| British Columbia
| Northwest Territories
| Prince Edward Island
| House of Commons
On October 18, 2001, Premier Gary Doer announced
that the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Legislature would open with the Speech
from the Throne on November 13, 2001. The Premier also indicated that the
government would be introducing legislation pertaining to security. Manitoba’s
provisional rules state that the House can sit for a minimum of 12 days in any
one of the months of September, October, November or December but the 12 days
cannot commence after December 1st. The rules further state that the
House shall be adjourned at the end of the first full week in December.
All-Party Task Force on
In the aftermath of the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Manitoba is taking
steps to increase security throughout the province. An All-Party Task Force on
Security Issues has been struck by Premier Doer. The Task Force allows
representatives from the government and opposition parties the opportunity to
be up-to-date on security procedures and to provide input into Manitoba’s
overall security issues. The members of the Task Force are: Gord Mackintosh,
Minister of Justice; Steve Ashton, Minister Responsible for the Manitoba
Emergency Management Organization; Stuart Murray, Leader of the Official
Opposition; Jon Gerrard, Leader of the Liberal Party; Jean Friesen,
Deputy Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Scott Smith,
Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
The security for the
Legislative Building is also being re-evaluated. Minister Ashton has indicated
that the government is looking at options such as x-ray machines and metal
New Critic Responsibilities
On September 27, 2001, Mr.
Murray, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, announced new critic
responsibilities for his caucus. Under the previous administration, the
Departments of Rural Development and Urban Affairs were two separate entities.
The new Department of Intergovernmental Affairs combines these two departments
into one. The most significant change made by Mr. Murray was the breaking down
of this department into two separate categories and assigning the
responsibility of Urban Affairs to Bonnie Mitchelson (River East) and
Rural Development to Larry Maguire (Arthur-Virden). Mervin Tweed
(Turtle Mountain) was appointed Deputy Leader.
Restoration of the
Portions of the restoration
work on the Legislative Building are nearing completion. The renovations to the
central tower should be completed by mid-November. The refurbishing of the
Golden Boy will be delayed until September 2002 due to corrosion found on the
Former Members’ Association
Manitoba is in the process of
establishing an Association of Former Members of the Legislative Assembly. On
September 25, 2001, an Annual General Meeting was held and the following former
Members were elected as Members of the Executive Committee: Al Mackling
(Chair), Avis Gray (Vice- Chair), Len Evans (Treasurer), Clif
Evans (Secretary) and John Angus (Member-at-Large). The executive
has been given the task of defining the role and the mandate of the
organization, in addition to drafting by-laws.
Attachment from the
Northern Province of South Africa
Manitoba is scheduled to host
two Members from the Northern Province of South Africa for an attachment from
October 29th to November 2nd. Papati Robert Malavi, Speaker of the
Legislature of the Northern Province and Raulisa Ezekiel Katama, Acting
Secretary/Acting Clerk of the Legislature of the Northern Province will be
meeting with representatives of the Government and Opposition Caucuses as well
as staff from the various Assembly offices during their stay in Winnipeg.
Prince Edward Island
During the Second Session of the 61st General Assembly, a total of 59 Acts
received Royal Assent. Most notable during the Spring sitting were:
of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (No. 2) (Bill #47), which formalizes the way information
is handled within the public service and ensures that both access and privacy
rights are adhered to when government handles personal information.
Agricultural Crop Rotation
Act (Bill #48), which
promotes the responsible management of the land by legislative crop rotation
practices or by allowing farmers to set out management plans on crop rotation
Chester Gillan, MLA for Parkdale-Belvedere was appointed Minister of
Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment November 14, 2000. He was first
elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1996, and was subsequently re-elected in
April 2000. Mr. Gillan replaced Kevin MacAdam who resigned October
19 to seek a seat in the House of Commons.
Following the November 27 federal
election, Mr. MacAdam ran as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the
February 26, 2001, Provincial By-election in District 2 (Morell-Fortune Bay).
He was successful and was welcomed back to the Legislature March 29th.
The Second Session of the 61st General Assembly was prorogued on May
15, 2001, after 39 sitting days.
A number of Standing
Committees continued to meet during the intersession. The Standing
Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development was authorized to meet
between the Second and Third Sessions to review the draft franchise
legislation. The Standing Committee Agriculture, Forestry & Environment was
directed by the Legislative Assembly to complete a full examination on the
potato wart crisis. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts met to review the
annual Report of the Auditor General and took the unusual step of calling Patricia
J. Mella, Provincial Treasurer, and Michael F. Currie, Minister of
Development and Technology, before it to answer questions arising from the Report.
All three Standing Committees will report the during the Third Session.
The Third Session of the 61st General Assembly will convene on
November 15, 2001, at 3:00 pm, with the reading of the Speech from the Throne
by Lieutenant Governor J. Léonce Bernard.
A change at the Table will
occur as Marian Johnston assumes the Assistant Clerk & Clerk of
Committees position, replacing Jill Walsh.
Clerk of Committees
House of Commons
Parliament reconvened on September 17, 2001, with several
pressing issues at hand and agreement on the need for a debate on terrorism
issues. A Special Order Paper was published giving notice of a
government motion related to the terrorist attack in the United States on
September 11, 2001. The House observed a minute of silence and then the
Speaker gave the floor to the Prime Minister to start debate on a motion that
expressed sorrow at the attack on the United States, condolences to the
American people, and reiterated our commitment to democratic society.
Upon adoption, the motion was conveyed to the Congress of the United
States of America with the names of every Member appended thereto.
The Speaker delivered a ruling
on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, on the point of order raised by Peter MacKay
on June 12, 2001, relating to the use of the provisions of Standing Order
56.1 as a mechanism for limiting debate. While this Standing Order
usually covers "routine motions", the Government had moved a motion
concerning the disposition of business for the final two sitting days prior to
the summer adjournment, including changes to the voting method to be followed
on the last supply day of the period ending June 23, 2001. The Speaker
stated that at that time, he had allowed the motion to go ahead as no
objections had been raised at the earliest opportunity. He had also
indicated his intention to return to the House with a statement on the use of
Standing Order 56.1. Based on close examination of past precedents and
the most recent use of Standing Order 56.1 as a tool to bypass the
decision-making functions of the House, the Speaker advised the House that the
motion adopted on June 12, 2001 would not be regarded as a precedent.
The face of the House of
Commons has changed with the annoucement of a conservative coalition between
the Conservative Party and several former Canadian Alliance members. The
new group is called the Progressive Conservative Democratic Representative
Caucus (PC/DR) Coalition. The group has opted to sit together, share research
budgets, and develop a joint strategy for Question Period. Joe Clark
is the Leader of the Coalition, while Chuck Strahl will serve as Deputy
Leader. Deborah Grey becomes caucus chair, Jay Hill serves
as Whip, and Peter McKay becomes House Leader.
