| British Columbia
| Prince Edward Island
| House of Commons
The Manitoba Legislature has been fairly quiet since the House
rose on August 9. MLAs are expected to reassemble in November or December
for the beginning of the Fourth Session of the Thirty-Seventh Legislature,
however there has been no word yet from the government on the timing of the
On September 25, 2002, Premier Gary
Doer announced a reorganisation of the current Cabinet. The shuffle
included the creation of a new Department of Energy, Science and Technology,
with Tim Sale (Fort Rouge) becoming the first Minister of this new
department. The size of the cabinet remained at 16 with no new members and no
Ministers leaving the cabinet. Other changes included:
- The former ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs
became a division of Finance, led by the current Minister Greg Selinger
- Steve Ashton (Thompson) moved from Transportation and Government
Services to become the new Minister of Conservation.
- Oscar Lathlin (The Pas) moved from Conservation to become the new
Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs.
- Eric Robinson (Rupertsland) moved from Aboriginal and Northern
Affairs to become the new Minister of Culture, Heritage and Tourism.
- Drew Caldwell (Brandon East) moved from Education, Training and
Youth to become the new Minister of Family Services and Housing.
- Ron Lemieux (La Verendrye) moved from Culture, Heritage and Tourism to
become new Minister of Education and Youth.
- Scott Smith (Brandon West) moved from Consumer and Corporate Affairs to
become the new Minister of Transportation and Government Services.
With a visit to Winnipeg on October
8-9, Manitoba became a part of the Jubilee tour of Queen Elizabeth II and
Prince Philip. The 22-hour stay included visits to several sites
around the city as well as a very well attended evening event on the grounds of
the Legislature featuring performances by many well known Manitoba artists including
the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Loreena
McKennitt. The performances culminated with the Queen’s rededication of the
refurbished Golden Boy, accompanied by a magnificent fireworks display. The
Queen and Prince Philip also attended a reception with all MLAs, followed by a
gala dinner in the rotunda of the Legislature attended by young people from
across the province.
Since our last report two MLAs have
announced their retirement from provincial politics. Frank Pitura,
a member of the Legislature since 1995, announced in September that he would
not be seeking re-election. Mr. Pitura served in Premier Gary Filmon’s
cabinet from 1997 to 1999 as Minister of Government Services, assuming that
office just a few months before a disastrous flood engulfed the Red River
valley in the spring of that year.
Harold Gilleshammer has also announced he will not run
again. Mr. Gilleshammer, first elected to the Legislature in 1988, served in
Premier Filmon’s cabinet from 1990 to 1999, holding a variety of portfolios
including: Family Services, Culture, Heritage and Citizenship, Labour and
Both Members have indicated they will
remain active as MLAs for the balance of the current legislature. The last
general election in Manitoba was held on September 21, 1999.
Clerk Assistant /Clerk
For the purpose of bringing a solution to the temporary closing
of emergency services in certain Quebec hospitals, the Members of the National
Assembly were summoned by the Premier for an extraordinary sitting on July 25,
2002, in order to adopt an act to ensure the continued provision of emergency
This act provides that at the request
of the Minister of Health and Social Services, the president and executive
director of a regional health board must, where an institution's emergency
services are interrupted or their maintenance is threatened and the Minister is
of the opinion that the situation is or is likely to be prejudicial to the
medical services to which every person is entitled, confer on the head of the
regional department of general medicine of the regional board the
responsibility of establishing a list of on-duty physicians who are to provide
medical services in the emergency services facility of the institution. The act
orders the physicians designated to report to the emergency services facilities
of the institutions to which they are assigned and to participate in the
periods of duty specified on the lists.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Lobbying
Transparency and Ethics Act adopted on June 13, André Côté,
Secretary General of Laval University, was appointed Lobbyists Commissioner for
a term of five years, beginning on August 5, 2002.
On October 28, 2002, Paul Bégin,
Member for the Electoral Division of Louis-Hébert, announced that he was
resigning as Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Minister responsible for
the administration of legislation respecting the professions, and that he would
henceforth sit as an independent Member. The composition of the National
Assembly is now as follows: Parti Québécois, 68 Members; Quebec Liberal Party,
51 Members; Independent Members, six (five of whom are members of the Action
Démocratique du Québec).
Ruling from the Chair
Following the by-elections held in the
spring of 2002, which modified the composition of the Assembly by increasing
from two to five the number of independent Members, on October 15, 2002 the
President of the Assembly, Louise Harel, rendered her decision, firstly,
on the allocation of main questions during Oral Question Period and, secondly,
on the determination of the order in which Business Standing in the Name of
Members in Opposition would be taken.
As regards the allocation of main
questions, the President ruled, on the basis of the precedents and practice,
that she would grant the independent Members two main questions per five
sittings. She also ruled that, generally speaking, these Members would continue
to ask their main question in fourth place.
The President based her decision on the
principles set forth in the ruling given by President Jean-Pierre Saintonge
on December 12, 1989 as regards the distribution of oral questions. These
principles are the following: The first principle establishes that every Member
is entitled to ask a question. The second establishes that Oral Question Period
is a privileged instrument for the control of the executive by the legislature
and that, consequently, it falls primarily, albeit not solely, to the
opposition. The rulings establishing this second principle refer to the parties
in opposition and not to the Official Opposition.
