| British Columbia
| Northwest Territories
| Prince Edward Island
| House of Commons
The Fifth Session of the Fourteenth Assembly of the
Northwest Territories convened on Tuesday, February 19, 2002 and sat through
March 15, 2002. This being the annual Budget Session, the majority of house
business was concerned with budgetary and fiscal issues of the Government of
the Northwest Territories.
In her Opening Address,
Commissioner Glenna Hansen thanked the Members for their united efforts,
“I encourage you to maintain this ability to work as one body, one government
and one voice as you continue to seek the consensus on which this Legislative
Assembly is based.” The Legislative Assembly was privileged to have “O Canada”
sung by members the Sir John Franklin High School Choir, as well as a drum
prayer offered by members of the Dettah Drummers.
Deputy Premier Jim Antoine
delivered the Sessional Statement. He affirmed the Government’s commitment to a
balanced agenda and fiscally responsible budget, working in partnership with
communities and organizations, continuing to invest in the NWT and its
residents, and reorganizing the NWT’s fiscal capacity. Premier Stephen
Kakfwi was absent for the opening of this Session due to his participation
in the Canada Trade Mission to Russia and Germany.
On February 20, 2002 Minister
of Finance, Joseph Handley, released the NWT’s annual budget. Mr.
Handley highlighted a very positive growth trend, “Our economy has impressive
potential…The developments on the drawing board confirm that the Northwest
Territories is on the road to becoming a ‘have’ jurisdiction.” His Budget
Address contained a number of key growth indicators: the NWT’s real gross
domestic product grew by 32 percent in 2001; exports increased by 19 percent
and; unemployment rates fell to 9.8 percent as of January 2002. The Minister
also voiced the Government’s support for economic development, the environment,
non-renewable resource development, roads and infrastructure, and support for
the people and communities of the North.
Each department of the
Government of the Northwest Territories submitted Main Estimates to be reviewed
by one of the three Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly.
Subsequently, the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight, the
Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development, and the Standing
Committee on Social Programs, each tabled reports on the review of the
2002-2003 Main Estimates in the House.
In addition to Committee
Reports, a number of other documents relating to department Budgets were tabled
in the House. A collection of Public Accounts of the Government of the NWT was
tabled on February 27, 2002 consisting of Consolidated Financial Statements,
Non Consolidated Financial Statements, Supplementary Financial Statements and Government
Michael Miltenberger, Minister of Health and Social
Services, tabled the Health and Social Services Action Plan 2002-2005 in
the Legislative Assembly on February 21, 2002. This document maps out the
actions necessary to reform health and social services and carries with it
aggressive implementation timelines. The Action Plan contains five broad
strategies calling for improvements to the following areas: services to people;
support to staff; system-wide management; support to trustees and; system-wide
A number of significant
motions were passed during this Session. These included a motion moved by Jake
Ootes, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, to send a
congratulatory message to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the fiftieth
anniversary of her accession to the throne. The Assembly passed this Motion on
February 26, 2002.
On February 20, 2002 a new
Special Committee was created to encourage the equitable distribution of
resources to NWT communities, as well as to preserve social, cultural and
traditional pursuits in these communities. Named the Special Joint Committee on
Non-Taxed- Based Community Affairs, it is chaired by Michael McLeod,
Member for Deh Cho. All members of the Committee represent small and isolated
communities in the North.
The Fifth Session of the Fourteenth Legislative
Assembly saw the appointment of Edward N. Hughes, Q.C. as Conflict of
Interest Commissioner through motion on February 26, 2002. Prior to Ted Hughes’
appointment, the position was being filled under an acting appointment.
Also on February 26, 2002 a
motion was passed to amend the mandate of the Standing Committee on
Accountability and Oversight. The Department of the Executive was brought under
this Committee’s review, removing it from the mandate of the Standing Committee
on Governance and Economic Development.
Lastly, a motion was brought
to the House on March 12, 2002 by Bill Braden, Member for Great Slave,
requesting a special audit by the Auditor General of Canada into the circumstances
surrounding the Financial Management Board and Executive Council’s approval of
a Special Warrant in the amount of $696,000. Presented to the Legislative
Assembly as a portion of Bill 9, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No.3,
2001-2002, this amount was payment for termination, compensation and
benefits to the former Chief of Staff and Principle Secretary of the Office of
the Premier, who both resigned in January.
Five bills were granted Royal
Assent during this Session. These included:
- Bill 2, Appropriation Act, 2002-2003;
- Bill 4, An Act to Amend the
Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act;
- Bill 7, An Act to Amend the
Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Supplementary
Retiring Allowances Act;
- Bill 9, Supplementary Appropriation
Act, No. 3, 2001-2002; and
- Bill 10, An Act to Amend the Income
Bill 7, An Act to Amend the
Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Supplementary Retiring
Allowances Act gained significant attention in the Northwest Territories. Effectively
serving to increase MLAs’ retirement pensions, the public as well as Members of
the Legislative Assembly actively debated its merits. These amendments will
allow MLAs to participate in a supplementary retiring allowances plan. It also
changes numerous provisions of the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances
Act and the Supplementary Retiring Allowances Act to ensure that the
two plans are alike, and consistent with similar plans, whenever possible.
A number of bills also
proceeded to the Committee stage after Second Reading.
Bills currently being reviewed
by Committees include:
- Bill 1, Human Rights Act;
- Bill 3, An Act to Amend the Public
Service Act ;
- Bill 5, An Act to Amend the Adoption
Act and the Family Law Act;
- Bill 6, An Act to Amend the Financial
- Bill 8, An Act to Amend the Nursing
Profession Act; and
- Bill 11, An Act to Amend the Liquor
Bill 1, Human Rights Act
would replace the Fair Practices Act and reform human rights legislation
in the Northwest Territories. It would expand the list of prohibited grounds of
discrimination, establish an independent Human Rights Commission and put in
place modern investigative and adjudicative processes for dealing with
complaints. The Standing Committee on Social Programs is currently examining
Bill 5, An Act to Amend the
Adoption Act and the Family Law Act is significant because its amendments
reflect the requirements for equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. The Government of the Northwest Territories will be
addressing the issue of same-sex relationships in two phases: phase one is the
introduction of the bill to amend the Adoption Act and the Family Law Act,
while phase two will involve a review of, and amendment to, all of the
remaining thirty-five pieces of legislation that use the word “spouse,” or its
The first annual Northern
Mines Ministers Conference was held on April 4, 2002. It was co-chaired by Mr.
Antoine, Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, and Robert
Nault, federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. With
the flurry of mining activity in the NWT, this was an opportunity to review the
key issues facing the northern mining industry. Participants were expected to
develop a plan to encourage both mineral investment in the North as well as a
healthy industry that will strengthen employment opportunities for northern
communities and Aboriginal people.
Premier, and Minister
Responsible for the Status of Women Council, Mr. Kakfwi, spoke in commemoration
of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2002. “Northern women have long
been the voice for social justice and for peace in our homes and communities,”
said Mr. Kakfwi. The Status of Women Council selected five women from across
the NWT for the Wise Women Awards, and a luncheon was held in the Legislative
Assembly’s Great Hall to honour their achievements.
The Fifth Session of the Fourteenth Legislative
Assembly of the Northwest Territories will reconvene on June 11, 2002.
On April 22, 2002, the Third 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:
- $500 million more in spending for
health, education, families and communities;
- $244 million annually in personal
- $288 million towards debt and
pension liability reduction.
On April 23, 2001, a
non-confidence motion was moved by Stuart Murray, Leader of the Official
Oppostion. The amendment was defeated on May 1, 2002 by a vote of Yeas 24, Nays
31. The budget motion was adopted on the same day by a vote of Yeas 31, Nays
When the debate on the budget
is concluded, consideration of the expenditure estimates will commence.
Manitoba’s Standing Orders allow for a maximum of 240 hours for
consideration of the departmental expenditure estimates.
Motion of Condolence on
Passing of Queen Mother
On April 23, 2002, Premier Gary
Doer moved, seconded by Stuart Murray, a motion of condolence in
remembrance of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Following
speeches, a moment of silence commemorating her life was held.
Standing Committee activity
was quiet during this quarter. The Standing Committee on Privileges and
Elections met on February 11, 2002 to consider the recruitment of the
Children’s Advocate whose term was to expire on March 29, 2002, and the
recruitment of the Ombudsman whose term was to expire on March 2, 2002. Both of
these positions, in accordance with the legislation, could be renewed for a
second term. By motion passed by the Committee, Janet Mirwaldt was
appointed for a second three year term as the Children’s Advocate, and Barry
Tuckett was appointed for a second six year term as Ombudsman.
Expiration of Provisional
The provisional changes to the
Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceeding of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
that were concurred in, by the House, on May 16, 2001 expired March 31, 2002,
thereby returning Manitoba to pre-May 16 rules. Some of the rules that Manitoba
will be reverting to are:
- 240 hours allotted for the consideration
of ways and means and supply resolutions respecting main, interim, capital
and supplementary estimates and for the consideration in the Committee of
the Whole of the relevant Supply Bills.
- No Friday morning sittings of the
Committee of Supply.
- Private Members’ Business to be held each
sitting day from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., except during debates on the
Throne Speech or Budget.
- Return to previous notice requirements
for placement of items on the Notice Paper section of the Order Paper.
There are no provisions for inter-sessional filing.
- Concurrence and third reading of a bill
will return to being two separate motions, with the concurrence motion
being non- debatable.
- The process for report stage amendments
returns to distribution of the report stage amendment prior to the calling
of Orders of the Day.
On April 23, 2002, a motion
was passed in the House reinstating some of the Provisional Rules:
- The Whips (or a designate) will
continue to file their substitutions with the Office of the Clerk thirty
minutes prior to the start of the meeting. Substitutions are allowed
during a committee meeting, with leave.
