| British Columbia
| House of Commons
Senate and House of Commons
The 1st Session of the 32nd Parliament,
which had adjourned on July 22, reconvened October 6, nine days earlier than
scheduled. The reason for the early recall was a Government resolution which
would ask the British Parliament to make certain amendments to the British
North America Act, and to renounce responsibility for future amendments. The
resolution includes a Charter of Rights and Freedoms setting forth six classes
of rights which henceforth will be binding on all governments. The principle of
equalization whereby wealth is redistributed among the provinces so that all
Canadians can enjoy a reasonable standard of public service is also recognized.
The resolution provides that for two years
subsequent amendments must have unanimous consent of Ottawa and the provinces.
Thereafter it provides two alternatives. If the provinces and the federal
government fail to agree on a new amending procedure there could be a
referendum whereby the people could choose either a method approved by eight of
the ten provinces having 80 per cent of the population or one proposed by the
federal government. If the provinces cannot agree the second alternative would
be the automatic adoption of a modified "Victoria" formula. Under
that plan amendments would require approval by Parliament and by the
legislative assemblies (or by a majority of the voters) in every province, that
has at least 25 per cent of the population; in at least two Atlantic provinces;
with combined populations of at least 50 per cent of all Atlantic provinces and
in at least two Western provinces with combined populations of at least 50 per.
cent of all Western provinces.
Debate in Parliament was not on the
resolution itself but rather on a motion to establish a Joint Committee, of the
Senate and the House of Commons to consider the resolution, and to report to
Parliament by, December 9, 1980. In opening the, debate, the Minister of
Justice, Jean Chrétien.. argued that the resolution would not alter the distribution
of' powers between the federal and provincial legislatures but that unilateral
action had become necessary after 53 years of inability to agree on an amending
formula including the most recent attempt, the federal-provincial conference in
September 1980. The Leader of the Opposition, Joe Clark, took a strong stand
against the government's proposal. He said it represented not simply a change
in law but a change in the way of governing Canada. lie called It a proposal
that "could destroy, our federal system" and said certain provisions
"could not simply end the country as we know it but end the country
itself". The Leader of the New Democratic Party, Ed Broadbent, supported
the substance of the federal proposal but said his party would seek amendments.
He particularly emphasized the need to include a statement about provincial
jurisdiction over resources.
On October 22 a non-confidence motion
relating to the Government's constitutional position was moved by, the
Progressive Conservative Party. It was defeated by a vote of 15A93. The next
day the House returned to the Government motion and Liberal House Leader House
Leader, Yvon Pinard. introduced a closure motion which passed by a vote of
132-112. After a stormy session lasting until the early hours of October 24.
the motion to establish the Joint Committee was approved by a vote of 156-83.
After a week of debate the Senate also approved the motion and subsequently a
Joint Committee was established with Senator Harry Hays and Serge Joyal as
Activities of the Parliamentary Task Forces
For members of the six parliamentary task
forces created last spring the summer recess has been a busy period. The Task
Force on Regulatory Reform, chaired by James Peterson, held twenty-seven
meetings between July 22 and (September 6. It received briefs from a variety of
public and private corporations as well as from interested individuals. The
Task Force on North-South Relations, chaired by Maurice Dupras, met thirteen
times and travelled to Washington and New York where it attended the special
session of the United Nations. It became the first task force to present an
interim report which was tabled in the House of October 6. Among other things
the report called on the Government to begin moving toward the target of.7 per
cent of GNP for development aid.
The Task Force on a National Trading
Corporation. chaired by Jesse Flis, met 35 times during the recess with
hearings in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. The
Task Force subsequently asked for an extension of its mandate and on October 16
the House gave it until March 31, 1981 to make a final report. The Task Force
on Employment Opportunities, chaired by Warren Allmand, was divided into two
subcommittees which held meetings across the country as did the Task Force on
the Disabled and the Handicapped, chaired by David Smith.
In a 15-day period in September the latter's
two subcommittees, led by Walter Dinsdale and Therese Killens, held hearings in
18 different cities and towns in every province and territory. Each
subcommittee, in addition to its regular staff of technicians, translators,
clerks and researchers, engaged the services of two sign language interpreters
to facilitate participation by the mute and the deaf. On October 30 the Task Force
on the Disabled and the Handicapped presented an interim which contained two
basic recommendations: that the Canadian Human Rights Act be amended to
proscribe all discrimination against the handicapped instead of merely for
employment; and that the precincts of Parliament be made immediately accessible
to all disabled and handicapped persons both as visitors and as employees.
