| British Columbia
| Newfoundland and Labrador
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
On March 2, 1981, the third session of the
Nineteenth Legislature resumed and immediately directed its attention to a
resolution introduced by Premier, Allan Blakeney:
That this Assembly opposes the current
attempt by the federal government to patriate and amend the Constitution of
Canada, believing that the unilateral nature of the process is incompatible
with the fundamental principles of Canadian federalism. that constitutional
changes must have a broad basis of support among Canadians and that the
proposals, if implemented, would upset the balance of Canada's federal system.
A special two-day debate followed, at the
conclusion of which, the resolution was unanimously agreed to by the House.
On March 5, the Minister of Finance, Ed
Tchorzewski, introduced the Government's budget for the fiscal year 1981-82.
The $2,285,000,000 balanced budget offered small businesses and most
individuals modest tax breaks and raised taxes for high-income earners. It also
indicated that Saskatchewan's Heritage Fund revenue would soon surpass the one
billion dollar mark.
Most of the legislation introduced in the
current session has been of a non controversial, housekeeping nature. As a
consequence of the Report of the Constituency Boundaries Commission, 1979-80, a
bill is before the House that provides for redistribution of the province's
electoral boundaries and the creation of three new urban ridings which will
increase the number of seats in the Assembly to 64. The Members of the
Legislative Assembly Conflict of Interests Act passed last session, and now in
effect, has been amended.
The two-member Unionest Party, dedicated to
separating Saskatchewan from Canada and joining the United States, has been
relatively quiet. However, the current session has been marked by several
heated and emotional debates between NDP members on the government side of the
House and the Conservative Official Opposition. On March 26, Colin Thatcher,
Conservative Member for Thunder Creek, was named by Speaker John Brockelbank
after using unparliamentary language and was suspended from the House for the
remainder of the day's sitting. Following this suspension, all Conservative
opposition members retired from the Chamber during a division on second reading
of a bill. The bells rang incessantly while government members maintained their
places in the House. Six hours later, the opposition members finally returned
to the Chamber. The opposition's walkout was explained as a protest of
impartiality on the part of Speaker Brockelbank. Gary Lane, Conservative member
for Qu'Appelle, subsequently moved the following motion:
That this Assembly, recognizing its support
for the concept of a permanent independent office of Speaker, urges the
Government of Saskatchewan to immediately establish a Royal Commission to study
the concept of an independent permanent Speaker.
The motion has yet to be debated and remains
on the order paper.
A subject that has been repeatedly debated
during the session is that of comprehensive auditing of government departments
and crown corporations. The issue has been a source of controversy in the House
and in the Public Accounts Committee, with opposition members in favour of
establishing a system of "value for money" accounting for the
provincial government. On April 16, Bob Andrew, Conservative member for
Kindersley, resigned as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee over the
issue. This followed the resignation of the Committee's Vice Chairman, John Skoberg,
NDP Member for Moose Jaw North.
On April 21, the Final Report of' the
Special Committee on the Review of' the Rules and Procedures of Legislative
Assembly under the Chairmanship of Speaker Brockelbank was tabled in the
Assembly. The Committee, which deliberated for almost two years, conducted a
wide-ranging examination of the rules and procedures of the Saskatchewan House.
Its recommendations, as embodied in the Final Report, constitute the most
significant proposals for legislative reform in the province's recent history.
Guidelines for the implementation of
complete televised coverage of the proceedings in the Legislative Chamber.
Establishment of a Board of Internal Economy
to review estimates for the Legislative Assembly and to advise on the
administration of the House.
Restructuring of the standing committee
system of the legislature and the creation of a Continuing Select Committee to
be empowered to establish select committees to review special topics.
Modification of Private Member's Day, to
include a special 75minute debate every second week for discussing a mot . ion
of public importance. The topic for this bi-weekly debate to be chosen
alternately, by government members and opposition members.
The Final Report of the Committee addressed
several other topics including: Suspension of Members, Petitions for Private
Bills, Order of Private Members' Business. It also recommended the election of
a Deputy, Chairman of Committees of the Whole Assembly.
The Final Report was concurred in on April
Clerk Assistant (Procedural)
Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, Regina
On March 19, six years of minority
government came to an end when the Progressive Conservative party, led by
Premier William Davis, won 70 of the 125 seats in the Ontario Legislature.