- The appendices to the existing
rule book and scripts pertaining to Royal Assent will remain in the “plain
- The Chairperson of the Committee
of Supply will continue to report to the House items passed during
consideration of interim, main and capital supply, at the conclusion of
the estimates all resolutions passed, the concurrence motion and any
incidents of grave disorder. Prior to this, the Chairperson of Supply
reported to the House daily on the previous day’s events in Supply.
On December 6, 2001, the
Member for Russell indicated to the House that a telephone conversation had
been mistakenly left on the wrong answering machine and he was tabling a
cassette tape and transcript of this answering machine message. The Government
House Leader rose on a point of order stating that if conversations were being
brought into the House then a Member should provide the basis of who was making
and receiving the phone calls. Speaker George Hickes took the matter
under advisement. The House adjourned on that same day resuming on April 22,
2002. On April 25, 2002, Speaker Hickes ruled that the Member for Russell
should sign and submit a declaration regarding the items tabled. He further stated
that this action would make the items receivable by the House, because
according to Beauchesne citation 494, statements by Members respecting
themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted.
Matter of Privilege
On December 6, 2001, Len
Derkach (Russell) rose on a matter of privilege and moved “THAT the actions
of the Minister of Education in providing copies of a letter or document to the
media without first providing that document to the Legislature as requested,
after that document had been repeatedly asked for by members of this House,
constitutes a breach of the privileges of the members of this House and that
this matter be referred to a committee of this House.” The Speaker informed the
House that he would take the matter under advisement. On April 25, 2002,
Speaker Hickes ruled that there was no matter of privilege citing past Manitoba
Speaker’s rulings and an excerpt from Joseph Maingot’s Parliamentary
Privilege in Canada which indicates “a complaint that a Minister of the
Crown has made a statement outside the House rather than in the House or that
the government provides information only to its supporters in the House or a
grievance against the government, but in the absence of an order in the House
forbidding such activity, there is no person or corporate privilege that has
been breached in the doing, and neither does it constitute contempt of the
House in the ‘privilege’ sense.”
Constituency of Lac du Bonnet
On March 12, 2002, Manitobans
went to the polls to elect a new representative in the constituency of Lac du
Bonnet, formerly held by Darren Praznik. The long time Progressive
Conservative seat was retained. Gerald Hawranik was elected as the new
Member for Lac du Bonnet. The New Democratic Party presently hold 32 seats, the
Progressive Conservatives hold 24 seats and the Liberals hold 1 seat.
Manitoba’s famous Golden Boy
was removed by crane from the roof of the Manitoba Legislative Building on
February 9, 2002 to undergo structural repairs. From February 12 to March 7,
2002, Manitobans had the opportunity to get up close and personal as the statue
was on display at the Manitoba Museum. A Manitoba company has been selected to
repair the Golden Boy in order for future generations to enjoy this symbol of
our province. The Golden Boy is expected to be returned to his place on the
dome by September 2002.
Change was the order of the day when the Ontario
Legislative Assembly resumed sitting again on May 9, with a Speech from the
Throne opening the 3rd Session of the 37th Parliament.
The Speech was read by the Honourable James Bartleman, who was installed
as Lieutenant Governor on March 7, 2002, replacing the Honourable Hilary
Weston. Mr. Bartleman comes to the Vice-Regal position after a 35-year
career in the Canadian Foreign Service, most recently as Canada's Ambassador to
the European Union since 2000.
The new legislative Session
also marked a transition in the governing Progressive Conservative administration.
Six weeks earlier, in March, the Progressive Conservative Party chose Ernie
Eves at its leadership convention to replace Premier Mike Harris,
who had announced his intention to leave elected office in October of 2001. Mr.
Eves was a 20 year veteran of the Ontario Legislature when he decided to retire
from public life early in 2001. However, he decided to contest the Conservative
leadership vacated by Mr. Harris and, having won, now was looking for a seat in
Subsequently, in April 2002, both
Mr. Harris and David Tilson (PC/Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey) resigned
their seats in the Legislature, triggering by-elections which were called for
May 2. Mr. Eves, Premier-designate, chose to run in the seat vacated by Mr.
Tilson. During the by-election period, on April 15, the Lieutenant Governor
swore in Mr. Eves' first Cabinet, and Mr. Eves as Premier, marking the final
day of Mr. Harris' public service to the Province of Ontario.
Mr. Eves subsequently won the
by-election in Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey and took his seat in the
Legislature on May 13. The by-election in Mr. Harris' former riding of
Nipissing produced a very close result, which was settled by a judicial recount
on May 15. The victorious candidate, Al McDonald, retained the riding for
the governing Progressive Conservatives with just a 48 vote margin, and he took
his seat on May 27.
The new Session began with a
very full agenda, since 128 public bills of the previous Session had been
carried over to the current Session by a special order of the House. The main
political theme dominating the Ontario Legislature in Spring 2002 revolves
around controversial plans for Hydro One, the provincially-owned electrical
transmission utility, one of 3 successor companies to the former Ontario Hydro,
which was broken apart by the government several years ago.
A planned initial public
offering of shares in Hydro One was struck down by the Ontario Superior Court,
which ruled that the Province lacked the legislative authority to divest itself
of this public asset. The government has announced that it intends to introduce
legislation to address this problem, and will at the same time appeal the court
decision. In the wake of the ruling, a very robust public debate has erupted
about the right course to take with Hydro One. The government has promised that
a legislative committee will be given the task of holding public hearings on
the issue and to provide its advice to the House.
Aside from debate on the
motion for an Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne, which has
occupied the bulk of time so far, the House has in its short time this Session
also debated 2 government bills, one an agricultural bill related to nutrient
management and the other an environmental bill related to waste diversion. Both
were referred to standing committees. The House has also debated a motion from
the Leader of the Official opposition, Dalton McGuinty (LIB/Ottawa
South) related to the Hydro One issue.
of Journals and
The Committees Branch has been
carrying on with business since the recess on December 13, 2001
The Standing Committee on
Government Agencies chaired by Jim Bradley, (St. Catharines) has
continued to review proposed appointments.
The Standing Committee on
Finance and Economic Affairs chaired by Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-
Kent-Middlesex), conducted pre-budget consultations around the province.
The committee traveled to Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Cobourg, Kitchener-
Waterloo and Barrie and conducted four days of hearings in Toronto.
The Select Committee on
Alternate Fuels chaired by Doug Galt (Northumberland), conducted
extensive public hearings and traveled to other jurisdictions to gather
information on alternative fuel sources. The Committee has been reviewing
its data and writing its report which will be tabled by the end of May 2002.
The Standing Committee on the
Legislative Assembly, chaired by Margaret Marland (Mississauga South),
undertook study visits to a number of jurisdictions under the terms of its
mandate to inquire into and report on parliamentary reforms. In February
and March, the Committee visited the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, the
Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly of Wales. In April, the Committee
undertook further research meetings at the Senate and House of Commons in
Ottawa and the Quebec National Assembly. The Committee is reviewing its
material and will produce a report by October 15, 2002.
Standing Committee on General Government
As reported in the previous issue, the Minister of Finance
and Government House Leader, Gary Collins (Vancouver-Fairview),
presented the Liberal government's first complete budget on February 19, 2002.
He defined the top priorities of the financial plan as "restoring
sound fiscal management, revitalizing the economy, and putting patients and
students first." To tackle the projected deficit of $4.4 billion,
total spending in ministries, except for those providing health and education
services, is being reduced by an average of 25 percent during the current
fiscal year. To raise revenue, the following measures were announced:
a 50 percent increase in Medical Services Plan
premiums, except for people living on low incomes;
- an increase of 0.5 percent in the
provincial sales tax to fund the doctors' recent pay increases, awarded by
an independent arbitrator; and
- an increase in the tobacco tax of $8 a
carton to raise $150 million in revenue.
The budget documents tabled in
the House included the three-year service plans of all the ministries and Crown
corporations, which were developed during the seven-month core services review
that began in the fall of 2001. To ensure that cabinet ministers meet the
government's spending targets, statutory salary holdbacks have come into effect
for the 2002-03 fiscal year. The 2001 Balanced Budget and Ministerial
Accountability Act specifies that 10 percent of the salaries of members of
the executive council will be payable only if the public accounts show that the
government's bottom-line target has been achieved. A further 10 percent
will be paid only if ministers meet the spending targets set out in their own
ministry service plans.
Under the new annual
parliamentary calendar, Budget Day takes place on the second Tuesday in
February, some six weeks earlier than in previous parliaments, when the budget
was usually presented closer to the fiscal year-end. As a result of the
new schedule and the lack of a sizeable opposition, the review of the estimates
by the House was completed by April 29, 2002. The Supply Act,
2002-2003 advanced through three readings on the same day, a practice that has
been permitted in British Columbia since 1996.
Part of the government's plan
to overhaul the health care system involved amending laws passed by the
previous government. For example, the Health Planning Statutes
Amendment Act, 2002 makes seven changes that are designed to strengthen
public safety, improve the governance of health professions, deal with outdated
regulations and to use resources more efficiently, with the anticipated cost
savings to be directed back to patient care.
Changing the education system
has been another top priority on the government's agenda. In terms of
legislative action, lifting the freeze on tuition fees at the province's
colleges and universities required the repeal of a regulation made under
section 10(2) of the Access to Education Act. Other changes to the
post-secondary sector included the passage of the Degree Authorization Act,
which expands the degree-granting authority of both private and public
post-secondary institutions inside and outside B.C. As well, the School
Act is in the process of being amended in order "to improve student
achievement." The proposed changes include establishing school planning
councils as forums for parental involvement, providing parents and students
with more choice about schooling, and lifting spending restrictions on school
boards and giving them more autonomy.
Other government bills
introduced during the Spring sitting include two welfare measures that redefine
the eligibility criteria and rules for people claiming ordinary and disability
benefits, emphasizing employment and self-sufficiency. The Employment
and Assistance Act and a companion statute, the Employment and
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, are designed to cut $600
million from the $1.16 billion welfare budget over the next three years.