The Task Force on Alternative Energy and Oil
Substitution, chaired by Tom Lefebvre. met 22 times during the recess including
hearings in every, province. From October 17 to 27 members also travelled to
Germany and France where they held discussions with officials of various
scientific departments and organizations. On October 30 the deadline for the
final report of this committee was extended to March 31, 1981.
During the 75-day summer recess the six Task
Forces spent nearly 400 hours in meetings both public and in camera in addition
to the countless hours spent travelling. This works out to an average of more
than an hour meeting per day per task force. The intense activity continued
when the House resumed and there is every likelihood the hectic pace for both
members and staff will continue until all reports are drafted and tabled.
Reports of Senate Committees
On October 8, the Senate Committee on
Banking. Trade and Commerce, chaired by Salter Hayden, presented a report
dealing with the subject matter of Bill C-12, pertaining to bankruptcy and
insolvency. The committee said the bill was an admirable attempt to take into
account fundamental changes which have occurred in the credit system since the
original Bankruptcy Act and other credit-related acts were passed. The
committee noted, however, that the proposed bill would subordinate the claims
of wage earners to those of secured creditors. It felt this was unsatisfactory
and after examining several alternatives it recommended establishment of a Wage
Earners Protection Fund from which the claims of unpaid employees of bankrupt
companies could be met.
A report entitled "Child at Risk"
was tabled in the Senate on October 16 by Senator Lorne Bonnell. The report
studied childhood experiences as a cause of criminal activity. Hearings had
begun in 1977 and a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Health, Welfare and
Science was created under the chairmanship of Senator F.A. McGrand. The
subcommittee listened to expert witnesses in sociology, mental health,
anthropology, education, criminology, as well as in medicine and law.
Its 28 recommendations called for changes in
the Family Allowance Act, the Unemployment Insurance Act, the National Housing
Act, and the Criminal Code. It made suggestions to provincial governments,
municipalities, school boards, and public corporations such as the CBC. The
final recommendation called for the establishment of a Canadian Institute for
the Study of Violence in Society which would he financed by the federal
government and operated by an independent board representing a wide spectrum
of' disciplines. The purpose of the Institute would be to co-ordinate and evaluate
research in this area. It would also initiate, promote and assist the funding
of new research and pilot projects related to violence and crime in Canada.
The Legislative Assembly adjourned on August
22 thus ending the second longest session of an v in the last four parliaments.
While the House sat for just fifteen days since the last report it has managed
to approve 31 bills and 12 packages of ministerial spending estimates.
Ironically. it would appear that more business was dispensed with in the above
three week period than the entire previous quarter. Once again, the House
apportioned its time equally between the government's legislative programme and
its spending estimates for fiscal 1980/81.
In this period 20 bills were introduced in
the House 18 of which were government bills and 2 private member's bills. This
legislation could be categorized as follows: Financial Bills, 1, Policy &
Administrative Measures, 14, (including the two member's bills) and Housekeeping
The major financial bill was Supply Act No.
3. Of the balance of the Government's legislation, the most noteworthy, from a
policy perspective, appears to be the new Family and Child Services Act, the
Utilities Commission Act, and the Holiday Shopping Regulation Act. From an
administrative view point, it is interesting that the House was asked to
approve updated enabling legislation for five ministries. Hence forth, the
ministries of Tourism; Agriculture and Food; Universities, Science and
Communications; Environment; and Intergovernmental Relations will operate under
new legislative mandates. Only two members' bills were introduced. Charles
Barber, NDP member for Victoria, recycled his familiar Bikeways Development
Act. Al Passarell, NDP member for Atlin, introduced a bill entitled the Uranium
Exploration and Mining Act.
In summary, the House passed 31 bills, 29 of
which were government bills and 2 private bills. Of the 17 bills remaining on
the order paper, I is a government bill, the Company Amendment Act, and 16 are
private members bills. During the 1980 legislative session a total of 84 bills
were introduced of which 60 were public bills and 3 were private and local
bills. The Lieutenant Governor gave Royal Assent to most of this legislation on
August 21 and 22.