The recognition of parliamentary groups
constitutes a principle that must be applied to the first two. These
principles are completed by factors that are at the discretion of the Chair,
such as the key role played by the Official Opposition in parliamentary
control, the composition of the Assembly, current events and the urgency of the
main questions, as well as the number of supplementary questions.
In her ruling, the President also based
herself on the statistics for Oral Question Period during the 34th Legislature,
during which period the number of independent Members was similar to now and
these Members asked approximately one question per two and a half sittings.
Colloquia, Seminars, Conferences on the
On the initiative of the Amicale des
anciens parlementaires du Québec (AAPQ), a colloquium on The Parliamentary
System in the 21st Century was held from October 9 to 12. Under the
honorary chairmanship of the President of the National Assembly, this event
attracted over 200 participants, including 20 well-known speakers hailing from
the Americas, Europe and Africa. Within the context of globalization, in which
many question the ability of parliamentary assemblies to act, the participants
were invited to take a closer look at the role and powers of Parliaments and to
discuss the issues facing the parliamentary system. This colloquium brought
together former Members and parliamentarians currently in office, but also
thinkers, media representatives, political scientists, legal scholars, etc.
Immediately thereafter, from October 13
to 16, another major event, organized by the Montreal International Forum, took
place at the Palais des congrès in Montreal. Renowned speakers took their place
at the podium during this conference on World Governance 2002: Civil
Society and the Democratization of Global Governance, in which parliamentarians
as well as leaders of civil society and world economic institutions took part.
As President of the National Assembly, Mrs. Harel was responsible for the
coordination of the parliamentary sector of the Conference.
Within the framework of the
Bicentennial of its Library, following the conference of the Association of
Parliamentary Librarians in Canada, the Assembly hosted, September 24, 2002,
the Colloquium on the History of Parliamentary Libraries, during which
the participants heard close to a dozen renowned speakers from Europe, the
United States and Canada. This meeting enabled participants to form
partnerships with other libraries for the purpose of pooling expertise and thus
to take part in the development and evolution of tomorrow's parliamentary
library. It should be mentioned that three publications relating to the history
of the Library of the Quebec National Assembly were launched at the conclusion
of this event.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary
of the death of Jean-Charles Bonenfant, the foundation bearing his name
chose to honour his memory by inaugurating, last October, a series of
conferences in partnership with the Faculty of Law of Laval University. During
this event, which the foundation hopes will take place annually, some of Mr.
Bonenfant's preferred subjects will be discussed: the parliamentary system and
the fundamental principles of public law; federalism and the division of
powers; the history of institutional law; the drafting and interpretation of
Close to one hundred seniors hailing
from all regions of Quebec came together to take part in the third edition of
the Seniors' Parliament. During their proceedings, the seniors discussed two
bill proposals, respectively concerning social housing and the implementation
of a universal public prescription drug insurance plan. Members of the
personnel of the National Assembly provided their expertise and support
throughout this activity, which was held at the Parliament Building on
September 16, 17 and 18, 2002.
Francine Boivin Lamarche
Secretariat of the
Within the framework of an order of
initiative on the question of corporate social responsibility and ethical
investment, the Committee on Public Finance held a general consultation based
on a document the Committee prepared and which is entitled Responsabilité sociale
des entreprises et investissement responsable. During the proceedings,
which took place in September, groups and individuals from various sectors –
non-governmental organizations, businesses, unions, chambers of commerce – were
heard by the Members. The Committee was interested in discussing, in
particular, how businesses deal with pressure from investors concerned by the
behaviour of the corporations in which they invest their money.
Two Committee members subsequently took
part in the Americas Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility, which was
held in Miami at the end of September. This Conference, whose theme was
"Alliances for Development", was a unique occasion for the Members to
broaden their knowledge of the various issues facing those concerned with
corporate social responsibility, especially in the context of the Americas.
The members of the Committee on
Education explored the issue of population fluctuation in the education sector as
well as the negative impact of this phenomenon on communities. Indeed, in
several parts of Quebec, especially in the regions, school populations are
decreasing. However, the Committee noted that this decrease, which is
generalized throughout Quebec, ought not to overshadow the fact that, in
certain regions, in very specific areas, populations in the education sector
are increasing significantly.
Owing to the magnitude of the decrease
in populations, the Committee on Education resolved to find concrete and
realistic solutions and to identify the conditions that are conducive to
maintaining educational institutions and the vitality of communities. For this
purpose, at the end of September and in early October, the Committee heard over
thirty groups and individuals hailing from municipalities, labour
organizations, the school sector, cegeps, universities and the government.
Uncustomarily, the Minister of State for Education and Employment asked to be
heard by the Committee.
During the month of October, the Committee
on Planning and the Public Domain held special consultations on the document
entitled Mandat d'initiative sur le logement social et abordable.
Motivated by the need to find durable solutions with regard to housing
scarcity, a situation which has been particularly critical in Quebec during the
past two years, the Committee members initiated a collective reflection and
discussed current practices as regards housing assistance, in the medium and
long term. Over thirty groups and individuals came before the Committee to give
their opinion and to exchange views with the members on this important issue.
Finally, the Committee on Culture is
scheduled to meet with the Minister of International Relations in order to
discuss the Cultural Diversity sector, which is an element of the mission of
the Observatoire québécois de la mondialisation.
