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The Fifth Session of the First Legislative
Assembly convened in Iqaluit on February 21, 2001. The Fourth Session had
prorogued on November 3, 2000.
Several noteworthy events took place during
the period of extended adjournment. A by-election was held in the electoral
district of Quttiktuq on December 4, 2000. Rebekah Uqi Williams was
sworn in as MLA on January 30, 2001, following confirmation of the results by a
judicial recount held earlier in the month. The communities that comprise the
constituency are Arctic Bay, Resolute Bay, Nanisivik and Grise Fiord. Grise
Fiord is Canada’s most northerly inhabited community.
In November, the Standing Committee on
Government Operations and Services, chaired by Hunter Akat Tootoo, MLA
for Iqaluit Centre, held a public meeting with Nunavut’s Information and
Privacy Commissioner, Elaine Keenan Bengts. The Committee reviewed her
first annual report to the Assembly.
During the same month, the Standing
Committee on Culture, Education and Health, chaired by Jobie Nutarak,
MLA for Tunnuniq, met with the Languages Commissioner of Nuanvut, Eva Aariak.
Proceedings of these appearances have been broadcast in Nunavut on the
Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
The Fifth Session began with an Opening
Address delivered by Commissioner Peter T. Irniq. One of the
announcements in the Opening Address was the Government’s plan to initiate a
program review exercise over the coming year.
The Standing Committee on Government
Operations and Services tabled its review of the Information and Privacy
Commissioner’s annual report on February 23. The Committee has requested that
the Government provide a comprehensive response to the Committee’s
recommendations within 120 days.
The Standing Committee on Culture, Language
and Health tabled its review of the Languages Commissioner’s annual report on
February 26. One of the recommendations made was for the Legislative Assembly
to establish a Special Committee to review Nunavut’s Official Languages Act.
The Committee was established by unanimous motion on February 26. This is the
first Special Committee established by the Assembly. It has a two-year mandate
to review the statute. The Committee is comprised of four Regular MLAs and one
Minister, Peter Kattuk, MLA for Sanikiluaq. The Committee elected Rebekah
Uqi Williams as Chair and Donald Havioyak, MLA for Kugluktuk, as
On February 27, Kelvin Ng, MLA for
Cambridge Bay and Minister of Finance and Administration, delivered his budget
address for the fiscal year 2001-2002. The next month of proceedings were
dominated by Ministerial appearances before the Committee of the Whole to
defend departmental main and capital estimates.
On March 21, Minister of Indian and Northern
Affairs Robert Nault announced the appointment of Patricia Angnakak
of Iqaluit as the first Deputy Commissioner of Nunavut.
On March 26, the Auditor General of Canada
arrived in Iqaluit to sign the first audited financial statements for the
Government of Nunavut in a ceremony held at the Legislative Assembly. The
Public Accounts are expected to be tabled later in the Fifth Session. The
Public Accounts, along with the Auditor General’s Report to the Legislative
Assembly, will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Government Operations
To date, a total of five Bills have received
assent during the Fifth Session:
- Appropriation Act, 2001-2002
- Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 2, 2000-01
- Utility Rates Review Council Act
- An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (Time
- Nunavut Power Corporation Utility Assets
Transfer Confirmation Act
Sessional statistics to date for the Fifth
- 24 Sitting Days
- 64 Ministers’ Statements
- 175 Members’ Statements
- 212 Oral Questions
- 12 Written Questions
- 1 Reply to Opening Address
- 1 Reply to Budget Address
- 3 Petitions
- 21 Documents Tabled
- 2 Standing Committee reports tabled
The Fifth Session will reconvene on May 16,
2001, in Cambridge Bay.
On April 10, 2001, the Second Session of the
Thirty-seventh Legislature resumed with the presentation of the Budget Speech
by Greg Selinger, Minister of Finance. Highlights of the budget, as
outlined in a government news release included:
- schools and healthcare first;
- new investment in families and communities;
- renewed commitment to promote and build our hydro
- better management of natural resources and
- tax cuts we can afford, balanced budgets and strong
debt retirement measures; and
- improving transparency and accountability in
On April 11, 2001, a non-confidence motion
was moved by Stuart Murray, Leader of the Official Opposition. The
amendment was defeated on April 24, 2001 by a vote of Yeas 24, Nays 30. The
budget motion was adopted on the same day by a vote of Yeas 30, Nays 24.
With the debate on the budget concluded,
consideration of the expenditure estimates commenced on April 25. Manitoba's
Standing Orders allow for a maximum of 240 hours for consideration of the departmental
expenditure estimates. A $2.113 billion interim special warrant was issued
effective April 1, 2001 to allow the province to operate in the new fiscal year
until the conclusion of the financial process in the House.
Matter of Privilege
On April 10, 2001, Jack Penner (Emerson)
rose on a matter of privilege and moved "THAT on Tuesday next, the
ordinary business of the House be set aside to debate the socio-economic crisis
rural Manitoba communities are experiencing due to the ongoing impact of the
downturn in the grains, oilseeds and specialty crops sectors and the resultant
negative impact on rural businesses, industries and communities alike".
Speaker George Hickes took the matter
under advisement. By unanimous consent, the motion moved by Mr. Penner was
accepted as a motion of the House and was agreed to by the House. On April 11,
2001, Speaker Hickes delivered a ruling on the matter of privilege stating that
a prima facie question of privilege had not been established nor were
the collective privileges of the House or individual privileges of Members
breached. He further indicated in his ruling that "This ruling does not
affect the decision of the House to deal with agricultural issues next Tuesday."
On April 17, 2001, Rosanne Wowchuk,
Minister of Agriculture and Food, presented a Government Resolution in the
House regarding federal financial assistance for grains and oilseeds producers.
During debate on this resolution, Mr. Penner (Emerson) moved an amendment, and Jon
Gerrard moved a sub-amendment, both of which were agreed to unanimously by
the House. The main motion, as amended, was also agreed to unanimously by the
The resolution called for the Standing
Committee on Agriculture to hold such meetings at such times and places as it
deemed advisable to receive briefs and hear representations. A motion was moved
in the House increasing the membership of this Standing Committee from 11 to
14, in order to add one additional Government Member, one additional member
from the Official Opposition, and Mr. Gerrard, the Member for River Heights,
for the purposes of considering the agriculture resolution only. The Committee
travelled to Dauphin, Brandon, and Beausejour to hear public presentations. On
May 1, presentations were held in Winnipeg. A total of 76 presenters and 20
written submissions were heard and received throughout the course of the week
by the travelling committee. The Resolution called for the Standing Committee
on Agriculture to report and make recommendations to the Assembly in a timely
Standing Committee Activity
Standing Committee activity was quiet during
this quarter. On March 19, 2001, the Standing Committee on Public Utilities and
Natural Resources met to consider the March 31, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000
Annual Reports of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission. The March 31, 1997,
1998 and 1999 Annual Reports were passed by the Committee.
On March 12, 2001, Commonwealth Day was
observed in Manitoba. The host of this year's event was Speaker Hickes. Other
guest speakers were Jean Friesen, Deputy Premier of Manitoba and His
Excellency Datuk A.W. Omardin, High Commissioner of Malaysia. This
year's theme was "A New Generation." Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba,
Peter Liba, delivered the 2001 Commonwealth Day Message from Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II.
The year 2001 began with important changes
on the Quebec political scene. First, the Premier of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard,
decided to return to private life. His resignation became official on March 8,
2001. Two other members of his cabinet, Jacques Léonard, Minister
responsible for Administration and the Public Service and Chairman of Treasury
Board, and Jean-Pierre Jolivet, Minister of Regions, also retired on the
Bernard Landry, formerly Minister of State for the Economy and
Finance, became president of the Parti Québécois on March 3 and acceded to the
position of Premier on March 8. That same day he announced the makeup of his
cabinet, which, including the Premier, comprises 24 members, one of whom, Richard
Legendre, has yet to be elected. He also innovated by creating four
secretaries of state, whose role is to support certain ministers having
responsibility for strategic sectors of government activity.
Finally, on April 9 a by-election was held
in the electoral district of Mercier in order to fill a vacancy created there
by the resignation of the Minister of Relations with the Citizens and
Immigration, Robert Perreault, in October 2000. Nathalie Rochefort,
the candidate for the Liberal Party of Quebec, was declared elected. She
officially took her seat in the National Assembly on April 24.
Opening of the Second Session of the
On Thursday, March 22, Lise Thibault,
Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, opened the Second Session of the Thirty-Sixth
Legislature with an address, which was followed by the new Premier's opening
speech. The Premier stressed efforts to reduce and eliminate poverty and to
achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth among the regions of Quebec and
the various strata of Quebec society. He also declared his intention to develop
new policies regarding, in particular, water management and the clarification
of the apportionment of responsibility within the health system. He concluded
his speech by emphasizing the importance of Quebec sovereignty and of a new
partnership with Canada in order to take up the many challenges that Quebec now
faces within the context of globalization.
It should be noted that because the
parliamentary agenda is unusually heavy, the debate on the opening speech has
not yet been concluded. According to our rules of procedure, when the main
estimates are before the standing committees for their consideration, the
Assembly takes only the routine proceedings. The consideration of the estimates
having begun on April 24, the debate on the opening speech was immediately
suspended, and it will be resumed only after all business relating to supply
has been concluded.
On Thursday, March 29, only a week after the
opening of the new session, Pauline Marois read her first budget speech
as Minister of State for the Economy and Finance. Taking up a number of the
themes that had been broached in the opening speech of the session, she
announced, among other things, increased investments in the elimination of
poverty and in health, education, and job creation as well as further
reductions in taxes and the debt.