On September 19, 2001, Mr.
MacKay rose on a point of order to ask in the name of the 20 Members who have
united to establish the PC/DR Coalition, that the Speaker recognize them as the
fourth largest political entity in the House and that they may claim all the
privileges and rights associated with that position. On September 24, the
Speaker made his ruling concerning the Coalition's status. He stated that
the procedural authorities recognize a party as a group with at least 12
Members, with an appointed slate of House Officers, working as a cohesive unit
and serving under the same banner. The Speaker therefore concluded that
he did not find any procedural objection to the request that Members be allowed
to sit together and represent themselves as a group for parliamentary purposes.
However, he also concluded that since the group had declined to present
themselves as a party in the Chamber, they could not be awarded any additional
privileges associated with that status such as precedence and allocation of
time in Question Period, debate, etc. With full party recognition not
being possible, the Speaker pointed out that the recognized parties in the
House are of course able to negotiate what they will amongst themselves.
The decision also stated that it was appropriate for the Speaker, and not
the House, to rule on the issue. This was significant as the Liberals,
Canadian Alliance, NDP, and Bloc all argued against recognition of the
coalition, insisting that the dissident MPs should join the Tories if they want
to be recognized.
A number of special debates
have taken place in Committee of the Whole format since the return from the
summer adjournment. They covered the planned meeting between the Prime
Minister and the President of the United States, the Canadian airline industry
and finally, terrorism. Two emergency debates were also held, one on
agriculture and the other on softwood lumber. Finally, the Report of
the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of
the House of Commons was adopted on October 4 and its provisions came into
force on October 15, 2001.
On September 27, 2001, PC/DR
Coalition member Deborah Grey rose on a question of privilege and stated that
she had been denied access to her computer files, claiming that her files had
been frozen and shut down by the Canadian Alliance. Furthermore, she
argued that without negotiation or representation from her office, the House of
Commons Information Services Directorate (ISD) had given permission to a staff
member of the Alliance Whip to access her computer files. The Member
stated that there had been an infringement on her responsibilities as a Member
of Parliament. The Speaker delivered his ruling on October 15, 2001, and
began by highlighting "the relative newness of the information age"
as the central problem. The Speaker acknowledged that a Member must rely
on his or her staff for many administrative matters, and that the Member had
relied on her staff to manage her files during the period she became acting
leader of the Canadian Alliance and also when she subsequently stepped down
from that position. ISD had transferred her files to the Canadian
Alliance caucus server, with all directories password protected by Miss Grey.
Her files remained in that location even after she stepped down from the
position, since the Information Services Directorate did not have proactive
protocols for these situations, but relied on requests from individuals.
On September 20, 2001, during routine administrative work, a staff member
for Miss Grey discovered she could no longer access the files. Miss Grey
contended that the documents and data stored on the Alliance server were hers
and should be returned to her, while Canadian Alliance officials claimed that
the server belonged to the Alliance and the party had a legitimate right to
review the files, and ensure that no caucus documents were released or
compromised during a transfer of files to Miss Grey. Information Services
had been advised that they could not refuse a request from the owner of a
server to access files held on that server, and so granted read-only access to
Alliance officials. The Speaker likened the situation to a person with a
locked suitcase stored in the locked trunk of someone else's car. The Speaker
then ruled that since the files of the Member were in her own private
compartment on the server and accessible only to her, that all disputed files
be returned forthwith to the Member for Edmonton North. The Speaker
further directed ISD to establish new protocols to ensure that files and data
belonging to an MP be kept on MP servers and not on caucus servers.
Since the Standing Order
changes concerning report stage adopted earlier this year, prolonged
consideration of amendments to bills has been pushed back to committee stage.
Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act, is currently before the
Environment and Sustainable Development committee where the government is
facing hundreds of amendments, including those from its own members.
On September 26, Mr. Boudria,
Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, rose on
a point of order and sought and received unanimous consent to move that Bill
C-15 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to amend other Acts) be
deemed to have been read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee
on Justice and Human Rights; and that an instruction be given to the Committee
to divide the Bill into two bills. This same Bill had been subject to a
Speaker's ruling on Thursday, September 20, 2001 where the Speaker had ruled
that it was not for the Chair to divide a bill in the House. The Standing
Committee on Justice and Human Rights considered Bill C-15, and reported that
the Bill had indeed been divided into two bills. The provisions in Bill C-15
respecting protection of children from sexual exploitation, criminal
harassment, disarming or attempting to disarm a peace officer, home invasions,
allegations of miscarriage of justice and reform and modernization of criminal
procedures now compose Bill C-15A, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to
amend other acts; while provisions respecting cruelty to animals and
firearms and amendments to the Firearms Act, now compose Bill C-15B, An
Act to amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms
Act. Bill C-15A was read the third time and passed on October 18,
2001, while Bill C-15B remains in Committee.
In light of the terror
attacks, the government has introduced new anti-terrorist measures in the form
of an omnibus bill, and has withdrawn Bill C-16 (An Act respecting the
registration of charities and security information and to amend the Income Tax
Act). Bill C-16 had been referred to the Finance Committee prior to
second reading, and had involved the removal of charitable status from groups
involved in fundraising in support of terrorism. The new Bill C-36 (An
Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence
Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other Acts, and to enact
measures respecting the registration of charities, in order to combat terrorism),
includes amendments to the Criminal Code and to federal regulations and
statutes in areas such as immigration, border patrol systems, and intelligence
cooperation. A question of privilege concerning the leak of information
regarding Bill C-36 prior to the legislation being introduced in the House was
deemed to be prima facie by the Speaker on Monday, October 15, 2001.
As a result, the Minister of Justice appeared before the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for the second time in the current
session on the issue of legislative information reaching the media before a
bill is introduced in the House.
On September 14, 2001, flags
flew at half mast in Ottawa, and Parliament Hill was the site of a ceremony to
honour the victims of the terrorism attacks in the United States.
Members, many parliamentary employees and some 100,000 citizens attended
The National Assembly resumed its proceedings on Tuesday,
October 16, 2001. Owing to the economic slowdown intensified by the events of
September 11, 2001, the Minister of Finance brought down her 2002-2003 budget five
months earlier than expected, on November 1. The budget aims mainly to reassure
consumers and to support employment and economic activity.
Gabriel-Yvan Gagnon, Member for Saguenay, resigned on
September 16 and Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, Member for Anjou,
resigned on September 25. Following the municipal elections held on November 4,
2001, Cosmo Maciocia, was elected as a municipal councillor in Montreal.
He gave up his seat as Member for Viger and resigned on November 13.