Orders of Reference and Mandates of
Since the month of August, several
sectorial committees were ordered by the Assembly to hold general or special
consultations on bills tabled in the Assembly. For its part, the Committee on
Public Administration is currently in the process of examining the financial
commitments of several ministries as well as hearing deputy ministers and head
officers of agencies within the framework of its mandates of accountability.
The conclusions reached will be communicated to readers upon completion of
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
Yukoners went to the polls in a general election on November 4,
2002 to select Members to the 31st wholly elected legislature. To the surprise
of most observers the Yukon Party won a resounding victory, capturing 12 of the
Assembly's 18 seats. The New Democratic Party won five seats, while the
governing Liberals won only one seat, that of leader and out-going Premier Pat
Duncan. When the Assembly was dissolved on October 2 the Liberals held
eight seats, the NDP four, the Yukon Party two, and three seats were held by
The Yukon Party victory marks the
fourth consecutive general election where the sitting government has failed to
win re-election. The Yukon Party was last in government from 1992-1996.
The 12 seats won on election night
represents the most ever held by a party in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The
previous high was 11 seats achieved by the Progressive Conservative Party in
the 1978 election and by the NDP in 1996. The Liberals reached a high of 11 in
November 2000 when they added a by-election win in Faro to the 10 seats won in
the general election on April 17, 2000.
Ms. Duncan called the election on
October 4. As mentioned in the autumn 2002 edition of this journal the Liberal
government had lapsed from a majority to a minority when, on the eve of the
2002 Spring Sitting, three government private members crossed the floor to sit
in opposition as independents. The Premier, believing her government would not
survive the 2002 Fall Sitting (scheduled to begin on October 17), decided to
call an election to restore "certainty" and to acquire a "clear
The Yukon Party candidates elected to
the Assembly include Premier-designate Dennis Fentie (Watson Lake); Peter
Jenkins (Klondike); Haakon Arntzen (Copperbelt); Brad Cathers (Lake
Laberge); John Edzerza (McIntyre- Takhini), Dean Hassard (Pelly-
Nisutlin); Archie Lang (Porter Creek Centre); Jim Kenyon (Porter
Creek North); Ted Staffen (Riverdale North); Glenn Hart (Riverdale
South); Patrick Rouble (Southern Lakes); and Elaine Taylor
(Whitehorse West). Only Mr. Fentie and Mr. Jenkins have experience in the
legislature, having both been elected in the general election of September 30,
The New Democrats elected include party
leader Todd Hardy (Whitehorse Centre), Gary McRobb (Kluane), Eric
Fairclough (Mayo-Tatchun), Lorraine Peter (Vuntut Gwitchin), and Steve
Cardiff (Mount Lorne). Mr. Cardiff is the only true rookie among them. Mr.
McRobb and Mr. Fairclough have been MLAs since 1996, while Mrs. Peter was first
elected in the general election of 2000. Mr. Hardy was a member of the 29th
As mentioned Ms. Duncan (Porter Creek
South) was the only Liberal elected. She was also elected in the general
election of 1996.
Fifteen incumbent MLAs sought
re-election. Six were successful. Eleven of the 18 MLAs elected are new to the
Assembly while Mr. Hardy, as mentioned, is a returnee from a previous
Three women (Ms. Taylor, Mrs. Peter and
Ms. Duncan) were elected to the 31st Legislature, compared to five who served
in the 30th Legislature, four of whom were cabinet ministers. The number of
First Nations Members also decreased from four to three (Mr. Edzerza, Mr.
Fairclough, and Mrs. Peter).
The election was the first conducted
according to the electoral boundaries recommended by the Electoral District
Boundaries Commission in its final report in January 2002. The recommendations
(incorporated into the Electoral District Boundaries Act, 2002) changed
the boundaries of most electoral districts and increased the number of seats to
18 from 17.
The Yukon Party was the only party to
register an increase in its percentage of the vote compared to the results of
the 2000 general election. Yukon Party candidates won 40 percent of the vote,
an increase of 16 percent. The NDP vote decreased to 27 percent from 33
percent, while the Liberal vote decreased to 29 percent from 43 percent. Six
independent candidates running in five ridings won a total of 540 votes (4
percent of the total vote). There were no independent candidates in 2000.
Overall voter turnout was 77.5 percent,
slightly lower than the turnout in the last general election. Turnout ranged
from a low of 71.3 percent in Riverdale South to a high of 89 percent in Vuntut
Gwitchin. Four other ridings registered a voter turnout over 80 percent.
The Yukon Party has announced that its
Members will be sworn in on November 30, 2002 and the new cabinet will be
announced and sworn in the same day. December 2 is identified as the date on
which the Yukon Party will take over government responsibilities from the
The incoming government has said it is
interested in attaining a supplementary appropriation to create employment
through winter works projects. This may mean a short legislative session before
Yukon Legislative Assembly
Prince Edward Island
The Fourth Session of the Sixty-first General Assembly opened on
November 14, 2002, with the reading of the Speech from the Throne by J.
Léonce Bernard, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. The
theme of the Government’s agenda for this session was Advancing our Quality
of Life, Together. Initiatives focusing on environmental protection,
as well as the health of the Province’s population were announced.
Premier Pat Binns announced
changes to the ministry on August 22, 2002. In summary, they included the
appointment of the province’s first female Minister of Transportation &
Public Works; a dedicated Department of Fisheries & Aquaculture; new responsibilities
for four existing ministers; and the introduction of a new member to cabinet.