The debate on the budget speech concluded on
April 12, and the minister's motion that the Assembly approve the government's
budgetary policy was carried on April 24.
It was also on March 29 that Sylvain
Simard, the new Minister responsible for Administration and the Public
Service and Chairman of Treasury Board, tabled supplementary estimates number 2
for fiscal year 2000-2001 and the main estimates for fiscal year 2001-2002.
Since the Quebec government's fiscal year
begins on April 1, the Assembly was required to concur in both the
supplementary estimates for 2000-2001 and interim supply for 2001-2002 in the
space of only two days, by March 31; yet no ordinary sittings were scheduled on
the parliamentary calendar for March 30 or 31. The Premier therefore requested
an extraordinary sitting for Friday, March 30, to enable the Assembly to
dispatch all business relating to these urgent matters, including the passage
of the two supply bills. Thus convened for Friday, March 30, at 9.00 a.m., the
Assembly met until 3.10 on Saturday morning to resolve these matters.
Pursuant to our rules of procedure, the main
estimates were then referred to the various standing committees. The 200 hours
provided for the consideration of the main estimates began on April 24 and
concluded on May 15.
On February 22 the Assembly met for an
extraordinary sitting – it was to be the final sitting of the First Session of
the Thirty-Sixth Legislature – in order to pass Bill 186, An Act to provide
for the maintenance of pharmaceutical services in Quebec. The purpose of
this special bill was to forestall certain actions planned by the pharmacists
of Quebec during the course of their conflict with the government over the
remuneration of the services they provide in relation to prescription
medications. In particular, the bill prohibited pharmacists from collectively
opting out of the public drug-insurance plan, as they were legally permitted to
do before this bill was passed.
Because the proceedings of the Assembly
since the opening of the new session have been taken up almost exclusively by
business having precedence, it has considered only one bill – apart from the
two supply bills mentioned above – namely Bill 1, An Act to amend the
Election Act and other legislative provisions. Passed in a single day on
March 28, this bill amends a variety of provisions respecting, in particular,
the financing of political parties and independent candidates as well as the
oversight of election expenses.
Parliamentary Conference of the Americas
While the third Summit of the Americas, held
in Quebec city from April 20 to 22, was garnering headlines, parliamentarians
from Quebec and elsewhere in the Americas were also examining the question of
On April 11 the National Assembly
unanimously carried a motion moved jointly by the Premier, the Leader of the
Official Opposition, and the independent Member for Rivière-du-Loup that
affirmed the importance of maintaining open markets in the Americas while
emphasizing the need for both transparency in this area and the respect of our
constitutional jurisdiction, our social values, and our identity.
The National Assembly also hosted the
executive committee of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Americas,
which met on April 16 and 17, and the executive committee of the Parliamentary
Conference of the Americas (PCOA), which held an extraordinary meeting from
April 17 to 19. The proceedings of these two bodies resulted in a declaration
by the Network of Women Parliamentarians on the effects of the Free Trade Area
of the Americas on the lives of women and a declaration by the PCOA recalling
the importance of dialogue and transparency in the processes leading to
regional integration and affirming the key role that parliamentarians ought to
play, as elected representatives of the various populations, in developing
The PCOA also adopted an action plan for
reinforcing democracy through dialogue with the executive powers of the
Charles A. Bogue
Secretariat of the
Winter 2001 was characterized by a number of
events that slowed down the work of the committees despite careful planning and
an extensive list of business to cover.
First of all came the resignation of Premier
Bouchard, after which the government ordered the prorogation on March 9 of the
1st Session of the 36th Legislature. This interrupted all committee proceedings
until March 22. In addition, the mandates of the committee chairs and vice
chairs expired on March 5, when their two-year terms ended. Elections were held
on March 27, and the priority with the resumption of parliamentary proceedings
was the tabling of the budget and consideration of the estimates by the committees,
whose reports were tabled on May 15, 2001.
Despite these interruptions, some six real
weeks of business made it possible to complete several important matters.
Press concentration, in the form of two
broadcasters that may share as much as 97% of the market, was the subject of a
public consultation held by the Cultural Affairs Committee. This consultation
made it possible to hear from the 34 individuals and organizations who had
submitted briefs. The Committee, realizing what is at stake in a situation of
such concentration, is now proposing to make a recommendation to the government
setting out the terms of a suitable regulatory structure.
The Economy and Labour Committee concluded
its detailed study of Bill 136, An Act to amend the Forest Act and other
legislative provisions. The Bill proposes a major reform of the current
forest system. One hundred and thirteen briefs were submitted in the autumn of
2000 and were the subject of a general consultation. The second issue for this
Committee proved to have some rather unusual aspects, involving new legal
concepts. It was Bill 161, An Act to establish a legal framework for
information technology. The Bill, once adopted, will give the government a
reference framework for information transfers, legal security, technical
standards, and authentication and harmonization systems, both nationally and
An internal committee was set up by the
General Secretariat following passage in June 2000 of Bill 82, the Public
Administration Act. This committee was given a mandate to propose the way
parliamentary committees should operate to meet the accountability requirements
of deputy ministers and heads of public bodies set out in the new Act. The
committee will table its report in June, and the National Assembly Committee
will the be called upon to rule on the possible solutions proposed in the
Committee activities will be continuing in
the coming weeks, with priority given to a number of public consultations and
consideration of bills.
Following a period of committee activity
during the Winter adjournment, the 1st Session of the 37th
Parliament was prorogued by Proclamation on March 2, 2001, and April 19 was set
as the date for the commencement of the 2nd Session.
Shortly after the prorogation, Ontarians
were shocked to learn of the sudden and untimely death of Al Palladini,
a very well-known and flamboyant businessman whose easy manner and lust for
life endeared him to all in the Queen’s Park legislative community. Elected in
1995, he was immediately appointed to the Cabinet and had only shortly before
his death resigned his executive post to devote more time to personal and
business matters. As of this writing, a by-election in his riding of
Vaughan-King-Aurora had not been announced.
The April 19 Speech from the Throne was
novel in its approach. Delivered by Lieutenant Governor Hilary M. Weston,
it was entitled "21 Steps Into the 21st Century" and set out
generally the government's plans in 21 distinct areas. The Speech also
specified upcoming dates in the near future, leading to the provincial Budget
on May 9, when more detailed announcements on each of the 21 points would be
Of interest to the institution of the
Legislative Assembly itself was the 21st step, which stated:
"The 21st century demands that
Ontario's democratic processes be modern and responsive. The 21st step of the
plan is support for parliamentary reform, particularly changes that enhance the
role and responsibilities of MPPs.
- The government will propose that more issues,
particularly those requiring in-depth examination and considered
recommendations, be referred to legislative committees.
- The government continues to view only votes on the
budget and identified confidence questions as matters of confidence, and
encourages other parties to do the same.
- It wants to restore the importance of the process by which
MPPs hold the government accountable through review and approval of its
spending estimates. To this end, the government will not view the reduction or
rejection of any line item in a ministry's estimates as a matter of
- It will propose that the Standing Committee on the
Legislative Assembly explore other parliamentary reforms that would enhance
the role of private members and expand the use of technology."
this writing, the Committee has not yet received terms of reference for
inquiring into and making recommendations to the House on these
Following the Speech from the Throne, the House welcomed its
newest Member, Norm Miller (PC), who won a by-election
in the riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka on February 22, 2001. The seat had become
vacant due to the resignation of Ernie Eves, who
had accepted a position in the private sector after a 20-year career in the
Ontario Legislature, including serving as Deputy Premier and Minister of
Finance. Mr. Miller was subsequently given the honour of moving the Address in
reply to the Speech from the Throne, his first act as a legislator. He is the
son of the late Frank Miller, whose own 16-year
legislative career was capped when he became Premier of Ontario in
last Legislative Report, the matter of the decision by the House to hold back
publication of a part of the December 4, 2000 Hansard transcript due to the
inadvertent naming of young offenders, was recounted. The House subsequently
passed a motion authorizing the release of the relevant portions of the
transcript (and of the video tape recording) to police authorities who requested
the material for their investigations, but the general publication prohibition
the Winter adjournment of the House, an Ontario Provincial Police investigation
into the matter was completed. The report found that the release of the
information was inadvertent and that there was "no basis for laying charges". As
a result, the Member who had released the names, Doug Galt
(PC/Northumberland), was reinstated to his position as Parliamentary
Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Rob Sampson (PC/Mississauga Centre), the Minister of
Correctional Services at the time the error was made, and who had also resigned
this position in December, was likewise reinstated to the Cabinet.
reconvening, the House concluded this matter by authorizing the publication of
the affected portion of Hansard and the release of the affected portion of the
House videotape, subject to the requirement that "the name or names of any young
offenders in such remarks be first expunged in all versions by suitable methods
as determined by the Clerk of the House."
strikes of school support workers (secretaries, caretakers and lunch-room
supervisors, among others) in Windsor and Toronto, the House was forced to turn
its attention to back-to-work legislation shortly after re-convening in April.
