| British Columbia
| Newfoundland and Labrador
| Nova Scotia
| Prince Edward Island
| House of Commons
of the National Assembly met for an extraordinary sitting, at the request of the
Premier, on Wednesday, July 16, 2003, to complete consideration and adoption of
the estimates of expenditure for the 2003-2004 fiscal year, to introduce, pass
in principle and pass the consequent appropriation bill, and to complete the
consideration of and pass Bill 1, An Act respecting proposals for the
administrative reorganization of certain municipalities and amending various
This Act, which is now entitled An Act to amend various
legislative provisions concerning municipal affairs, amends the Charter
of Ville de Montréal and municipal acts, more particularly as regards the
current unfunded actuarial liability of various pension plans for municipal
Colloquia, seminars, conferences
At the invitation of the Secretary General of the National
Assembly, François Côté, the Canadian clerks met in Quebec City, August
11 to 16, 2003, on the occasion of the Annual General Assembly and of the 2003
edition of the Professional Development Seminar of the Association of
Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada.
Other than the Canadian participants, clerks from Australia,
Belgium, the United States and the United Kingdom enthusiastically accepted the
invitation. Several delegates were accompanied by their spouses and children
for whom various cultural and recreational activities were organized.
The workshops, held in the Legislative Council Room of the
Parliament Building, dealt with various subjects such as parliamentary
privileges, the development of human resources, the organization of documentary
resources supporting parliamentary proceedings, ethics and Members, electronic
The President of the Assembly, Michel Bissonnet, headed
the Quebec parliamentary delegation that attended the 17th session of the
France-Quebec Interparliamentary Commission which took place in Paris, from
September 15 to 19, 2003, during which parliamentarians made an assessment of
the forty years of France-Quebec cooperation and discussed the integration of
immigrants. This delegation consisted of Members Maxime Arsenau
(Îles-de-la-Madeleine), Roch Cholette (Hull), Normand Jutras
(Drummond) and Dominique Vien (Bellechasse).
At the completion of their work, the members of the Commission
adopted a resolution in which they recommend an annual assessment of the
France-Quebec cooperation programmes and encourage the systematic exchange of
information on legislation and programmes underway, for the purpose of better
informing future immigrants to France and Quebec on the tools at their
Furthermore, in order to increase reciprocal knowledge of the
organization and proceedings of both national assemblies, the members of the
Commission would like the next “agreement” signed by both Presidents to include
a public servants and parliamentary assistants exchange programme between both
As the year 2004 will mark the 25th anniversary of the
Commission, President Bissonnet invited his French counterpart, Jean-Louis
Debré, to head the French delegation for the holding of the 18th session of
the Commission, in Quebec City.
Last 10 September, the Premier assigned the Member for
Laviolette, Julie Boulet, the responsibility of assisting the Minister
of Transport in the capacity of Minister for Transport. She was also given the
responsibility of issues concerning the Mauricie region.
Mrs. Boulet thus becomes responsible for the road network as
well as the planning and realization of roadwork on Quebec’s territory.
Furthermore, the Minister for Transport exercises duties relating to regional
transportation plans as well as those relating to the administration of the Act
respecting off-highway vehicles and the Act respecting the Société des
traversiers du Quebec.
Administrative organization plan
At its meeting of September 11, 2003, the Office of the National
Assembly adopted a new administrative organization plan. As the Secretary
General stated in a memorandum addressed to all employees, the purpose of this
reorganization is to provide better support to the Chair and to the Secretary
General by consolidating the principal functions of support to parliamentary,
institutional and administrative affairs.
The changes mainly involve the creation of two new general
directorates, under the responsibility of Michel Bonsaint (parliamentary
affairs) and Marcel Lacharité (institutional affairs). Other changes
also were carried out within the various administrative units. The Secretary
General took the opportunity to congratulate all persons who were called upon
to take on new managerial responsibilities within the organization: Doris
Arsenault, Director of Material Resources and Restaurants; Juliette
Champagne, Director of Protocol and Visitor Services; Christian Comeau,
Interim Director of the Secretariat of Committees; Frédéric Fortin,
Director of Communications; Hélène Galarneau, Director of
Interparliamentary and International Relations; Lucie Giguère, Director
of the Secretariat of the Assembly; Patricia Rousseau, Assistant to the
Associate Secretary General of Parliamentary Affairs, and Hélène Sanfaçon,
Assistant Director of Debates Broadcasting.
Another appointment was confirmed by the Office of the Assembly
October 1, 2003, namely that of Martin-Philippe Côté, as Director of
Debates Broadcasting, a position that had become vacant owing to the retirement
of André Lavoie.
Following a competition open to the professionals of various
ministries, Jean-Pierre Drapeau obtained the position of Director of the
Publishing Division of the Legislative Translation and Publishing Services
Branch. Prior to this, Mr. Drapeau acted as environmental and sustainable
development specialist at the office of the Auditor General. His appointment
became effective on September 22, 2003.
Some one hundred seniors hailing from all over Queec took part
in the fourth edition of the Seniors’ Parliament. During the simulation, the
seniors discussed and adopted two proposals for Acts concerning respectively
the fight against abuse and violence towards seniors and the promotion of
quality of life of seniors residing in private homes.
As is the custom, members of the National Assembly personnel
provided their professional and technical expertise throughout this activity,
which was held at the Parliament Building, from September 15 to 17, 2003.
Each year in September since its creation in 1978, the Fondation
Jean-Charles-Bonenfant welcomes four scholars for a ten-month internship at the
National Assembly, during which these young university graduates have the
opportunity to increase their knowledge of democratic and parliamentary
institutions and learn more about the role and work of Members. The
scholar-interns each benefit from a $15,000 scholarship.
The candidates chosen by the selection committee for the current
of Political Science, McGill University (Montréal).
degree in 20th century Canadian history, York University (Toronto).
Legendre, Degree in
Economics and in Administration, University of Montrel and the École des Hautes
Rivet, Master’s degree
in 19th century Québec history, University of Quebec in Montreal.
The internship comprises three main elements: the discovery of
the National Assembly and a comparative study with other Canadian and foreign
parliamentary institutions, the twinning with a Member of the parliamentary
group forming the Government followed by the twinning with a Member from the
parliamentary group forming the Official Opposition, and the drafting of a
research paper on the parliamentary institutions of Quebec.
Francine Boivin Lamarche
Secrétariat de l’Assemblée
Last June, the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain was
given a mandate to hold a general consultation on Bill 9, An Act respecting
the consultation of citizens with respect to the territorial reorganization of
certain municipalities. This autumn, the Committee heard over 85 groups and
individuals on this subject, all hailing from different walks of life. Persons
representing municipalities, unions, municipal parties, citizens’ groups,
experts and non-profit organizations came to give their opinion on this bill
which grants the citizens of certain municipalities the right to express their
opinion on the changes occurring since 2000 in municipal territorial
The Committee on Institutions heard 14 groups and individuals
during a special consultation on Bill 4, An Act to amend the Act respecting
administrative justice, which amends the Act to establish that proceedings
brought before the Administrative Tribunal of Quebec shall be heard and
determined by a single member, except where otherwise specially provided. Also,
four groups were invited to come before the Committee to give their views on
Bill 6, An Act to amend the Highway Safety Code and the Code of Penal
Procedure as regards the collection of fines, which allows all parking
offences to be added to those for which a collector may request the Société de
l’assurance automobile du Québec to suspend a licence.
The Committee on Social Affairs held special consultations on
two bills. First, eight organizations and individuals came before the Committee
to voice their opinion on Bill 8, An Act to amend the Act respecting
childcare centres and childcare services, which defines, in a declaratory
manner, the status of home childcare providers recognized as such by a
childcare centre permit holder and provides, in the same manner, that neither
the home childcare providers nor any adult assisting them or person in their
employ are employees of the childcare centre permit holder. Subsequently, eight
groups were also heard on Bill 7, An Act to amend the Act respecting health
services and social services, which specifies, in a declaratory manner,
that an intermediate resource or a family-type resource is deemed not to be in
the employ of or an employee of the public institution that calls upon the
services of the resource and that any agreement between them to determine the
applicable rules of operation is deemed not to constitute a contract of
Orders in compliance with the Standing Orders and statutory
This fall, the Committee on Public Administration heard the
Auditor General of Quebec on her annual management report, her Strategic Plan,
2003-2006, and her financial commitments for 2002-2003, followed by the Deputy
Minister of Revenue concerning the development of the Ministry’s information
systems and, finally, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Wildlife and
Parks, concerning Government grants to non-profit organizations. The Committee
intends to pursue its accountability mandates this autumn, more particularly by
hearing the Deputy Minister of Relations with the Citizens and Immigration and
the Chief Executive Officer of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec with
regard to their annual management reports.