To protest the proposed
changes to the welfare laws, the Leader of the Opposition, Joy MacPhail (Vancouver-Hastings)
called for a rare vote on the first reading of the two bills. At the second
reading stage of Bills 26 and 27, a government backbencher, Val Anderson
(Vancouver-Langara) broke party ranks and voted against their passage.
The governing party permits free votes for its private members, except on
matters specifically identified as votes of confidence.
The Speaker has made several
procedural rulings during the Third Session. One ruling related to a
Private Member's Bill introduced by Ms. MacPhail, to restrict fish farming.
During the second reading on April 15, 2002, Mr. Collins asked the
Speaker to rule Bill M201 out of order because it proposed a licensing fee for
fish farms, arguing that only the government can impose this type of
revenue-raising measure. The next day, after realizing that the relevant
clause in fact referred to an existing fee rather than a new one, he identified
another reference in the bill, requiring fish farmers to undertake the expense
of building an "impermeable" containment vessel. Subsequently,
on April 17, 2002, the Speaker ruled that the subsection in question would
"involve a charge upon a section of people" and, therefore, the
private member's bill was out of order.
Another ruling dealt with a
privilege matter raised on March 27, 2002 by Reni Masi (Delta North),
relating to the leak of a confidential draft report from the Select Standing Committee
on Education to the B.C. Teachers' Federation, which was subsequently reported
upon by the Vancouver Sun. His request to the Speaker for a ruling
prompted Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant) to stand in her place and
advise the House that she had shared the draft report with a group of
stakeholders on what she understood to be "a confidential basis." She
then expressed regret for her part in the matter and apologized to the House
if, in fact, any information from her office had appeared in the Vancouver
On April 2, 2002 the Speaker ruled that the material
presented, combined with the admission of Ms. Kwan, were sufficient to
establish a prima facie case of breach of privilege or contempt.
The House then approved the motion proposed by Mr. Masi to refer the
matter to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical
Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills. To date, the Committee has
held three business meetings to discuss how to conduct its inquiry into the
first privilege case involving premature disclosure of a committee report to
occur in British Columbia.
Now that the Spring sitting is
coming to a close, it is anticipated that three other select standing
committees (Crown Corporations, Finance and Government Services, Public
Accounts) will soon receive their terms of reference for the Third Session and
become active again. Their membership has already been determined by the
Special Committee of Selection, which reported to the House on April 4, 2002.
Another legislative committee
has also been active since the House convened in February. The Special
Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process is continuing its
deliberations in regard to the complaint procedure outlined in Part 9 of the Police
Act and the work of the police complaint commissioner, a statutory officer
of the Legislative Assembly. Its report is due in August 2002.
On February 21, 2002 Tony
Bhullar (Surrey-Newton) stepped down from the Liberal caucus and will
continue to sit as an Independent Liberal in the House.
Office of the Clerk of Committees
On March 26, 2002, the Third Session of the Sixty-first
General Assembly re-opened for the Spring Sitting with the presentation of the
budget. Pat Mella, currently Canada's longest-serving Provincial
Treasurer, introduced her sixth budget which contained expenditures of
approximately $1 billion. Health and Social Services continued to account
for the largest share of Provincial expenditure at just over $389 million, or
38.9% of the total expenditure; followed closely by Education at $203 million,
or 20.3% of the total. Tax measures included raising the Health Tax on
Tobacco by five dollars per carton of 200 cigarettes, and an increase in the
Gasoline Tax of one cent per litre.
During the Spring Sitting, 25
Government Bills were introduced, all of which received Royal Assent. Four of
the more significant pieces of legislation considered by the House were:
- Coat of Arms Act (Bill No. 30),
which provides for the augmentation of the original Armorial Bearings of
the Province with a crest and supporters. In 2001, to mark the 150th
anniversary of Responsible Government in Prince Edward Island, the Premier,
on behalf of the Executive Council, requested that the Governor General
grant the Province the honour of a Full Achievement of Arms, in
recognition of Prince Edward Island's co-sovereign status in the Canadian
federation. Her Excellency has agreed, and Her Majesty the Queen has
approved the use of the Royal Crown in the new Armorial Bearings.
- An Act to Amend the Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (No. 2) (Bill No. 32),
which expands Cabinet confidentiality by removing the exception regarding
background documents, among other changes. The Bill also specifies
the process by which the Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed
by stating that it is upon the recommendation of the Standing Committee on
Legislative Management to the Legislative Assembly followed by a
resolution supported by at least two-thirds of the Members present.
- An Act of Amend the Health and
Community Services Act (Bill No. 43), which provides for the
establishment of a new Provincial Health Services Authority and the
new Advisory Council. The Act also clarifies that the health
authorities and their employees are not Crown agents, and authorizes
orders to be made concerning the transfer of assets, liabilities,
contracts, positions, etc., within the health system.
- An Act to Amend the Victims of
Family Violence Act (Bill No. 45) will improve the usefulness of
provisions under Emergency Protection orders and Victim Assistance orders,
sending the clear message that breaches of orders are to be taken
seriously. The Bill also clarifies the amounts that may be charged
for offences committed under the Act.
addition, two Private Bills received Royal Assent. They were An Act To Amend And Consolidate The Several Acts Effecting
And Relating To The Incorporation Of Zion Presbyterian Church, Charlottetown
(Bill No. 100) and Prince Edward Island Mutual Insurance
Company Act (Bill No. 101).
The Third Session of the Sixty-first General Assembly
prorogued on May 10, 2002, after a total of 45 sitting days (Fall and Spring
The Standing Committee on Privileges, Rules and Private
Bills met twice between the Fall and Spring Sittings to consider the question of
whether handheld and/or laptop computers should be permitted on the floor of the
Legislative Assembly. The Standing Committee undertook a survey of other
Canadian jurisdictions on the use and availability of technology, along with the
guidelines for use of electronic devices. In summary, a trend toward the
adoption of personal digital assistants and laptop computers was observed
throughout the country. There still exists a general ban on the use of
After reviewing the information, the Standing Committee
recommended that, except for ceremonial occasions such as the Speech from the
Throne, laptops and handhelds be allowed in the Legislative Assembly. The
use of laptops during Oral Question Period is recommended on a trial basis for
the remainder of this Session, and will be evaluated at its conclusion.
If, in the opinion of the Speaker or Chair, the use of laptops and
handhelds impinges on the decorum or dignity of the House, a Member may be
ordered to discontinue use. Sound capabilities of all devices must be
muted. In addition, the Standing Committee recommended that laptop
computers not be allowed in meetings of standing or special committees; and cell
phones may not be used in the Legislative Assembly or in any committee meeting.
Since the report of the Standing Committee was adopted, several Members
have taken their laptops into the House, and it has been noted that screen
contents are visible from the public gallery.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts met several times
to consider the 2000-2001 Public Accounts of the Province of Prince Edward
Island, inviting the Province Treasurer, Pat Mella; and the Deputy Provincial
Treasurer, Michael O'Brien, to appear before it.
The Standing Committee focused on the operating budget and consolidated
budget, accounting rules relating to capital investment by government, the
provincial debt and current deficit, the Province's bond rating, the Prince
Edward Island Lending Agency Inc., and federal government transfers to the
Province. The Standing Committee has been authorized to sit
intersessionally for the purposes of concluding its examinations into the Public
Accounts and the 2002 Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly,
and will report in the next Session.
As previously reported, the Standing Committee on
Agriculture, Forestry and Environment took the unusual step in December of
issuing warrants to two representatives of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
following their repeated refusal to appear voluntarily before the Committee to
assist in its investigation into the potato wart crisis. Subpoenas were
prepared by the Clerk's Office and served on two representatives of the CFIA
Charlottetown office directing them to attend a meeting of the Committee
scheduled for January 10, 2002. Department of Justice Canada responded to
the Chair of the Standing Committee requesting that the summonses be withdrawn,
citing the Keable decision as grounds, or, in the
alternative, referring the matter to a judicial review by the Supreme Court of
Prince Edward Island. Before the Standing Committee had a chance to
respond, on January 2, 2002, the Clerk was advised by the Office of the Attorney
General that the Federal Government made application to have the subpoenas
stayed. A court date of January 3, 2002, was set. An adjournment was
agreed to by both parties, and the matter was heard by Justice Kenneth MacDonald on January 7, 2002. Justice
MacDonald made an interim declaration, granting a temporary exemption for both
CFIA representatives from complying with the summonses, and setting a date of
March 15, 2002, to hear the case. The Committee met on January 10, 2002,
to advise those in attendance that the validity of the warrants compelling two
representatives of CFIA to appear before the Committee was being challenged in
the courts, and therefore, the scheduled witnesses would not be present at this
meeting. At this point, the work of the Committee turned from
investigation of the potato wart crisis to preparation for the upcoming court
case. All relevant documentation was provided to the Committee's
legal counsel. Prior to the date which had been set for the case, a
postponement was granted and arguments on this matter now will be heard on June
11, 2002. A further update will be provided for the next issue of Canadian Parliamentary Review.
Privilege – An Update
On November 21, 2001, the Minister of Development, Michael Currie, raised a question of breach of
privilege for the Speaker to consider. At issue were remarks made by the
Leader of the Opposition, Ron MacKinley, during Oral
Question Period, in which he alleged that the Minister engaged in an illegal
activity, specifically listening to wiretapped conversations of private
individuals. Mr. McKinley withdrew his use of the words "wire tap" and
replaced them with the word "taped" but declined to apologize. Later in
the sitting day, Premier Pat Binns rose and
requested an apology. Again the Leader of the Opposition declined.
In her ruling, Speaker Mildred Dover, found
that a prima facie case of breach of privilege had
been made. The Leader of the Opposition offered a verbal apology to the
Minister of Development and Technology. Government House Leader, Elmer MacFadyen, advised that a letter of apology to
the House, and tabled in the House, would be acceptable. On December 5,
2001, Mr. MacKinley tabled his letter of apology, which proved to be
unacceptable to the House. A motion to suspend the Leader of the
Opposition for the remainder of the sitting day was passed.