The House spent 36 hours and 35 minutes in
Committee of Supply giving approval to the estimates of 12 ministries. The
progress in Committee of Supply during August was nothing short of astounding
when one considers the earlier rate of progress. For example. during the
session 20 sets of estimates were considered in 209 hours and 41 minutes of
debate. During August alone 12 sets of estimates were passed into law in less
than 37 hours. In fact, some ministries had their annual operating budgets
approved in less than five minutes.
House committees were relatively inactive in
this period. However, the Committee on Crown Corporations met twice under the
chairmanship of Jack Kempf Social Credit MLA for Omenica. The Select Standing
Committee on Public Accounts and Economic Affairs scheduled four meetings under
the chairmanship of Ernie Hall, NDP member for Surrey. It's report to the
legislature was adopted on August 22. Also, a report of the Special Committee on
Privilege was adopted on August 22. During the inter-sessional period in
British Columbia, legislative committees, except perhaps for the Crown
Corporation Committee, do not generally meet.
Clarence L.W. Reser
Office of the Speaker
The Third Session of the 24th Legislative
Assembly resumed on October 14, 1980, following a six month recess. By the end
of the month a total of twenty-three government bills and two private members'
public bills had been introduced.
Following a practice established in 1979 the
Progressive Conservative Government placed its capital budget before the
Assembly during the fall sitting. The $26 million budget for the 1981-82 fiscal
year was brought forward at this time to allow the government to grant
contracts early, in the spring and to, thereby, take full advantage of the
short Yukon construction season.
Chris Pearson, Government Leader and Finance
Minister, said that the main goals of the budget are to improve the quality of
life in all Yukon communities and to stimulate the Yukon economy. A majority of
the budget was allocated to the Department of Education, Municipal and
Community Affairs, Tourism and Economic Development, and Highways and Public
The second major piece of legislation
introduced by the government was the Municipal Ordinance. This total rewrite of
the laws governing local government was called a "constitution for
municipalities" by its sponsoring minister, Geoff Lattin. The bill does
away with the current system of local improvements districts, towns and cities
and substitutes a new regime of hamlets, villages, towns and cities with
"enhanced powers and privileges". It also establishes a Municipal
Board to act as an arbitrator and appeal board in several areas including
planning and zoning.
The Leader of the Official Opposition, Iain
Mackay, expressed a concern that there was no assurance that the proposed
system of local government was acceptable to the Yukon Indian people. He
contended that, without such assurance, the bill could he interpreted as
interference in the Land Claims negotiations which include discussions on the
form of government to be in place following settlement.
Tony Penikett, NDP House Leader, joined the
Liberal Leader in criticizing the legislation. Mr. Penikett said that the
proposed local government structure was based on "a model borrowed from
Ontario" and that it was inappropriate for the smaller population of
Yukon. In particular, he was unhappy with the establishment of a Municipal
Board since its purpose was to minimize political pressure and he felt that
maximizing political pressure through "appropriate and open avenues was a
more desirable course.
On October 23 the Chairman of a Special Committee
on Privileges, Mr. Penikett, tabled a report on a question of privilege
relating to the wiretapping of a member's telephone. The Committee found the
wiretapping to be a breach of privilege and a contempt of the House but
recommended no disciplinary action since Canada's Solicitor-General, the Hon.
Robert Kaplan, had made a commitment to the Committee that an operational
policy would be developed for the RCMP which takes into account the privileges
of Canadian MLAs and MPs. A motion for concurrence was agreed to on October 29
with one dissenting voice.
The Chairman of the Standing Committee on
Rules, Elections and Privileges, Doug Graham, has tabled two reports during the
fall sitting. The first report detailed recommendations for amendment to Yukon's
elections legislation. Committee Members expressed a concern that the current
law is overly restrictive and that, as a result, too many voters
"lost" their chance to cast a ballot in the last general election.
Recommendations to alleviate this concern include a provision for swearing-in
at the poll which was not previously allowed and the revision of existing rules
on proxy voting. According to the Committee a voter, who would be unable to
attend a polling station by; reason of absence, illness or physical incapacity,
should be allowed to fill out a proxy application naming his designated proxy.
voter before a judge, notary public or returning officer. The designated voter
would then merely have to take the application to the poll where both he and
the absentee voter are on the list of electors and to swear a required oath
prior to receiving a ballot. It Is expected that the government will be
introducing a bill to give effect to this report later in the session.