Finally, in pursuance of certain provisions of the Act
respecting educational institutions at the university level, the Committee
on Education heard, at the end of September, the head officers of six
universities on their financial reports for 2001-2002. Since December 2002, the
Act has been amended so that the Committee hears the head officers of the 19
institutions at least once every three years rather than annually. The
performance contracts – that the universities had signed with the Education
Ministry in 2001 and which ended this year – were the focal point of
discussions between the members of the Committee and the head officers of the
Secrétariat des commissions
Secretariat of the Assembly
a “clean-up session” by the Minister of Finance and Government House Leader, Gary
Collins (Vancouver-Fairview), Members of the Legislative Assembly returned
to Victoria on October 2 to continue debate on numerous exposure bills
introduced during the spring sitting. As of October 31, 13 Government Bills,
three Members’ Bills and nine Private Bills have been introduced, making for a
total of 100 pieces of legislation debated so far during the Fourth Session.
Under the parliamentary calendar, the House will continue to sit until November
One of the more controversial bills brought forward during this
sitting was the Skills, Development and Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2003
(Bill 37). This bill amended the Employment Standards Act to establish
more flexible rules concerning the employment of children aged 12 to 15,
particularly for children employed in the film industry and in family-run
businesses. The bill also implemented mandatory penalties for employers who
violate employment standards vis-à-vis children. The Opposition decried
this component of the bill, claiming that the amendments would result in
British Columbia having the weakest child labour laws in Canada.
As well, several bills pertaining to environmental and resource
management have been granted Royal Assent during this sitting. The Land
Amendment Act, 2003 (Bill 46) enables the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council to
designate areas of Crown land for various uses, as well as to set management
objectives for those areas. The government has announced that these land-use
decisions will be made in open cabinet; however, the opposition has expressed
apprehension about the prospect of such potentially controversial decisions
being made in public.
Bill 57, the Environmental Management Act (2003),
replaces two statutes related to environmental and waste management. The
government claims that the new legislation will strengthen environmental
protection, offer economic incentives encouraging environmentally responsible
behaviour, and promote an administrative penalty scheme as an alternative to
prosecution. Opposition members, however, voiced concerns that the tiered level
of government compliance and oversight upon industry would have serious
ramifications for environmental protection.
Building upon changes to forestry legislation passed in the
previous sitting, the Forest Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2003 (Bill
44) allows for coordinated timber supply analyses and seeks to improve the
effectiveness of the Ministry of Forests’ compliance and enforcement programs.
Other legislative changes, under the Forest and Range Practices Amendment
Act, 2003 (Bill 69), are designed to clarify the designations and
objectives for maintaining environmental standards, such as wildlife habitat,
areas’ community watersheds and water quality objectives. Bill 69 also contains
provisions to provide licensees with the means to prepare forest health
strategies across timber supply areas.
After reflecting upon the recent flurry of legislation
surrounding forest management, the Leader of the Opposition Joy MacPhail (Vancouver-Hastings)
claimed that the situation was becoming chaotic, as people who administer, work
in, and enjoy, the province’s forests are uncertain as to the land-use status.
The passage of the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Statutes
Amendment Act, 2003 (Bill 48) was also seen to be controversial. Bill 48
extends legal support for right-to-farm provisions to those involved in the
aquaculture industry. The bill also expands the definition of farmland to
include actions conducted over water in conjunction with aquaculture
activities, and prohibits municipalities from implementing by-laws to prohibit
zoning in prime aquaculture areas.
The functions of municipal governments were also discussed in
the debate on the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act, 2003
(Bill 65). The stated purpose of this bill is to introduce a new model to deal
with minor by-law infractions such as parking tickets, while imposing stricter
penalties for serious by-law offences. Transitional provisions for the
Community Charter have also been introduced under Bill 76, which has been
granted Royal Assent.
Introduced in April 2003, the Personal Information Protection
Act, 2003 (Bill 38) was also passed during the fall sitting. The
bill provides a made-in-BC solution for the need to protect personal
information – building upon the federal privacy protection legislation, while
simplifying the implementation and regulations. The bill ensures that British
Columbia’s principles for personal privacy protection are compatible with
existing international standards for the collection of data by the private
One of the most active committees this fall has been the Select
Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services Committee. Chaired by Brenda
Locke (Surrey-Green Timbers), the Committee was asked to report to the
House on the public’s proposals and recommendations regarding the next
provincial budget and fiscal policy. The Committee visited 11 communities in
different parts of the province for its annual pre-budget consultations. For
the first time, the Committee also made four site visits to learn more about
the local situation in resource-dependent communities.
Chaired by Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant), the
Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts has also been busy during the
fall, reviewing the Auditor General’s reports on the bid estimates for the
Vancouver 2010 Winter Games and performance agreements in the health care
sector. In addition, the Committee has considered reports on the management of
contaminated sites on provincial lands, government oversight of multi-employer
public sector pension plans, as well as on improving BC’s public performance
The Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations has convened
several times the summer and fall to review the service plans and annual
reports of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, BC Hydro, BC
Utilities Commission, Homeowner Protection Office and the Organized Crime
Agency of BC. Chaired by Ken Stewart, (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), this
committee is currently planning a busy agenda for next year.
The Special Committee on the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral
Reform has completed its review the appointments of senior staff for the
Assembly. Chaired by Dr. Jack Blaney, the Citizens’ Assembly on
Electoral Reform is currently in the delegate selection process of its mandate.
As reported in a previous issue, the Citizens’ Assembly is a historic process
in which a committee of citizens deliberates upon which model of electoral
system would be best suited to British Columbia. Randomly selected citizens
chosen from the provincial voters list reflect the diversity of this province –
in terms of age, gender, occupations, and ethnicity. The Citizens’ Assembly
will hold its first public meeting in January 2004.
Looking ahead, the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act will soon begin its public
consultation process. Chaired by Blair Lekstrom (Peace River South), the
Committee will review the strengths and weaknesses of the current legislation
and consider proposals for legislative amendments.
On October 23, Mr. Collins gave a ministerial statement
concerning the delay in payment of wages to forest fire fighters. The statement
immediately followed a Question Period debate in which Ms. Kwan asked for an
indication as to when the firefighters could expect payment.
On October 27, the Leader of the Opposition raised a point of
order concerning procedural matters pertaining to ministerial statements.
Noting that the past custom in the House was to provide both the Speaker and
the Opposition with an advance copy of the statement in order to facilitate a
timely and appropriate response, Ms. MacPhail requested Speaker Claude
Richmond’s (Kamloops) guidance on the House rules pertaining to ministerial
Two days later, the Speaker ruled that although the practice was
to be encouraged wherever possible, there is no requirement that the Opposition
be provided with an advance copy of ministerial statements. The Speaker stated
that as the ministerial statement in question dealt with a matter that had just
been canvassed in Question Period, prompt replies by the Minister to matters of
concern should be encouraged.
Unparalleled natural disasters have hit several regions of the
province over the last three months. Massive forest fires in the southern
interior and Kootenays prompted both the Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson
and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, to tour the fire-ravaged areas
surrounding Kelowna, Kamloops and Barriere.