Because schools had been closed and pupils were missing classes, the government
introduced a bill to send both labour disputes to binding arbitration. The NDP
caucus was opposed to the Bill and, employing (as far as can be determined) a
never-before-used, arcane procedural tool in the Standing Orders, their House
Leader, Peter Kormos (ND/Niagara Centre) accomplished
what appeared to be a mandatory delay of the 2nd reading stage of the Bill from
the Wednesday on which it was introduced until the following Tuesday. However,
in an unlikely turn the Government House Leader, Janet
Ecker (PC/Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge), received the unanimous consent of the
House to move a motion calling for the return of the House the next day, a
Friday, for a special meeting during which the House would complete both 2nd and 3rd reading stages
of the Bill. This motion itself, in a further unlikely turn, immediately passed
without need for a recorded vote.
motion stipulated, therefore, the House had an unusual special sitting on what
would otherwise not be a meeting day and in a marathon 10 hour, 20 minute
non-stop session on April 27 it passed the Bill.
alluded to earlier, the provincial Budget was presented by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (PC/Whitby-Ajax) on May 9. The element of it
that has provoked the greatest debate is a decision by the government to offer a
tax credit against tuition paid by parents who send their children to
independent (private or denominational) schools. The credit will begin at $700
per year and rise by like amounts over the next 5 years to a maximum credit of
$3,500. The budget estimated the measure will ultimately cost the treasury $300
million per year when fully implemented. Critics of the proposal allege it will
undermine the public education system in Ontario, that it will most benefit
those who are relatively well-off financially, and that it will divert funds
that are needed in the public schools. The government and supporters of the
proposal counter that it will encourage the equitable treatment of all students,
and that it complies with a declaration of the United Nations Human Rights
Commission which criticized Ontario for publicly funding a separate catholic
school system, but not other religion-based schools.
addition to the previously mentioned back-to-work bill, the House also passed
another piece of legislation in the current session. The Good Samaritan Act, a private Member's Bill sponsored by
Steve Gilchrist (PC/Scarborough East) protects health
care professionals and others from liability when they assist a person who is
ill, injured or unconscious as a result of an accident or other emergency,
except if they cause damages through gross negligence. The Bill came into force
on the day it received Royal Assent, April 27, 2001.
Clerk of Journals
opening session of the 37th Parliament has been
characterized by contentious issues and acrimonious exchanges. Despite the
difficult circumstances, the performance of Speaker Peter
Milliken, has been praised for his fairness, efficiency, and procedural
in the new session, motions were adopted to amend Standing Order 104(2)
regarding membership of standing committees. The Standing Committee on
Natural Resources and Government Operations was divided between the Standing
Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and the Standing
Committee on Transport. This action resulted in two new committees:
the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development, and
Natural Resources; and the Standing Committee on Transport and Government
Operations. The Standing Committee on Industry was also amended to become
the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology.
special debates took place since the opening of the session: a debate on
parliamentary reform, a take note debate on the Summit of the Americas, an
emergency debate on foot-and-mouth disease, and a debate to take note of the
state of Canada’s resource industries. The debate on Canada’s resource
industries took place in Committee of the Whole. Since this was the first
time the House had considered this type of debate, the Chairman of the Committee
opened the debate with a few remarks as to how the debate would be
interesting procedural points included the Government agreeing to support
an opposition supply day motion for a national sex offender registry. The
vote saw 255 MPs endorse the motion in a rare display of unanimity. Later
in the session, on March 29th, the Opposition
united to support a Bloc Québecois motion that the house do now adjourn,
effectively closing House business for the day. Opposition MPs caught the
Government Whip without enough Members in the House to maintain control of the
Chamber. The Opposition characterized the motion as a protest move citing
the government’s refusal to answer questions surrounding the Auberge Grand-Mère
affair. The motion carried by 98 to 95 votes despite a concerted effort to
round up government MPs from buildings, taxis, and the airport. This was
one of the rare occasions where the Opposition has won a vote. Contrary to
the custom where both Whips approach the Table to indicate to the Chair that the
House is ready for the vote, the Whip for the Official Opposition proceeded to
the Table without the Government Whip.
Roger Gallaway (Sarnia—Lambton, Lib.) raised a question of privilege
concerning the termination of two legislative counsel of the House, some time
after their testimonies before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs in the previous Parliament. The Member argued that the witnesses had
sought, and had received, the assurance of the Committee that there would be no
reprisals for their testifying, and that their termination was a direct
consequence of their testimony and therefore constituted a prima facie case of privilege. His argument raised
the question of the “immunity of committee witnesses”, which, if threatened,
could result in the reluctance of witnesses to appear before committee. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, CA) raised concerns about
the need to increase resources of the House, especially with regard to
legislative services. For his part, Peter MacKay
(Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC) noted the apparent lack of a forum to
address the issues of certain House employees, and suggested that the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs consider the whole matter. After
the interventions of other Members, the Speaker stated that he would take the
matter under advisement and report back to the House in due course. The
following week, the Speaker delivered a ruling declaring that at the time
counsel appeared before the Committee, a staff relations dispute between the
legislative counsel and management had been longstanding and continuing.
He subsequently concluded that there was not a prima
facie case of privilege. As for the request of Mr. Strahl concerning
the need for increased resources for the Office of the Law Clerk and
Parliamentary Counsel, the Speaker drew the attention of Members to the ruling
given on October 23, 1997 by former Speaker Parent in which he stated that
“...similar questions...should be brought to the attention of the Board of
Internal Economy and should not be raised on the floor of the House as a point
of order nor as a question of privilege”. In closing, the Speaker
cautioned Members to be wary of situations where they are asked to step into the
role of ad hoc arbiters on individual cases involving
André Bachand (Richmond–Arthabaska, PC) rose on a point of order with
respect to a motion regarding the selection of report stage amendments by the
Speaker (amendments to Standing Order 76(5) and Standing Order 76.1(5) adopted
on Tuesday, February 27, 2001), specifically to part of the motion which states:
“—in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by
the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom”. The
Member argued that this new rule from the United Kingdom, which only exists in
English, contravened not only his privileges and those of all francophone
Members of the House, but also the Official Languages
Act. Mr. Bachand asked that the Chair suspend the execution of this
measure until his rights and those of other francophone Members are protected
and respected. After interventions by other Members, Speaker Milliken
declared that he would consider the opinions expressed and that he would return
to the House later with a ruling. The Speaker pointed out that the role of
the Speaker is to preside over the business of the House and to rule on
procedural matters. He continued with a detailed history of Standing Order
1, which deals with unprovided cases in which the Speaker could refer to
practices in other jurisdictions outside Canada, so far as they are applicable
to the House. He added that in such circumstances, the availability of
documents in either of the official languages was not a consideration. He
also stated that he was currently studying the application of these notes to
Standing Orders 76(5) and 76.1(5), and that he would return to the House with a
statement on how this note would be interpreted. Meanwhile, he could not
grant the request made by the Member to suspend the implementation of the
amendments in question because they were now part of the Standing Orders and
only the House, not the Speaker, has the authority to change them. Later
in the session, the Speaker issued interpretation guidelines, in both official
Following the introduction of Bill C-15 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other
Acts) by the Minister of Justice, Vic Toews
(Provencher—CA) raised a question of privilege concerning the disclosure of
information regarding Bill C-15 in a briefing to the media prior to its
introduction in the House. Members and their staff were denied access to
this briefing. The Member argued that in so doing, the Minister and her
Department were in contempt of Parliament, as they had brought the authority and
dignity of the House into question. Following the interventions of other
Members, the Speaker stated that he would take the matter under advisement and
assured the House that he would return with a ruling. The Speaker upheld
the question of privilege as a prima facie case, and
the matter was referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs. He further stated that the Chair cannot condone information
concerning legislation being first released to the media, and highlighted that
no effective “embargo” took place. He added that once a bill had been
placed on notice, the convention of the confidentiality of bills on the Notice Paper was necessary, not only so that Members
themselves would be well informed, but also because of the pre-eminent role
which the House plays and must play in the legislative affairs of the nation.
In his view, it was clear that information concerning legislation,
although denied to Members, was given to members of the media without any
effective measures to secure the rights of the House. The Speaker ruled that
this constituted a prima facie contempt of the House
and invited the Member for Provencher to move a motion. Subsequently, Mr.
Toews moved that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure
and House Affairs. The Minister appeared before the Committee on April
26th, 2001. Other witnesses are scheduled to
appear in May.
organization meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs,
Mr. Strahl (Fraser Valley, CA) moved a motion that the committee prepare and
report to the House a standing order change to accompany the report establishing
the list of committee members pursuant to Standing Order 104(1). He
proposed that Standing Order 106(2) be replaced with one providing for the
election of a Chair by secret ballot. After debate, the motion was
negatived on recorded division. Similar motions were brought forward in
other committees, with the same results. The Committee also discussed a
change to the parliamentary calendar to allow for a two-week break in March,
with an early return in January to compensate. The recommendation was
forwarded to the new Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of
the Procedures of the House of Commons for its consideration. Following
discussion, the Special Committee decided to return the question to the Standing
Committee for a decision.
Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons) announced
the Special Committee on March 21st. The
Committee will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Bob Kilger
and will consist of the House Leaders of each officially recognized party.
The Committee agreed not to meet unless every party is represented, and
not to adopt any report without the unanimous agreement of all Committee
members. The announcement was followed later that day by a special debate
on parliamentary reform in which 44 MPs took part in a non-partisan atmosphere.
Much of the debate centred on ways to improve relevant participation by
the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Chair
of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology faced appeals to
their decisions regarding certain witnesses related to the Grand-Mère affair.
In the first case, the Chair stated that the Committee did not have the
mandate or the power to summon a Member to appear as a witness. In the
second case, motions to summon certain witnesses were declared out of order for
the following two reasons: the Committee did not have the mandate to
examine questions related to the Conflict of Interest Code and therefore could
not summon witnesses related to that issue; and moreover, a parliamentary
committee does not have the power to examine the conduct of Members on its own
initiative. Following debate, the rulings were sustained on recorded
March 27th, the Standing Joint Committee on
Official Languages met to study the issue of the broadcasting of the House of
Commons’ debates in both official languages. Currently, the House of
Commons provides an audio signal in French, English, and floor sound, while the
actual broadcasts are disseminated by CPAC in cooperation with private cable
companies. In light of recent complaints to the Official Languages
Commissioner and a pending lawsuit, the committee is studying the issue.
