members and the NDP elected one.
The Liberals under Leader Shawn
Graham (Kent) increased their representation in the House, returning a
number of new and experienced Members. NDP Leader Elizabeth Weir (Saint
John Harbour) retained her seat as the sole representative of the New
A new 18-member Executive
Council was sworn in on June 27, 2003. Seven Members who had served as
backbenchers in the previous House were promoted to Cabinet, as well as one
newly elected Member. The Department of Natural Resources and Energy was
separated into two distinct departments. Former Deputy Speaker Keith
Ashfield (New Maryland) was named Minister of Natural Resources. Bruce
Fitch (Riverview) was named Minister of Energy.
The First Session of the Fifty-fifth
Legislature was called into session on July 29, 2003. Bev Harrison
(Hampton-Belleisle) was re-elected Speaker of the House. Mr. Harrison was first
elected Speaker on July 6, 1999, and served as Speaker during the course of the
Fifty-fourth Legislative Assembly. Trevor Holder (Saint John Portland)
and Cy (Richard) LeBlanc (Dieppe- Memramcook) were appointed Deputy
The House sat for a total of
eight days in what was a rare summer session. The session was called primarily to
deal with the issue of rising automobile insurance rates in the province, which
proved to be a major issue during the thirty-day election campaign. The
government had recently introduced new caps on damages for pain and suffering
for minor personal injuries. However, fewer insurance companies than expected
filed new lower rates with the Public Utilities Board (PUB). In response, the
government introduced Bill 1, An Act to Amend the Insurance Act. The
legislation would require every insurance company doing business in the
province to file rates with the PUB. The PUB would be required to review the
rates and determine whether they are fair and reasonable to consumers. If the
rates were found not to be fair and reasonable, the PUB could establish rates
that were. Any company which did not file rates before the August 15 deadline,
would have their rates automatically reduced by 20%.
The Official Opposition stated
that the legislation did not provide for the insurance rate reductions that New
Brunswickers needed. Opposition Leader Graham stated that the Bill did not
legislate lower rates but simply required the insurance companies to file their
rates with the PUB. The Opposition Leader stated that the rate reductions
which might occur would be far less than what New Brunswickers required and a
far cry from the reductions that should have occurred as a result of the new
thresholds announced by government. Following a prolonged debate in the House
and in Committee, Bill 1 was passed into law on August 8, 2003.
The Official Opposition
introduced a number of Bills during the session, two of which were referred to
legislative committees for review. Bill 2, Volunteer Protection Act,
would allow volunteers in the province to carry out their duties, while knowing
that protection is in place to permit them to fulfill their tasks to the best
of their ability. On introducing the legislation, the Opposition Leader noted
that similar legislation had been implemented in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Given the extremely close standings
in the House, Members from all parties noted that some cooperation would be
required to ensure the House worked efficiently and effectively for the benefit
of all New Brunswickers. The close House resulted in a number of standing votes
being called on various issues. During the course of the two-week session, the
Speaker was called upon to give one casting vote from the Chair.
The House appointed eight
Standing Committees and four Select Committees, including a Select Committee on
Health Care and a Select Committee on Education. The Assembly also appointed a
Select Committee on Public Automobile Insurance, to be chaired by Ms
Weir. The Committee is charged with reviewing and identifying the most suitable
form of public insurance system for New Brunswick, should the province conclude
that a public system is required. In addition, the Committee will review
related matters or materials to be referred by the Minister of Justice,
including a discussion paper on public insurance options. The Committee will
hold public hearings in October and is expected to report to the House during
the next sitting.
Recognizing forestry as one of
New Brunswick’s most important economic sectors, the Assembly appointed a new
Select Committee on Wood Supply. The Committee will inquire into and report on
the status of sustainable wood supply from Crown lands and make recommendations
regarding potential legislative, regulatory or other changes that may be
considered by government to improve upon the current wood supply and management
system. The Committee is chaired by Kirk MacDonald (Mactaquac).
The installation of Herménégilde
Chiasson as the 29th Lieutenant-Governor for the Province of New
Brunswick took place in the Legislative Assembly Chamber on August 26, 2003.
Dr. Chiasson replaces Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, who had served as
Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick since 1997.
Donald J. Forestell