The following day, Mr. MacKinley tabled letters of apology
addressed to the Minister of Development and Technology, the Speaker and the
House. He asked Speaker Dover to rule on the acceptability of the letters
and to apprise the House of the procedure involved in suspending a Member from
the House of Commons. After a brief recess to consider the letters, the
Government House Leader addressed the House and asked the Speaker to read the
letter, which she did. The Government House Leader expressed his
disappointment in the letter. The Provincial Treasurer, Ms. Mella made a
statement expressing her disappointment in the letter but indicating that this
issue had received enough attention of the House and suggested that the business
of the House should proceed. The Speaker stated that had she ruled on the
letters she would have found them to be unacceptable; however, given the
statements of the Government House Leader and the Provincial Treasurer, it was
her decision that the consensus of the House was that this issue appeared to be
resolved and that the House should proceed with its business. The Leader
of the Opposition suggested he would abide by the Speaker's Ruling and table
another letter of apology. Speaker Dover indicated that this would not be
The Special Committee on The
Election Act presented its final report to the Legislative Assembly on April
27, 2001, with the recommendation that Elections P.E.I. commence a review of the
systems of proportional representation presently in existence in other
jurisdictions, with special emphasis on jurisdictions of comparable size and
population as Prince Edward Island. Elections P.E.I. began its research of
proportional representation systems shortly after receiving this instruction and
submitted its final report to the Speaker, who tabled it on April 16, 2002.
The report provided a glossary of terms used in electoral systems,
examples of proportional representation in various countries, and compared
advantages and disadvantages of first-past-the-post and proportional
representation systems. Elections P.E.I. also provided scenarios of three
variations of proportional representation which might suit Prince Edward Island.
The report concluded that any binding decision for one system over another
system should be left to a provincial referendum, preceded by an impartial
campaign of public education about the issues involved in the
Leader of the
Opposition Sick, Media Pose Questions
With the only Opposition Member ill for a second day
running, Members of the Legislative Assembly allowed media representatives to
have a hand in Oral Question Period on May 2, 2002. Members of the local
press corps submitted written questions to Private Members which were then asked
in the House. The result was a question period that touched briefly on a
dozen subject areas from roadwork to an embattled lobster plant, and included
the question as to whether it was proper to allow journalists to pose questions
on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. The Premier later commented that this
was an experiment that he wasn't sure would be repeated but he thought it had
helped fill the gap resulting from the absence of the Leader of the Opposition.
He also said, in a media interview, that he would consider other sources
of questions including a web site that let members of the public offer questions
via the internet, should it become necessary due to the continued absence of the
Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. MacKinley, returned
to the House on Friday, May 3, 2002.
Pages on Television
Early in May, Island Focus, a
half-hour community outreach program, did a feature story on the Page Program at
the Legislative Assembly. This four-minute segment, was part of a longer
program on "interesting jobs" which was broadcast on Eastlink Television.
Host Peter MacPhee interviewed student pages
Lindsay Anderson and Nicole
Simpson about their experiences working on the floor of the Legislative
Assembly. Clerk Charles MacKay contributed his
thoughts about the selection process and the role of the student page. The
segment focusing on the Page Program now can be viewed at
In one of the most emotionally-charged speeches delivered
in the Legislative Assembly, Wilbur MacDonald
(Belfast-Pownal Bay) offered a full and unqualified apology to the House and
to all Islanders for comments he made during debate on April 19, 2002. At
the same time, he resigned from the Standing Committee on Social Development,
which he chaired, and from government's Strategic Planning
The apology followed several days of furor in the local and
national media, as well as in offices, kitchens and coffee shops across the
Province and the country. At the centre of the controversy were statements
Mr. MacDonald made while debating a motion dealing with child pornography.
Speaking without notes, he expressed fears about the future of the white
human race, and associated immigrants with a decline in Canadian society.
He then proceeded to comment on the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, along with declining standards in television
Public response was strong and immediate, and focused
almost entirely on the opinions judged by some to be racist in nature.
Some expressed the view that the Legislative Assembly was no place to
promote such views; others questioned the role of the Speaker in such a
situation, and many concluded that Mr. MacDonald did not have the right to speak
the offensive words in the House. There was very little support for the
principle that a Member has the right to express opinion on the floor of the
House, without fear of civil liability or censure from the House – regardless of
whether the views being expressed are shared by the majority.
Gift to Schools
As part of the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Speaker Mildred Dover,
is presenting a framed photo of the Queen to every Island school. "For
the past fifty years, Her Royal Majesty has inspired all of us with her devotion
to duty and her unselfish labour not only for the people of this province but
for all the people of the Commonwealth," commented the Speaker. Unframed
versions of the Queen's portrait were provided by the federal Department of
Canadian Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan
On April 18, 2002, Premier Pat
Binns; and the Leader of the Opposition, Ron
MacKinley, made statements on the deaths of four Canadian soldiers of the
Third Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. The House
observed a moment of silence in their memory.
Clerk Assistant and
House of Commons
The early part of 2002 has been dominated by controversy and
acrimonious relations between government and opposition Members on issues
ranging from Canada's participation in the American-led campaign against
terrorism in Afghanistan to the awarding of advertising contracts by the
Department of Public Works.
The Commons was also rocked by the usurping of one of its
long-held traditions when Keith Martin (Canadian
Alliance) grabbed the ceremonial Mace, which lies in a place of honour at the
head of the Clerk's table in front of the Speaker to indicate when the House is
sitting. Mr. Martin was angered when government members voted in favour of
an amendment to discharge his bill on the non-medical use of marijuana and refer
the subject matter to a committee. In what appears to have been a
premeditated act of defiance, Mr. Martin walked up the centre aisle to the
table, picked up the five-foot long Mace and proclaimed loudly to the Speaker,
"We don't live in a democracy any more." A question of privilege was
subsequently raised by the Government House Leader, Ralph Goodale, and was deemed prima facie by the Speaker. Following
negotiations between the parties, Mr. Martin appeared at the bar of the House to
apologize for his actions.
The House has seen its fair share of musical chairs over
the past several months. Following the long-awaited Canadian Alliance
Party (CA) leadership convention in March and the victory of Stephen Harper as the new Party leader, five of the
remaining dissident Democratic Representative Caucus Members opted to leave
their coalition with the Progressive Conservatives and were accepted back into
the fold of the Alliance (Deborah Grey, Jay Hill, Grant McNally, Val Meredith and Chuck
Strahl). Inky Mark opted to continue to sit as
part of the Progressive Conservative Party Caucus as a "Conservative
Independent". It was not known at the time of writing whether Jim Pankiw would continue to sit as an Independent or
if he would return to the Alliance caucus.
On the evening of January 28th, the first sitting following the Holiday season
break, a special take note debate was held on the deployment of Canadian Forces
personnel in Afghanistan. On March 21st an
emergency debate was held on the fisheries industry. Another emergency
debate was held on April 8th to consider the
deterioration of relations between Israel and Palestine in the Middle
Another procedural “first” occurred on January 28th, pursuant to recent changes to the Standing Orders
based on recommendations of the Modernization Committee. Following a point
of order raised by backbencher Guy St-Julien (Lib.),
the Speaker informed the House that due to the Government's failure to respond
to a number of Written Questions on the Order Paper within the specified 45-day
period, they were being deemed referred to various standing committees of the
On February 4th, in a
ruling on a point of order raised by Vic Toews (CA),
concerning the handling of unanswered questions referred to the Standing
Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Deputy Speaker made a statement on
the intended functioning of the new procedure.
A dispute occurred in March between opposition parties with
regard to the allocation of opposition days for Supply proceedings and the
number of such days that would be made votable. On March 11th, pursuant to S.O. 81(14), Speaker Peter Milliken informed the House of the motion of
supply on national security in the name of Peter
Mackay, of the Progressive Conservatives – Democratic Representative
Coalition (PC/DR) to be considered the following day. The Speaker added
that the motion would be votable. Randy White
(CA) rose to object and stated that the motion should be non-votable, given
that the PC/DR had already used their allotment of votable motions. It should be
noted that the allotment for supply days and the number that are made votable is
negotiated in an informal agreement outside of the Chamber between opposition
House leaders. The Speaker stated that there seemed to be a disagreement
between the parties on the allocation of votable supply motions and urged the
House leaders to meet to iron out the matter. Following several more
interventions the following day, the Speaker announced that he would not accept
the designation of any motion as votable until an agreement had been reached.
The matter was finally resolved when Mr. White sought unanimous consent to
move a motion that laid out the allotment of supply days and the number of those
that would be made votable among the Opposition parties (CA - 11 days, 8
votable; Bloc Quebecois (BQ) - 6 days, 4 votable; New Democratic Party (NDP) - 2
days, 1 votable; PC/DR - 2 days, 1 votable). Unanimous consent was granted
and the motion was agreed to.
Early in the sitting period a question of privilege was
raised by Brian Pallister (CA), who alleged that Art Eggleton, the Minister of National Defence,
deliberately misled the House as to when he knew that prisoners taken by
Canadian JTF2 troops in Afghanistan had been handed over to the Americans.
In support of that allegation, he cited the Minister's responses in
Question Period on two successive days and alluded to a number of statements
made to the media by the Minister. In his ruling on the matter, the
Speaker stated that there appeared to be no dispute as to the facts. He stated
that while he accepted the Minister's assertion that he had no intention to
mislead the House, it was clear that two versions of events have been presented
to the House. He concluded that the situation where the House was left with two
versions of events was one that merited further consideration by an appropriate
committee, if only to clear the air.
Mr. Pallister moved and the House concurred that the matter
be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Following extensive study, the Standing Committee reported back to the
House finding that the Minister had made a mistake, but that, in its judgment,
there had been no intent to confuse or mislead and therefore concluded that no
contempt of the House had been committed by Mr. Eggleton.