The current contract expires in August. Both Speaker Milliken, and
the Clerk of the House, William Corbett, appeared
before the Committee.
Opposition MPs united in a four-party press conference to
criticize Bill C-2 (An Act to amend the Employment
Insurance Act and the Employment Insurance (Fishing) Regulations). Time
allocation was used at both second reading, report, and third reading stages.
The bill is currently in the Senate awaiting Royal Assent. Opponents
of the bill maintain that the government is retreating from its 1996 reforms,
while others maintain that the proposed amendments are not significant enough.
The Act is based on Bill C-44 (an Act to amend the
Employment Insurance Act) which died on the Order
Paper with the dissolution of the 36th
government introduced Bill S-23 (An Act to amend the
Customs Act and to make related amendments to other Acts) in the Senate on
March 22nd, exercising its option to introduce
bills first in the upper chamber. The bill deals with outgoing
international mail and allows customs officers to open, inspect, and copy mail
contents if illegal activity is suspected. This new power would mark a
significant change from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency’s traditional mandate
to ensure incoming mail complies with Canada’s tax, trade, and border
C-11 (an Act respecting immigration to Canada and the
granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted, or in
danger) has been referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration where it is expected to be reported with significant amendments.
The Committee travelled cross country between April 30th and May 4th to
hear witnesses in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal.
Private Members’ Business
Stéphane Bergeron (Verchère—Les Patriotes, BQ) an MP of Acadian descent,
introduced a motion asking for a Royal apology for the injustices caused to the
Acadian people during the Deportation period. The president of la Société nationale de l’Acadie, Euclide Chiasson, demanded the motion be repealed,
stating that any request for an apology to the Acadians should come from the
Acadian people. The motion was made votable and two hours of debate remain
on the Order Paper.
Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC) has introduced a bill in
the House that would create a code of conduct for MPs and establish clear cut
rules surrounding ethics. Currently, the lack of rules leaves numerous
situations open to interpretation.
Liberal MP’s Private Member’s Bill calling for mandatory labelling of
genetically-modified foods has been awarded votable status. Charles Caccia’s (Davenport, Lib.) initiative, Bill C-287
(an Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act), would
require companies to label genetically modified food, as well as track food
through all stages of production.
Winnipeg MP has received support from all parties in the House for her motion to
institute warning labels on alcohol products regarding the danger of using
alcohol during pregnancy. Judy Wasylycia-Leis
(Winnipeg North Centre, NDP), was heartened by the victory since the House
rejected warning labels in a previous Parliament. The motion was adopted
on April 23rd, 2001.
Parliamentarians paid tribute to the memory of Gildas Molgat, Senator from 1970 to 2001 and Speaker of
the Senate from 1994 to 2001, and to David Iftody,
former Member of the House of Commons (1993 to 2000). In the case of Mr.
Molgat, the Speaker asked the House to rise for a moment of silence. The
House will also see the departure of Preston Manning
sometime between now and the end of the year. He will retire from the
political scene by resigning his Calgary Southwest seat. He plans to
continue working outside of politics, in a business or research setting.
Many colleagues praised his contributions as a parliamentarian.
February 22nd, a special joint session of the
Senate and the House of Commons welcomed Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair is the first British prime
minister to visit Canada since 1988. His address was warmly received, and
a traditional reception followed in the Speaker’s office.
Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Intergovernmental
Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion the minister
responsible for official languages. Mr. Dion’s task is to reaffirm the
government’s commitment to bilingualism and the Official
Languages Act. Currently, programs are found throughout the federal
government and Mr. Dion will coordinate this issue for the ministries involved.
end of April, the Canadian Alliance made several changes to its caucus officers
following the resignations of Deborah Grey, Chuck Strahl, and Grant
McNally. Grant Hill became Deputy leader, John Reynolds was made House leader, and Cheryl Gallant Deputy House leader. Dick Harris was promoted to Whip, and Randy White was elected Caucus Chair. Mr. Harris
was subsequently appointed to the Board of Internal Economy in place of Mr.
Table Research Branch
Proceedings and Parliamentary Exchanges Directorate
result of a legal strike by the province's hospital workers, the Third Session
of the 54th Legislature, which had been adjourned
to March 27, 2001, reconvened earlier than expected for a special sitting to
consider back-to-work legislation. The House reconvened Saturday, March 3, 2001,
and sat three consecutive days before passing Bill 30, An
Act to Ensure the Continuation of Certain Public Services in the Public
Service. The Bill received Royal Assent after representatives of the
government and hospital workers reached a tentative agreement allowing the
workers to return to work.
March 20, Leader of the Opposition and former Premier Camille Thériault (Lib., Kent South) announced his
resignation. First elected in 1987, Mr. Thériault served as Minister of
Fisheries and Aquaculture, Minister of Advanced Education and Labour, and
Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Following the resignation of then
Premier Frank McKenna, Mr. Thériault was sworn in as
the 29th Premier of New Brunswick on May 14, 1998.
A by-election was immediately called for April 23, 2001, to fill the vacancy
left by Mr. Thériault's resignation.
March 21 Bernard Richard (Shediac - Cap-Pelé) became
Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick and Leader of the
Committees of the Legislature remained active throughout the period of
adjournment of the House. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts held
meetings throughout February and reviewed the expenditures of several government
departments for the fiscal period covering 1999 – 2000.
Standing Committee on Law Amendments held public hearings at the Legislative
Assembly on March 22 with respect to the issues raised by the proposed Privacy Act, Bill 23, which would make invasion of
privacy a tort for which a person may commence legal action. Representatives for
community newspapers, other media outlets, private investigation firms, and
medical and legal associations appeared before the Committee.
March 27, 2001, the Third Session reopened with the presentation of the budget
as the day's only order of business. Finance Minister, Norm Betts (PC, Southwest Miramichi) introduced his
second budget, which contained expenditures of approximately $5 billion.
- a record investment in health care;
- a record investment in education;
- personal income tax reductions totalling $34
- corporate income tax reductions totalling $14.3
- second consecutive budgetary surplus of $34.8
- projected two-year reduction in net debt of $67.9 million;
- a new fiscal stabilization fund of $100
criticizing the budget, Opposition Finance Critic Marcelle
Mersereau (Lib., Bathurst) stated that it "falls short of boosting the
economy" and that it contains "no plan and certainly no vision" for the future.
She criticised the budget for lacking substance and noted that it failed to
address the real problems faced by the province.
the spring sitting, a number of noteworthy pieces of legislation were
- Bill 42, An Act to Amend the
Legislative Assembly Act, limits the level of increase of the indemnity
payable to each Member to 1% commencing January 1, 2001, and a further 0.5%
commencing July 1, 2001, which approximates the level of increase given to
civil servants in the province.
- Bill 44, Fiscal Stabilization Fund
Act, establishes a fund to assist in stabilizing the financial position of
the province and to improve long term fiscal planning.
- Bill 54, An Act to Amend the
Executive Council Act, is similar to Bill 42 in that it limits the level
of increase of the salary payable to Ministers to 1% commencing January 1,
2001 and a further 0.5% commencing July 1, 2001.
1, the Select Committee on Health Care presented a Report entitled Working Together for Wellness: A Wellness Strategy for New
Brunswick, focusing on five clear priorities. The all-party Committee Report
addressed the challenge of how government and society can better promote
wellness, prevent illness, and address the factors that influence wellness, to
help New Brunswickers stay healthy longer.
Committee identified five priorities for action: healthy lifestyles, children
and youth, seniors, communities, and workplace wellness.
Committee heard over ninety oral presentations during eight days of public
hearings on wellness held throughout the province last fall, and received over
forty written briefs.
Report recommended the establishment of a wellness mechanism within government,
to work with other departments and stakeholders, provide wellness expertise and
information, communicate research findings, release an annual wellness report,
and work to foster a community approach to improving wellness.
Committee also recommended that government departments develop a healthy public
policy, and review existing policies that impact on the wellness of New
Brunswickers or their ability to improve their own health.
addition, the Report recommended establishing a deputy ministers committee to
oversee implementation of the strategy.
May, Speaker Bev Harrison presided over the Twelfth
Annual Student Legislative Seminar. Fifty-five students from around the province
attended various workshops and lectures focusing on the judicial, executive and
legislative branches of government. Guest speakers included Judge Alfred Brien, chief judge of the Provincial Court; Madeleine Dubé (PC MLA, Edmundston); Justice Minister Brad Green (PC, Fredericton South); and Premier Bernard Lord (PC, Moncton East). The weekend event
culminated with the students participating in a model Parliament within the
Legislative Assembly's historic chamber.
14, as a result of the Video Lottery Scheme Referendum
Act, the province held its first referendum in more than three decades on
the future of video lottery terminals in the province. Video lottery terminals
are currently permitted in licensed establishments only. The referendum was held
during the municipal elections and posed the question: "Should the Province of
New Brunswick continue to permit the legal and regulated operation of video
gaming devices (commonly known as video lottery terminals or VLTs)?" In a close
vote, the majority of New Brunswickers voted to permit the continued operation
of these devices in the province.
result of the April 23 by-election, the Progressive Conservatives increased
their majority in the House when Claude Williams was
elected to fill the Kent South vacancy. This brings the official standings in
the New Brunswick Legislature as of April 24, 2001, to Progressive
Conservatives, 47; Liberals, 7; NDP, 1; for a total of 55 seats.
Committee Clerk -
Third Session of the Fourteenth Legislative Assembly reconvened on February 14,
2001. Joe Handley, Minister of Finance, gave notice
that the budget address for the fiscal year 2001-2002 would be presented on
Thursday, February 15, 2001.