Gail Shea was appointed Minister of
Transportation & Public works. She takes over from Don MacKinnon,
who will continue to serve as MLA for Winsloe-West Royalty. Elmer MacFadyen,
MLA for Sherwood-Hillsborough and Government House Leader since 1996, joins the
cabinet as Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs. Jeffrey Lantz was
appointed Minister of Tourism; he will continue to serve as the Attorney
General. Greg Deighan was appointed Minister of Fisheries and
Aquaculture. Chester Gillan will serve as Minister of Education,
and will maintain responsibility for the Environment portfolio. Jim
Bagnall, MLA for Montague- Kilmuir, was appointed Government House Leader
and Chair of the Government Caucus.
Warranting Attendance of Witnesses
before a Legislative Committee
As reported in the Spring 2002 issue of
Canadian Parliamentary Review, the Standing Committee on Agriculture,
Forestry and Environment was charged with the responsibility of conducting a
full and complete examination of the events leading up to and subsequent to the
discovery of potato wart fungus in the Province in October 2000. The
discovery led to American agricultural officials closing the border to Island
potatoes, significantly damaging potato exports in the fall of 2000.
As part of its investigations, the
Standing Committee invited two representatives from the federally-mandated
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to appear before it on three separate
occasions. All invitations were declined, and the Standing Committee took
the unusual step of issuing warrants to compel their attendance.
The Federal Government made application
to have the subpoenas stayed. The matter was heard on January 7, 2002,
and an interim declaration was made, granting a temporary exemption to the CFIA
officials from complying with the summonses, and setting a date of March 15 to
hear the case. A further postponement was granted, and arguments were
heard on June 11, 2002. The case, with its implications for limiting
inquiries between provincial governments and the Federal Government, drew the
attention of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for Ontario who was
granted intervener status.
A decision from Justice Wayne D.
Cheverie stating whether the subpoenas are valid and enforceable, is
expected later this year.
A delegation consisting of Ron
MacKinley, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts; Mr.
Bagnall, MLA, Vice-chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts; and Marian
Johnston, Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees, attended the 23rd Annual
Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees (CCPAC), held
in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, August 25-27, 2002.
Following the retirement on July 31,
2002, of the Province’s Auditor General, there were calls for a new procedure
to appoint his successor. Under current legislation, the Lieutenant
Governor in Council appoints the Auditor General, and may consult the
Legislative Audit Committee if it chooses. Leader of the Opposition, the
Mr. MacKinley, suggested amending the Audit Act to give authority to the
Speaker, the Provincial Treasurer and the Opposition Leader to select a new
Auditor General, in consultation with the Standing Committee on Public
The media reacted by endorsing the idea
of making a fundamental change to the process. An editorial in the Guardian
newspaper stated that having the legislature, rather than the governing party,
make the appointment would reinforce the message that the position is an
independent and impartial one, and that the Auditor General is directly
accountable to the people’s representatives.
A new Auditor General, Colin Younker,
was appointed on October 7, 2002, in accordance with the current Audit Act;
however, the Speech from the Throne, delivered on November 14, indicated that
the Government will introduce measures this session to “enhance the autonomy of
the Auditor General.”
As announced in the Speech from the Throne
on November 14, 2002, the Government will appoint an independent commission to
consult on and consider Prince Edward Island’s electoral system and
accompanying statue and regulations so it continues to reflect what Islanders
require of this legislature.
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
Since August 2001, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and
Government Services has, as part of its mandate, reviewed and made
recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on the annual reports, budgets and
service plans of British Columbia's six statutory officers. In June, the
Committee heard the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsman
present the results of the statutory officers' preliminary analysis of the feasibility
of sharing services as a way of realizing financial and service efficiencies.
The Committee will continue to consider the matter of shared services this
autumn, once it has completed its legislated pre-budget consultation process.
Three other committees dealing with
statutory officers were active this summer. On August 9, the Special Committee
to Review the Police Complaint Process completed its year-long review of the
procedure for resolving complaints against municipal police constables and
departments in British Columbia, which is set out in Part 9 of the Police
Act. After consulting with expert witnesses, key stakeholders and the
public, the Committee issued two reports. Its report of May 30, 2002 announced
the resignation of British Columbia's first Police Complaint Commissioner. Its
final report, deposited August 9, 2002, offered recommendations on improving
the police complaint process. The Committee's recommendations centred on four
key themes: improving public confidence in the complaint process; improving the
informal resolution process and encouraging its use; enhancing fairness for
complainants and respondents; and clarifying the role of the Police Complaint
The Special Committee to Appoint a
Police Complaint Commissioner is nearing the end of its selection process, and
will soon recommend to the Legislative Assembly a candidate for appointment as
BC's second Police Complaint Commissioner. Having gained thorough knowledge of
the police complaint process and the role of the Police Complaint Commissioner
during the course of their review of Part 9 of the Police Act, the
members of the Special Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process were
selected to form the appointment committee. The position of Commissioner has
been vacant since May, when Don Morrison resigned. Benjamin Casson,
QC, is presently the Acting Police Complaint Commissioner.
On October 10, 2002, the Special
Committee to Appoint a Chief Electoral Officer tabled its report in the House,
recommending that Harry Neufeld be appointed Chief Electoral Officer.