In addition, unprecedented rainfall in October produced
destructive floods in the Squamish/ Pemberton corridor, southern Vancouver
Island and the North Coast. Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo recently
toured the devastated areas and offered support to those displaced by the
Office of Clerk of Committees
The new House
of Assembly, which was elected on August 5, 2003, met on September 4, 2003. The
only business transacted at that sitting was the election of a Speaker. Murray
Scott was re-elected as Presiding Officer. The House then took a break and
reconvened on September 25 for its fall sitting, beginning with the Speech from
The sitting was very short, but some important legislation was
passed, including legislation respecting auto insurance rates and Sunday
shopping. Certain changes were made to these bills as a result of negotiations
carried out by the minority Government and the two opposition parties. In all,
eight bills, which were all government bills, were passed and may be briefly
summarized as follows:
Bill No. 1, which, effective November 1, 2003 reduces automobile
insurance rates by 20% of what those rates were on May 1, 2003 and places a
limit, prescribed by the regulations, on the amount of damages for a minor
Bill No. 2,
- permits Sunday shopping from 1 pm to 6 pm from November 16, 2003
to December 21, 2003
- provides for a plebiscite on Sunday shopping to be held at the
same time as the 2004 municipal elections;
- enables the Government to permit Sunday shopping if the
plebiscite is in favour of Sunday shopping
- makes certain changes to the Labour Standard Code.
Bill No. 6, eliminates mandatory retirement from the public
service at age 65;
Bill No. 7,
- allows an employee to take a leave of absence of up to 8 weeks
to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a
significant risk of death within 26 weeks;
- gives an employee who is a party to a registered
domestic-partnership agreement the right to take bereavement leave and
compassionate leave under the Labour Standards Code.
Bill No. 8, provides that when a volunteer is sued for anything
arising out of voluntary work and the lawsuit against the volunteer is
unsuccessful, the volunteer is entitled to his or her full legal costs of the
Bill No. 10, contains certain technical and housekeeping changes
to the laws governing municipal elections.
Bill No. 11, makes certain changes to the laws governing
collection agencies, including the licensing collection agencies and the code
of conduct governing collection agencies.
Bill No. 15, deals with the transfer of court proceedings by the
Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to a court outside Nova Scotia and the acceptance
by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia of court proceedings from a court outside
On October 30, 2003, the House adjourned to be reconvened at the
call of the Speaker.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Fifth Session of the Forty-Fourth General Assembly adjourned on May 15th
Members expected it would be the last sitting of the current parliament.
Premier Roger Grimes put an end to speculation about the
date of the general election in the Province when he sought and was granted
dissolution of the Forty- Fourth General Assembly on September 29th. The
election took place on October 21st . The Progressive Conservative party
formed a majority government electing 34 Members. All sitting Progressive
Conservatives were re-elected as were both New Democrats. Twelve Liberals
were re-elected. There will be fifteen new Members in this parliament.
Ten women were elected, eight on the government side, two in the
Official Opposition the largest number of women ever elected to the House
of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador. The standings are now 34
Progressive Conservatives, 12 Liberals and two New Democrats.
On November 6th the new Cabinet comprising fifteen Ministers
including the Premier Danny Williams (Humber West) was sworn.
Mr. Williams is also the Minister for Inter-governmental Affairs and
Minister for Business. The other Ministers and their portfolios are:
- Danny Williams, QC, (Humber West), Premier, Minister for
Inter-governmental Affairs and Minister for Business;
- Joan Burke, (St. George's- Stephenville East), Minister of Human
Resources and Employment and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women;
- Edward Byrne, (Kilbride), Minister of Mines and Energy, Minister of
Forest Resources and Agrifoods and Government House Leader;
- Jack Byrne, (Cape St. Francis), Minister of Municipal and Provincial
Affairs and Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing
- Kathy Dunderdale, (Virginia Waters), Minister of Industry,
Trade and Rural Development;
- Elizabeth Marshall, (Topsail), Minister of Health and Community
- Thomas Marshall, QC,(Humber East), Minister of Justice and
- Thomas Osborne, (St. John's South), Minister of Environment
and Minister of Labour;
- John Ottenheimer (St. John's East), Minister of Education and
Minister of Youth Services and Post-secondary Education;
- Thomas Rideout, (Lewisporte), Minister of Works, Services
and Transportation, and Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs;
- Paul Shelley, (Baie Verte), Minister of Tourism, Culture and
- Loyola Sullivan, (Ferryland,) Minister of Finance and President of
- Trevor Taylor, (The Straits & White Bay North), Minister of
Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs
- Dianne Whalen, (Conception Bay East & Bell Island), Minister of
Government Services and Lands and Minister Responsible for the Strategic Social
As well four
Parliamentary Secretaries were appointed: John
Hickey, (Lake Melville), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs; Tom Hedderson, (Harbour Main-Whitbourne), Parliamentary
Secretary to the Minister of Education and Minister of Youth Services and
Post-secondary Education; Ross Wiseman,
(Trinity North), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and
Community Services and David Denine, (Mount Pearl),
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and
Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.
Terry French, (Conception Bay South), was
appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier.
On November 12th
Harvey Hodder, (Waterford Valley) was acclaimed as
Speaker. Roger Fitzgerald, (Bonavista South)
was elected Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees and Sheila Osborne, (St. John's West) was elected Deputy
Chair of Committees.
gathered for their first extended sitting of the 38th Legislature on September
8, 2003. This session, which concluded on October 1, 2003, focussed almost
entirely on the conclusion of the budget cycle from the previous Legislature,
which had not been completed at the time of the election call in May
In December 2002
the House adopted certain amendments to our rules, including a sessional
calendar identifying periods of the year when the House may and may not meet.
Taking this concept a step further upon their return to the House this
fall, Manitoba MLAs passed a motion identifying a specific timetable for
Legislative sittings during 2003 and 2004. According to the new
legislative schedule, the House will sit during the following periods over the
- November 20, 2003 to December 4, 2003
- An eight day session in March 2004
- From the week of April 12, 2004 until no later than June 10, 2004
In addition to
detailing House sitting dates, the motion also stated that during the September
2003 session no business would be considered by the House other than the
completion of the budget process. Consequently, the House considered no
legislation this session other than the Bills required as part of the financial
During a one day
sitting following the general election in June 2003 the House passed a motion to
reinstate the budget process from the Fourth Session of the 37th Legislature.
Based in part on a 1995 Manitoba precedent, all MLAs agreed to this
procedure as a means of getting the budget cycle back on track following the
Committee of Supply
When the House
resumed in September MLAs got down to business right away, proceeding with the
consideration of departmental estimates in our three, concurrent sections of the
Committee of Supply. This session marked the first time MLAs considered
estimates under our new rules which reduce the time allowed for the process from
240 hours to 100 hours. The House completed all stages of the financial
process by September 30.
On September 10,
2003 Speaker George Hickes informed the House that a
trial agreement had been reached between the Government, the Official Opposition
and the independent Members regarding guidelines for the conduct of Oral
Questions for the month of September, 2003. The guidelines included the
- Fifty seconds allowed for questions and answers;
- The continued recognition of points of order and matters of
privilege during Oral Questions, with the exception of points of order referring
to Beauchesne citations 409(2), 410, 417 and 408(2);
- Changes to some of the conditions regarding “Leader's
latitude” – a practice which allows leaders of recognized parties certain
exemptions from regular time limits; and
- Revisions to the assignment of questions between the
parties during Oral Questions.
As these guidelines expired at the end of the fall sitting, a new agreement will be
required for future sessions.
Speaker's Outreach Program
In 2002 Speaker
Hickes began a school outreach program offering presentations on the functions
and workings of the Legislature. The visits include brief talks from both
the local MLA and the Speaker, with a Table Officer on hand to help lead
students through an exercise in passing a Bill through the House. These
visits proved to be very popular in their first year and a new round has been
underway throughout the fall and winter of 2003-2004.