Budget Address, Mr. Handley highlighted some of the aspects of the tremendous
economic potential in the Northwest Territories. These include incredible
opportunities in the oil and gas sector, diamond mining and manufacturing,
hydro-electricity and tourism.
also highlighted some of the key initiatives for the year, including initiative
to match northerners with jobs that utilize their training and skills and
ensuring that our children get every opportunity to lead fulfilling and
productive lives. The government will continue to work with aboriginal
governments, the federal government and with industry to ensure the future
prosperity of the Northwest Territories and will focus on the need to create
business and employment opportunities for Northerners, while being mindful of
the need to protect the environment.
Northwest Territories is in a position that is unique in Canada, and perhaps the
world," said Mr. Handley. "We are beginning to experience significant new
economic development opportunities while continuing to enjoy clean water, air
and land, and abundant wildlife and fish.
budget there was a continued emphasis on maximizing northern employment and
ensuring that the jobs that are going to arise in the next few years in the
developing industries in the NWT, can be filled with qualified, educated
government will continue to focus on literacy as a priority for Northerners.
There is a need to emphasize the importance of literacy and to ensure that all
Northerners with literacy needs have access to programs and services that
strengthen their skills.
Assembly has identified Early Childhood Development as a priority. They have
responded to this challenge and are prepared to implement an Early Childhood
Development Action Plan.
government intends to focus on these key initiatives and continue to invest in
education, health care and Income Support. There will also be significant
contributions to upgrading highways throughout the Northwest Territories over
the next four years.
this sitting, five Bills received Royal Assent. These include:
- Bill 14, An Act to Amend the Student
Financial Assistance Act
- Bill17, An Act to Amend the
Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act
- Bill 19, Appropriation Act;
- Bill 20, Supplementary Appropriation
Act, No. 2
- Bill 21, An Act to Amend the Labour
the previous sitting, Bill 13, Hotel Room Tax Act,
received Second Reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Governance
and Economic Development. The Standing Committee met on several occasions to
discuss and review the background research material and legal issues. The
committee also conducted public hearings on Bill 13 in Inuvik, Hay River, and
Yellowknife. The Committee reported back to the House that a majority of the
Committee Members came to a position that they could not support the
implementation of the Hotel Room Tax Act.
Subsequently, the Bill was not reported back to the Assembly and ultimately died
on the Order Paper when the Session was prorogued.
Legislative Assembly also struck two Special Committees during the previous
sitting, before the House was recessed on November 16th.
the February/March Session, Terms of Reference for the Special Committee to
Review the Official Languages Act and the Special Committee on the
Implementation of Self-Government and the Sunset Clause were adopted.
Joe Handley, Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development
announced that the GNWT had finalized the Non-Renewable Resource Development
Strategy. The Strategy was developed at the encouragement of federal Finance
Minister Paul Martin. It is the only comprehensive
plan of action for non-renewable resource development that identifies all the
issues that need to be addressed, irrespective of which government is
Minister Handley, along with Ethel
Blondin-Andrew, Secretary of State for Children and Youth and Member of
Parliament for the Western Arctic, met with Mr. Martin in early March. Mr.
Handley reported to the House that the meeting was very positive and very
productive. Mr. Martin stated that, after reviewing the GNWT's Non-Renewable
Resource Development Strategy, he is prepared to support the initiatives it
includes when they are brought forward through federal departments. He also
recognized the GNWT's commitment to move ahead on infrastructure developments
and has agreed to increase the borrowing limit to allow the government to
proceed with the proposed Highway Strategy. Mr. Martin said that he is prepared
to meet again and to continue discussions on these issues.
Jane Groenewegen, Minister of Health and Social Services reiterated the
government's commitment to developing a social agenda. She indicated that work
on the initiative is underway. The purpose of the Social Agenda is to address
how the NWT can collectively improve social conditions and the quality of life
for all Northerners. The Agenda will outline the broad direction that the
government is taking with respect to addressing social conditions, affirm the
partnerships necessary to address social conditions and identify concrete
actions that the government, communities and non-government agencies can jointly
work toward. An initial conference that will bring together front line workers
will be held on the Hay River Reserve from June 18 to 20, 2001.
March 7th, David Krutko, Member for the Mackenzie
Delta, introduced Motion 19-14(3): "Support for the Protection of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge." The Motion resolved:
the Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories proclaim
their opposition to oil and gas exploration and development activity being
carried out in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its Coastal Plain and
further that the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Premier of
the Northwest Territories, communicate this resolution to the Right Honourable
Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada and
furthermore that the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada, through the
office of the Minister of the Environment, be encouraged to continue to
vigorously oppose any threat to the shared natural resources of northern Alaska,
the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories.
Motion was carried on a recorded vote by a ten to zero margin, with all Cabinet
Ministers present abstaining from the vote.
Third Session was prorogued on March 7, 2001. The Fourth Session of the
Fourteenth Legislative Assembly is scheduled to convene on June 5,
and Communications Advisor
election fever in the air, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia convened
on the morning of March 14, 2001 for the prorogation of the fourth session of
the Thirty-Sixth Parliament. The fifth session opened that afternoon with the
Speech from the Throne read by Lieutenant Governor Garde
B. Gardom. The Speech identified the government's fiscal and legislative
priorities as balancing the budget, increasing funding for health care and
education, promoting a family-friendly social agenda, building a modern economy,
protecting the environment and ensuring public safety.
fifth session turned out to be a memorable one. For the first time in the
history of the Legislative Assembly, the official opposition used a different
strategy in debating and scrutinizing legislation. During the Budget Debate on
March 19, 2001, the opposition leader, Gordon Campbell
(Vancouver-Point Grey), announced that his party would designate only one
speaker at second reading to address the principle of each government bill, in
order to hasten the election call.
result, in the space of just four weeks, 23 government bills were introduced and
passed. One other bill was intentionally left on the order paper – Genetically Engineered Food Labelling Act (Bill No. 18) –
to enable an advisory panel to make recommendations on the requirements and
standards for the packaging and labelling of genetically engineered foods sold
in British Columbia.
government bills passed by the House during the fifth session
- Bill (No. 7) - Environment and
Sustainability Statutes Amendment Act, 2001, establishes the position of
commissioner for environment and sustainability, who will work in the Office
of the Auditor General and report to the Legislature.
- Bill (No. 10) - Protection of Public
Participation Act, makes it more difficult for people to launch strategic
lawsuits against public participation.
- Bill (No. 11) - Sex Offender Registry
Act, establishes a provincial registry of known sex offenders for police
- Bill (No. 15) - Protected Areas of
British Columbia Amendment Act, 2001, establishes new ecological reserves
and provincial parks.
- Bill (No. 17) - Human Rights Code
Amendment Act, 2001, extends pay equity to the private sector.
- Bill (No. 20) - Drinking Water
Protection Act, creates a planning framework to ensure safe drinking water
throughout the province.
- Bill (No. 21) - Abortion Services
Statutes Amendment Act, 2001, provides new safeguards for users and
providers of abortion services.
Another noteworthy event was the successful passage of the Medical Practitioners Amendment Act, 2001(Bill M202) –
the first private member's bill to be enacted for over 15 years. A NDP
backbencher, Steve Orcherton (Victoria Hillside)
sponsored the bill to enable doctors to use alternative and complementary
therapies in their treatment of patients.
the fifth session, the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts tabled eight
reports, including one on the governance and risk management of the
controversial fast ferry project. As well, the Special Committee on Information
Privacy in the Private Sector presented its recommendations, along with the
findings of an Ispos-Reid opinion survey it commissioned. The report of the
Speaker's Advisory Panel on Murals in the Parliament Buildings was also tabled
in the House. This report was prompted by complaints from the First Nations
Summit Task Group about the depiction of Aboriginal people in four murals in the
main rotunda, which were painted in 1935 by George
Southwell. Since its release, the advisory panel's report has generated
considerable media attention.
House adjourned on April 11, 2001. One week later the Thirty-Sixth Parliament
was dissolved and the election writ issued for May 16, 2001. During the 28-day
campaign, 456 candidates competed in 79 ridings, including four new electoral
districts created in the high-growth areas of the lower mainland. A televised
leaders' debate took place on April 30, 2001, with four parties represented (BC
Liberal Party, Green Party, the New Democratic Party, Unity Party). As the
format precluded direct exchanges between the participants, the tone was more
subdued than the leadership debates in the previous two election campaigns of
1991 and 1996.
unofficial election results (with standings at dissolution in brackets) are: BC
Liberal Party - 76 (32); New Democratic Party of BC - 3 (39); Independents - 0
(4). The Liberals won 58 percent of the popular vote, with the remainder being
split between the New Democrats (22 percent), Greens (12 percent) and Others (8
percent). The Liberal caucus now includes 46 newly elected members. Two of the
three NDP incumbents who survived the Liberal landslide were cabinet ministers
representing ridings in east Vancouver. The outcome of the election marks the
end of almost ten years of NDP rule, during which four Premiers have held the
reins of power.
Premier-elect Gordon Campbell has
already set a precedent for other Canadian jurisdictions, by announcing May 17,
2005 as the date for the next provincial election, barring unforeseen
circumstances. As other parliamentary reforms are promised when the new House
convenes, legislative staff anticipate a busy workload in the next four
Office of the Clerk of Committees
Members of the Saskatchewan Assembly elected a new Speaker on
March 20, 2001. The election had been necessary with the resignation of Ron Osika prior to his appointment to cabinet. Two
Members let their names stand, Lindy Kasperski (Regina
Sherwood) and Myron Kowalsky (Prince Albert Carlton).