By-elections were held on
October 1, 2001 in four electoral ridings. The Quebec Liberal Party had two of
its candidates elected, Françoise Gauthier in Jonquière and Julie
Boulet in Laviolette. As for the Parti Québécois, two of its candidates
were also elected, Sylvain Pagé in Labelle and Richard Legendre in
Blainville. Mr. Legendre was appointed Minister for Tourism, Recreation and
Sport on March 8, 2001. The party standings of the National Assembly is as
follows: 72 Members of the Parti Québécois; 49 Members of the Quebec Liberal
Party; 1 Independent Member (Action démocratique du Québec Party); 3 vacant
From September 17-19, 2001,
some 110 retirees from all regions of Quebec took part in the second edition of
the Seniors' Parliament, which is a parliamentary simulation organized by the
Association for Retiree and Pre-retiree Advocacy, in collaboration with the
National Assembly and the Former Members' Association.
During the proceedings of this
simulation, the seniors held debates on the following bills, which they drafted
for the occasion:
respecting welfare homes,
which aims to promote the construction of welfare homes in order to ensure the right
to dignity and a quality of life for individuals without a permanent address,
individuals who have a low income, individuals who are unattached and the
An Act respecting the
consolidation of certain transportation services, which aims for more equity in access
to quality public transportation.
An Act respecting the
situation of the elderly, which
establishes a committee to assess the situation of the elderly in Quebec, so as
to propose strategies and means enabling the elimination of all discrimination
linked to age.
An important conference on
parliamentarism in the 21st century,
which was to be held from September 12-14, 2001, was postponed until a
later date due to the events that took place in the United States September 11.
Several participants from the United States, France and Canada were unable to
travel because of the closing of American airports and the cancellation of all
flight departures in Canada.
The computerization of the
Table currently being developed is focussing mainly on the following aspects:
the improvement of the tools available to the Clerks; the automation of
mechanical and repetitive tasks; the elimination of duplication of work; the
sharing of data; and facilitation in producing the Order Paper and Notices,
the Votes and Proceedings and the President's Papers. The tasks of the
Clerks in the House and of the professionals of the Secretariat of the Assembly
could be somewhat modified in view of these technological changes.
On a larger scale, the
principles of data sharing and elimination of duplication could extend to all
branches of the National Assembly. Charles Bogue, who was given the
mandate by the Associate Secretary General for Parliamentary and Institutional
Affairs, is working in collaboration with other branches in order to examine
the possibilities in relation thereto.
Claudie St-Hilaire was selected, following a competition,
to replace Mr. Bogue as person responsible for the French Votes and
Proceedings. Mr. Bogue will be working at the Office of the Associate Secretary
General for Parliamentary and Institutional Affairs. Hélène Galarneau,
Director of the Secretariat of Committees, has joined the team of
of the Assembly
In recent months, the
Committee on Culture met several times, within the framework of two orders of
initiative. The first concerns the follow-ups to 35 recommendations contained
in the April 2000 report on the Quebec Arts and Letters Council and on the
Cultural Business Development Corporation. The Committee heard the executive
officers of two organizations as well as Diane Lemieux, Minister of
Culture and Communications, and tabled its final report in the Assembly on
The second order of initiative
dealt with media concentration. The Committee held several deliberative
meetings for the purpose of writing up its final report following public
hearings held in February and March 2001. This report was tabled in the
Assembly on November 13.
Finally, within the framework
of an order of surveillance of agencies on the Place des arts de Montréal and
the Grand Théâtre de Québec, the Committee heard the head officers of both
these cultural institutions as well as some fifteen interested organizations.
The final report of the Committee will be tabled in the following weeks.
For its part, the Committee on
Labour and the Economy undertook an order of its own initiative for the purpose
of examining the increase in the price of oil and its effects on Quebec's
economy. Within this framework, it held a general consultation and heard all of
the organizations that submitted a brief and who were interested in coming
before the Committee. The Minister of Natural Resources was also invited to
exchange views on this subject with the members of the Committee.
Last 28 August, the Committee
on Public Finance elected a new chairperson, Rita Dionne-Marsolais. This
election followed the appointment of its former chairman, Rosaire Bertrand,
as Minister responsible for the Capitale Nationale region last June. However,
this position is once again vacant as Mrs. Dionne-Marsolais was appointed
Minister for Natural Resources on November 13.
Regarding the legislative
mandates, the Committee adopted two bills introduced by the Minister of Revenue
and held special consultations on Bill 14, An Act to amend the Act
respecting the Ministère du Revenu and other legislative provisions as regards
the protection of confidential information. This bill aimed to clarify and
give greater precision to the provisions of that Act relating to the
confidentiality of fiscal information and to coordinate the application of
those provisions and the provisions of the Act respecting Access to documents
held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information. Finally,
the Committee also heard the Inspector General of Financial Institutions within
the framework of the examination of its management, activities and
At the beginning of autumn
2001, the Committee on Education held hearings within the framework of special
consultations on Bill 35, An Act to amend the Education Act, which
provides that the members of a school's governing board who are students in the
second cycle at the secondary level are to be entitled to vote. Subsequently,
the Committee gave clause-by-clause consideration to the bill and the report
was tabled in the Assembly on November 6, 2001.
During the fall, the Committee
on Transportation and the Environment heard 12 agencies within the framework of
special consultations on Bill 17, An Act to amend the Highway Safety Code
and the Code of Penal Procedure as regards photographic speed-measuring devices.
It also held a general
consultation on the reference paper entitled “Le Régime public d'assurance
automobile du Québec” (Quebec Automobile Insurance Plan). Several aspects of
the automobile insurance plan were discussed; however, numerous debates dealt
with the issue of automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers. In all, 31
individuals and agencies were heard in the course of six sittings devoted to
On October 25, 2001, Roger
Paquin, the Member for Saint-Jean since 1994, became a member of the
Committee on Transportation and the Environment replacing Gabriel-Yvan
Gagnon, the Parti Québécois Member for Saguenay, who left the political
scene last summer.
Translated by Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
The Fourth Session of the Fourteenth Legislative Assembly
of the Northwest Territories re-convened on Tuesday October 23, 2001.
During this Session a number of significant reports were tabled and
several Bills were granted Royal Assent. This Session also saw the
resignation of one Cabinet Minister, and two senior employees from the Office
of the Premier.
The Report of the Special
Committee on Conflict Process entitled, Confidence in the Integrity and
Standard of Government was presented on the first day of the sitting by the
Chairman, Brendan Bell. This was the second report issued by the
Committee as its mandate had been expanded and extended to address allegations
of bias made by a Member against the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, a
surreptitious tape recording made by that same Member and the actions of senior
staff members in the Premier's office. The extended mandate of the
committee was as follows:
That notwithstanding the
withdrawal of the (bias) application, the Legislative Assembly authorizes and
extends the mandate of the Special Committee on Conflict Process to consider
the allegation of an apprehension of bias in relation to the investigation
conducted by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, and to consider related
matters which have arisen or may arise during the normal course of proceedings
of the Special Committee. (Section 2 of Motion 4-14 (4) as amended July
The Committee refined the
aspects of its mandate into three issues, which they addressed in their report:
Bias Allegations made against the Conflict Commissioner by the
Member for Hay River South, Jane Groenewegen; whether inaccurate
submissions were made on behalf of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to the
Special Committee; and whether there were any circumstances which would explain
the apparent error in judgment associated with the tape recording made by the
Member for Hay River South, Jane Groenewegen on March 26th, 2001 of a telephone
conversation between the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and a senior
employee from the Office of the Premier.