Committee on Public Accounts resumed sittings this fall, meeting on a number of
occasions to review the Public Accounts and consider Reports from the Provincial
Auditor General, Jon Singleton. The reports
covered a range of matters including: Policy Development Capacity within
Government Departments, Value-for-Money- Audits, and School Board
The new Standing
Committee on Legislative Affairs also met this fall to consider the most recent
Report and Recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Committee. The
Manitoba Provincial Court Act requires that once
every three years, a Judicial Compensation Committee (JCC) be established to
review, determine and report to the Minister on the salaries and benefits
payable to Judges and Masters. Once a report has been received by the
Minister, it is to be tabled in the House and referred to a Standing Committee
of the Legislature. The Committee ultimately reports back to the
Legislature, communicating its opinions of the JCC's
On November 4,
2003 Premier Gary Doer announced a significant
Cabinet reorganization. Several current Ministers shifted
responsibilities, new Ministries were created, and five new Ministers joined the
Members of the previous Cabinet:
- Premier Gary Doer (Concordia) -
continues as Minister responsible for Federal-Provincial Relations
- Steve Ashton (Thompson) - Minister responsible for the new Department of
Water Stewardship (formerly Conservation)
- Dave Chomiak (Kildonan) - continues as Minister of Health
- Oscar Lathlin (The Pas) - continues as Minister responsible for
Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, plus the Communities
Economic Development Fund Act
- Rosann Wowchuk (Swan River) - continues as Deputy Premier and Minister
responsible for Agriculture and Food, with added responsibilities for Rural
Initiatives and Co-operative Development
- Gord Mackintosh (St. Johns) - continues as Minister of Justice and Attorney
General, plus Constitutional Affairs, Manitoba Public Insurance and Keeper of
the Great Seal (also continues as Government House Leader)
- Eric Robinson (Rupertsland) - continues as Minister of Culture, Heritage
and Tourism, plus Sport
- Diane McGifford (Lord Roberts) - continues as Minister of Advanced
Education and Training
- MaryAnn Mihychuk (Minto) - Minister responsible for Intergovernmental
Affairs, with added new responsibility for Trade (formerly Industry, Trade and
- Tim Sale (Fort Rouge) - continues as Minister of Energy, Science and
Technology, plus Manitoba Hydro and the Gaming Control
- Ron Lemieux (La Verendrye) - Minister responsible for Transportation
and Government Services (formerly Education and Youth)
- Greg Selinger (St. Boniface) - continues as Minister of Finance, plus
French Language Services, the Civil Service Commission and the Crown Corporations Public Review and Accountability
- Scott Smith (Brandon West) - Minister responsible for Industry,
Economic Development and Mines, plus the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation and
Emergency Measures, with added new responsibility for the Manitoba Liquor
Commission (formerly Transportation and Government Services)
Postings for new Ministers:
- Nancy Allan (St. Vital) - Minister responsible for Labour and
Immigration, plus Multiculturalism and the Workers Compensation Board, with
added new responsibility for the Status of Women
- Jim Rondeau (Assiniboia) - Minister responsible for Healthy Living
within the Department of Health, plus Seniors and Healthy Child
- Stan Struthers (Dauphin-Roblin) - Minister responsible for
- Peter Bjornson (Gimli) - Minister responsible for Education, Citizenship
- Christine Melnick (Riel) - Minister responsible for Family Services and
Housing, plus Persons with Disabilities
increase the number of positions in the Manitoba Cabinet from 16 to 18.
Former Ministers Jean Friesen and Becky Barrett did not run in the 2003 general election,
while the previous Minister of Family Services and Housing, Drew Caldwell (Brandon East), stepped down from cabinet
for health reasons.
2003 CCPAC/CCOLA Conference
14-16, 2003 Manitoba welcomed delegates from across Canada as host of the 2003
joint conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and the
Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors. The conference featured
enlightening presentations from a number of interesting speakers, including John Williams, MP (Chair, House of Commons PAC), Ken Krawetz, MLA (Chair, Saskatchewan PAC), and Russell Mackinnon, MLA (Chair, Nova Scotia
Held at the
historic Hotel Fort Garry in downtown Winnipeg, the conference succeeded in
providing a comfortable venue for a healthy exchange of information and ideas as
well as an enjoyable social experience for all delegates.
Clerk Assistant /Clerk of Committees
Prince Edward Island
General Assembly was dissolved on September 2, 2003. A Provincial General
Election was held on Monday, September 29, 2003. Voter turnout, at just
over 83%, was down only slightly (1.6%) from the General Election in 2000, a
reduction attributed to the devastation caused by Hurricane Juan which hit the
Province in the early hours of election day.
hurricane resulted in no serious injuries, the province experienced widespread
power- outages and property damage. Schools, government offices and
businesses were closed due to thousands of fallen trees and damaged power
two-thirds of the polls remained without power for the entire day, with ballots
being counted by kerosene lantern and candlelight. District 27
Tignish-Deblois achieved the highest percentage of votes cast at 94.58%,
followed closely by District 2 Morell-Fortune Bay, and District 3 Georgetown-
Baldwin's Road at 92% and 91%, respectively.
Conservative Party received 54.29% of the popular vote, resulting in 23 seats;
the Liberals received 42.66% of the popular vote, translating into 4 seats;
while the New Democratic Party candidates received 3.06% of the popular vote and
were unsuccessful in winning a seat.
Mildred Dover, was appointed Minister of Education
in October 2003. Ms. Dover previously served in cabinet as Minister of
Health and Social Services with Ministerial Responsibility for Seniors and
Housing from 1996-2000. In May 2000 she was elected Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly. Ms. Dover was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in
November 1996, representing the district of Tracadie-Fort Augustus, and
subsequently was re-elected in the general elections of 2000 and 2003. She
brings a wealth of experience to her new portfolio. During her lengthy
teaching career, she was principal of two schools, a member of the Board of
Governors of the PEI Teachers' Federation and an active participant in school
and student committees.
Islanders were introduced to a new provincial cabinet on October 9, 2003.
Three new members were brought into cabinet while most existing ministers
were given new responsibilities. They are:
- Jamie Ballem, Minister of Environment and Energy and Attorney
- Philip Brown, Minister of Tourism;
- Mildred Dover, Minister of Education;
- Chester Gillan, Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister
Responsible for Seniors;
- Kevin MacAdam, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and
- Mitchell Murphy, Provincial Treasurer and Minister Responsible for the
Ministers retaining their previous responsibilities are:
Pat Binns, Premier, President of Executive Council and Minister of
Michael Currie, Minister of Development and Technology;
Elmer MacFadyen, Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs and Minister
Responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs;
Gail Shea, Minister of Transportation and Public Works and Minister
Responsible for the Status of Women.
The Premier also
took the opportunity to realign some of the ministries. The Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry, and the Department of
Environment and Energy were newly cast to reflect some of the common
opportunities which exist in those sectors. The Departments of Education
and Tourism were each assigned dedicated ministers.
Opening of the Legislative Assembly
Assembly will open for the First Session of the Sixty-second General Assembly on
November 12, 2003. Following the election of the new Speaker, the
Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable J. Léonce
Bernard, will read the Speech from the Throne.
Auto Insurance Strategy
Ballem announced in October that legislation to implement an auto insurance
strategy will be a first priority in the upcoming session of the legislature.
It is anticipated the legislation will introduce a maximum limit of $2,500
on benefits for minor personal injury and damages for non-economic loss, grant
the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission full regulatory authority over
automobile insurance rates, and reduce the limitation period for making a claim,
bringing it in line with the other Atlantic Provinces.
Clerk Assistant and
The 2003 Fall
Sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly began on October 30. As the 2003
Spring Sitting had lasted 36 sitting days this one will not last longer than 24
sitting days. This is because Standing Order 75(1) limits the Assembly to 60
sitting days per year (exclusive of special sittings). Standing Order 2(1)
provides that the Assembly sits every Monday to Thursday unless otherwise
ordered. According to practice the House did not sit on Remembrance Day,
Tuesday, November 11. Thus, following normal practice, the final sitting day
would be Thursday, December 11.
parliamentary calendar became the subject of debate when on November 3, 2003
Government House Leader Peter Jenkins (Klondike,
Yukon Party) moved the adoption of Government Motion No. 101. The intent of the
motion was to change the parliamentary calendar so that the House would not sit
on Monday, November 10 but would sit on Friday, November 14. Mr. Jenkins argued
this schedule would be of benefit to members, especially rural members, to
ensure they could be in their constituencies for Remembrance Day
This change was
not agreed to in advance by the opposition parties, however, so what might have
been a pro forma motion engendered over an hour of
debate. Opposition members argued that re-scheduling the Monday sitting was not
necessary for members to attend Remembrance Day events in their constituencies.