During the course of the Committee's study on the Eggleton
affair, a second question of privilege was raised in the House by Joe Jordon (Lib.), the Parliamentary Secretary to the
Prime Minister. He charged that the Alliance Party had breached
parliamentary privilege by publishing statements on its website and through
comments made to the media to the effect that the Minister of National Defence
and the Prime Minister had deliberately misled the House and concealed important
information through false statements made in the House. In his ruling on the
matter the Speaker stated that while he could not find that a prima facie case of privilege existed, in his opinion,
the various statements and communications were intemperate and ill-advised,
adding that he was troubled by the fact that the language that had been the
basis for the complaint, appeared again in the text of the dissenting opinion
from the Alliance that was appended to the report of the Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs. The Speaker stated that he was not commenting
on the substance of dissenting opinions or on the content of Committee reports
themselves, but instead was urging Members and Chairs of Committees to ensure
that the parliamentary practice with regard to language and form is fully
In addition to the release of the 50th Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and
House Affairs relating to the Eggleton Affair (misleading the House), other key
Committee reports released recently include the Standing Committee on
Citizenship and Immigration's 3rd Report
entitled Building a Nation: Regulations under the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Standing Committee on
Industry Science and Technology's 8th Report
entitled A Plan to Modernize Canada's Competition
Regime. The Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages released a number
of reports during the winter months including the 7th
Report entitled Air Canada: Good intentions are
not enough!; the 8th Report – The official language minority communities told us… and
its 10th Report on the
Advisability of increasing funding for the Office of the Commissioner of
Official Languages. As well, the Public Accounts Committee released a
number of reports related to its examination of the December 2000 Report of the
Auditor General of Canada and a number of committees studied and reported back
to the House on the departmental votes in the Main Estimates relating to their
Due to the resignations of several Members of Parliament,
including some Cabinet Ministers, the ensuing Cabinet shuffle and the shifting
of Members of the independent Democratic Representative Caucus back into
the folds of the Canadian Alliance, a number of changes took place in the
memberships of Committees and several elections were held for Committee Chairs.
The new Chairs include: Sue Barnes –
Finance (replacing Maurizio Bevilacqua, who was
named Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development); Jean Augustine – Foreign Affairs and International
Trade (replacing Bill Graham, who was named Minister
of Foreign Affairs); Walt Lastewka – Industry,
Science; Technology (replacing Susan Whelan who was
named Minister for International Cooperation); Wayne
Easter – Liaison Committee (replacing Bill Graham) and Carolyn Bennett – Standing Joint Committee on the
Library of Parliament.
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs also
had a number of membership changes. New members Rick Borotsik (PC) and Garry
Breitkreuz (CA) replaced outgoing members Jay
Hill (CA, formerly PC/DR) and Cheryl Gallant
(CA). Several changes also occurred to the membership of the House's Board
of Internal Economy. Ralph Goodale, the new Government House Leader
replaced Don Boudria who was named Minister of
Public Works and Dale Johnston (CA), the new Chief
Opposition Whip replaced Richard Harris (CA) who
formerly held that position.
While a number of bills have made their way through the
legislative approval process, the Government has faced a difficult road with
regard to its legislative agenda within its own caucus as well as with the
opposition. Among those legislative initiatives that have met with more
resistance, both from the Liberal backbench and opposition parties is the
controversial Bill C-42, the Public Safety Act.
Due to internal pressures as well as wide-spread public concerns, the
Government withdrew the bill and introduced a new public safety legislative
package, Bill C-55; however opposition critics continue to voice their concerns
about the powers that would be granted under the Act.
Other bills that have been subject to much opposition,
include Bill C-15A, the Criminal Code Amendment Act
and its sister bill, C-15B, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act. These
two bills were originally packaged as one, but last fall the House passed a
motion directing the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to split
Bill C-15 into two separate bills. Bill C-15A was returned to the Senate
with amendments on April 23rd, while Bill C-15B
has spurred a backbench revolt amongst rural Liberal MPs who are calling for
changes to the animal cruelty provisions. The Liberal's rural caucus
formed an informal alliance with opposition members to call for a clause that
would protect farmers, ranchers, hunters and anglers from being taken to court
by animal-rights activists for such traditional practices as castrating cattle.
The 45-member caucus exerted enough influence to persuade Justice Minister
Martin Cauchon to take a second look at the
first time since it came to power in 1993, the Liberal Government had to back
down on plans to close down debate on a bill through the use of time allocation.
The Government House Leader served notice of a motion for time allocation
on Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act, and
subsequently did not rise to put the motion forward the next time the bill was
debated. The proposed legislation has come under sharp criticism from a wide
range of special interest groups, from the rural MPs who fear it will diminish
their property rights to several Liberal backbenchers who side with
environmentalists in asserting that the bill is ineffective. This is the
fourth attempt by the Government to bring in legislation to protect endangered
In addition to the Mace incident and the furor raised in
the House by Keith Martin with regards to his
Private Member's Bill on the non-medical use of marijuana, other Members have
signalled their discontent over the manner in which Private Members' Business is
handled. On March 18th, Mauril Bélanger, (Lib.) argued that his privileges as
a Parliamentarian had been breached. He took exception to the decision of
the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to select only four items
of Private Members' Business as votable when it could have selected nine items.
In his ruling on the matter, the Speaker stated that while the case raised
by the Member could not be considered a question of privilege, it was a serious
procedural matter that had been begging for a solution for some time. He
stated that, in view of the frustration reflected by the Member in the name of
several other Members, the Government House Leader should attempt to ensure the
resolution of these issues to the satisfaction of all Members. Since that time
the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has held hearings aimed at
reforming Private Members' Business.
On Wednesday, February 6th,
tributes were paid in recognition of the 50th
anniversary of the accession to the throne of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II. On Monday, February 18th, at the
beginning of the sitting, the Speaker expressed condolences on behalf of all
Members for the death of Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret and the House
rose for a moment of silence in her memory. The same day John Harvard (Lib.) paid tribute to the memory of Horace “Bud” Olson, (Lib), a former Member of the House
of Commons and Cabinet Minister. The House also commemorated the six-month
anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, with a one-minute period of silence in memory of
the victims and rescue-workers that lost their lives in the wake of the
terrorist attack. On Tuesday, April 9th, the
House rose for a minute of silence in honour of the memory of Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The sitting of the House was suspended that
day for several hours to allow Members to attend a memorial service in her
honour. The House also paid tribute on April 18th, to the four Canadian soldiers who died and the
eight who were injured following the accident near Kandahar in
Tributes were paid to Preston
Manning (CA) on January 31st on the occasion
of his departure from the House of Commons and on February 1st the Speaker informed the House that a vacancy had
occurred in the riding of Calgary Southwest, by reason of the resignation. The
Speaker announced two other vacancies on April 8th
following the resignations of George Baker
(Lib.) and Raymond Lavigne (Lib.). Both
were appointed to the Senate. By-elections were to be held in May in these three
ridings as well as in the ridings left vacant previously by Brian Tobin, Alfonso
Gagliano, Herb Gray and Ron Duhamel.
Special tribute was paid to one of the country's longest
serving Members of Parliament, Herb Gray on March
13th. The former Deputy Prime Minister
held his seat of Windsor West for almost 40 years, having first been elected in
1962. Following a motion by the Government House Leader, which was
endorsed by all parties, Mr. Gray was invited to sit at the Bar of the House to
hear tributes paid to him by all party leaders. He then made a short address and
was warmly thanked by the Speaker. This was the first time an individual,
who did not hold a seat in the House at the time, was invited to sit inside the
Bar on the floor of the House for such a ceremony.
A series of tributes were also paid to the athletes who
participated in the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Salt Lake
City (USA). On February 25th tributes was
paid to the Olympic athletes. This was followed on March 18th by tributes for the Paralympic athletes and on
April 15th the House resolved itself into
Committee of the Whole to receive and introduce both groups of athletes on the
floor of the Chamber.
note was the commemoration on April 17th, of the
20th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The
occasion was marked by speeches by the Prime Minister and representatives of all
the opposition parties.
On April 16th the new
Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, released
her 2002 Report raising a number of concerns related to government management
and spending. One of the issues related to the fact that departments are paying
millions of dollars in grants prior to receiving Parliamentary authorization.
Parliament has given authority to the Treasury Board to supplement
departmental votes and make “miscellaneous minor and unforeseen expenses not
otherwise provided for” through the Contingencies Vote. The Auditor General
questioned whether some of the grant payments made with this interim authority
were miscellaneous, minor, and unforeseen. She also raised concerns about
payment authority and suggested that Parliament examine the wording of the
Contingencies Vote to ensure that its intentions for the use of these funds are
House Proceedings Directorate
On March 12, 2002, Louise Harel
was elected President of the National Assembly by secret ballot. This was
the second time the Assembly used the secret ballot procedure. Only one round
was required for Mrs. Harel to obtain the majority of votes.
Mrs. Harel is the first woman and the fifty-third person to
hold this office since 1792. The Member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve was elected
for the first time in 1981, and subsequently reelected in 1985, 1989, 1994 and
1998. She has held several ministerial and parliamentary offices, particularly
as Minister of State for Municipal Affairs and Greater Montreal, Minister of
State for Employment and Solidarity, Minister of Income Security, and Minister
responsible for Immigration and Cultural Communities.
Mrs. Harel thus succeeds Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, who, on 30 January 2002,
resigned from his office in order to join the Cabinet.
Beaulne was elected Second Vice-President at the sitting. Mr.
Beaulne thus joins incumbent vice-presidents Raymond
Brouillet and Michel Bissonnet.
of the Library of the National Assembly
It was on March 10, 1802 that the Quebec Members
established their first library. On that day, the Members adopted a resolution
entrusting the administration of the collection to the Clerk of the House of
Assembly, Samuel Phillips.