The Committee made four
recommendations and they were as follows: Recommendation 1, dealt with
the refusal of Lee Selleck from CBC, to appear before the Committee.
The Committee felt “that these actions were a breach of the well
established constitutional privileges of the Assembly and amount to a clear and
deliberate contempt of its authority and proceedings. However, after
careful reflection, the Committee has chosen not to request the House to embark
in a sideline dispute with either Mr. Selleck or the CBC”.
Recommendation 2 dealt with
the surreptitious tape recording made by the MLA for Hay River South, Jane
Groenewegen. The Committee came to the conclusion that these actions did not
reflect the behavior that is expected of a Minister and Deputy Premier of the
government. Therefore the Committee recommended that the Minister submit
her resignation from her Cabinet position.
The third recommendation
addressed the bias allegations against the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
Her actions were found to be less than what is expected from that office.
The relationship between Members and the Conflict of Interest
Commissioner had, in the Committee's view, broken down to a degree that it
could not reasonably be rehabilitated. The Committee recommended that the
Conflict of Interest Commissioner submit her resignation or be removed from
The fourth recommendation
addressed the need to restore integrity to the Office of the Premier and regain
the public trust. The Committee suggested that Premier Stephen Kakfwi
request the resignation of two of his senior staff members and that this action
was essential in order that the Premier retain the confidence of the House.
The following day, October 24,
2001, Mrs. Groenewegen resigned from her Cabinet position and the debate on the
Report of the Special Committee began. Some Members expressed their view
that the Committee had overstepped its mandate and scope of investigation,
while others felt it had adequately addressed the concerns of the public and
those of the Members.
The recommendations were then
voted upon. No vote was required for recommendation 2 because Mrs.
Groenewegen had resigned as a Minister. Recommendations 1, 3 and 4
were subsequently adopted as resolutions of the House.
Despite recommendation 4 being
agreed upon by the Members, the Premier indicated that he would not ask for the
resignation of the Chief of Staff and the Principle Secretary and he would
decide if he would continue as Premier. The Minister of Finance, Joe
Handley, subsequently introduced a motion of confidence in the Premier.
The results were 13 in favor, one opposed and four abstentions. The
motion of confidence was carried. Over the ensuing days the two senior
staff members in question submitted their resignations.
With the vacant position in
Cabinet, a Territorial Leadership Committee meeting was called to select a new
Cabinet Minister. The Territorial Leadership Committee is the process
used in the NWT to elect its Speaker, Premier and Ministers. In keeping
with the regional balance approach to Cabinet, there were 5 eligible
candidates. Four candidates allowed their names to stand. On the
third ballot, the Member for Thebacha, Michael Miltenberger, was chosen
to serve on the Executive Council. The Commissioner of the Northwest
Territories, Glenna Hansen swore in Mr. Miltenberger on October 31,
2001. A Cabinet shuffle was announced on November 7th in part to
formalize Cabinet responsibilities for Mr. Miltenberger. He became the
Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Responsible for Seniors, and
the Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities. Jim Antoine assumed
the role of Deputy Premier.
During this Session eight
bills were granted Royal Assent:
Bill 5, An
Act to Amend the Education Act;
Bill 6, National
Aboriginal Day Act;
Bill 7, Powers
of Attorney Act;
Bill 8, An
Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act,
Bill 11, Architects
Bill 13, An
Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, No. 2;
Bill 14, Supplementary
Appropriation Act, No. 2 2001-2002;
Bill 15, Supplementary
Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2000-2001.
Bill 6, National
Aboriginal Day Act gained significant attention and was well received.
It establishes June 21st as a pubic holiday in the Northwest Territories,
the first jurisdiction in Canada to do so.
The Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development tabled its report
on the review of Bill 9, Commercial Vehicle Trip Permit Act and Bill 10,
Public Highway Improvement Fund Act. These Bills would authorize
the Department of Transportation to issue permits and collect fees from
specified commercial vehicles carrying cargo over the territorial highway
system. This revenue would then be used to improve the existing highway
system. The report indicated that the proposed strategy had generated a
good deal of controversy and that these Bills should not be proceeded with.
The Bills were subsequently discussed in Committee of the Whole and Cabinet
eventually agreed that they would let them die on the Order Paper.
The Minister of Transportation indicated that a revised strategy will be
introduced during the Fifth Session scheduled for February and March 2002.
Jim Antoine, Minister of Justice, tabled a draft
of the proposed Human Rights Act. He indicated that the human
rights project has been a high priority for the government. Tabling the
draft Human Rights Act at this time will allow members of the public and
interested groups to start reviewing the proposed legislation. The
Minister welcomed any comments that people may have on the proposed Act.
The Bill to establish this Act will likely be introduced during the next
Appointment of Deputy
On Thursday, October 25, 2001,
Cal Mains was sworn in as the 11th Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest
Territories. The role of the Commissioner in the Northwest Territories is
similar to that of the Lieutenant Governor in the provinces. Mr. Mains
has lived in the North since 1950 when he began his northern service as a RCMP
officer. After retiring from the RCMP in 1969, Mr. Mains assumed the
position of Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories.
He will be a welcome presence in his role as Deputy Commissioner of the
The Commissioner of the
Northwest Territories, Glenna Hansen, prorogued the Fourth Session of the 14th
Legislative Assembly on Tuesday November 6, 2001. The Fifth Session will
convene on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 at 1:30pm.
Affairs and Communications Advisor
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
For the first time in recent years, the spring session of
the Assembly extended into July, finally adjourning for the summer recess on
July 6th. The members met for a total of 71
sitting days and passed 59 government bills, 1 private members' public bill and
6 private bills. The members were kept busy on many fronts right until
the final week, with two significant committee reports being released and a
significant procedural issue occurring in the final ten days.
The procedural issue arose out
of the defeat of a supply resolution for the Department of Economic and Co-operative
Development in the Committee of Finance late in the evening of June 26th. In Saskatchewan, departmental estimates
are considered in a committee of the whole before being reported back to the
Assembly. The defeat left many unsure of the ramifications of what had
The question immediately on
the minds of some was whether the defeat constituted a vote of non-confidence
in the coalition government. The Government responded the next day with
the introduction of a Priority of Debate motion refuting that the Committee of
Finance vote was an expression of non-confidence and further that the
Government did retain the confidence of the Assembly. The motion was
adopted on a recorded division with all members of the coalition government voting
in the affirmative and the sole Independent Liberal voting with the Official
Opposition. The Government then gave notice of motion for the Assembly to
instruct the Committee of Finance to reconsider the supply resolution for the
Department of Economic and Co-operative Development. This was
subsequently adopted on July 3rd.