The second report from the Standing Committee
on Rules, Elections and Privileges dealt with the conflict of interest rules
governing Members of the Assembly. The Committee recommended that the
legislation embodying these rules be amended to provide for a system of public
disclosure of a member's interests. Currently a Member of the Yukon Legislative
Assembly is disqualified if he "executes or undertakes. holds or enjoys
any direct or indirect interest in, alone or with another, by himself or by the
interposition of a trustee or third party. any contract or agreement with the
Government of the Yukon Territory. Members, therefore, have had to divest
themselves of any business. assets, or shares which would bring them into
The Committee said. "Levels of
government participation in the Yukon economy are too high to continue to
adhere to the principle of divestment. Due to the pervasiveness of government
in this community, virtually anyone with any kind of business or in any kind of
business or in any profession will find the requirement for divestment so
onerous as to negate the opportunity to seek public office." It then went
on to recommend that the requirement for divestment he repealed and recommended
"full public disclosure by members of their private interests. which may
be, or may appear to be, in conflict with their ditties as members." The
Committee argued for its conclusions by saying, "Business dealings in
Yukon are more apparent and the public more aware of such dealings than might
be the case in other jurisdictions. This being so. Yukon politicians, subject
to full public disclosure requirements, are not likely to abuse the trust
invested in them. A bill reflecting the report of the Committee is expected to
be Introduced prior to prorogation.
The Assembly, apparently of the view that the
Standing Committee on Rules. Elections and Privileges should be kept active,
passed a motion on October 29 referring all Standing Orders and procedures of
the Assembly to the Committee for review and recommendation. Following two
years of experience with party politics members feel that it is an appropriate
time to reassess the rules of the House.. The present Standing Orders were
adopted following the general election in 1978 and, in great part, reflect the
Standing Orders in other Canadian assemblies. It is expected that the review
will focus on adapting the rules to the needs of a smaller House.
Patrick L. Michael
Yukon Legislative Assembly
The National Assembly held a special session
on October 24 to legislate the return to school of thousands of students who
have been out of school for several weeks because of a teacher', strike. In the
Three-Rivers region 20.000 primary and secondary school children were kept from
returning to classes 'in September because of differences between the Vieilles-Forges
Regional School Commission and the teacher's union affiliated to the Centrale
de l'enseignement du Québec. In the Sorel-Tracy school district 9,000 students
had been without classes since September 23.
The special session opened in the morning,
was adjourned to give members an opportunity to study the proposed law and then
resumed at 2 pm. The study in Committee of the Whole lasted about two hours.
The rest of the time, until 9:30 pm, was devoted to debate on second reading
which opened with a speech by Jacques-Yvan Morin, Minister of Education and
sponsor of the bill. All members present voted for Bill 113 at second reading
except M. Guy Bisaillon, the Parti Québécois member for Sainte-Marie. He argued
the state had gone beyond its authority by acting as both a party and a judge
in the dispute. Following approval at second reading the bill quickly received
third reading and Royal Assent, after which the special session was prorogued.
An interesting point is that while the session was called the 5th session of
the 31st Legislature, it did not begin with a Throne Speech but rather an oral
question period. a procedure agreed upon unanimously by members.
The new law provided for the return to work
of teacher's in the designated schools on October 27. For the first fifteen
days after the return to work the two parties can continue to negociate. If no
agreement is reached the law provides that all differences negotiable at the
local or regional level must be submitted to an arbitrator named by the Minister
of Labour and Manpower. In that case his decision will be binding.
Chief, Revision Section
Journal of Debates
National Assembly Quebec
On September 15, the Honourable John Black
Aird was sworn in as Ontario's twenty-third Lieutenant-Governor. Hundreds of
special guests and dignitaries watched the colourful ceremony, in the
Legislative Chamber and later expressed their congratulations to His Honour and
Mrs. Aird in a reception held in the Lieutenant Governor's suite. After the oath
of office was administered by Chief Justice Howland, Premier William Davis
spoke of Mr. Aird's contribution to Canadian life in the Senate of Canada and
in the private sector.