A number of veteran members did not seek
re-election including James Auld, the dean of the House (who was first elected
in 1954), Rene Brunelle, Lorne Maeck, Harry Parrott, William Newman, Clarke Rollins,
Gordon Smith and John MacBeth on the Government side; New Democrats Pat Lawlor
and Fred Young and Liberals Murray Gaunt and Margaret Campbell.
According to Ontario election law, winter
campaigns must be a minimum of 44 days (a week longer than normal campaigns).
All things considered, the weather was better than might have been expected,
and probably did not play a major role in the outcome. Although the small
turnout, approximately 57 per cent, was the lowest since the 1920s and 8 per
cent below the turnout in 1977.
When the ballots were counted, the
Conservatives stood as the big winners, taking eight seats from the New
Democrats and five from the Liberals while losing only one seat to the
Liberals; the Liberals took four seats previously, held by the New Democratic
Party to maintain a total of 34 seats; the NDP were reduced to 21 seats.
Orientation Seminar for New Members
Shortly before the opening of the new
Parliament, a two-day, introduction to the facilities and the practices of' the
Ontario Legislature was held for the twenty-eight first time members.
Organized by the Clerk's Office, the
Administrative Office and the Legislative Library, the seminar covered a wide
range of topics including: MPPs pension benefits; procedures for establishing a
constituency office; services provided by the Legislative Library; the
internship programme; relations with the press.
The Hon. Bruce McCaffrey, Minister without
Portfolio, and Liberal MPP James Breithaupt, served as co-chairmen. A number of
established members, representing all three political parties, took part in the
seminar, as did the Ombudsman, Donald Morand, who spoke on the relation of his
office to the work of the MPP, and Roderick Lewis, Clerk of the House, who
outlined the basics of parliamentary procedure. Judging by the high attendance
and the members' comments, the seminar proved a useful experience for the new
MPPs, not only in learning the ropes, but also for the opportunity to meet the
staff of the Assembly who will be looking after their needs for the next few
Speech From The Throne
The Speech from the Throne, read by the
Lieutenant-Governor, Hon. John Black Aird, began with a strong reaffirmation of
the Government's desire for patriation of the Constitution as "the final
step to constitutional maturity for this nation".
Much of the Speech was given over to
elaborating the initiatives planned in the BILD (Board of Industrial Leadership
and Development). To quote directly, "greater use of electricity,
increased commitments for skills training and manpower retraining, concentrated
development of high technology, industry., specific programs for resource
development, programs for community economic development, and expansion of our
transportation systems, will be critical components of an industrial expansion
plan for all regions and economic sectors in Ontario.
Among the specific development proposals
outlined in the Speech were the establishment of an "Office of Procurement
Policy" to utilize public sector purchasing power to foster Canadian
manufacturing; a hydrogen research programme to capitalize on Ontario's unique
opportunity" to pioneer hydrogen production technology; and the creation
of an IDEA (Innovation, Development for Employment Advancement) Corporation to
promote and finance innovative technologies and to facilitate their application
to Ontario industry.
The Speech also indicated proposed
extensions of farm support programmes, particularly expansion of the province's
food processing capacity, as well as additional financial support for urban and
interurban transit. Improvements in environmental protection, decentralization
of social services, together with new initiatives in French language services.
Workmen's Compensation programmes for the disabled were also highlighted.
The honour of moving and seconding the
motion for an Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne was accorded two
new members: Phil Gillies, the Member for Brantford and Susan Fish, who
represents the Toronto riding of St. George.
In his response, Dr. Stuart Smith, Leader of
the Opposition, called the speech a "silly document that is basically the
epilogue of an even sillier election campaign". Dr. Smith accused the
government of failing to recognize the severity of the problems facing Ontario
and of lacking coherent policy to deal with them. In addition to criticizing
many of the specific measures outlined in the Speech, Dr. Smith paid special
attention to what he contended were the government's lack of imagination in
energy matters and the failure to take action on pensions in the face of
Michael Cassidy, Leader of the New
Democratic Party, was also critical of the Speech from the Throne, arguing that
there was no sense in the speech of the long term policy development necessary
to chart Ontario's path in the 1980's and 1990's. Speaking in English, French
and Italian. Mr. Cassidy concentrated his remarks on five fields in which, he
said, government policy was seriously inadequate: the future of the automobile
. industry, the problem of plant shutdowns, pensions, worker's compensation and
the lack of affordable housing.
Tribute to Former Speaker
One of the first items of business in the
new Parliament was a tribute to Jack Stokes, the NDP member from Lake Nipigon,
who served as Speaker since October, 1977. Premier Davis spoke appreciatively
of Mr. Stokes' "sense of fairness, of balance and of determination".