With the matter back before
the Committee of Finance, the Opposition House Leader, Dan D'Autremont,
raised a point of order regarding the procedural acceptability of what had
transpired. The Chair, Graham Addley, listened to the comments
from both sides before delivering a ruling.
Mr. Addley first noted that it
was within the authority of the Assembly to issue an instruction to the
Committee of Finance to enlarge its order of reference. He then noted
that it was the prerogative of the Assembly to recommit any matter back to a
committee with an instruction to overturn a decision made in the committee.
Precedents involving budgetary supply from Erskine May, British
Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec were reviewed and in agreement with the approach
taken by the government.
The Chair then concluded that
the Assembly does have final authority over the decisions made in its
committees, even if it means re-voting the same question. The same question
rule did not apply as an over-riding factor in the case of a parliament giving
one of its committees an instruction. Accordingly, the Committee of
Finance was directed to re-vote the question on the estimates for the Economic
and Co-operative Development Department. The supply resolutions, with
their restored original sums, were subsequently adopted.
Three significant committee
reports have been tabled in the past months.
The Special Committee to
Prevent the Abuse and Exploitation of Children through the Sex Trade completed
its deliberations and tabled an extensive final report on June 27th. The report included a comprehensive
framework of 49 recommendations that, taken together, were intended to stop the
sexual abuse of children. One recommendation that was acted upon quickly
by the government involved legislative amendments to permit the impoundment or
forfeiture of motor vehicles used in the commission of prostitution-related
offences. Those convicted of a prescribed offence would also face a
The Assembly accepted the
Second Report of the Special Committee on Rules and Procedures on July 4th. The Report identified as priorities the
reform of the legislative committee system and Private Members' Business.
As a result, a reorganization of committees and their mandates was
proposed. This was targeted at creating a more effective means of dealing
with public policy issues, increasing public participation in the parliamentary
process and enhancing the role and importance of the committees.
Alterations to the existing Private Members' Day were also proposed with
the aim of enhancing the avenues available to private members to address issues
of concern to them.
Following the release of the
report, it was recognized that significant work still had to be done to develop
the procedural and administrative mechanics of implementing the proposed
changes. The committee is currently preparing a set of draft rules and
procedures for the Assembly to consider in the next session.
The recently formed Standing
Committee on Health Care released its first report on August 30th. The committee's mandate was to receive
and report on the views of interested individuals and organizations on the
Final Report of the Commission on Medicare, more commonly known as the Fyke
Report, after its chairman, Ken Fyke. The terms of reference
precluded the committee from offering specific recommendations or policy
direction regarding a health care strategy for the province. The
committee conducted its extensive public hearings in the legislative chamber to
permit the proceedings to be broadcast province-wide. In total, over 109
individuals and organizations made oral presentations while over 666 written
briefs were received.
The Standing Committee on
Public Accounts has embarked on three new areas of work. All have arisen from
amendments made to The Provincial Auditor Act last spring.
The first new responsibility
is the selection of a Provincial Auditor. The Public Accounts Committee
was authorized to unanimously recommend an individual to the Legislative
Assembly for appointment to the position. The Committee anticipates
conducting a search over the winter with a view of reaching a decision for the
Assembly to consider at its next session.
The second area involved the
appointment of a provincial Audit Committee by the Speaker of the Legislative
Assembly. The Public Accounts Committee, in consultation with the
Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, was tasked with recommending up to five
individuals to the Speaker. The functions of the Audit Committee include
assisting the Standing Committee on Public Accounts with recommending a
provincial auditor, assisting in the review of the estimates and reports of the
provincial auditor, and any other matters that the committee may request.
In addition, the Audit Committee may be requested to review matters
referred to it by the Provincial Auditor, the Minister of Finance, the Minister
responsible for The Crown Corporations Act, 1993 or the Standing Committee
on Crown Corporations. The Public Accounts Committee has begun
consultations with various professional associations to seek names of qualified
individuals and hopes to have the process completed early in the New Year.
Finally, the committee has assumed
responsibility for reviewing the estimates of the Office of Provincial Auditor.
Previously, this role was carried out by the Board of Internal Economy,
which will continue to review the estimates of all other House Officers.
Premier Calvert shuffled his
cabinet on October 12, 2001 by elevating four backbenchers. Andrew
Thomson (Regina South) received the Energy and Mines portfolio while Deb
Higgins (Moose Jaw Wakamow) became Labour Minister. Mark Wartman
(Regina Qu-Appelle Valley) assumed responsibility for Highways and
Transportation. Judy Junor (Saskatoon Eastview) returned to
cabinet as Provincial Secretary and Minister responsible for Seniors and the
Status of Women.
In addition, three ministers
were assigned new duties. Former Provincial Secretary Pat Lorjé
replaced Glenn Hagel in the Post-Secondary Education portfolio, with Mr.
Hagel in turn moving to Social Services. Kim Trew relinquished the
Labour ministry and took over responsibility for the Saskatchewan Property
Management Corporation. Jim Melenchuk and Ron Osika, the
two Liberal coalition partners, remained as Minister of Education and Minister
for Municipal Affairs and Housing respectively.
The Liberal Party of
Saskatchewan elected a new leader on October 27th. Saskatoon businessman David Karwacki
defeated MLA Jack Hillson (North Battleford). The election had
repercussions for the party standings in the Assembly as both Mr. Karwacki and
Mr. Hillson favoured withdrawing the Liberal Party from the coalition
government. The two other Liberal MLAs, Education Minister Jim
Melenchuk and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister, Ron Osika, chose to
remain in the coalition and in cabinet. They are now sitting as
Independents in the Legislature as is Mr. Hillson. The Saskatchewan
Legislature requires a party to have at least two seats before gaining caucus
Earlier this fall, former
Finance Minister, Janice MacKinnon, resigned her seat in the
Legislature. The resulting vacancy in the Saskatoon Idylwyld constituency
was filled on November 8th with
the election of David Forbes. Mr. Forbes is an educator and
community activist who will continue to hold the seat for the New Democratic
The current party standings are
29 New Democrats, 26 Saskatchewan Party members and 3 Independents, of which
two Independents are in the coalition government.
The inaugural Saskatchewan
Legislative Internship Program will welcome its first students in January 2002.
The internship program will complement existing programs in other
jurisdictions while offering a unique Saskatchewan perspective. The
program will combine academic and practical components to offer four university
students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge of the
political and parliamentary processes.