This anniversary constitutes a unique occasion to focus the
population's attention on the history of Quebec parliamentarism and of the
Library. By the same token, it provides an opportunity to mark the work
performed by the past and current members of the Library staff, which
contributes on a daily basis to the quality of the debates by meeting the
information and documentation requirements of Members, the employees of the
Assembly, the Press Gallery journalists and researchers, while contributing to
the extension of the Library's influence and to the promotion of our documentary
Several activities and special publications mark this
second centenary. First, the Library opened, in its newly renovated quarters, an
exhibition on the persons who have been responsible for the Library throughout
its existence. Furthermore, four conferences and seminars have been organized on
the following themes:
- April 9, 2002: Conference on assistance to
parliamentary libraries in developing countries
- May 16, 2002: Conference on the history of the
- September 24, 2002: Seminar on the history of
- October 31, 2002: Conference on the Library and
Furthermore, on September 22 and 23, 2002, the Library of
the National Assembly will be hosting the conference of the Association of
Parliamentary Librarians in Canada.
For further information, please refer to the article
entitled “Bicentennial of the Quebec National Assembly Library” in this issue of
the Canadian Parliamentary Review.
On April 15, 2002, by-elections were held in three
electoral divisions. Anna Mancuso and Lise Thériault, both of the Quebec Liberal Party, were
elected as Members in the ridings of Viger and Anjou, respectively, while in the
Saguenay riding, François Corriveau, of the Action
démocratique du Québec Party won the election.
The party standings of the National Assembly are now as
follows: 69 Members of the Parti Québécois; 51 Members of the Quebec Liberal
Party; and 2 Independent Members (Action démocratique du Québec Party); for a
total of 122 seats. Three seats remain vacant.
New Version of the Internet
In March 2002, the National Assembly launched a new version
of its Internet site. This new site, in addition to providing a substantially
enriched content, now displays a more detailed format as well as a new
navigation bar enabling the user to quickly find the most important sections of
the site. Close to one million visits to the site are expected this year, in
comparison with 712,891 in 2000-2001. The Internet address of the National
Assembly is www.assnat.qc.ca.
Secretariat of the Assembly
As mentioned in the previous issue of the Review, several
standing committees were required to hold elections in order to fill the
vacancies resulting from the Cabinet shuffle of last January.
Paré, the Member for Lotbinière, was elected chairman of the
Committee on Public Finance. Mr. Paré replaces the Member for Drummond, Normand Jutras, who was appointed to
As regards the Committee on Culture, the Member for
Champlain, Yves Beaumier, was elected chairman in
replacement of Jean-François Simard, the Member for
Montmorency, who, after having held this office for ten months, was in turn
appointed as Minister.
Dion, the Member for Saint-Hyacinthe, was named chairman of the
Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food following the appointment of the
Member for Marie-Victorin, Cécile Vermette, as
Deputy Government House Leader. Mrs. Vermette had been chairman of this
Committee since November 2000.
the Member for Bellechasse, was elected chairman of the
Committee on Institutions, thus replacing Roger
Bertrand, the Member for Portneuf, who was appointed to the Cabinet after
having been chairman of the Committee for close to three years.
Finally, the Member for Saint-Maurice, Claude Pinard, was selected to chair the Committee on
Transportation and the Environment, in replacement of Claude Lachance, who had been chairman of this
Committee since March 1999.
Carrier-Perreault, the Member for Les Chutes-de- la-Chaudière, was elected
vice-chairman of the Committee on Social Affairs, replacing Yves Beaumier.
The members of the Committee on Education elected the
Member for Saint-Jean, Roger Paquin, as their new
vice-chairman, Serge Geoffrion, the Member for La
Prairie, having left this office to chair the Parti Québécois
As is customary each year, the committee members examined
the estimates of expenditure for 2002-2003. Between April 10 and 30, the
Assembly thus only took Routine Proceedings in order to allow this important
annual exercise to be carried out, an exercise which takes up some two hundred
hours of the committees' work schedule.
In February, the Committee on Social Affairs held a general
consultation on the draft bill entitled Quebec Health
Card Act. This draft bill proposes that a chip card, to be called “health
card”, replace the health insurance card presently issued by the Régie de
l'assurance-maladie du Québec. This new card would make it possible to identify
and authenticate the card holder, but would also provide his personal medical
The Committee received 49 briefs and heard 42 individuals
and organizations within the framework of this general consultation. Health care
providers, users, public protection organizations (Commission d'accès à
l'information, Public Protector, etc.), computer specialists and health care
facility directors came before the Committee members to give their opinion on
During recent months, the Committee on Public Finance
carried out orders of initiative on the following subjects: the protection of
investors in Quebec, responsible investment and the parliamentary control of
regulations. An interesting fact to be noted is that, in order to ensure a
certain degree of flexibility in the organization of its proceedings, the
Committee decided to appoint three working committees responsible for, among
other matters, identifying mandates and preparing an action plan for each, which
plan is subsequently submitted to the Committee in a deliberative meeting. These
committees are composed of the chairman, a Government Member, an Official
Opposition Member, the clerk of the Committee and, in two of the three
committees, a researcher from the Documentary Studies Directorate.
In compliance with the provisions of the Act respecting educational institutions at the university
level, the Committee on Education heard, in March and April 2002, the 19
head officers of educational instititutions at the university level on their
1999-2000 annual reports. During these hearings, the Members examined
particularly the performance agreements and the first follow-up reports stemming
therefrom as well as the issue concerning university research.
by Sylvia Ford
of the Assembly
The Spring Sitting of the Second Session of the Twenty-Fifth
Legislature adjourned on May 14, 2002 after 37 sitting days. At the
conclusion of the sitting, 28 Government Bills, 3 Private Members' Public Bills
and 1 Private Bill were passed by the Assembly. Three Government Bills
were left on the Order Paper.
The second session began on February 26, 2002 with the
Speech from the Throne, delivered by Alberta's Lieutenant Governor, Lois Hole. It began with a moment of silence to
mark the passing of Princess Margaret and former
Lieutenant Governor H.A. (Bud) Olson and an
expression of support and appreciation for the armed forces serving in
Afghanistan. The speech focused on initiatives to enhance the health, education
and economy of the province.
Some of the Bills passed during the spring sitting
- Bill 9, Child Welfare Amendment
Act 2002, introduced by Children's Services Minister Iris Evans, amends the current legislation to
facilitate the inter-provincial movement of children with child welfare
involvement and streamlines the process for obtaining emergency apprehension
- Bill 12, Education Services
Settlement Act, introduced by Learning Minister Lyle Oberg, establishes a three person Arbitration
Panel, with one member appointed by the Alberta Teachers' Association, one
by the Alberta School Boards Association with the Chair appointed by the
Minister of Human Resources and Employment, to settle a breakdown in
negotiations for a new collective agreement between teachers and
several school boards;
- Bill 20, Justice Statutes
Amendment Act, 2002, introduced by Minister of Justice David Hancock, amends several statutes including
the Fatal Accidents Act to provide for increased
entitlements for surviving adults and children – the Survival of Actions Act is also amended to bring
Alberta in line with other western Canadian jurisdictions by restricting
compensation to a deceased's estate to actual financial losses resulting
from death, not for future or anticipated losses;
- Bill 26, Workers' Compensation
Amendment Act, 2002, introduced by Human Resources and Employment
Minister Clint Dunford, amends the Act by, among
other things, ensuring the independence of the WCB Appeals Commission by
separating it from the WCB, providing that Appeals Commission staff will no
longer be WCB employees and creating a medical panel to resolve differences
in medical opinion that affect a worker's claim;
- Bill 29, Intestate Succession
Amendment Act, 2002, introduced by Minister of Justice David Hancock, provides for the right of an “adult
interdependent partner”, defined as "a person in a common law or same sex
relationship of at least three years or where there is a child of the
relationship", to share in the estate of that person's partner should the
partner die without a will. Bill 29 was introduced in response to an Alberta
Court of Queen's Bench ruling that struck down the parts of the Intestate Succession Act as
- Bill 30, Adult Interdependent
Relationships Act, was introduced by Attorney General and Government
House Leader David Hancock just prior to the adjournment of the Spring
Sitting and has been held over for further consideration in the fall.
The Bill amends several Alberta Acts that set out financial and
property benefits and responsibilities for people in non-married
relationships that involve economic and emotional dependency. The Bill
covers a range of personal relationships that fall outside the traditional
institution of marriage, including platonic relationships where two people
agree to share emotional and economic responsibilities, common law or same
sex relationships of not less than three years and relationships of some
permanence where there is a child of the relationship.
On March 19, 2002, Minister of Finance Patricia Nelson presented the Budget and estimates for
the 2002-03 fiscal year. The Budget Speech noted the challenges faced by
the province due to the dramatic drop in the price of oil and gas and the
economic uncertainty caused by the events of September 11. She reaffirmed
the Government's commitment to balancing the provincial budget while maintaining
funding in priority areas. The Budget increases the base budget for the
Department of Health and Wellness by $468 million to $6.8 billion, an increase
of 7.3 per cent. The Department of Learning also received an increase in
its budget of 4.7 per cent to $4.7 billion, while the Department of Children's
Services received an increase of $675 million – an increase of 4.2 per cent.
The Minister projected total revenues of $20 billion for 2002-03, a
decline of $1.7 billion or 5.6 per cent from 2001-02. Expenditures were
projected to be $19.2 billion, a reduction of $1.7 billion or 8.1 per cent from
the previous fiscal year. Revenue from natural resources is expected to decline
37 per cent from last year.
Private Members' Public
Three Private Members' Bills were passed during the Spring
Sitting. They were:
- Bill 202, Environmental
Protection and Enhancement (Clean-up Instructions) Amendment Act,
sponsored by Mary Anne Jablonski (PC, Red Deer
North), allows a Director appointed under the Act to immediately direct a
person responsible for a polluting substance to restore the area affected by
the release of the substance to the Director's satisfaction;
- Bill 205, School Trustee
Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, sponsored by Mary
O'Neill (PC, St. Albert), disqualifies employees of school boards,
charter schools or private schools from election as school board trustees,
unless on a leave of absence, and strengthens the disclosure requirements
for trustees of pecuniary interests.