Mr. Neufeld has worked in the field of electoral management for 20 years. His
work experience includes assignments with Elections BC, the United Nations,
Elections Canada and other Canadian and international organizations. The
Committee received 59 applications for the position.
Third Session of the House Continues
The Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh
Parliament resumed on October 7, 2002 and is scheduled to continue until
November 28, 2002. Five exposure bills from the spring were debated, passed and
received royal assent in October: the Business Corporations Act, the Drinking
Water Protection Amendment Act, 2002, the Election Statutes Amendment
Act, 2002, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2002, and the Workers
Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2002. The Legislative Assembly has also
passed legislation to begin implementing a regional model for delivering many
of the services provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development,
the Community Services Interim Authorities Act.
The Business Corporations Act
repeals and replaces the Company Act. Its purpose is to update previous
governance requirements in response to developments in information technology
and the corporate regulatory environments of other Canadian jurisdictions, and
to provide greater flexibility for BC companies. The legislation is not
expected to come into force until it has been amended in the spring.
The Drinking Water Protection
Amendment Act, 2002 reorients the administration of drinking water
protection towards public health, rather than the environment. It establishes
the Ministry of Health Services as the lead agency for coordinating the
monitoring, treatment and accountability functions that ensure safe drinking water.
The Act received royal assent on October 31, but will come into force in the
winter of 2002/2003, once regulations have been developed to specify
groundwater protection measures; water treatment, distribution and monitoring
standards; and training and certification requirements for water system
The Election Statutes Amendment Act,
2002 was introduced in the spring and left on the Order Paper for public
discussion during the summer months. It received royal assent on October 31.
The legislation addresses the February 2000 BC Supreme Court decision in Pacific
Press v. A.G. et al that the Election Act's $5000 spending limit on
third-party election advertising, and its requirement that methodological
information be published with all election opinion polls, are in contravention
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Election Statutes
Amendment Act, 2002 removes these provisions from both the Election Act
and the Recall and Initiative Act, and in addition, expands the range of
charitable organizations that cannot make contributions to election or recall
campaigns, and requires that the value of volunteer labour be included in
political parties' disclosure statements when volunteers are being paid by a
third party for their work on election campaigns.
Bill 64, the Human Rights Code
Amendment Act, 2002 finalizes a revision process that was begun during the
spring sitting with Bill 53, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2002.
Bill 53 was withdrawn after first reading in order to allow for public
consultations on the bill during the summer. The Human Rights Code Amendment
Act, 2002 restructures the human rights system in BC by amending the Human
Rights Code to eliminate two statutory bodies, the Human Rights Commission
and the Human Rights Advisory Council. The amendments give the existing Human
Rights Tribunal sole responsibility for receiving, mediating and adjudicating
human rights complaints. These changes flow from the government's core services
review. The administrative justice project in the Ministry of Attorney General
is coordinating the core services review process for all of BC's administrative
Bill 63, the Workers Compensation
Amendment Act (No. 2), 2002 replaces Bill 56, the Workers Compensation
Amendment Act (No. 2), 2002, which was introduced in May then withdrawn to
await the results of summer consultations with stakeholder groups. The Act
focuses on streamlining the workers compensation system. It eliminates three
appellate bodies and replaces them with the new Workers Compensation Appeal
Tribunal and a two-stage appeal process. These reforms continue the revision
process that began in the spring sitting with the Workers Compensation
Amendment Act, 2002, and reference the recommendations of the 1999 report For
the Common Good: Final Report of the Royal Commission on Workers' Compensation
in British Columbia, and the 2002 Core Services Review of the Workers'
Compensation Board (Winter Report).
The Community Services Interim
Authorities Act establishes five aboriginal authorities, five regional
governance authorities, and one provincial community living authority for the
delivery of child protection and family development services throughout BC.
These interim authorities will be in place until permanent authorities are
established through legislation that is expected to be introduced in the spring
of 2003. The move to a community model for child protection, family
development, child and youth mental health, and early childhood development services
has emerged from a year-long consultation process and a September 2002
memorandum of understanding between the provincial government and aboriginal
leaders that provides First Nations with greater authority with respect to
services for aboriginal children and families.
In related news, the Office for
Children and Youth, which replaced the Child, Youth and Family Advocate in
February 2002, opened for operation in September. The children and youth officer
reports to the Attorney General, whereas the Child, Youth and Family Advocate
was an independent officer of the Legislature.
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform
The government has begun planning for a
citizens' assembly on electoral reform, which will be established to examine
and hold public consultations on alternative electoral systems for use in BC,
including preferential ballots, proportional representation, and the existing
first-past-the-post system. The Attorney General, Geoff Plant (MLA,
Richmond-Steveston), announced on September 20 that Gordon Gibson has
been appointed to develop recommendations on creating the citizens' assembly.
Mr. Gibson's mandate is to develop, by December 15, a design for the mandate
and structure of the citizens' assembly, including many of the administrative
details such as budget, timeline, staffing and membership.
The proposed Citizens' Assembly forms
part of the government's program for democratic revitalization, which also
includes the establishment of fixed election dates, revisions to facilitate
recall and initiative campaigns, and amendments to the Election Act to
enhance disclosure of financial and non-financial contributions to political
parties. Electoral reform has captured the interest of many in BC. In March
2002, the leader of the NDP, Joy MacPhail (MLA, Vancouver-Hastings),
issued an open letter to the Premier recommending the appointment of a
Commission on the reform of the electoral system to study options and consult
with British Columbians. This past May, Green Party leader Adrienne Carr
initiated referendum proceedings under the Recall and Initiative Act to
precipitate a vote on the adoption of a mixed proportional representation
system for the province. The initiative petition failed to garner the
212,473 signatures in the 90-day period required to compel a referendum.