Once the ballots were counted, Mr. Kowalsky was declared the province's 22nd Speaker. The following day, Mr. Kasperski was
acclaimed Deputy Speaker. Graham Addley (Saskatoon
Sutherland) was appointed Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole on March
two months later, MLAs were asked to participate in a second election for Deputy
Speaker after Mr. Kasperski submitted his resignation for personal reasons on
May 7th. The Rules of the
Saskatchewan Assembly gave MLAs until five o'clock that day to put their
names forward for consideration. Mr. Addley and Ron
Harper (Regina Northeast) contested the secret ballot election on May 8th. Mr. Addley proved successful while Mr. Harper was
subsequently appointed to Mr. Addley's former position as Deputy Chair of
Committees. Mr. Addley was almost immediately able to test his abilities when he
was called upon to chair Oral Question Period the following day.
Opening of New Session
opening of the 2nd Session began with the
traditional Speech from the Throne by Lieutenant Governor Lynda Haverstock. The speech outlined the government's
agenda of connecting to the future by identifying three priorities: a thriving
economy; healthy citizens, families and communities; and responsive and
effective government. Finance Minister Eric Cline's
2001 Budget Address on March 30th echoed the theme of “Connecting to the Future”
and focused on investments in education, transportation and
been the custom in Saskatchewan to prorogue the previous session on the morning
of the opening of a new session. However this year, three additional items of
business were addressed. These began with the election of a new Speaker,
described earlier. Next, two bills were presented, passed through all stages and
granted Royal Assent. The bills permitted the newly elected members in two
recent by-elections to take their seats in the Assembly prior to the return of
the writs. One of these new MLAs was Premier Lorne
Calvert, who had been elected the day before.
resumption of the sitting of the Assembly provided MLAs with a venue in which to
raise the province's agricultural concerns. On March 21st, leave was granted for the Minister of Agriculture
and Deputy Premier, Clay Serby to introduce an
emergency motion calling upon the federal government to immediately provide $1
billion to Canadian farm families. The motion was seconded by the Opposition
agriculture critic, Bill Boyd, who nevertheless chose
to move an amendment. The amendment addressed the roles of the provincial and
federal government and then called upon the Assembly to briefly adjourn to allow
MLAs to travel to Ottawa to deliver the motion in person to the federal
government. The amendment was defeated along party lines but the main motion was
second emergency debate took place on May 10th and
was motivated by the situation in North Battleford where many residents became
ill after drinking contaminated water. The motion was moved by the Leader of the
Official Opposition, Elwin Hermanson, and seconded by
the Premier. It called for the federal government to work in consultation with
the provincial governments to develop and fund a National Water Quality
Infrastructure Program and that this initiative be added to the agenda of the
Western Premiers' Conference, the annual Premiers' Conference and the next First
Ministers' Meeting. Several MLAs participated in the debate before the motion
was unanimously adopted.
Andrew Thomson (Regina South) achieved the honour of sponsoring the first
Private Members' Public Bill to receive Royal Assent in the 24th Legislature. The Holocaust
Memorial Day Act came into force on April 18, 2001, shortly before Yom
haShoah was observed on April 22, 2001. The Act declares Holocaust Memorial Day
throughout Saskatchewan to mark the atrocities and victims of the Holocaust and
to honour those who fought to defeat the Nazis.
Beginning May 14th, the
proceedings of the Assembly became available for viewing on the Internet through
the Assembly' website. Television viewers in a number of centers within the
province are also able to watch rebroadcasts of the previous day's sitting on
the Saskatchewan Legislative Channel, prior to the start of proceedings. These
initiatives are the latest efforts to expand the distribution and availability
of the Assembly's broadcasting signals to as wide an audience as
questions of privilege have been raised for the Speaker to consider during the
current session. The first question of privilege was raised on March 23rd by the Opposition House Leader, Dan D'Autremont. At issue were remarks made by the
Minister of Northern Affairs, Keith Goulet, in which
it was argued the Minister was in contempt of the Assembly for falsely alleging
that there were financial and other connections between Official Opposition
Members and the First Nations Party of Saskatchewan and for comparing these
connections to illegal election financing activities by the Progressive
Conservative Party in Manitoba.
ruling, Speaker Kowalsky found that a prima facie case
of privilege had not been made. The statements by the Minister, while possibly
offensive to some, dealt primarily with political party organizations and did
not impede the abilities of any MLA from carrying out their duties in the
Assembly. Nevertheless, the Speaker did find the remarks out of order in that
they indirectly questioned the integrity or motives of other MLAs. Mr. Goulet
was then called upon to withdraw the offending words and the matter was
second question of privilege was raised on May 1st concerning an allegation made
by Jack Hillson to a newspaper, that a senior official
of the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (a provincially-owned crown
corporation) had offered him a trip in return for not criticizing certain CIC
investments while he was a Minister. In making his case that the allegation
constituted a breach of privilege, Mr. D'Autremont pointed to Rule 102 which
states that “the offer of any money or other advantage to any Member of the
Assembly for the promotion of any matter whatsoever pending or to be transacted
in the Legislature, is a high crime and misdemeanor, and tends to be a
subversion of the Constitution”.
Hillson responded to the question both in a letter to the Speaker and in a
statement to the House. He verified the accuracy of the newspaper article but
indicated that he would not have characterized the exchange as “bribery”, nor
would he regard it as a breach of privilege or a contempt. In light of these
statements, the Speaker concluded that Mr. Hillson had not felt he had been
impeded in the performance of his duties. Nor did the Speaker find that the
allegations had impeded the parliamentary duties of any other MLA, collectively
or individually. Accordingly, a prima facie case of
privilege had not been established.
Speaker Kowalsky concluded his ruling by noting that he
shared the concern of the Opposition House Leader that this was a serious matter
as it diminished the respect accorded to the Assembly and to all MLAs. He then
suggested that there were other avenues to address the matter, including
referring it to a committee for investigation. This was the route taken in a
comparable situation involving bribery allegations in 1916. The Opposition
followed this advice by introducing a Private Members' motion the following
week. The motion was debated but adjourned without coming to a vote.
annual ceremony awarding the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal had special
significance this year for the 16 recipients. Not only did their awards come
during the International Year of the Volunteer but they were bestowed upon them
in the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The ceremony in the
Chamber also included the investiture of Prince Charles
as the first honourary member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. An
amendment to The Provincial Emblems and Honours Act
providing for honourary membership in the order for non-residents of the
province had been passed in anticipation of the Prince's visit to the
Prince Charles also opened the new barrier-free entrance to
the Legislature named in his honour and took part in a dedication ceremony
marking the end of the four-year Legislative Building Rehabilitation Project.
Prince Charles visited the province from April 26th until 28th and took
in a variety of sites and events in Regina, Moose Jaw, Assiniboia and
the first time in almost 25 years, a private individual was invited to appear
before a Committee of the Whole. Commissioner Ken
Fyke, accompanied by two staff persons, appeared before a Committee of the
Whole on April 19th to answer questions from MLAs
on the Final Report of the Commission on Medicare. The Assembly chose this
approach in order to allow all MLAs an opportunity to participate while also
permitting the proceedings to be broadcast on the Saskatchewan Legislative
new Standing Committee on Health Care has been proposed. The terms of reference
for this committee have not been established at the time of writing.
number of existing Standing Committees have resumed their meetings. The Private
Members' Bills Committee considered six private bills petitions and recommended
their passage to the Assembly. The Public Accounts Committee has returned to its
regular business with a newly elected Vice-chair, Ron
Harper. The Crown Corporations Committee also elected a new Vice-chair, Kevin Yates, before continuing its review of the annual
reports of the provincial crown corporations. Mr. Addley presided over the
deliberations of the Estimates Committee- a committee which meets each session
to review the estimates of all House Officers. The Special Committee to Prevent
the Abuse and Exploitation of Children through the Sex Trade has continued its
deliberations on its final report. A report date in June is anticipated.
Finally, the Special Committee on Rules and Procedures has continued to visit
other jurisdictions in preparation of recommending a restructuring of the
existing committee structure. An interim report is planned for later this
Margaret A. Woods
Fifth Session of the 24th Legislature commenced
and ended on February 12, 2001. The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Lois Hole, read the Speech that afternoon which focused
on the visions for the future of Alberta's economy, agriculture, energy,
healthcare, education and communities. Upon returning to the Chamber after
escorting the Lieutenant Governor to her office, Premier Ralph Klein announced that he had sought the dissolution
of the 24th Legislature and that a provincial
general election would be held on March 12, 2001. At the dissolution, the
standings in the Assembly were: 64 - Progressive Conservatives 15 - Liberals 2 -
New Democrats 1 - Independent and 1 - vacant seat. Following the March 12th
election the standings in the Legislative Assembly are: 74 - Progressive
Conservatives, 7 - Liberals, 2 - New Democrats.
Progressive Conservative party won 61 per cent of the popular vote and gained 10
seats in the Legislative Assembly. The election marked the ninth consecutive
victory for the Progressive Conservative Party and its third under Premier
leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, Nancy MacBeth,
was defeated in the riding of Edmonton McClung by Progressive Conservative
candidate Mark Norris. Mrs. MacBeth resigned as party
leader on March 15th. The interim party leader, and Leader of the Official
Opposition in the Assembly, is Dr. Ken Nicol, MLA
Lethbridge-West. Dr. Nicol was first elected in the provincial general election
Premier Klein announced the Cabinet on March 15, 2001. Six
new Ministerial Portfolios were created in the areas of Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development, Revenue, Seniors, Solicitor General, Sustainable Resource
Development and Transportation. The number of cabinet members increased from 20
to 24, including the Premier. Two Associate Minister positions were
Returning Cabinet Members with different portfolios include:
Pearl Calahasen is Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development; Mike Cardinal is Minister of
Sustainable Resource Development; Halvar Johnson is
Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations; Ty Lund is Minister of Infrastructure; Shirley McClellan is Deputy Premier and Minister of
Agriculture, Food and Rural Development; Patricia
Nelson is Minister of Finance; Murray Smith is
Minister of Energy; Ed Stelmach, is Minister of
Transportation; Lorne Taylor is Minister of
Environment; Stan Woloshyn is Minister of Seniors;
and Gene Zwozdesky is Minister of Community
Development and Deputy House Leader.