They also argued that making Friday a sitting day would unduly inconvenience
them as they use Fridays for activities, such as caucus meetings and
appointments with constituents, that cannot be carried out on days when the
House is sitting.
Official Opposition House Leader Gary McRobb
(Kluane, NDP) proposed an amendment to excise the reference to Friday, November
14 and provide that the House would sit on Monday, December 15. After some
debate all Members present voted in favour of the amendment and the motion as
74 requires the government “introduce all legislation, including Appropriation
Bills, to be dealt with during that Sitting by the fifth sitting day.” The
government fulfilled this requirement, introducing the following 10 bills by
- Bill No. 6, Fourth Appropriation
- Bill No. 7, Second Appropriation
- Bill No. 35, Act to Amend the
Public Printing Act;
- Bill No. 36, Act to Amend the
Taxpayer Protection Act;
- Bill No. 37, Statistics
- Bill No. 38, Act to Amend the
Employment Standards Act;
- Bill No. 39, Decision Making,
Support and Protection to Adults Act;
- Bill No. 40, Act to Amend the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
- Bill No. 41, Health Professions
- Bill No. 42, Territorial Court
Judiciary Pension Plan Act, 2003.
There was also
one Private Member's Bill introduced. Pat Duncan
(Porter Creek South, Liberal) introduced Bill No.102, An
Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act.
government had no trouble meeting the deadline for introducing bills it
encountered some difficulty in having the Premier and Finance Minister, Dennis Fentie (Watson Lake, Yukon Party) give his
second reading speech for Bill No. 7. The bill provides for $97.4 million in
appropriations in addition to the sums appropriated in the main capital and
operations and maintenance act passed in the 2003 Spring Sitting.
circumstances Premier Fentie would have introduced Bill No. 7 on the first
sitting day. However the Premier and a number of other Members wished to attend
the funeral service of a prominent Yukoner on that day. As the supplementary
appropriation is substantial, the government wished to treat it as a main
appropriation and not release the bill or its accompanying information books too
far in advance of the Premier's second reading speech. Rather than introducing
the bill on October 30 the House adjourned immediately after the Oral Question
could not introduce the bill on Monday, November 3 as he was out of the
territory on business. He did introduce the bill on Tuesday, November 4 and
tabled the accompanying budget information. Had Bill No. 7 been a main
appropriation act the Premier could have, pursuant to Standing Order 55(3),
moved Second Reading that day. However, as Bill No. 7 was not a main
appropriation act unanimous consent was required to give it more than one
reading in one day. Ms. Duncan, as a protest against what she termed
inappropriate behaviour by Mr. Jenkins as government house leader, refused to
give consent and so Bill No. 7 did not proceed to Second Reading on that day.
Rather than proceed with other business Mr. Jenkins moved the adjournment of the
House. The House adjourned.
could not move Second Reading of Bill No. 7 on Wednesday, November 5 as that was
opposition private members day. The Premier finally gave his budget speech on
Thursday, November 6 two days after the bill's contents became public
Public Accounts Committee
with officials from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada the Standing
Committee on Public Accounts decided to hold a week of public hearings in the
new year. The committee is currently deliberating whether the hearings will be
held in the last week of January or the first week of February 2004.
The focus of the
hearings will be Yukon College and government corporations, with a particular
focus on the Yukon Housing Corporation. The committee will forward to the heads
of these entities a series of questions focussing on the entity's mandate,
compliance with its mandate and accountability mechanisms. The responses to the
questions are to be received in advance of the hearings and serve as the basis
for discussion at the hearings.
New Deputy Sergeant at Arms
November 3 Speaker Ted Staffen introduced Doris McLean as the Yukon's new Deputy
Sergeant-at-Arms. Ms. McLean, a former chief of the Carcross-Tagish First
Nation, is the first woman and first woman of first nations ancestry to serve as
sergeant-at-arms in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Ms. McLean succeeds Gordon McIntyre who passed away during the summer of
The fourth and
final session of the 24th Legislature opened on March 18th, 2003 and continued
to sit for 68 sitting days, before adjourning on June 27th. The session
saw the passage of a spring budget and a smaller than average number of bills.
46 of the 48 bills introduced received Royal Assent. All were
government bills except for one Private Bill that granted the Western Christian
College the authority to grant theological certificates, diplomas and degrees.
The passage of the private bill was noteworthy in that the normal filing
deadlines were waived to permit the bill's consideration in the later days of
The discovery of
a case of BSE in an Albertan cow and the resulting negative impact on the cattle
industry was an ongoing concern to Saskatchewan MLAs over the spring and summer.
One Private Members' motion and two emergency debates were held on the
subject. Bob Bjornerud (Saltcoats) introduced
a motion on May 27th expressing the Assembly's complete confidence in the
Canadian beef industry and urging other nations to reopen their borders to
Canadian beef imports as soon as possible. Two days later, Don McMorris (Indian Head - Milestone) moved that the
Assembly demand the federal government to immediately waive the two-week waiting
period for Employment Insurance applications for persons whose employment had
been affected by the impact of BSE on the Canadian beef industry, and for the
Prime Minister to show greater sensitivity to the country's international
trading partners, particularly the United States. Then on June 9th, a
third motion on the BSE impact was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition Elwin Hermanson (Rosetown - Biggar), seconded by Eldon Lautermilch, the Minister of Intergovernmental
Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs. This motion urged the federal government
to immediately develop a compensation package, which was separate and distinct
from the Agriculture Policy Framework, that recognized that certain economic
sectors and thousands of people have been negatively impacted by the discovery
of BSE. All three motions were unanimously adopted. Copies of the motions
and verbatim transcripts of the last two debates were forwarded to the Prime
Minister and several of his ministers by the Speaker on behalf of the
The session saw
three new MLAs introduced in the Assembly following the passage of legislation
to permit them to take their seats prior to the return of the by-election writs.
Andy Iwanchuk (Saskatoon Fairview) and Wally Lorenz (Battleford-Cut-Knife) took their places
on the second day of the session on March 19th. Allan Kerpan, a former member of the federal
parliament, took his seat on June 27th, the final day of the session. This
was just a few hours after winning the by-election in the constituency of Carrot
River Valley the night before.
Implementation of Rules Changes
On April 3rd,
the Third Report of the Special Committee on Rules and Procedures was presented
in the Assembly. Subsequently on June 13th, the Assembly adopted a
resolution nemine contradicente that the practices
and rules recommended in the report be implemented and brought into force
effective the first sitting day of the next session. The adoption of the
report will result in significant changes to Private Members’ business, the
consideration of bills and the structure of the committee system.
apparent change to Private Members' Day will be its move from Tuesdays to
Fridays. The timed Seventy Five Minute debate will now take place every
week, as opposed to every other week. New rules will permit the
designation of items of Private Members' business for priority consideration and
limit to three the number of times any item may be adjourned before it must be
for the consideration of public bills will be closely tied to the new committee
structure. The new committee structure will be the framework within which
bills may be considered and passed into law. The sponsor of a bill may
move that the bill be referred to a policy field committee for consideration
after first or second reading. Committee consideration after first reading
is restricted to the subject matter of the bill but may be broadened to include
any matter relevant to the subject and public hearings. This early
referral will permit ideas to be floated before committing the sponsor to a
definite course of action.
If a referral is
not made, the bill will proceed directly to second reading. Upon receiving
second reading, the sponsor of the bill has the option of referring the bill to
either a policy field committee or, by default, to the Committee of the Whole.
Consideration in a policy field committee is restricted to the content of the
bill and may include public hearings before clause by clause consideration takes
place. Public hearings are not permitted at this stage if the bill was
already the subject of hearings after first reading.
The new Rules
still provide for consideration of all bills in the Committee of the Whole,
regardless whether they were considered by a standing committee. Only the
unanimous consent of the Assembly will permit this stage to be waived.