- Bill 206, Fisheries (Alberta)
Amendment Act, 2002, introduced by Ray
Danyluk (PC, Lac La Biche-St. Paul), allows the Minister responsible to
order any measures deemed necessary to reduce the number of bird or animal
species which are harming, or have the potential to harm, fish or fish
Mason (ND, Edmonton-Highlands), raised a purported question of
privilege on March 11 alleging that Premier Klein had misled the Assembly by
stating that Bill 12 was not a punitive action against Alberta teachers.
He alleged that this statement was misleading in light of his reading of
the provisions of the Bill. On March 12, Speaker Kowalski ruled that the
provisions of the Bill were open to various subjective interpretations, that the
matter was best characterized as a disagreement among members of the Assembly,
and accordingly, there was no prima facie question
On March 14, Mr. Mason again rose on a purported question
of privilege. He alleged that the Leader of the Official Opposition,
in nominating two members to the Electoral Boundaries Commission, had failed to
consult with the leader of the third party New Democrats as required by the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act. In
accordance with the Act, the Speaker appointed four members to the Commission on
March 14. Dr. Ken Nicol, Leader of the Official
Opposition, confirmed that he did not consult with the third party based on his
interpretation of the statute.
In his March 18 ruling, Speaker Kowalski noted that while
the nomination and appointment of the members of the Commission involves certain
actors in the Assembly, it does not involve the Assembly itself.
Therefore, while a very serious issue, the failure of the Leader of the
Opposition to meet his statutory obligation to consult the Leader of the third
party did not constitute a prima facie question of
privilege. In the interests of fairness and compliance with the statutory
requirements he declared the appointments of Official Opposition's nominees a
nullity. Ultimately the same two individuals were nominated by the Leader of the
Official Opposition after consultation with the Leader of the third
Official Opposition House Leader, Debby Carlson (Liberal, Edmonton-Ellerslie), raised a
purported point of privilege on March 19, alleging that Solicitor General, Heather Forsyth, had deliberately misled the House in a
series of answers to questions posed to her in the Assembly. Ms Carlson
alleged that the answers, concerning the classification and reporting
requirements for sexual offenders on probation, were contradictory and at odds
with the policy manual of the Solicitor General's own department. In
response, the Minister indicated that it was not her intention to deliberately
mislead the Assembly. She went on to clarify the responses she had made to
the questions at issue. On March 20, Speaker Kowalski ruled that while
there was an inconsistency in the Minister's statements, there was not a prima facie question of privilege. He noted that
it would be difficult for him to conclude that a contempt of the House arose
every time a Minister misstates departmental policy.
On April 11, Ms Carlson again rose on a purported point of
privilege, contending that the Minister of Finance Patricia Nelson and Premier
Klein were in contempt of the Assembly by allegedly not complying with the
Financial Administration Act with respect to certain supposed financial
arrangements involving the Swan Hills waste treatment plant. The
Government argued that the provisions in question were never triggered. In his
April 16 ruling, Speaker Kowalski stated that for there to be a prima facie question of privilege there had to be some
link to the proceedings of the Assembly which demonstrates how a member's rights
were interfered with, and that such a link had not been demonstrated. He
went on to indicate that he was being asked to give a legal interpretation of
the Financial Administration Act which was not the
role of the Chair. Accordingly, he ruled that there was not a prima facie question of privilege.
April 15, Hugh MacDonald (Liberal, Edmonton-Gold
Bar) raised a purported question of privilege based on the refusal of his
request to access Hansard's audio tapes of proceedings of the Assembly in order
to determine whether a particular interjection had been made by another Member.
Mr. MacDonald stated that he had been told that requests for access to
audio recordings would only be granted in relation to his own comments in the
Assembly and not those of another Member. The second basis of the
purported question of privilege related to the accuracy of Hansard in relation
to proceedings. Mr. MacDonald stated that an interjection of another
Member, which he clearly heard in the Assembly, had not been recorded in
Speaker Kowalski ruled that there was no prima facie question of privilege and characterized the
purported question of privilege as a matter related to the administration of the
Assembly. He noted that the purpose of the recordings is to facilitate the
publication of Hansard. He restated the rule that no Member can listen to
another Member's remarks without the authorization of the Speaker and that this
authorization would only be granted in the most exceptional of circumstances.
He pointed out that the policy was not a new one, and had been in place
for nearly three decades. Concerning the accuracy of Hansard, Speaker
Kowalski indicated that it is a well-established principle that Hansard does not
report injections unless they elicit a response from a person recognized by the
Deputy Premier and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural
Development Shirley McClellan raised a purported
question of privilege on April 15 concerning certain comments attributed to her
during Question Period by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Dr. Ken Nicol.
He asked her about certain “off-mike” comments he alleged she made about
the Calgary Catholic School Board. Mrs. McClellan emphatically denied
making the statement. Speaker Kowalski ruled on April 17 and found that
Dr. Nicol's question, while a violation of the Standing Orders of the Assembly,
did not constitute a prima facie question of
privilege. At the Speaker's invitation, Dr. Nicol apologized and withdrew
Speaker Kowalski hosted a ceremony recognizing the Muslim
Festival of Eid-ul-Adha in the Rotunda of the Alberta Legislature Building on
Tuesday March 5, 2002. Eid-ul-Adha means “Festival of Sacrifice”, and is
celebrated by Muslims worldwide.
On Monday March 18, 2002, Prince
Michael of Kent (KVCO), a cousin of the Queen, addressed the Members of the
Legislative Assembly from the floor of the Chamber as part of the Golden Jubilee
celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's assession to the throne. Members gave
their unanimous consent for Prince Michael to address the Assembly.
The same day Speaker Kowalski hosted a ceremony in honour
of Alberta's Francophone community. Joining the Speaker at the ceremony
were Dr. Nicol, Leader of the Official Opposition, Raj
Pannu, Leader of the New Democrat Opposition, Denis
Ducharme, (P.C. Bonnyville-Cold Lake) Chair of the Francophone Secretariat,
and Ernest Chauvet, President of L'Association
Canadienne- Francaise de L'Alberta.
Upon the recommendation of the Standing Committee on
Legislative Offices and a resolution of the Assembly, Brian Fjeldheim was reappointed Chief Electoral Officer
of Alberta and Robert Clark was reappointed as
Alberta's Ethics Commissioner.
Based on resolutions of the Assembly concurring in the
reports of the Select Special Auditor General and Information and Privacy
Commissioner Search Committee, chaired by Janis
Tarchuk (P.C. Banff-Cochrane), Frederick James
Dunn, CA, was appointed Auditor General effective June 1, 2002 and Frank Work was appointed Information and Privacy
Griffiths, (P.C.) won the by-election for the constituency of
Wainwright held April 8, 2002 and was sworn in as a Member of the Legislative
Assembly on April 29, 2002. Mr. Griffiths is the youngest MLA currently in
the Assembly at 29 years of age.
Senior Parliamentary Counsel
Although there was considerable debate in the Senate on a
number of bills during the spring of 2002, it was clearly the reports of Senate
committees that captured the attention of the senators. One committee in
particular, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
chaired by Senator Colin Kenny took on an added
importance. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, its study to survey the
major security and defence issues facing Canada could not have been more timely.
When the committee's report “Canadian Security and Military Preparedness”, was
tabled in the Senate on March 5, it highlighted the need for increased port
security and recommended a substantial increase in the defence
The National Security and Defence Committee was only one of
many committees that were active. The Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Committee chaired by Senator Michael Kirby tabled
Volumes Two, Three and Five of a series of reports on its continuing study of
the role of the federal government in health care. Volume Two examined
predictable changes within the health care system and Volume Three reviewed
health care in other countries. Part 1 of Volume Five outlined 20 principles for
restructuring the publicly funded hospital and doctor system. One of the
committee's key recommendations called for limits on hospital waiting times. The
next stage of its study will include hearings which will focus on how to
implement the principles contained in this report. Volume Four, which had been
tabled in September 2001, used information from Volumes Two and Three as the
basis for public consultations conducted across Canada last fall.
Coincidentally, the release of Volumes Two and Three happened at the same time
as the publication of the interim report of the Commission on the Future of
Health Care in Canada, headed by Roy
The Senate adopted the Seventh Report of the Standing
Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament which recommended
amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act and to
the Rules of the Senate that would allow for the
recognition of other political parties in the Senate. This came about after a
Speaker's ruling on a question of privilege raised by Senator Gerry St. Germain about the designation of the Leader
of the Opposition in the Senate and a request that followed from the Senate for
this committee to study the subject of opposition parties.
The Official Languages tabled four reports: The Sixth
concerned a resolution adopted by that committee asking for a financial
contribution from the federal government to help New Brunswick translate its
municipal bylaws; the Seventh Report entitled Air
Canada: Good intentions are not enough made 16 recommendations concerning
the service provided by Air Canada in both official languages; the Eighth gave
an account of its consultation with the English and French linguistic minority
communities of Canada; and the Tenth concerned a resolution requesting the
government to increase funding for the Office of the Commission of Official
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of
Regulations tabled its Fifth Report on February 7 which drew the attention of
the Senate and the House of Commons to the Assessor's
Rules of Procedures and their application, in particular, to the Pesticide Residue Compensation Act. As well, the
Fisheries Committee summarized a series of informal meetings held in Manitoba,
Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Nunavik in its Fifth report entitled Selected Themes on Canada's Freshwater and Northern
Fisheries, tabled on February 19.
The National Finance Committee presented three reports on
its consideration of the Estimates 2002-2003 and tabled a report on a special
study entitled The Effectiveness of and Possible
Improvements to the Present Equalization Policy. After extensive debate on
its consideration, the Senate adopted the Ninth Report of National Finance. This
report which dealt with the committee's examination of the role of government in
the financing of deferred maintenance costs in Canada's post-secondary
institutions contained seven recommendations.
The Senate approved two reports from the Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration Committee. One concerned the release of funds to
Senate committees for this fiscal year and the other recommended a salary
increase for unrepresented employees of the Senate.