Ministers maintaining their previous portfolios include: Clint Dunford, Minister of Human Resources and
Employment; Iris Evans, Minister of Children's
Services; Gary Mar, Minister of Health and Welfare;
Dr. Lyle Oberg, Minister of Learning; and David Hancock as the Minister of Justice and Attorney
General, Government House Leader.
Ministers are: Ron Stevens, Minister of Gaming and
Deputy House Leader; Guy Boutilier, Minister of
Municipal Affairs; Victor Doerksen, Minister of
Innovation and Science; David Coutts, Minister of
Government Services, Heather Forsyth, Solicitor
General; and Greg Melchin, Minister of Revenue. Mark Norris is the only “rookie” MLA appointed to the
Cabinet. He is the Minister of Economic Development.
First Session of the 25th
April 9, 2001, the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta met to elect
presiding officers for the 25th Legislature. Ken Kowalski
is, once again, Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly having served as
Speaker since 1997. Mr. Kowalski is now the longest serving Member of the
Assembly having first been elected for what is now the constituency of
Barrhead-Westlock in a 1979 by-election. Donald
Tannas, (P.C. Highwood) is Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. Mr.
Tannas has held this position since 1993. He was first elected in 1989. Shiraz Shariff, (P.C. Calgary-McCall) is Deputy Chair of
Committees. Mr. Shariff was first elected in a 1995 by-election. Alberta elects
its presiding officers by secret ballot but this time only one candidate was
nominated for each of the three offices.
April 10, 2001, the Lieutenant Governor delivered the post-election Speech from
the Throne. Similar to the one delivered in February, the Speech highlighted
visions for Alberta's future. It laid out the government's agenda for the
economy, agriculture, environment, health, education and for a strong and safe
community. The Speech also outlined a number of initiatives including increased
funding to school boards for improved student learning, a mentoring program to
provide guidance to youth leaving child welfare, and a “Future Summit” hosted by
the Alberta Economic Development Authority along with the departments of
Economic Development, Finance, Revenue and Community Development.
April 10th, the House Leaders of all three
parties reached an agreement concerning changes as to how the Assembly conducts
its business. Part of this agreement addressed changes to the Standing Orders of
the Legislative Assembly. Among the changes to the Standing Orders agreed to by
the House Leaders are: making the “Recognitions” item a permanent feature of the
Daily Routine for Mondays and Wednesdays whereby up to seven Members may speak
for one minute each, an increase in the number of “Members' Statements” on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4, and the inclusion of the singing of O Canada
on the first sitting day of each week. These changes came into effect on April
23, 2001 when approved by the Assembly. House Leaders also agreed to certain
changes to the procedure for considering supply estimates. The result is the
estimates are considered over 15 sitting days.
After the House Leaders were unable to agree on the rotation
of questions asked daily during Question Period, Speaker Kowalski addressed the
issue in an April 11th statement given prior to the first Question Period of the
session. He confirmed that the Official Opposition would continue to be entitled
to ask the first three main questions, as has been the practice since 1993. The
New Democrats will continue to be permitted to ask the fourth question each day,
with a private member from the government caucus entitled to the fifth question.
Questions would then alternate between the Official Opposition and the
government caucus. The New Democrats are entitled to the eleventh question.
Government members get the fourteenth and subsequent questions, time permitting.
Speaker Kowalski also noted that the practice of permitting a main question,
preceded by a short preamble, followed by two supplementary questions, without a
preamble, will continue in the 25th Legislature.
1, Natural Gas Price Protection Act, was introduced
by Premier Klein. This Bill sets out a legislative framework to ensure that
consumers are shielded from drastic increases in natural gas prices. Bill 9, Victims of Crime Amendment Act, 2001, was introduced by
the Solicitor General, Heather Forsyth. This Bill
will strengthen the programs for victims of crime as well as simplify the appeal
process, aiming to secure greater equity in financial restitution decisions.
Bill 11, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2001,
was introduced by Clint Dunford, Minister of Human
Resources and Employment. This Bill will give legislative force to the parental
leave increases established by Regulation earlier this year. The legislation
will provide mothers, fathers and adoptive parents with up to 37 weeks of
protected parental leave in addition to 15 weeks of maternity leave for birth
mothers. The parental leave can be taken by either mothers or fathers and this
leave is available to parents of children born or adopted on or after December
April 24, 2001, Patricia Nelson, Minister of Finance,
presented the Budget speech and the estimates for the 2001-02 fiscal year. Her
speech placed emphasis on the repayment of the provincial debt nine years ahead
of schedule, as well as assuring Albertans of the lowest overall tax regime in
Canada. The Budget increases the base budget for the Department of Health and
Wellness by 13.5 per cent for 2001-02. It is projected to increase by 28.1 per
cent by 2003-04. Funding for the Department of Learning (elementary, secondary
and post-secondary education) increases by 7.7 per cent in this fiscal year and
by 19.1 per cent over the next three years. By 2003-04, Health and Wellness and
Learning are projected to account for 62 per cent of total government spending.
The Budget also secures an additional $100 million to be assigned to Alberta's
children over the next three years.
Speaker Kowalski hosted a ceremony recognizing the Muslim
Festival of Eid-ul-Adha in the Rotunda of the Alberta Legislature Building on
Thursday March 15, 2001. Eid-ul-Adha means the Festival of Sacrifice which is
celebrated by all Muslims worldwide.
Robert H. Reynolds
Contrary to normal expectations in a new Parliament, the
Senate has been quite busy from the outset with much time devoted to dealing
with legislation that had not been completed when the general election was
called in October 2000. Thirty-five bills have been introduced in the Senate
including 9 Senate Government bills, 10 Commons Government bills, 15 Senate
Public bills and 1 Senate Private bill. One bill that generated considerable
debate over several sittings was Bill S-4, an Act to
harmonize federal law with the civil law of the Province of Quebec and to amend
certain Acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account
the common law and the civil law. While the content of the bill was not
controversial and was readily supported, the inclusion of a preamble with a
reference to Quebec society resulted in intense debate at third reading. Three
amendments were proposed, one of which was adopted on division. The two other
amendments were defeated with votes crossing party lines. In the end, however,
the final vote on the bill at third reading was 55 to 0 with six senators
Thursday, March 29 the Speaker informed the Senate that the Royal Assent
Ceremony would take place at the end of the afternoon. Two supply bills were
scheduled for Royal Assent: one on supplementary estimates for the year
2000-2001 and the other, an interim supply bill for the year 2001-2002. However,
when the Usher of the Black Rod went to summon the Members of the House of
Commons, she returned with a message that the Commons had adjourned early. This
had come about because of an insufficient quorum. Since it was the end of the
fiscal year and without these bills, the government would not have funds, the
Senate accepted the proposal of Leader of the Government to convene on Friday in
order to hold the Royal Assent ceremony.
last issue of the Canadian Parliamentary Review
printed the Speaker's Ruling on February 21 regarding the designation of the
Leader of the Opposition. Subsequent to this ruling, at the request of Senator
Gerry St. Germain (British Columbia), the Senate
asked its Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders to examine the Rules of the Senate to see how procedures might be
changed to take into account the reality of a third party in the
Speaker made two other rulings. As it happened, both were on March 28. The
ruling dealt with two issues: who can present a report of a committee and who
can move a motion for third reading. The previous week, Senator Jack Wiebe (Saskatchewan), a member of the Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce, had presented, on behalf of the Chair of that
committee, a report dealing with Bill S-16, an Act to
amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering Act). Since the bill was
reported without amendment, the report stood adopted automatically. Then,
Senator Fernand Robichaud (New Brunswick), Deputy
Leader of the Government, moved that the motion for third reading be placed on
the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting. Senator Noël Kinsella (New Brunswick), Deputy Leader of the
Opposition, raised a point of order questioning whether the bill had been
properly reported and whether Senator Robichaud had acted correctly in moving
the motion to set the date for third reading. The Speaker took this matter under
Regarding the first issue, Speaker Dan Hays (Alberta) pointed out that Rule 97(1) provides
that a report from a select committee shall be presented by the chair of the
committee or by a Senator designated by the chair. He provided two examples, one
on February 24, 1998 and another on December 8, 1999 when a Senator other than
the chair presented a report. During a Speaker's ruling on this latter
situation, then Speaker Gildas Molgat (Manitoba), had
noted that, as Speaker, he had no authority to question whether the senator
presenting the report had been designated and that he must depend upon the
committee chair to have done so. Speaker Hays concluded that the report had been
Regarding the second issue, the Speaker pointed out that
under Rule 97(4) when a committee reports a bill without amendment, it is
adopted automatically, and the Senator in charge of the bill shall move that it
be read a third time on a future day. He noted that the Rules do not provide a
clear definition of “Senator in charge of the bill”. Referring to various
examples in the Second Session of the 36th
Parliament, he found that Senate practice would suggest that, at least for
Government legislation, the Leader of the Government, the Deputy Leader of the
Government, the sponsor of the bill or the designate can move the motion to set
the date for third reading. Thus, the Speaker ruled that the motion moved by
Senator Robichaud was in order and properly moved.
second Speaker's ruling dealt with a question of privilege raised by Senator Pat Carney (British Columbia) on March 27 related to an
incident that had occurred on March 15. She argued that her privileges were
breached when her request to extend her remarks beyond the 15 minutes allowed by
the Rules was denied. She explained that the denial of leave was inequitably
applied to her in that other senators had been allowed to extend their remarks,
while her request for leave had been denied. Senator Sharon Carstairs (Manitoba), Leader of the Government,
argued that Senator Carney had not raised this matter at the earliest possible
opportunity as there had been three full sitting days since the incident.