This procedure will protect the rights of Members who were not on the
standing committee, particularly Independent Members, to participate in clause
by clause deliberations and to propose amendments. The new Rules do set
out restrictions on the length of time a bill may be considered in the Committee
of the Whole if it had previously been considered by a standing committee.
At the expiration of these time limits, all questions must be put and the
bill reported out.
sweeping and dynamic of the Rules changes are the reforms of the committee
structure. The old system of standing, special and select committees will
be replaced by three new categories of committees: house committees,
scrutiny committees and policy field committees. The house committees
will, as the name implies, deal primarily with the House or house keeping
issues. They will include the Standing Committees on Privileges, on
Private Bills and on House Services. The House Services Committee will
absorb the work of several existing committees and be mandated with:
- determining the membership of committees,
- determine the division of subject areas responsibilities
for the new policy field committees;
- play a role in determining committee spending;
- examine the Rules, procedures, practices and powers of the
- review the operation, organization, facilities and services
provided to the Assembly, committees and Members;
- review the Estimates of the Assembly;
- review the operations of Assembly Officers, such as the
Ombudsman, Children's Advocate, etc.
Accounts Committee will continue to exist as a scrutiny committee with a mandate
largely unchanged but with a smaller membership. The policy field
committees will also play a role in holding the government accountable but will
have more extensive responsibilities. Each will be responsible for a
sector of public policy, which in turn will comprise government departments,
Crown corporations and agencies that relate to that particular policy field.
These committees will be tasked with considering legislation, reviewing
departmental estimates, annual reports, regulations and by-laws. They will
also be permitted to initiated and conduct public inquiries on matters within
The implementation of the committee reforms will impact the proceedings of the
House. Less time will now be spent in the House dealing with bills and
estimates. Previously, the majority of bills and estimates were considered
in Committees of the Whole. The Rules will now permit the House to adjourn
or recess anytime during Government Orders so that the committees can attend to
their work. As a result, committees will be able to add afternoon and
evening meetings to their existing morning time slots. The new procedures
will facilitate greater public participation through the review of Bills and
inquiries as well as a greater role for Members in daily proceedings. The
committees will also gain greater visibility through the broadcasting of
committee proceedings on the Legislative Network and on the
In moving to implement the provisions of the Rules Committee Report, the Assembly directed
several committees to present a final report to the Assembly. The Special
Committee on Regulations complied with this directive on June 4th after an
existence of forty years. The work of the committee will now be carried
out by the policy field committees. The mandate of the Standing Committee
on Crown Corporations will now be carried out by the Standing Committee on Crown
and Central Agencies.
On October 8th,
the 24th Legislature was dissolved and a general election called for November
5th. The standings in the Assembly were 28 New Democrats, 26 members of the
Saskatchewan Party, and 4 independents. Two of the independents sat in
cabinet as part of the coalition government. When all the ballots were
counted, the results were not that different. The New Democratic Party
retained its position as government, having captured 30 seats out of a possible
58. The Saskatchewan Party gained two seats for a total of 28 and remained
as the Official Opposition.
between urban and rural voting patterns that was so evident after the 1999
election was tempered this time, with the Saskatchewan Party capturing three
seats in the city of Saskatoon and the NDP taking a northern rural seat and the
North Battleford constituency, formally held by Liberal and former cabinet
minister, Jack Hillson. The other original
Liberal members of the coalition government, Government Relations Minister Ron Osika and Finance Minister Jim Melenchuk, were defeated. David Karwacki, the leader of the Liberal Party was
unsuccessful in his first attempt at elected office. Ten new Members were
elected to the Assembly, five for the NDP and five for the Saskatchewan
Margaret (Meta) Woods
completed an impressive amount of legislative work since returning from the
summer adjournment on September 16, 2003. This was accomplished despite the
usual procedural wrangling that often arises when rumours of an imminent end to
the session begin to circulate and pressure mounts for the Senate to pass
legislation important to the Government. During the fall, thirty-six bills were
considered by the Senate. Debate in the Chamber was intense at times, sittings
were lengthy and peppered with numerous points of order, each one requiring the
attention of Speaker Dan Hays who ruled on eleven
points of order and a question of privilege, an unusual number of decisions from
that Parliament might prorogue led to increased attention on two major bills.
With a change in government leadership and a possible spring election in the
offing, the passage of Bill C-34, establishing separate ethics officers for the
Senate and the House of Commons assumed greater significance in the fulfillment
of the Prime Minister's commitment to initiate ethical reform. The other
important piece of legislation was Bill C-49. This bill advanced the
implementation date for the electoral boundaries readjustment to reflect the
2001 Census and provide additional seats to B.C., Alberta and Ontario. It was
important to have this bill passed so that an election based on these new
electoral boundaries could be called as of April 1.
The Senate began
its consideration of Bill C-34 on October 2. Second reading debate was debated
on five days before a time allocation motion was moved and subsequently adopted,
with a recorded vote, by the Senate on October 23. Second reading and the
adoption of the motion referring the bill to the Rules, Procedures and the
Rights of Parliament Committee took place on October 27.
On November 7,
the Senate voted to amend Bill C-34 so that the Senate ethics officer would be
appointed by senators themselves and not by the Prime Minister following
consultation. With third reading, the bill was returned to the House of Commons.
Although the Senate faced stiff criticism for not passing the bill, it was also
praised for standing up to government pressure to pass the bill just days after
receiving it from the House of Commons.
Bill C-49, a bill to accelerate the implementation of new electoral boundaries came to the
Senate on October 23. Although several days were spent on debate at second
reading, the bill did not pass before the Senate adjourned on November 7.
The Senate and
the House of Commons continued to disagree about amendments made by the Senate
to Bill C-10B, an Act to amend the Criminal Code
(cruelty to animals). By October 1, the bill had been returned twice to the
House of Commons and already been the subject of five Speaker's rulings. On
November 6, the Senate agreed that the motion asking the Senate not to insist on
its amendments to Bill C-10B and a subsequent motion in amendment proposed by
Senator Charlie Watt to guarantee hunting and
fishing rights of aboriginal peoples, be referred to the Legal and
Constitutional Affairs Committee.
bills received Royal Assent: Bill C-42 by written declaration on October 20 and
Bills C-45, C-25, C-6, C-459, C-37, C-50, C-48, S-21 and C-55 by Her Excellency
the Governor General of Canada, in a tradition ceremony held in the Senate
Chamber on November 7.
When the most
recent message, still disagreeing with certain amendments to Bill C-10B, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)
was received from the Commons on September 30, Senator Sharon Carstairs, Leader of the Government, proposed a
motion that the Senate not insist on its amendments. Senator Noël A. Kinsella, Deputy Leader of the Opposition,
raised the first point of order. He argued that it was premature to move a
motion concurring with a Message that the Senate had not yet considered. Speaker
Dan Hays noted that although the motion pressed for a Senate decision, it did
not mean that the Senate would reach that conclusion and ruled it was
procedurally correct to begin debate on the Message by way of a
Senator Anne Cools rose on another point of order on October 1
concerning the Message from the House of Commons on Bill C-10B. She contended
that the procedure followed by the House of Commons in sending another Message
to the Senate instead of moving a motion requesting a conference of members of
both Houses was highly unusual and improper. The Speaker, however, ruled there
was nothing irregular about the procedure of sending messages back and forth
until both Houses agreed. Although conferencing was one of the alternative
procedures, it was not the only way to deal with this matter.
Bill C-41, An Act to amend certain Acts, was the subject of four
rulings from the Chair. Decisions on the long title of the bill, as well as its
short title and omnibus nature were delivered by the Speaker on October 22
and October 23. In still another ruling on October 28, the Speaker found that
Bill C-41 did not violate the rule of anticipation. The same question rule, the
subject of his fourth and final ruling on October 29, also did not apply in this
The title of a
bill was once again the issue in a point of order raised by Senator Noël A.
Kinsella, on October 27. He argued that C-49, An Act
respecting the effective date of the representation order of 2003, was
imperfect in form because of the title of the bill which, in his opinion, was
not complete and fully descriptive. For this reason, he asked for the Speaker to
rule the bill out of order. In his ruling later that day, the Speaker referred
to his earlier ruling in which he stated that he did not have authority to rule
on decisions of the House of Commons. It was up to the Senate, as a whole, to
remedy the situation by way of amendment.