The Royal Visit to the Parliament
On October 6, in commemoration of the
Queen's Golden Jubilee, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia welcomed Queen
Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The Speaker, Claude Richmond (MLA,
Kamloops), and the Clerk of the House, E. George MacMinn, QC, were
introduced to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness during their visit. It
was noted that Mr. MacMinn is the longest serving table officer in the
Commonwealth. Following an address by the Premier, the Queen was presented with
a stained glass window – a gift to honour her 50 years as Canada's head of
state. The Golden Jubilee window is now installed on the first floor of the
Parliament Buildings, opposite the Diamond Jubilee window that commemorates
Queen Victoria's 60-year reign.
The Second Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament opened on
September 30 with a Speech from the Throne read by the Governor General in the
Senate Chamber. Although not yet occupied with a heavy legislative agenda, the
Senate expected to deal with the usual business related to the beginning of any
new session. This included the appointment of a Committee of Selection with the
duties of nominating a Speaker pro tempore and the membership of committees.
However, points of order concerning the Committee of Selection, in addition to
questions of privilege on other subjects, were raised and preoccupied the
Senate as it eased into its work schedule.
Senator Lowell Murray raised
several issues relating to the Opening of Parliament and the Speech from the
Throne in his point of order on October 2. His initial complaint had to do with
the sound system but he was also concerned about the lack of decorum shown by
some senators and guests in the gallery who applauded during the Speech from
the Throne. Other Senators intervened in support of Senator Murray and added
their own observations to the point of order. After lengthy consideration, the
Speaker ruled on October 29 that there was little he could do to control the
proceedings connected to the Speech from the Throne. However, he undertook to
prepare a document which he hoped would help to explain the traditions and
practices of the Opening of Parliament to those who would attend the next
The appointment of the Committee of
Selection is an important step in the legislative process for it is not until
that committee is formed that it can nominate, not only a Speaker pro
tempore, but the membership of committees so that the best known work of
the Senate can begin in earnest.
The disagreement about the Committee of
Selection began on October 3 when Senator Noël A. Kinsella, Deputy
Leader of the Opposition, proposed a motion in amendment that based the
nomination of Senators to select committees on the principle that one third of
the membership of all committees would be from the official opposition. At that
point in the debate, Senator Fernand Robichaud, Deputy Leader of the
Government, rose on a point of order to protest the motion in amendment which
he understood to be an instruction to a committee requiring notice. The Speaker
did not agree, however, and ruled that the amendment simply expanded the order
of reference and was in order.
Government Leader Sharon Carstairs,
on another point of order concerning the Committee of Selection, disagreed when
the Opposition Whip requested a deferred vote. She maintained that the motion
had to be passed that day to allow the committee time to meet and report on the
nomination of the Speaker pro tempore by the fifth sitting day, in
compliance with Rule 85(2). At issue was the interpretation of Rule 85(2) and
whether that particular rule or other rules prevailed in this case. The
Speaker's decision was that it was not timely to rule on the point of order
because the Senate had not yet reached the fifth sitting day. This ruling was
appealed but not upheld. No further action was required, however, when an
agreement was announced which allowed the Committee of Selection to be
appointed with an instruction to report on two items: the Speaker pro
tempore and the membership of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Committee on the fifth day.
On October 8, Senator Anne Cools
rose on a question of privilege claiming that certain remarks made about the
monarchy by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, John Manley
impeded her ability to perform her parliamentary duties since she could not support
a government that expressed such views. The Speaker ruled on October 9 that the
personal nature of Mr. Manley's comments did not suggest that they were
intended to reflect the position of the government. For that reason, he failed
to find a prima facie case of privilege.
When Senator Murray rose on October 23
on a question of privilege it was to object to the intention of the Social
Affairs, Science and Technology Committee to deposit a report with the Clerk of
the Senate on a day when the Senate was not sitting. He argued that since the
report was ready it ought to be tabled as soon as possible while the Senate was
sitting. In his ruling the next day, the Speaker noted that by granting
permission, to the committee to deposit any report with the Clerk of the Senate
without qualification, the Senate had in fact waived its right to receive the
report first. He ruled there was no prima facie question of privilege.
A number of Senate committees received
permission from the Senate in the First Session to table their reports on
special studies with the Clerk of the Senate during the summer adjournment:
The Twelfth Report of the Official
Languages Joint Committee entitled The Justice System and Official Language
Communities dealt specifically with the justice system and its impact on
section 41 of the Official Languages Act.
In Canada, Russia and Ukraine:
Building a New Relationship, the Foreign Affairs Committee became the first
Canadian parliamentary committee to undertake an in depth study of Russia and
The Banking, Trade and Commerce
Committee investigated a study of the economic effects of the “clogged” borders
on Canadian business and the economy in its Eighteenth Report entitled Our
Shared Border: Facilitating the Movement of Goods and People in a Security
The National Finance Committee in its
Twentieth Report entitled Managing and Marketing the Goose Bay, Labrador
Airfield, recommended more effective management and marketing of the assets
of this important public facility.