On December 11, 2001, Senator John
Lynch-Staunton, Leader of the Opposition, raised a point of order to object
to the way briefing material was put together by the Department of Transport for
the use of the Senate Transport Committee during its consideration of Bill C-44,
An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act. He complained
that the Department of Transport, in anticipating second reading of the bill,
had prepared its documents improperly and inadequately. Senator Lynch-Staunton
maintained that the department's cavalier behaviour undermined the importance of
the Senate and, if allowed to continue unchecked, might push the Senate down the
“slippery slope to irrelevance”. In his decision on February 5, the Speaker
agreed that the department had been careless in the preparation of its briefing
material but it would be the responsibility of the committee, and not the
Speaker, to raise a complaint with department officials.
Anne Cools rose on a question of privilege on March
14. It seemed to her that remarks made by another senator during debate on Bill
S-9, An Act to remove certain doubts regarding the
meaning of marriage about a B.C. Supreme Court Judge were disrespectful and
offensive and constituted a breach of parliamentary privilege. On March 19, the
Speaker ruled that Senator Cools' objection was more in the nature of a point of
order and did not form a question of privilege.
The Speaker also ruled on a point of order raised by
Senator Cools on May 2 in connection with 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. Senator
Cools asserted that it was improper for debate on the bill to proceed with
second reading, since Royal Consent had not yet been signified. Furthermore, she
questioned the process of obtaining the Royal Consent by the sponsor of the
bill, Senator Terry Stratton, a private member from
the opposition. In his ruling on May 7, the Speaker noted that modern practice
allowed private members greater scope in legislative matters and described
other ways used by parliamentarians in the United Kingdom to obtain Royal
Consent. It was his opinion that the decision of whether to follow the example
of the United Kingdom rested with Senator Stratton. The Speaker concluded there
was no valid point of order and allowed the debate to continue.
Twelve bills received Royal Assent but the enactment of two
of these, Bill S-14 and Bill S-22, was notable because they were sponsored by
private members and not by the government. Bill S-14, Sir John A. Macdonald Day and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day
Act, sponsored by Senator Lynch-Staunton, proposed the designation of
January 11 as “Sir John A. Macdonald Day” and November 20 as “Sir Wilfrid
Laurier Day” to honour these extraordinary Prime Ministers. Senator Lowell Murray's Bill S-22, An
Act to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse
of Canada, was the subject of interesting discussion on the symbolic
significance of this horse and the role it played in the nation's
Her Excellency the Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, presided over Royal Assent on March
21 in a ceremony that was broadcast on television.
There are certain occasions of historical significance and
importance which require formal recognition by the Senate. Certainly, the death
of an immediate member of the Royal Family is an event that demands an
appropriate expression of condolence. On April 16, the first sitting day
following the death of Her Majesty The Queen Mother on March 30, the Senate paid
tribute to the Dowager Queen and adopted a formal motion of sympathy to Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The 20th anniversary of the
patriation of the Constitution and the proclamation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was a much happier
occasion. Several senators participated in a vigorous debate on a motion passed
on April 17 commemorating the event.
Three new senators, all of them sitting Members of
Parliament, were sworn in: Ronald J. Duhamel on
February 5 and George Baker and Raymond Lavigne on April 16.
Tributes were paid to Senator Sheila Finestone who retired on January 28 and to
Senator Lois Wilson who retired on April 8 as well
as to former senators Heath Macquarrie who died on
January 2, Melvin Perry (Poirier) who died on
January 25, Bud Olson who died on February 14 and Finlay MacDonald who died on March 2.
The year 2002 began busily for the First Legislative
Assembly with a number of its Standing Committees holding public meetings in
which independent officers appeared to present their annual reports and answer
questions from Members.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Nunavut
appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Services,
chaired by Hunter Akat Tootoo, MLA for Iqaluit
Centre. The Languages Commissioner appeared before the Standing Committee
Ajauqtiit, chaired by David Iqaqrialu, MLA for
Uqqummiut. Both Standing Committee Chairs tabled reports during the Fifth
Session on these appearances. Under the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, the
Government has 120 days in which to provide comprehensive responses to the
Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser also
appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Services in
early February. She presented her first Report to the Legislative Assembly. The
Auditor General of Canada is the auditor for Canada's three Northern
territories. Committee Members also spent more than a day posing questions to a
number of Deputy Ministers and other senior Government of Nunavut officials
concerning the observations and recommendations contained in the Auditor
General's report. The Standing Committee Chair tabled the Committee's report
during the Fifth Session.
The Fifth Session reconvened in Iqaluit on February 20, and
prorogued on March 6. A major piece of legislation considered and passed during
this time was the new Legislative Assembly and Executive
Council Act, which enjoyed unanimous support by Members.
The motion for first reading of the Bill was made by House
Leader Kelvin Ng, MLA for Cambridge Bay.
During consideration of the Bill during Committee of the Whole, Chairman
of the Legislative Assembly's Management and Services Board Kevin O'Brien, MLA for Arviat, appeared at the witness
table and responded to questions from both Ministers and Regular
The Special Committee to review the
Official Languages Act, chaired by Rebekah Uqi
Williams, MLA for Quttiktuq, tabled its Interim Report during the Fifth
The Standing Committee on Community Empowerment and
Sustainable Development, chaired by Glenn McLean,
MLA for Baker Lake, recommended that Bills 16 and 17, which dealt with municipal
governance, be permitted to fall off the order paper, following a number of
concerns raised by the Committee. The Committee recommended that the Government
introduce revised legislation during the Sixth Session. The Bills fell off the
Order Paper when the Session prorogued.
Statistics for the 5th
- 176 Ministers' Statements
- 503 Members' Statements
- 514 Oral Questions
- 14 Written Questions
- 7 Petitions
- 93 Tabled Documents
- 19 Reports of Standing and Special
- 55 Sitting Days
The Sixth Session convened on March 7, with Commissioner Peter Irniq delivering the Opening Address. The House
entered into a period of extended adjournment at the end of the sitting day. The
2002 Arctic Winter Games, which were co-hosted by Iqaluit and Nuuk, Greenland,
took place from March 17-22.
Minister of Education Peter
Kilabuk, MLA for Pangnirtung, introduced Bill 1, the proposed new Education Act, on March 7. The Bill received second
reading on April 24, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Health and
Education for review. The Committee, chaired by Jobie
Nutarak, MLA for Tunnuniq, has announced that it will hold public
consultations on the Bill during the fall of this year. Another major
legislative initiative currently underway by the Government is the development
of a new Wildlife Act. This legislation falls under
the jurisdiction of the Minister of Sustainable Development, Olayuk Akesuk, MLA for South Baffin.
The Session reconvened on April 24, and sat until May 16.
The Minister of Finance Kelvin Ng, delivered his fourth Budget Address on April
30. This year, the Minister's new kamiks (sealskin boots) came from the North
Baffin community of Hall Beach. Among the initiatives announced in the Budget
Address were cuts to the territory's personal and corporate income tax
Because Nunavut has no permanent land links with southern
Canada, the annual sealift during the summer and early fall is the primary means
by which materials are transported in large quantities to the territory.
Following a joint recommendation made by the Standing Committees in the spring
of 2001 after the budget review, the Government introduced a modified estimates
process in the fall of 2001. Now, the annual capital estimates are introduced
during the fall Session to allow for adequate lead-time before the sealift. The
main estimates for departmental operations and maintenance expenditures continue
to accompany the annual Budget Address. Because of the adjournment to
accommodate the Arctic Winter Games, an Interim
Appropriation Act was passed prior to March 31 to enable the Government to
operate into the new fiscal year.
As always, the budget session was dominated by the
line-by-line scrutiny given to each department's estimates during proceedings of
the Committee of the Whole. Another issue that arose during the Session was the
topic of the quality of the gasoline supply in Nunavut. Minister of Public Works
and Services Peter Kattuk, MLA for Sanikiluaq,
appeared before the Committee of the Whole to respond to questions on this
issue. A formal motion was passed by the Committee at the end of the day on the
issue. The motion was introduced by Mr. McLean.
number of documents of note have been tabled during the Sixth Session, including
the latest set of Public Accounts. The Speaker tabled the latest annual report
by Nunavut's Integrity Commissioner, as well as a comprehensive list of
statutory tabling requirements by Government departments, boards and agencies.
The Minister responsible for the Nunavut Power Corporation, Ed Picco, MLA for Iqaluit East, tabled the Ikuma II Report: Meeting Nunavut's Energy
During the Sixth Session, Goo
Arlooktoo, a former MLA in the Northwest Territories, and, for a period of
time, the Premier, passed away suddenly at his home in Iqaluit. A number of
tributes to Mr. Arlooktoo were made in the House. Mr. Arlooktoo was originally
from the South Baffin community of Kimmirut.
Bills passed to date in 2002 are:
- Technical Standards and Safety Act
- Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3,
- Interim Appropriation Act, April 1-June 30,
- Supplementary Retiring Allowances Act
- Legislative Assembly and Executive Council
- An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Retiring
- Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 4,
- Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3,
- Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 4,
- Supplementary Appropriation Act (Capital) Act, No.1,
- Appropriation Act, No. 2, 2002-03
- Loan Authorization Act, 2002-03
- An Act to amend the Revolving Funds Act
- An Act to amend the Property Assessment and Taxation
- An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive
- An Act to amend the Land Titles Act
In early October of this year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
II will visit Iqaluit for the second time during her reign. She first visited
Iqaluit (then known as Frobisher Bay) in 1970. She will be accompanied during
her visit by the Governor General and the Prime Minister, and is expected to
take part in ceremonial events in the Chamber.
The Sixth Session will reconvene on October 28, 2002, in
Pangnirtung. The Pangnirtung sitting will mark the third time that the Assembly
has sat outside of the capital. The Assembly will return to Iqaluit in
mid-November, when anticipated items of House business will be the 2003-04
capital estimates, a new Elections Act and new
legislation concerning municipal governance.
Further information on Nunavut is available at:
www.assembly.nu.ca, www.gov.nu.ca and www.nunavutcourtofjustice.ca.
Director, Research and