The interns will spend seven
months working at the Legislature as special assistants to MLAs. Their
internship will coincide with the spring legislative session and will see the
interns assigned to a Government member for three months and an Opposition
member for three months. Each intern will also be required to undertake an
organizational project and submit a 25-page research paper.
The Saskatchewan Legislative
Internship Program is a joint effort of the Legislative Assembly and the
Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina. It will be co-ordinated by the
Office of the Speaker and an academic director drawn from the universities.
The first Academic Director is Dr. Gordon Barnhart, formerly Clerk
of the Saskatchewan Assembly and Clerk of the Senate, and now University
Secretary at the University of Saskatchewan.
Margaret A. Woods
The 2nd session
of British Columbia's 37th Parliament adjourned on August 27 after
19 sitting days. Although it was one of the shorter sessions in recent
memory, the new BC Liberal government rapidly set to fulfilling a series of
election promises within their first 90 days in office.
The government introduced more
than two-dozen pieces of legislation, including the Skills Development and
Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2001 (Bill 18), which restored education as
an essential service and the Skills Development and Fair Wage Repeal Act (Bill
21), which repealed fixed-wage legislation that previously restricted
competition on public construction projects in British Columbia. The government
initiated the first step in their commitment to provide local governments with
greater autonomy through the introduction of the Community Charter Council
Act (Bill 12) on August 20. The Community Charter initiative aims to
minimize provincial government offloading of costs onto local taxpayers,
thereby providing local government better opportunities to plan for and manage
pressures on property taxes.
The Lobbyists Registration
Act (Bill 20), introduced August 16, requires the registration of anyone
paid to lobby government for government contracts or legislative or policy
changes. Information contained in the registry, such as the targets of the
lobbyists' efforts and the issues they are trying to influence, will be open to
The five-week session saw the
introduction of an economic and fiscal update, also referred to as a
“mini-budget”, which reported a $1.5 billion deficit. A plan to implement a
core review of all government programs and services was also announced, a step
which observers say may set the stage for dramatic budget cuts in early 2002.
First Public Written
The first public written
question, submitted by the Chairperson of the University of Victoria Students
Society, was put by Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant) to Hon. Shirley
Bond (Prince George- Mount Robson) during question period on August 27. The
opportunity for the students society to pose a question was instituted by
Sessional Order on August 2 when the Legislative Assembly approved a motion to
allow provincial or local public bodies to submit written questions to the
Speaker, which could be read by any private member to a member of the Executive
Council during question period. The first public written question concerned the
government plan to review the tuition fee freeze currently in effect in British
In keeping with another
election commitment of the new government, on August 27 the House approved a
Sessional Order establishing British Columbia's first parliamentary calendar.
During the third session of the 37th Parliament, the Legislative Assembly is expected to be in
session from February 12, 2002 to May 30, 2002 and from October 7, 2002 to
November 28, 2002, with the exception of Fridays and the occasional week
dedicated to constituency work. The second Tuesday in February each year will
be reserved for the Throne Speech, while the third Tuesday in February each
year will be reserved for the Budget speech. The new government's first
complete budget will be presented on Tuesday, February 19, 2002.
Following the adjournment of
the House on August 27, legislative committees embarked on an unprecedented
high level of activity. A total of seven committees have been issued specific
tasks, and four Committees have already embarked on extensive public hearing
schedules this fall.
The Select Standing Committee
on Aboriginal Affairs, chaired by John Les (Chilliwack-Sumas), travelled
to 15 communities to hold public hearings on the questions to be used in a
one-time, province-wide referendum on the principles to the provincial approach
to treaty negotiations. Although the Committee's terms of reference included a
rare provision for the publication of a minority report, the Opposition
declined to participate on the committee citing concerns about the government's
controversial referendum proposal. The Committee, which is consequently
comprised of 10 government Members, will be producing their report by November
The Select Standing Committee
on Finance and Government Services was issued two distinct responsibilities.
First, the Committee was asked to conduct pre-budget consultations on proposals
and recommendations regarding the provincial budget and fiscal policy for the
coming fiscal year. The Committee released its report on the budget
consultation process on November 15 recommending that the provincial government
should proceed with its plan to reinvigorate the British Columbia economy, but
also cautioning the government “that the most vulnerable people in society must
also be protected” during the process. The Committee traveled to 16 communities
and heard from over 650 British Columbians during a six-week period.
Secondly, the Finance and
Government Services Committee has also been asked to review the annual reports,
performance plans, budgets and business plans of the seven independent
statutory officers, such as the Auditor General and the Ombudsman. The
Committee, which is chaired by Blair Lekstrom (Peace River South), will
begin this second stage of its work in late November in meetings with
independent officers to review their achievements of the past year and to
consider their plans and recommendations for the fiscal year 2002-03.
The Select Standing Committee
on Education has been asked to perform a broad based review of a key sector:
the provincial education system. The Committee's terms of reference state that
it must report no later than February 28 on measures to improve access, choice,
flexibility and quality in public education, as well as measures to strengthen
the network of colleges, institutes and on-line learning throughout the province.
The Committee, along with Chair Wendy McMahon (Columbia-Revelstoke) is
currently travelling to 10 communities.
The Select Standing Committee
on Health, under the leadership of Val Roddick (Delta South), has been
asked to report by December 15 on its public consultations on proposals to
promote the sustainability of the provincial health care system, including
immediate, medium and long term solutions to better plan and manage health
services, costs and funding. The Committee is also examining measures to
improve and renew the provision of health care services in British Columbia to
ensure the accessibility, quality and timeliness of health care services, as
well as to improve health outcomes and the overall health of British
The Select Standing Committee
on Public Accounts is also active this fall, under the oversight of Chair Jenny
Kwan (Vancouver Mount Pleasant), an Opposition member. The Committee has
been directed to review numerous reports of the Auditor General, and was also
re-referred a report considered by the Committee in the previous parliament on
the controversial fast ferry project. The Select Standing Committee on
Crown Corporations, chaired by Ken Stewart (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows),
has been activated for the first time in 12 years to review the annual reports
and performance plans of British Columbia crown corporations. The Special
Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process has begun meetings with
stakeholder groups in its statutory review of Part 9 (Complaint Procedure) of
the Police Act (RSBC 1996, c. 367) and the work of the Police Complaint
Commissioner. The Committee, chaired by John Nuraney (Burnaby-
Willingdon), is considering a public hearing schedule in communities served by
a municipal police force. The Committee will report back to the Legislative
Assembly by August 9, 2002.