In taking over from the Hon. Pauline
McGibbon, the first woman in Canada to serve as the representative of the
Crown, Mr. Aird has a difficult act to follow, for Mrs. McGibbon proved an
extremely popular Lieutenant-Governor. Editorials in newspapers across the
province praised Mrs. McGibbon's charm and dedication in a most demanding role.
Mrs. McGibbon has recently been appointed Chairman of the National Arts Centre.
In his remarks to the assembled guests, His Honour promised to continue Mrs.
McGibbon's practice of extensive visits and public appearances throughout the
province. He also stressed his intention, as Lieutenant-Governor, to use his
office as a means of fostering national unity.
Amid persistent rumours of a Fall election,
the Ontario Legislature reconvened on Monday, October 6. The prospect of the
Opposition forcing an election by combining to defeat Premier William Davis'
minority government receded substantially as the House resumed so that the
Premier's oft-stated intention of governing for a full four year term that is,
until the Spring or Summer of 1981 – seems likely to be fulfilled. The summer
recess had begun on June 19, after 65 sitting days, but with nine committees
holding more than 250 meetings, its debatable whether recess is the proper
Within the first two weeks after the
resumption, both the Government and the Opposition moved to raise in the House
the impact of plant closings on laid-off workers, a central political issue in
Ontario this session. Labour and Manpower Minister Dr. Robert Elgie announced
the Government's intention to introduce a package of amendments to the Pension
Benefits Act and the Employment Standards Act while Liberal Ron Van Horne and
New Democrats Bob Mackenzie and Monty Davidson introduced Private Members Bills
on plant closings.
In addition, on October 28, a Select
Committee on Plant Shutdowns and Employee Adjustment was struck to enquire into
plant closings and related issues. Hopes are that the Committee, chaired by
Armourdale MPP Bruce McCaffrey will be able to issue an interim report before
The Constitutional Committee
With constitutional change very much to the
political forefront, it is fitting that one of the Legislature's busiest and
high profile committees in recent months has been the Select Committee on
Chaired by John Macbeth, the Committee met
continually during the summer to review a broad range of' constitutional issues
from language rights to resource ownership and family law. In addition to
hearing from such experts as Eugene Forsey and former Premier John Robarts, the
committee learned first hand about other provinces' views on constitutional
change. The Committee met with Premiers, elected Members and senior officials
in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and
Yukon: it also held discussions with representatives of the Federal Government
Mr. MacBeth tabled the Committee's Report on
October 21. The report consists largely of a catalogue of principles on which a
new constitution should be premised and of specific points it should include.
In order not to deflect attention from its recommendations, the report contains
very little textual elaboration of the proposals or supporting argumentation.
Due to pressures of time, the Committee
focussed its initial discussions on the twelve items discussed by the First
Ministers in September. On the crucial subject of patriation, it is the
Committee's view that unilateral patriation by the federal government is
"tolerable" only so long as "all provincial powers, privileges,
prerogatives and rights will remain inviolate until such time as there is
federal and provincial agreement on an amending formula". The amending
formula proposed by the Committee calls for ratification by the House of
Commons, the legislatures of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, three of the
four Legislatures in Atlantic Canada and two of the three Legislatures in the
Western provinces. Should ratification not be achieved in this way, provision
is also made for referenda to bring constitutional amendments into force;
majorities of voters would be required in each of the five regions in order to
so ratify an amendment.
The Committee details the provisions it
believes should be incorporated into a Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, to
be entrenched in the constitution. The fundamental rights proclaimed in this
Charter would be inviolable even in times of emergency. On the thorny issue of
minority language rights, the Committee favours. as a minimum, access to
primary and secondary education in either English or French. if the number of
children is sufficient to warrant such facilities. The Committee was divided on
the question of publishing the records and debates of the Ontario Legislature
in French as well as in English and on the question of an unqualified right to
French language proceedings in the provincial courts. The majority supported
these controversial extensions of French language service.
The report outlined a thoroughgoing series
of reforms to the structure and function of the Senate, including the
requirement that half of each province's Senators be appointed by the House of
Commons and half by the provincial assembly, with appointments made in
proportion to the popular vote garnered by each political party.
Among the Committee's other recommendations are
greater provincial involvement in family law and in communications; the
abolition of the central government's declaratory power and its powers of
reservation and disallowance; and the establishment of the principle that both
federal and provincial governments are free to tax natural resources in any
fashion. Although the Committee notes that energy pricing is outside the strict
definition of constitutional reform, it recognizes the pivotal importance of
this issue and accepts the need for higher prices.