Senator Carney replied that she had been unable to attend because of health
problems. The Speaker took the matter under advisement.
making his ruling, the Speaker began by referring to Rule 43 which states that
questions of privilege must meet certain tests. He ruled that this matter was
not raised at the earliest possible opportunity, adding that the Rules do not
include an exemption for any reasons, medical or otherwise. He also stated that
this matter did not directly concern the privileges of Senator Carney. While
freedom of speech is an unquestioned privilege, another privilege is that of the
Senate to regulate its own proceedings. Freedom of speech is not necessarily
freedom to speak. He concluded by referring to another test in Rule 43 that asks
if a question raised as a matter of privilege could possibly be remedied by
another parliamentary process. He suggested that Senator Carney might raise with
the Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders, the question of time
limits on speeches, leave to extend remarks as well as medical exemptions to
raising question of privilege.
Committees have often been described as the heart and soul
of the Senate. Their role, activities, number and composition, however, have
recently been the focus of considerable debate and study. For the first time,
the Selection Committee included the names of independent senators when it
presented its report on the membership of various standing committees. The
Senate also agreed to create two new committees, one on defence and security,
including veterans affairs, and the other on human rights. In addition, the
Senate instructed the Committee on Privileges, Standing Rules and Orders to
undertake an extensive examination of the structure of committees. This study
which is to be completed by October 31, 2001 will consider available human
resources, the schedule of committees, the mandate of each committee, the total
number of committees, and the number of senators on each committee.
Committees have spent the first few months of this new
Parliament getting their work underway: obtaining new orders of reference,
drawing up work plans and submitting budgets. Some committees that were in the
midst of substantial special studies when the election was called, received
permission from the Senate to transfer the evidence taken previously in order to
complete these studies. The Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
which is conducting an extensive health care study released on March 28 its
report on phase one entitled The Story So Far.
Hearings on phase two which deals with future trends, their causes and impact on
health care costs and phase three which deals with models and practices in other
countries are expected to be finished by June. During the final phases,
committee members will produce an options paper, hold hearings on these options
and draft a final report, all to be completed by March 2002.
Other committees completing studies include the Fisheries
Committee that is working on its survey on aquaculture and on inland and
northern fisheries. The Aboriginal Affairs Committee has re-established a
subcommittee to complete its investigation on opportunities for improving
co-management practices and economic development expansion, including tourism
and employment, associated with national parks in Northern Canada. The Foreign
Affairs Committee is carrying over two investigative studies: the first one
being a two-year analysis of the evolving European Union. The second inquiry
will survey emerging political, social, economic and security developments in
Russia and the Ukraine as well as Canada's policy and interests in this region.
It will report by the end of March 2002.
Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee has been tackling a number
of issues including nuclear safety and Bill S-15, the Tobacco Youth Protection Act, left over from the last
Parliament as well as the new issue of water policy. This latter project will
include such topics as the federal mandate with respect to water, management of
drinking water, bulk exports and the treatment of water as a commodity. It also
includes review of Bill S-18 An Act to amend the Food and
Drugs Act (clean drinking water) introduced by Senator Jerahmiel Grafstein (Ontario). The National Finance
Committee is also going back to its earlier report on Canada's emergency and
disaster preparedness to see what recommendations have been
new survey of international trade in agriculture and agri-food products, and
short-term and long-term measures for the health of the Canadian agricultural
and agri-food industry is being conducted by the Agriculture and Forestry
Detailed examination of legislation has been the main
activity for three committees. The Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee has
studied three bills, including Bill S-11 An Act to amend
the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Canada Cooperatives Act which
it reported with 17 amendments. The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
has reported back two bills, one with an amendment and is currently studying two
other bills. The Transport and Communications Committee has also reported back
two bills, one with three amendments and is currently studying one bill. The
Banking Committee is also undertaking a special investigation of the present
state of the domestic and international financial system.
Finally, the Senate has re-established the Special Committee
on Illegal Drugs with a membership of five senators. Mandated to review Canada's
anti-drug legislation and policies on cannibis, it is scheduled to report in
March 13 three new Senators were sworn in: Yves Morin
(Quebec), Elizabeth M. Hubley (Prince Edward Island)
and Jim Tunney (Ontario). Senator Hubley is a former
member of the PEI Legislature and former Deputy Speaker. Senator Eric Bernston (Saskatchewan) and Senator Thérèse Lavoie-Roux (Quebec) resigned.
former Speaker, the Honourable Gildas Molgat died
suddenly of a massive stroke on February 28. Senator Molgat who was summoned to
the Senate in 1970, had a distinguished political career with almost 50 years of
public service in the Manitoba Legislature as well as the Senate.
There have been several significant developments in the Nova
Scotia House of Assembly during 2000 and the first part of 2001.
Russell MacLellan, the Leader of the Liberal Party
and Robert Chisholm, the Leader of the New Democratic
Party have stepped down as party leaders. Mr. Chisholm remains as a member of
the House, but Mr. MacLellan resigned his seat effective June 30, 2000. Wayne Gaudet, MLA for Clare and a Deputy Speaker, became
interim leader of the Liberal Party pending a leadership convention.
However the New Democratic Party has held a leadership convention that
chose Helen MacDonald, a former member of the Nova
Scotia House of Assembly who, until the 1999 general election, sat for Cape
Breton the Lakes, as leader. Meanwhile, John
MacDonell, MLA for Hants East, was chosen by the NDP caucus to lead the New
Democrats in the House.
result of being chosen interim leader of the Liberal Party, one of our deputy
speakers, Mr. Gaudet resigned as a deputy speaker and has been succeeded as a
deputy speaker by David Wilson, MLA for Cape Breton
members of the House were deeply saddened by the death of Eileen O'Connell, MLA for Halifax Fairview after a long
and courageous battle with breast cancer.
March 6, 2001, by-elections were held to fill the vacancies created by the
resignation of Russell MacLellan and the death of Eileen O’Connell. The Leader
of the New Democratic Party was one of the candidates in the by-election in Cape
Breton North. Although the results of the by-elections had no effect on
the majority held by the Government, they did result in a change in status of
the two opposition parties. After the 1999 General Election and up until
the by-elections, both the opposition Liberals and New Democrats had the same
number of members, namely, ten each.
The new Speaker elected after the General Election, Murray Scott, ruled that because both these parties had
an equal number of members, there would not be an official opposition party,
Accordingly, special arrangements as to precedence in debates and other matters
had to be made in view of this unique situation. However, the by-elections
resulted in the election of the Progressive Conservative candidate, Cecil Clarke, in Cape Breton North and the NDP
candidate, Graham Steele, in Halifax Fairview thus
giving the NDP one more seat than the Liberals. Accordingly, the NDP is
now the Official Opposition, with John MacDonell continuing to lead that party
in the House as the Leader of the Official Opposition. However, on April 24,
2001, the Leader of the New Democratic Party ressigned as its leader.
centre piece of the 2000 Spring sitting was the budget, although twenty bills
were also passed at that sitting, including a bill reorganizing the health care
authorities. There were also some Private and Local Bills. Although
Private and Local Bills are important to the people who seek them, a Private or
Local Bill very rarely attracts the attention of the media. However, a Bill that
would have changed the composition of the Board of Governors of Acadia
University was hotly contested by several interest groups which resulted in the
Private and Local Bills Committee holding long hearings with a lot of media
attention. In the end, the Bill remained in committee and did not
is customary, the 2000 fall sitting was devoted completely to legislation.
Twenty bills, two of which were large omnibus bills dealing with justice
matters, were passed. Notable among these were a bill that provides for
the adoption of a Code of Conduct for members of the
Executive Council, a bill that reorganizes the dairy industry, a bill dealing
with income assistance and a bill providing for the sale of Sydney Steel. There
was long, and very lively debate on the income assistance and Sydney Steel
Early in 2001, the first Cabinet shuffle of the present
government took place. This saw the resignation from Cabinet of John Chataway, for health reasons, with David Morse, MLA for Kings South, joining the Cabinet as
Minister of Environment and Labour Mr. Chataway has now fully recovered to
health and continues to sit as a private member for the electoral district of
March 22, 2001, a new Session of the House of Assembly was convened by the
Lieutenant Governor with a Throne Speech and a new Budget.
April of 2000, the term of office of the Honourable J.J.
Kinley as Lieutenant Governor expired; he has been succeeded by the
Honourable Myra Freeman. The term of the Nova Scotia
Ombudsman, Douglas Ruck, ended in December, 2000.
In his place Mayann Francis, Executive Director
of the Human Rights Commission, has been appointed Interim Ombudsman and will
continue as Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission.
During the last year our members were saddened by the
passing of our Sergeant-at-Arms, Douglas Giles. As a
result of the loss of Mr. Giles, an all-party committee was formed to recommend
the appointment of a new Sergeant at Arms, and it was the unanimous
recommendation of that committee that Noel Knockwood
be appointed as Sergeant-at-Arms, and he was unanimously elected to that
position by the House on March 27, 2000. A member of the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq
community, Mr. Knockwood has been a strong voice for his people and has had a
distinguished military career, having been recognized with the United Nations
Medal for his services in Korea. He has served the community in many ways,
including serving as an addiction counsellor.
Arthur G. H. Fordham, Q.C.
Nova Scotia House of