The disastrous events of September 11, 2001 had a profound
impact on the business of the Senate this fall. On September 18, the first
sitting day after the summer adjournment, Senator Sharon Carstairs,
Government Leader, initiated a special debate on terrorism. Many Senators
participated in the timely discussion of the resolution which expressed the
Senate's condemnation of the senseless and vicious attack. Adopted unanimously
by the Senate on the same day, it was conveyed by the Speaker of the Senate to
the Congress of the United States of America.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks
and with a heightened concern about security, consideration of two bills in
particular took prominence. The Senate was asked by the Government to conduct a
pre-study of Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official
Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering)
Act and other Acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of
charities, in order to combat terrorism. Pre-study, which had not been used
in the Senate for more than ten years, is a practice that allows the Senate to
present its advice and recommendations on the subject-matter of a bill to the
Government while it is still in the House of Commons. On October 17, a special
committee was appointed to examine the subject-matter of Bill C-36. The
Committee heard from three ministers and 30 witnesses during intense hearings
and just two weeks later, on November 1, tabled its First Report. The
Committee made 23 recommendations in three areas of concern: comprehensive
parliamentary review; sunset clauses and on-going independent oversight and
The second item of legislation
affected by September 11 was Bill C-11, An Act respecting immigration to
Canada and the granting of refugee protection to person who are displaced,
persecuted or in danger. Although it had come to the Senate on June 14 it
assumed greater importance with the terrorist attacks in the United States. The
bill, essentially the first major overhaul of Canada's immigration system since
1978, puts in place measures that would protect Canadians from those who would
abuse the system and who might threaten the safety and security of Canadians.
Time allocation motions to complete second reading and third reading were
passed. Conservative Senators objected to the cavalier action taken by the
Government and tried to resist the demands to rubber stamp the bill. They
argued that the Senate be allowed to fulfill its rightful role in the
Although the bill was reported
from the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee without amendment, 13
pages of observations were appended to the report. One of the main concerns
raised in the observations was that there was no definition of “terrorism”.
Without a clear definition, some Senators feared that innocent people
might be tracked as terrorists. The issue of definition had come up before in
the Senate's Special Committee on the Subject-Matter of Bill C-36 when the
Committee recommended that the word “terrorism” be changed throughout the bill
to “terrorist activities” throughout the bill. In the case of Bill C-11, the
Senate wanted to ensure that the same definition would be used in both C-36 and
C-11. Senator Raynell Andreychuk was anxious that if Bill C-11 passed,
it would give the misconception that the Senate had dealt with terrorism. To
signal her objections to the bill, she proposed a six-month hoist amendment.
Many Senators expressed support for this amendment but, in the end, the
amendment was defeated and the bill passed, both on recorded votes.
Royal Assent was given to Bill
C-11 on November 1. Other bills that received Royal Assent this fall were Bill
S-23, An Act to amend the Customs Act and to make related amendments to
other Acts and Bill C-14, An Act respecting shipping and navigation and
to amend the Shipping Conference Exemption Act, 1987 and other Acts.
On October 25, the Speaker of
the Senate ruled on a point of order that had been raised by Senator Serge
Joyal on June 5. Senator Joyal maintained that Bill S-20, An Act to
provide for increased transparency and objectivity in the selection of suitable
individuals to be named to certain high public positions, required Royal
Consent because it affected the prerogatives of the Crown. In a lengthy ruling,
the Speaker cited various parliamentary and legal authorities to explain the
meaning of prerogative and the significance of Royal Consent. Based on this
analysis, the Speaker ruled that Royal Consent was necessary in the case of
On October 2, due to unusual
actions, the Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament Committee was
discharged from considering Bill S-13, An Act respecting the declaration of
royal assent by the Governor General in the Queen's name to bills passed by the
Houses of Parliament sponsored by Senator John Lynch-Staunton. This
was done in order to withdraw the bill and introduce Bill S-34. Although Royal
Consent had been an issue in previous royal assent bills, it was not so in this
case. Senator Carstairs, Government Leader, rose on October 4, before the start
of second reading, to advise the Senate that the Governor General had given
Royal Consent to this bill.
Some reports from Senate
committee caused heated debate this fall. One was the Second Report of
the Defence and Security Committee which was adopted on November 6. The subject
of the report was the committee budget. The committee, which had received its
mandate from the Senate to conduct a survey of major security and defence
issues facing Canada, requested additional funds to travel and begin its study.
Many Senators were concerned about authorizing such a large expenditure before
the committee had prepared a detailed work plan. They questioned why the
committee had to travel in order to determine the substantive role of the
committee. Senator Carstairs, Leader of the Government, expressed concern with
the whole budget process. She felt that it should not be up to the Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration Committee to determine a committee budget
after the Senate had approved the mandate of the committee. She noted that
committee budgets were rarely debated in the Senate and stressed the importance
of getting good value for the work done in the Senate, a sentiment
supported by Senators on all sides. There was no real disagreement about
the public's right to know how the Senate spends public funds in meeting its
responsibilities and when the report was finally adopted many Senators noted
how useful the discussion had been.
The Defence and Security
Committee was also the subject of the Fourth Report of the Privileges, Standing
Rules and Orders Committee. The report, whose only purpose was to change the
name to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, was not
expected to be controversial. However several Senators made comments and raised
concerns, not about the name change, but about the mandate of the committee.
Senator Lowell Murray's point was that the new committee risked
duplicating the work of other standing committees by dealing with matters
already in their mandates. Other Senators noted that the scope of the
committee's mandate was not the issue here. The only issue at hand was to
change the name of the committee and since this was not a problem, the report
The Fifth Report of the
Agriculture and Forestry Committee, presented on October 18, requested that the
Minister of Agriculture appear before a Committee of the Whole to explain the
actions of the government in dealing with the farming crisis in Manitoba and
Western Canada. The charge in the report, that the Minister had cancelled his
appearance before a meeting of the committee, prompted an angry response from
Senator Carstairs. She said the report showed disrespect to the Minister who
had never confirmed that he would attend that particular meeting and asked
Senator David Tkachuk, Chair of the committee, to apologize to the
Minister. Senators recorded their agreement by voting against the adoption of
On October 25, the Senate
agreed to resolve into a Committee of the Whole on October 30 to receive
officials from the Department of National Defence and the Department of Public
Works and Government Services for a briefing on the procurement process for
maritime helicopters. Senator Michael Forrestall raised strong
objections to the proposal. He protested the presence of Government-sponsored
witnesses instead of the Minister and the fact that other witnesses would not
be called. He claimed that this was another attempt by the Government to ram
this matter through the Senate. Senator Lynch-Staunton's amendment, which was a
list of witnesses they would like to call, was defeated. The Senate did agree,
however, to the amendment moved by Senator Noël Kinsella, to have the
In addition to the work of the
Special Committee on the Subject-Matter of Bill C-36, many other committees
completed special studies. The Fisheries Committee tabled a report on
aquaculture in the Atlantic and Pacific regions on September 19. The next day,
the Agriculture and Forestry Committee tabled its report on the present
and future state of forestry. The Eighth Report of the Social Affairs, Science
and Technology Committee on its study of the health care system was tabled on
September 26. Also in late September, the Aboriginal Peoples Committee tabled
its report on aboriginal economic development and northern national parks. The
committee was authorized on that same day to examine and report on the crisis
affecting urban aboriginal youth in Canada. The National Finance Committee, on
October 30, tabled its report on the role of the government in the financing of
deferred maintenance costs in Canada's post-secondary institutions. The
Legal and Constitutional Affairs, for the tenth time since 1975,
considered the miscellaneous statutes and reported on October 31 As well, the
Scrutiny of Regulations reviewed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Regulations
1988 and tabled a report November 8.