The Committee recognizes the centrality of
the concerns of native peoples to the process of constitutional change, but
offers no specific recommendations in this regard.
Finally, the Committee's travels left it
"dismayed by the general distrust of Ontario that exists across the
country. It emphasizes the importance of personal contact among Members of
Canada's legislatures as a means of overcoming misunderstanding and of
facilitating constitutional reform.
Select Committee on Ontario Hydro
Ontario's nuclear reactors are
"acceptably safe". This is the controversial conclusion reached by
the Select Committee on Ontario Hydro Affairs in their Final Report on
"The Safety of Ontario's Nuclear Reactors. The report was tabled in the
Legislature by Chairman Donald Macdonald just before the summer adjournment,
and was the subject of an important debate in the House of October 9, which
culminated in the Legislature's formally adopting the report.
The Committee's review of this extremely
timely and complex concern represented over a year's work. Dozens of expert
witnesses, government officials and concerned citizens testified before the
committee, and hundreds of technical documents were filed with the Committee.
The Committees hearings, both at Queen's Park and at several locations
throughout the province, received constant press attention, with the result
that the Committee's thorough, and open review of nuclear safety came to be
viewed as a major test of public confidence in Ontario's massive nuclear
Although disagreement remains as to whether
the system is "acceptably safe", the importance of the Committee's
work is very substantial. The Hydro Committee also demonstrated that
legislative committees composed of Members without special expertise are quite
capable of dealing with even the most complex, technical issues of a highly
Statement by Speaker Stokes
Responding to widespread dissatisfaction
with the conduct of question period Speaker John Stokes recently instituted a
new policy, designed to allow more backbench members an opportunity to ask
questions. At the end of question period one day recently NDP member Odoardo Di
Santo and Liberal Sean Conway complained that for two days running only, two
backbenchers had been able to ask questions. The lion's share of the hour long
question period had been taken by the two opposition leaders Dr. Steuart Smith
for the Liberals and Michael Cassidy of the NDP.
On October 27 Speaker Stokes announced to
the House "in checking the records and listening to the tapes I find that
we have indeed spent an inordinate amount of time on questions from party
leaders, in supplementary questions, and in very lengthy responses. It is not
unreasonable that a question be posed without preamble and, similarly, that an
answer be given with equal precision . .. "it is the responsibility of the
Chair to see that all members will have ample opportunity to participate to the
greatest extent possible in the question period.
Preliminary indications are that the Speaker's
tougher approach is having the desired effect. On October 28, Speaker Stokes
informed the House that: "Yesterday we had 16 new questions and 16
supplementaries, in the course of which 15 members questioned 8 different
This fall, for the first time, all the pages
serving the Ontario Legislature are girls. Normally, eleven girls and eleven
boys are chosen. The all-girl complement of pages is a reflection of the very
high proportion of girls on the waiting list of successful candidates. The next
group of pages will have the traditional fifty-fifty split between girls and
boys. The pages, who work in the House for about six weeks, are top Grade 7 and
8 students selected from across the province.
Ontario Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly began its second
sittings of 1980 on October 20, with a slight change in the seating
arrangement. Tom Sindlinger, MLA for Calgary Buffalo, previously had his
membership in the Progressive Conservative caucus terminated by a unanimous
vote of that body. On the first day of the sitting, Mr. Sindlinger rose on a
point of personal privilege, to relate the reason for the action, and to
acknowledge the need for party discipline in the parliamentary form of government.
He will sit as an independent member for the remainder of his term, following
his rejection of the party's stance regarding the federal government's
resolution on repatriation of the constitution.
Another significant event marked the
commencement of the sitting. Dick Johnston, Minister of Federal and
Inter-Governmental Affairs, introduced legislation enabling the government to
call a referendum. Bill 60, The Referendum Act, provides that the government
may seek the expression of public opinion on any question approved following
debate by the Legislative Assembly.