On October 30,
Senator Kinsella again rose on a point of order this time to complain about a
meeting, held earlier in the day, of the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament Committee which was studying Bill C-34. He objected to the fact that
the meeting had been held outside of its usual time slot and as a consequence,
none of the opposition members were able to fully attend because of conflicting
schedules. The Speaker sympathized with the frustration caused by simultaneous
and overlapping committee meetings, but ruled on November 3 that there was no
point of order. Since the committee had not breached the Rules of the Senate,
there was little he could do to address the complaint.
were delivered by the Speaker on points of order raised during debate on various
other bills. The subject of his rulings ranged from the need for a royal
recommendation or Royal Consent to a committee's authority to
On November 3,
just after Bill C-34 had been reported by the Rules, Procedures and the Rights
of Parliament Committee, Senator Kinsella raised a question of privilege. He
contended that the meeting of the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
held on October 31 and the subsequent presentation of its report on Bill C-34
violated the tradition of suspending any activity that is the object of a ruling
by the Speaker until the ruling is made. According to Senator Kinsella this
constituted a contempt of Parliament. In his ruling on November 4, the Speaker
noted that Senate committees, by tradition, customs and practice, are generally
autonomous in the way they conduct their business. In his opinion, a compelling
case was not made to prove that the Rules Committee committed a contempt of
Parliament in meeting on October 31 and adopting its report on Bill C-34. The
Speaker concluded there was no prima facie question
Committees produced a number of reports during the fall, many of them on special
The final report
of a two-year study by the Aboriginal Peoples Committee on issues affecting
urban Aboriginal youth was tabled in the Senate on October 30. In its report
entitled Urban Aboriginal Youth-An Action Plan for
Change, the Committee made 19 recommendations which formed the basis of a
solid plan of action designed to create opportunities for Aboriginal youth
living in Canadian cities.
and Forestry Committee released its final report on the effects of climate
change on agriculture, forestry, rural communities and Aboriginal peoples. The
committee's sixth report, entitled Climate Change: We
Are At Risk, was tabled on November 6.
Trade and Commerce Committee also completed an examination of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. The report,
entitled Debtors and Creditors Sharing the Burden: A
Review of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors
Arrangement Act was tabled on November 7. It attempts to determine whether
legislation is meeting the needs of a range of stakeholders through the impact
of insolvency laws on the Canadian economy.
Affairs Committee released Volume 2 of its study of the Canada-United States of
America trade relationship and the Canada-Mexico trade relationship. The
committee's Sixth Report, entitled The Rising Dollar:
Explanation and Economic Impacts, dealt with the Canada-U.S. exchange rate
and its effects on bilateral trade and the Canadian economy and was tabled on
On November 4,
the Human Rights Committee tabled an interim report on its study of on-reserve
matrimonial real property. In its Eighth Report, A Hard
Bed to Lie In: Matrimonial Real Property on Reserve, the committee made
eight recommendations designed to protect the rights of Aboriginal women on
reserve to their share of real matrimonial property.
In its fourth in
a series of reports on Canada's national security, the National Security and
Defence Committee examined coastal security within the context of new and
potentially devastating threats to Canadians. Entitled Canada's Coastlines: The Longest Under-Defended Borders in
the World, the Committee's Seventeenth Report, was tabled on October 28. An
interim report of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, tabled on November 4,
summarized testimony heard on the commemorative activities undertaken by the
Canada Remembers Program of Veterans Affairs Canada and made several
recommendations to ensure the safety of veterans on overseas pilgrimages and to
promote awareness in young Canadians.
On November 5,
the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee tabled its Fourteenth
Report. Reforming Health Protection and Promotion in
Canada: Time to Act focused on ways to improve Canada's ability to respond
to health emergencies arising from outbreaks of infectious diseases. This study
came about as a result of recent outbreaks of SARS, mad cow disease, West Nile
Virus and threats of biological terrorism in the United States.
and Oceans Committee, Human Rights Committee, Internal Economy, Budgets and
Administration Committee, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, National
Finance Committee, Official Languages Committee and the Scrutiny of Regulations
Committee also tabled reports on a variety of subjects.
approved the appointment of Jennifer Stoddart as
Privacy Commissioner for a seven-year term after convening in Committee of the
Whole on November 7 to question her about her appointment.
paid to Senator Leo Kolber who will retire from the
Senate on January 18, 2004.
New Senators Percy Downe, Paul
Massicotte, Madeleine Plamondon and Marilyn Trenholme Counsell were introduced on September
16 and Mac Harb, former Member of Parliament, on
On October 2 the
Senate paid tribute to the memory of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan on that
day and observed a minute of silence.
was paid on November 7 to Richard Logan, Senate Mace
Bearer since March of 1999, who announced his retirement.
House of Commons
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's recent announcement that he will step
down effective December 12, 2003 marked the end of his forty-years in the House
of Commons. While signs indicated he was intending to leave prior to his
announced date of February 2004, news of the transition date came only as the
outgoing Prime Minister met with Paul Martin in
Ottawa following the Liberal leadership convention in mid-November.
A number of bills made it through the Commons and the Senate in late October and early
November as rumours of a prorogation spread. On Thursday November 6th,
2003, a spokesperson from each party paid tribute to Mr. Chrétien.
Statements were made by Charles Caccia, the
longest serving Liberal Member, John Reynolds, House
Leader for the Official Opposition, Gilles Duceppe,
Leader of the Bloc Québécois, former Prime Minister Joe
Clark (PC) and Bill Blaikie, one of the longest
serving Members of the New Democratic Party. Mr. Chrétien responded to the
tributes with what would be his last speech in the House as Prime
Prior to proroguing the House of Commons on November 12th, the Prime Minister and his
Cabinet pushed several legislative initiatives through the House and the Senate
- Bill C-55, which grants the Supplementary Estimates (A) for
the period ending March 31, 2004,
- Bill C-25, the Public Service
- C-45, An Act to amend the Criminal
Code (criminal liability of organizations),
- C-48, An Act to amend the Income
Tax Act (natural resources),
- Bill C-6, An Act to establish the
Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims
to provide for the filing, negotiation and resolution of specific claims and to
make related amendments to other Acts, and
- Bill C-50, which related to benefits for veterans and the
children of deceased veterans.
A number of other bills died on the Order Paper and it remains
to be seen which of these the new Prime Minister will revive when Parliament
reconvenes in January 2004. These include Bill C-49, An Act respecting the effective date of the representation
order of 2003, which would move forward the date of the coming into force of
the new electoral map from August 25, 2004 to April 1, 2004. While the
bill passed the Commons on October 23, 2003, the Senate did not pass it before
the prorogration. It will need to be revived and enacted if Mr. Martin
wishes to call a spring election based on the new 308-seat electoral map.
Bill C-53, An Act to change the names of
certain electoral districts, was also passed by the Commons at all stages on
October 23rd, 2003, but was not taken up by the Senate.
The Prime Minister's ethics package, Bill C-34, An Act to amend
the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer) and
other Acts in consequence, was lost when the Senate passed the bill at 3rd
reading with an amendment that provides for Senate control over the
appointment of the Senate Ethics Officer. The amendment was referred back
to the House near the end of its final sitting day leaving no time for the
matter to be taken up prior to the close of business on November 7th.
Accordingly the bill died on the Order Paper at prorogation.
Other notable bills that died on the
Order Paper include the controversial Bill C-7, An Act respecting leadership selection, administration and
accountability of Indian bands, and to make related amendments to other
Acts, which languished at report stage following acrimonious passage through
Committee; Bill C-13, an Act respecting assisted human
reproduction, which was not taken up by the Senate following passage through
the Commons in late October and Bill C-38, the government's marijuana bill,
which did not progress past report stage in the Commons.
The furor sparked by the Government's decision last summer to refer draft legislation
legally recognizing the union of same-sex couples to the Supreme Court of Canada
landed back in the House of Commons Chamber when the Canadian Alliance forced a
vote on the issue early in the fall sitting by re-introducing the motion passed
by the House in 1999, confirming the definition of marriage as a union between
one man and one woman.