In its report An Environment for
Prosperity: Facilitating the Growth of Small and Medium-sized Businesses
in Canada, the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee moved the focus
towards equity financing and away from debt financing.
Two other reports tabled with the Clerk
of the Senate just prior to the prorogation of the First Session gained special
attention. The Eighth Report of the Senate Committee on National Security and
Defence entitled Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility was
a continuation of the committee's mandate to examine the need for a national
security policy for Canada. The committee recommended that the Government
upgrade Canada's coastal defence and re-institute the training of Canada's land
The other significant report was the
Fifth Report of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs entitled Cannabis:
Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy. After a two-year study of public
policy related to marijuana, it was the committee's main recommendation that
cannabis should be legalized.
On October 8, the Senate adopted the
First Report of the Committee of Selection nominating Senator Lucie Pépin as
Speaker pro tempore. Second and Third Reports, dealing with the
membership of committees were adopted on October 8 and October 22.
A proposal to create a Standing
Committee on Official Languages had been the subject of debate in the Senate
many times in recent years. This objective was finally reached on October 8 when
the Senate adopted a motion amending rule 86 of the Rules of the Senate to
create the new Senate Committee. It will be responsible for considering all
issues relating to official languages and better fulfill the Senate's
constitutional role to protect minorities in Canada.
The Health of Canadians-The Federal
Role: Recommendations for Reform, a report of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Kirby, was tabled on October 25 in
the Senate. The sixth volume of this committee's review of Canada's health care
system completed two and a half years of study. The major recommendation of the
committee was that Canadians should pay an additional $5 billion per year to
help fund the restructuring of the medical system.
On October 31, the Rules, Procedures
and the Rights of Parliament Committee was asked to clarify the intent of Rule
95(3) which requires that a committee obtain an order of the Senate to meet
during adjournments of the Senate that would exceed a week. On November 7 the
Committee presented its Second Report which recommended that when the Senate
adjourns for more than a week, committees of the Senate be allowed to meet on
any working day of a week during which the Senate is sitting.
The National Security and Defence
Committee's request to travel was the subject of some debate on November 6 and
7. The problem arose when the committee explained it had been offered
transportation by the Department of National Defence to visit the NORAD
facility in Colorado Springs. This raised the question of whether it was
appropriate for a committee to accept sponsored trips. Discussion ranged from
the independence of committees and the need for transparency to technical
problems with the motion and its scope. In the end, the Senate agreed to refer
the question to the Privileges, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.
Although early in the new session, a
few government bills have completed second reading and been referred to
committee. Bill C-5, the Species at Risk Act is currently before the
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Three bills are
presently being studied in the Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Committee: Bill C-8, An Act to protect human health and safety and the
environment by regulating products used for the control of pests; Bill
C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, and Bill C-12, Physical
Activity and Sport Act. Already nine Senate bills have been introduced in
the Senate. One of these, Bill S-2, Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2002,
has completed three readings in the Senate and is presently in the House of
Commons. The others, all Senate public bills, are at various stages in the
Tributes were paid to Senator Nick
Taylor who retired from the Senate on November 17 as well as to the memory
of Senator Ron Duhamel, P.C., who died on September 30 and former
Senators Louis de Gongzague Giguère who died on June 15, Jean-Pierre
Côté who died on July 10 and Hartland de Montarville Molson who died
on September 28.
House of Commons
The second session of the 37th Parliament commenced on
Monday, September 30th with the Speech from the Throne delivered by
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, to both Houses of Parliament in the
Senate Chamber. Réginald Bélair (Timmins-James Bay, Lib.) was
reappointed as Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole House and Eleni
Bakopanos (Ahuntsic, Lib.) was reappointed Assistant Deputy Chairman of
Committees of the Whole House. The six days of debate on the Address in
Reply to the Speech from the Throne were held over the next several weeks
ending with the motion on the Address being adopted on Tuesday, October 22nd,
The controversy that raged in the early
days of the session regarding alleged interventions by Lawrence MacAulay,
the Solicitor General, in the consideration of applications for grants and
contracts in his home province of Prince Edward Island subsided when the
Minister resigned from Cabinet on October 22nd.
Several days later John Manley,
the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance tabled two documents
entitled: Proposals to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Ethics
Commissioner) and other Acts as a consequence and Proposals to amend the Rules
of the Senate and the Standing Orders of the House of Commons to implement the
1997 Milliken-Oliver Report.
Other highlights during this period
include a take-note debate on the international situation concerning Iraq
(October 1-3), a second take-note on the state of the Canadian Coast Guard
(November 6), and an emergency debate on Canadian agriculture (October 7).
The new session began with a number of
procedural stand-offs as the Government attempted to get parliamentary business
underway. On October 3rd, Carol Skelton (CA) rose on a point of
order and called upon the Speaker to review a motion on the Order Paper in the
name of Mr. Boudria. The motion dealt with a number of items including the
reinstatement of Government bills from the previous session, the reappointment,
mandate and membership of the Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs
in Canada, the adducing of Standing and Special Committee evidence from the
previous session and a proposal to empower the Finance Committee to travel for
pre-budget consultations. Ms. Skelton argued that the motion was
procedurally and ethically wrong because it contained four separate and
distinct parts, each capable of standing on its own. She added that it
was therefore impossible for Members to debate and cast their votes responsibly
and intelligently on the motion. Speaker Milliken ruled on the matter the
following day, and while allowing most components of the motion to be debated
together, he ordered that it be split into two distinct questions for voting purposes.