Debate began on a motion by Premier Peter
Lougheed to approve the actions of the government since the adjournment of the
spring sittings. Several announcements were made regarding recent government
decisions, including the creation of a scholarship fund to be drawn from the
Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, and the establishment of a Social Care
Facilities Review Committee. As well, the Minister of Agriculture announced, on
October 23, plans for the construction of a new Food Processing Development
Centre, as a further step in the government's attempt to diversify the economy
of the province. Of major concern to the Assembly have been the constitutional
talks and the energy-pricing negotiations. Premier Lougheed informed the
Assembly, of Alberta's activity in this regard since the spring sitting. On
October 27, he notified the Legislature of a letter to the Prime Minister, of
October 17, calling for a meeting of the two government leaders. The response
to the letter was also provided: that further negotiations were impossible
until the federal budget was finalized.
The October 28 federal budget aroused the
ire of the Government of Alberta, and a response to its provisions was issued
in the form of two government motions. Lou Hyndman, the Provincial Treasurer,
proposed that the Assembly condemn the Federal Government for the budget and
the energy program, on the grounds that they, attack the ownership rights of
Albertans to their natural resources and their right to a fair return on those
resources, and that they weaken the Canadian economy and jeopardize the
opportunity for oil-sufficiency. In debate on the motion, Mr. Hyndman argued
that the budget was an instrument of discrimination against a small province
and an attack on one of the few strengths of the Canadian economy.
A second motion, advanced by Mervin Leitch,
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, outlined the action that Alberta
plans to take against the energy program. The motion recommends that
limitations on oil production, Initially of 60,000 barrels a day and rising to
a maximum of 180,000 a day, be implemented following three months notice. The
limitation would only be in force to the extent that the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council
was satisfied that no oil shortage was developing in the rest of Canada.
Several pieces of legislation have been
introduced to the Assembly. The government has proposed Bills which would
increase the funds allocated for the purchase of land for highway construction.
increase the number of institutions which can participate in the student
finance program, provide the Petroleum Marketing Commission with "the
legislative authority ... to market and otherwise deal in products from the
Alberta Oil Sands, increase the funds for rural electrification, modernize the
liquor laws. and extend natural gas rebates to 1985. Non-government Bills
dealing with child abuse, standards for medical and psychological care of
children, and small business development have been presented to the House.
The Surface Rights Committee will begin
public hearings during the month of December in north-east Alberta. These
hearings will extend into January and February, and will terminate then until
after the spring sittings. Over the last few months, the Committee has
travelled to Manitoba and Saskatchewan to discuss the handling of surface
rights and associated problems in those provinces. It will travel to Ontario in
December, to meet the officials of Ontario Hydro and with representatives of
industry and agriculture. Members of Parliament interested in surface rights
will also be invited to discuss the topic with the Committee.
Alberta Legislative Assembly
The Fourth Session of the Thirty-first
Legislature of Manitoba was prorogued on July 29, 1980 after I ! 12 sittings
days. This is the longest session, in terms of continuous sitting days, in the
history of the Province. A total of 98 Bills were assented to, including a new
Elections Act, an Elections Finances Act and amendments to the Legislative
Assembly Act providing for increased indemnities for members of the Assembly. A
total of 358 hours were spent examining the various items in the Estimates of
A statement was made by one of the members
of the Opposition, Mr. Brian Corrin (Wellington) in which he said that the
Attorney-General had placed government staff in the unfair position of
participating in political debates and defending proposed legislation. In
reporting the interview, a Winnipeg newspaper, made the statement
"Legislative counsel R.14. Tallin and deputy counsel A.C Balkaran
participated in political debate Monday during committee review" of a bill
introduced by Mr. Mercier."
J.R. Boyce (Winnipeg Centre) presented a
resolution, unanimously agreed to by, the House. which referred the allegations
to the Standing Committee of the Legislature for study and report to the House.
The matter taken under advisement by Mr. Speaker H.E. Graham. In a ruling
presented to the House. Mr. Speaker Graham stated that. in his opinion. a prima
facie case of privilege was made by Mr. Boyce's resolution and ruled it in
order. The Committee met on October 14. 1980 and decided, by resolution. that
tile allegation was without foundation and recommended no further action.
The Standing Committee on the Rules of the
House recommended changes in the Rules. adopted by the House, which has
resulted in a shorter work week for MLA's By meeting at 2:00 p.m., Monday
through Thursday, and on Friday morning. the Assembly has reduced its sittings
to 4 ½ days per week, without reducing the compulsory hours of sitting per
Jack R. Reeves
Manitoba Legislative Assembly