When the Senate resumed
sitting September 18, new Senators were sworn in: Laurier Lapierre, Viola
Léger, Mobina Jaffer and Jean Lapointe. One month later, on
October 16, the Senate welcomed three more members, Gerard Phalen, Joseph
Day and Michel Biron. Warm tributes were paid to the memory of the
late Senator Jean-Maurice Simard who died on June 16 and to Senator Léonce
Mercier, the Government Whip, who retired on August 11. Condolences were
also expressed in the Senate upon the deaths of several former Senators,
Joseph-Philippe Guay, Sidney Buckwold and Solange Chaput- Rolland.
The Ontario Legislative Assembly resumed the 2nd Session of the 37th
Parliament on September 24, only a few days following the horrifying and
appalling terrorist attacks in the United States. As was the case throughout
the world, Ontarians were devastated and deeply saddened by the large loss of
life, and shaken by the evident vulnerability of daily life in our peaceful
society. In the sad, poignant and uncertain atmosphere of September, 2001, the
Legislature spent its first day discussing a resolution, jointly sponsored by
Premier Mike Harris (PC/Nipissing), Leader of the Official Opposition Dalton
McGuinty (LIB/Ottawa South) and Third Party Leader Howard Hampton
(ND/Kenora-Rainy River), which condemned the attacks; dedicated Ontarians to
pledging the Province's resources to assist the victims; reaffirmed Ontario's
desire for and pursuit of peace and justice; committed Ontario's support in the
war to eradicate terrorism and its agents; and calling for tolerance and
respect for diversity. Following opening remarks by the 3 leaders, the
Legislature observed 2 minutes of silence.
During the debate, in which 82
Members participated, every MPP wore red, white and blue ribbons signifying
Ontario's support for its American neighbors and friends. After the resolution
carried unanimously, in an unprecedented and emotional expression of harmony
and shared aims with Americans, the National Anthem of the United States, the Star
Spangled Banner, was played in the Legislature, followed by O Canada.
Within mere days, the world
again witnessed tragedy when an explosion caused by an unbalanced individual
killed and injured several people at the State Parliament Building in Zug,
Switzerland. The Ontario Legislature again observed silence respecting this
On October 2, the House
welcomed its newest Member. Michael Prue (ND/Beaches-East York) was the
successful candidate in the September 28 by-election in the riding of
Beaches-East York, which had become vacant with the resignation in July of Frances
Lankin, who left a career in elected politics to head up the United Way of
Greater Toronto. Mr. Prue retained the seat for the New Democratic Party.
The Legislature has passed a
number of bills since September 24, including:
Brownfields Statute Law
Amendment Act, which sets
out rules and eliminates obstacles related to the cleanup and redevelopment of
Customer Service for Road Users Act, which permits delivery by private providers of various
Ministry of Transportation services, most specifically driver testing
Brain Tumour Awareness
Month Act, which
promotes awareness and detection of brain tumours by proclaiming October each
year to be Brain Tumour Awareness Month
Other legislation currently
before the House includes:
Protection Act, which
will implement procedures to identify, report and formally deal with instances
of professional misconduct and sexual abuse against students by teachers
Vital Statistics Statute
Law Amendment Act,
which, arising from the terrorist attacks in the United States, will implement
stringent procedures and safeguards with respect to vital personal
identification documents, most specifically birth certificates and applications
for them. Such applications will now require the signature of a guarantor, similar
to passport applications, and individuals will be required to report the loss
or theft of a birth certificate
Municipal Act, 2001, omnibus legislation to implement a
new, modern, more streamlined, easier-to-use Municipal Act
Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation
Act, which implements
an ecologically based land use plan to protect 100% of the natural features and
water resources on this environmentally sensitive area in perpetuity, and to
permit new development, subject to strict controls, only in settlement areas
Ontarians with Disabilities
Act, which imposes a
number of obligations, with respect to improving access for persons with
disabilities, on the Government of Ontario and other organizations. Of
relevance to the Legislative Assembly is an obligation placed on the Speaker to
produce and implement an accessibility plan that addresses the identification,
removal and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities in the
Legislative Chamber and the other parts of the Legislative Building that are
under the Speaker's control
Orders Act, which will
simplify the process for obtaining or varying an interjurisdictional child
Following up on a citation in
the Speech from the Throne earlier in the year, the government proceeded with a
motion assigning terms of reference for the Standing Committee on the
Legislative Assembly, authorizing it to consider parliamentary reforms related
to expanding the use of technology in the House and its committees, and
relating to enhancement of the role of private members. The motion was passed
in mid-October and the committee decided to study first the matter of
technology, in which it is currently engaged.
Also on the theme of
parliamentary reform, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Dalton McGuinty,
released a “Democratic Charter for Ontario”, a series of proposals designed to
transform the electoral and democratic processes in the Province. Mr.
McGuinty's proposals are of significance since he has pledged to be bound by
them in that the proposals will be part of his Party's election platform in the
next election. They include:
Limits on the amount of money
parties can raise and spend on election campaigns, and limits on the amount of
money candidates for a Party leadership can raise and spend
Study of, and
a binding referendum on, alternatives to the “first-past-the-post” electoral
Increasing the use of
technology, including online voting, to increase voter participation
Augmenting the permanent
voters list with targeted enumeration
Fixed election dates based on
four-year terms, similar to what British Columbia has already implemented
Requiring the Premier and Cabinet to attend at least
two-thirds of Question Periods, and reducing salaries for failing to do so
Giving committees more powers
and the ability to initiate legislation
A dominant issue on the
legislative scene this Fall in Ontario was the October 16 announcement by
Premier Harris of his resignation as leader of the Progressive Conservative
Party of Ontario, and Premier, as soon as a replacement can be chosen by that
Party's membership. The date for selecting a new leader has been set for March
Mr. Harris was first elected
to the Ontario Legislature in 1981 and become leader of the PC Party in 1990.
Mr. Harris formed a majority government and became Premier of Ontario in 1995,
and formed a second majority government in 1999. Following his replacement as
Premier, Mr. Harris will continue to represent his riding of Nipissing for the
duration of the 37th Parliament.
Another significant departure
from the legislative scene will be that of Lieutenant Governor Hilary Weston,
whose term officially expires in January 2002.
of Journals and Procedural Research
Ontario Legislative Assembly