He directed that the portion of the original motion seeking permission
for the Finance Committee to travel be dealt with as a separate item.
Following the ruling, Mr. Boudria gave notice of closure on the debate on
the two new motions which were subsequently agreed to on October 7th,
2002. It should be noted that for the first time since it was adopted,
S.O. 67.1(1), which provides for a 30-minute question and answer period, was
applied to a closure motion.
Disagreements between the Government
and the Opposition on the striking of committees became the subject of the next
procedural wrangle, which occupied the House over several days. The first
report of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, tabled on October 21st,
set out the proposed membership for standing committees. The second
report of the same committee, tabled on October 29th, recommended
the election of Chairs and Vice-Chairs of Committees by secret ballot.
For several days, the Government and the Opposition tussled over attempts
to concur in the two reports, with the Government trying to have the membership
lists adopted and the Opposition holding out for agreement on the secret ballot
proposal. On October 31st, the recommendations of the
committee's second report were debated as a supply day motion, which itself had
given rise to a test of the new rules providing for one day's notice of
Opposition motions. The first report of the Committee was concurred in on
October 24th, while the Opposition motion for secret ballot
elections was agreed to on a deferred division held November 5th.
Two other Opposition motions were also
adopted in the first weeks of the session. The first, put forward by the
Bloc Quebecois, provides for the automatic referral of all government
appointments of ambassadors, consuls general and heads of regulatory bodies and
Crown corporations to the appropriate Standing Committee for consideration.
The second motion, put forward by Stephen Harper on behalf of the
Canadian Alliance, provides that, before Kyoto Protocol is ratified, the
Government should put forward an implementation plan that Canadians understand,
that sets out the costs and the benefits, and describes how the targets are to
Private Members' Business
On October 24th, a point of order was
raised by Mr. Boudria regarding Private Members' Bill C-252 in the name of Pat
Martin (NDP), which sought to remove an existing tax exemption for
business. Mr. Boudria argued that because the bill had as an objective
the removal of a deduction from the Income Tax Act, it would have the
effect of increasing taxes on particular individuals and, as such, would
require the adoption of a Ways and Means motion. In a ruling delivered by
Acting Speaker, Eleni Bakopanos, the Chair concluded that the bill would constitute
an increase in taxes for a specified group of taxpayers and therefore
would indeed require a Ways and Means motion. She therefore declared the
first reading proceedings on Bill C-252 null and void and ruled that the order
for second reading of the bill be discharged and the bill withdrawn from the Order
The Fourth Report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs relating to proposed changes to
Private Members' Business procedures was adopted by the House on November 6th.
The Report will have the effect of rendering all items of Private
Members' business votable unless the sponsoring Member doesn't wish the matter
to be voted upon, or they are found to be "non-admissible" by a panel
consisting of one Member from each recognized party in the House. The
Panel will be able to report directly to the House, unlike its predecessor,
which was a sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs. A number of further recommendations were made to guide the Panel
in its work, although the criteria for admissibility have been left to the
Panel to determine. The Committee recommended that the package of changes be
implemented on a provisional basis, until the end of the 37th
Parliament, with a review of how effective the changes are to take place within
one year of their implementation. Standing Orders are currently
being drafted to implement the changes and will be presented to the House prior
to the Christmas break.
Further to the disputes in the House relating
to the adoption of the report on committee membership, and the subsequent
adoption of the Opposition motion calling for election of Committee Chairs and
Vice-Chairs by secret ballot, elections were duly held for these positions and
Committee work got underway in mid-November. Interestingly, of the 18
Standing Committees, only three held secret ballot elections for the position
of Chair. The situation was different, however, for the position of
Vice-Chairs. Committees each have two vice-chairs, one from the
Government party and one from the opposition. The Standing Orders do not
specify that the opposition Vice-Chair be a Member of the Official Opposition,
but tradition has been that the second Vice-Chair is normally from that party.
Following all the wrangling over the motion to hold secret ballot
elections, 10 secret ballot elections were held for the opposition Vice-Chair
elections and in six of those instances, the Canadian Alliance candidates were
defeated by opposition members from the other three opposition parties.
Earlier in the session, the House had
received a message from the Senate stating that the Senate would no longer
participate in the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages and it then
created its own Standing Committee on Official Languages. Subsequently,
on October 30th, the House adopted an amendment to its Standing
Orders for the purpose of establishing a Commons Standing Committee on Official
During the debate on the Address in
Reply to the Speech from the Throne, tributes were paid to the memory of
Senator Ron Duhamel, who was a Member of the House from 1988 to 2002.
The Speaker also called upon Members to observe a minute of silence in
memory of Mr. Duhamel.
On October 11th, 2002, John
Richardson (Lib.) made a short statement to give notice of his intention to
resign his seat for personal reasons. Tributes were paid to Mr.
Richardson by Members of all parties and the Deputy Speaker announced that a
warrant would be addressed to the Chief Electoral Officer for a by-election in
his riding of Perth-Middlesex, Ontario.
Tributes were also paid to
Major-General Maurice Gaston (Gus) Cloutier, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the
House of Commons for his 50 years of public service. Major-General
Cloutier was appointed as Sergeant-at-Arms and Canadian Secretary to the Queen
Table Research Branch