During debate on the motion an amendment was moved by the Canadian Alliance to delete a portion
of the text of the motion. When the question was put on the amendment
later in the day, the result of the vote was a tie (134 Yeas; 134 Nays). Speaker
Peter Milliken gave his casting vote in the negative
in order to allow the original question to be put to the House unaltered.
The main motion was defeated (132 Yeas; 137 Nays). In the history of
the House, the Speaker has used the casting vote on only nine other occasions
and these were all votes on a main motion. It is not known when the
Supreme Court will deliver its opinion on the matter nor how the new Prime
Minister and Cabinet intend to deal with the issue.
Discussion of the conduct of the former Privacy Commissioner continued to figure prominently
in both the Chamber and during hearings held by the Standing Committee on
Government Operations and Estimates. On November 4th, 2003, Derek Lee (Lib.) presented the Ninth Report of the
Committee entitled Matters Related to the Review of the
Office of the Privacy Commissioner and indicated that it dealt with a matter
of privilege. Later in the sitting Mr. Lee rose on a question of privilege
to state that the Committee had found George Radwanski
guilty of contempt and was seeking a decision on the matter by the House.
The following day Paul Szabo (Lib.) sought
unanimous consent to move a motion to find Mr. Radwanski in contempt of
Parliament. Consent was denied, but the Speaker indicated he would study
the matter. On November 9th, the Speaker ruled that the details set out in
the Ninth Report were sufficient to support a finding of a prima facie breach of the privileges of the House and
he invited Mr. Lee to move a motion regarding the contempt. Reg Alcock, the Chair of the Standing Committee, rose
on a point of order and read a letter from Mr. Radwanski in which he apologized
to the Committee and to Parliament for the mistakes that were made during his
tenure as Privacy Commissioner. Mr. Lee then stated that he would not move
the motion he had intended to put forward, however several other Members rose to
protest. Following negotiations, Mr. Lee later obtained consent to adopt a
motion stating that the House found Mr. Radwanski in contempt of the House and
acknowledge receipt of his letter of apology.
later, the Government Operations Committee tabled its 11th Report, recommending
the appointment of Jennifer Stoddart, of Quebec, as
Privacy Commissioner. The report followed a meeting at which Ms. Stoddart
had appeared as a witness and been subjected to intense questioning by Members
of the committee. The House subsequently approved the appointment of Ms.
Stoddart for a term of seven years on a motion by Don
Boudria, Government House Leader. This was followed by Senate
approval. The new Privacy Commissioner will commence her duties effective
December 1, 2003, replacing Robert Marleau, former
Clerk of the House of the Commons, who was named Interim Privacy Commissioner in
July, following the resignation of Mr. Radwanski.
Early in the
fall sitting, Mr. Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons,
Lib.) received unanimous consent to move concurrence in the Fourth Report of the
Special Committee on the Modernization of the Procedures of the House of
Commons, presented on Thursday, June 12, 2003 (Journals, 915; Debates,
7177). The motion was agreed to. The report dealt with a number of
items including the provision of connections to the parliamentary precinct
network for Members in the Chamber and the launch of a new live broadcast
(ParlVu) of Chamber and Committee proceedings via the Parliamentary website.
Other recommendations changed the Standing Orders
regarding speaking times during consideration at second and third reading of
government bills and during consideration of the Main Estimates in Committee of
the Whole, and the management of the adjournment debate. The Committee
also recommended that the Journals Branch be permitted to accept the electronic
filing of notice of motions and written questions, subject to the development of
verification protocols and that the rules and requirements for petitioning the
House of Commons be relaxed somewhat. The committee has also recommended
that a system be developed for receiving petitions electronically.
The Special Committee's Fifth Report, also tabled in June, recommended the approval, in
principle, of electronic voting in the Chamber. That report had not been
concurred in at the time of prorogation.
The Procedure and House Affairs Committee also tabled several important reports in the period
leading up to the close of the session. In its 50th Report, tabled and
concurred in on October 29th, 2003, the Committee recommended that the
provisional Standing Orders related to new
procedures for the conduct of Private Members' Business, adopted by the House on
March 17, 2003, remain in effect until the end of June 2004, or the dissolution
of 37th Parliament, whichever comes first. In its 51st and 52nd reports,
tabled in the House of Commons on October 30th, 2003 but not concurred in, the
Committee outlined and recommended the adoption of a “Code of Conduct” for
Members. Finally, the Committee's 53rd report, related to Standing Order
changes on delegated legislation was tabled and concurred in by the House on
November 6th, 2003.
Private Members' Business
Following the September 16th debate on the Canadian Alliance opposition day motion regarding
same-sex marriage, Grant Hill (CA) introduced a
Private Members' Bill C-447, An Act to protect the
institution of marriage, on September 18, 2003 and in a deviation from
practice, asked for unanimous consent to allow Stephen
Harper, the Leader of the Official Opposition to make a brief comment.
While his original request was denied, following negotiations, Mr. Hill
later obtained the consent of the House and Mr. Harper made a short statement
condemning the Government's position on same-sex marriage and speaking in favour
of Mr. Hill's bill. The bill was subsequently deemed non-votable by the
Private Members' Business sub-committee (the first to have been so designated
since the new rules came into effect) and, following debate at second reading in
late October, was dropped from the Order
Several items of Private Members' Business were adopted by the House this fall:
- Bill C-250 (Svend Robinson,
NDP), An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate
propaganda), which 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, following the defeat of a number of
amendments introduced by the Canadian Alliance, was adopted at report stage and
third reading on September 17th, 2003. The bill was not taken up by the
Senate prior to prorogation.
- On September 22, 2003, the House adopted Motion 395,
regarding cost of living indexing for the family supplement, put forward by Eleni Bakopanos, Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees
of the Whole (Lib.).
- Roy Cullen succeeded in having Bill C-212 passed in the Commons on
September 29th, however it was never taken up in the Senate. The bill
provides for the parliamentary scrutiny and approval of user fees set by federal
- In a rare move, on October 21st, Jacques Saada (Lib.,) obtained unanimous consent to
move that Richard Marceau's (BQ) Bill C-459, An Act to establish Holocaust Memorial Day, be deemed
read and passed at all stages following brief statements by a Member of each
party. The motion was agreed to and following statements by Mr. Marceau
and Members from all parties, the bill was adopted. The bill was also
passed by the Senate and received Royal Assent on November 7, 2003.
On September 15, 2003, the Speaker announced a vacancy in the riding of Ottawa Centre, following
the appointment of Mac Harb (Lib.) to the Senate on
September 8th, 2003.
The same day the Speaker welcomed Gilbert Barrette (Temiscamingue,
Lib.) and Christian Jobin (Lévis-et-Chutes-
de-la-Chaudière, Lib.) and invited them to take their seats in the Commons.
The two were elected during by-elections held in Quebec on June 16,
John Bryden, (Lib.) paid
tribute to the John Munro, (Lib.) who died on August
19th, 2003. Mr. Munro served as a Member of Parliament from 1962 to 1984
and was appointed to Cabinet in 1968 holding a number of portfolios, including
that of Indian and Northern Affairs.
On Wednesday, October 1st, 2003, Sarkis Assadourian (Lib.)
received unanimous consent to move a motion calling on the Government of Iran to
exhume and return to Canada the body of the late Zahra
Kazemi, the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died while in an Iranian
jail. Following statements by Mr. Assadourian, Stockwell Day (CA), Francine
Lalonde (BQ), Bill Casey (PC) and Svend Robinson (NDP), the motion was deemed
On Thursday, October 2nd, 2003, all parties rose to make statements and pay tribute to the
two Canadian soldiers killed during a patrol in Afghanistan.
Finally, prior to the end of the sitting, on Thursday, November 6, 2003, Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Veterans Affairs, made a
statement on Veteran's Week. Statements followed by Roy Bailey (CA), Claude
Bachand (BQ), Elsie Wayne (PC) and Bill Blaikie (NDP). Members then stood for a
moment of silence in honour of war veterans.
House Proceedings Directorate