"He has set an example," the Premier continued, that all who follow
will want to emulate, not only in this Legislature, but in other legislatures
of this country. He has earned the respect, the gratitude and the friendship of
all members of the Assembly, our predecessors who are no longer with us, and
through his example, I think he has strengthened the institution of
Speaker". The new Speaker is John Turner MPP for Peterborough.
Proposed Raise in Members' Indemnity
On April 27, Mr. Speaker tabled the Fourth
Report of the Commission on Election Contributions and Expenses. The Commission
is responsible under the Legislative Assembly' Act, for an annual review of the
indemnities and allowances paid members; in the past its recommendations have
been implemented virtually in their entirety.
The principal recommendation in this report
is that members' annual indemnities be raised by $5,500 to $30,000; the
Commission recommended that the $8,000 tax-free allowance granted all members
remain unaltered, so that members would receive $38,000 in total.
The Commission also proposed that the per
diem payments for attendance at committee meetings when the House is not in
session be raised from $52 (tax-free) to $100 (taxable). Depending on the
marginal tax rate of various members. this change would not amount to many
extra dollars in terms of 'take home pay' but would substantially improve their
position within the pension plan.
Finally, an additional emolument of $3,000
was proposed for the leader of a recognized third party, "to bring his
total remuneration in line with the duties and responsibilities entailed in his
position". If this recommendation is implemented, the leader of a third
party would receive $51.000 (compared with $63,000 for the Leader of the
Ontario Legislative Assembly Toronto
The 29 day fourth session of the Ninth
Assembly opened in Yellowknife on February 4th and prorogued on March 13, 1981.
The principal business to be considered was the 1981-82 appropriations.
The commissioner's address is the territorial
equivalent of the Throne Speech. Commissioner John H. Parker reviewed important
changes in the Assembly and in the Government of the Northwest Territories
during the past year. In particular he mentioned the appointment of Tom Butters
as the first territorial Minister of Finance and the appointments of Kane
Tologanak and Dennis Patterson as ministers increasing the complement to seven.
The Commissioner said he saw a growing role
for the government speaking out on socio-economic and environmental concerns
arising from major resource development proposals, such as the Norman Wells
pipeline and the Arctic Pilot Project. He said the government is continuing its
efforts to ensure full benefits for northern residents from these projects and
the protection of native life styles as well as territorial involvement at all
He commended all ministers and all members
of the Assembly for their hard work in ensuring that the voice of the northern
peoples was heard in the constitutional debate as evidenced by the federal
government's recognition of aboriginal rights in the constitution and extending
to territorial ministers and native leaders the right to take part in First
Ministers' Conferences on matters affecting them.
Commissioner Parker said that in the coming
year the government will pursue the development of a strategy for energy
self-sufficiency which will promote northern access to energy supplies at
stable prices. He said that ministers will continue to press the federal
government to consider providing a direct share of revenues accruing from
resource development in the North.
Tom Butters, Minister of Finance, in his
first budget speech emphasized that constant responsible fiscal restraint is a
1981-82 reality which must be faced. But, he said, there were three priority
areas where funding would be increased: political and constitutional
development; renewable resources; and economic development. The federal
government. he said, is receiving a request for special funding in these areas.
He stated that a formula based funding proposal is being developed for
submission to the federal cabinet which should provide the territorial
government with a reasonable and predictable level of funding early in the
A number of new ordinances were enacted
including ones to provide $374,276,000 to cover the expenses of the public
service of the Northwest Territories for the twelve months ending March 31,
1982; a Financial Agreement Ordinance 1981 to authorize the Commissioner to
enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada providing for the payment
of operating and capital grants to the Government of the Northwest Territories;
a NWT Housing Corporation Loan Ordinance 1980 to authorize the borrowing of
funds by the NWT Housing Corporation for the construction or acquisition of
public housing projects or both and a Lotteries Ordinance to allow the
Commissioner to regulate and license persons or organizations conducting and
managing lottery schemes as permitted pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada.
Amending ordinances enacted were: to provide
an increased scale of constituency allowances, increased salaries for the
Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairmen of Committees of the Whole, for the
establishment of a second position of Deputy Chairman of Committees of the
Whole, and to provide for payment between sessions of certain specified
expenses to the Speaker of the House; to enable the Commissioner to appoint
juvenile court judges and to make regulations establishing a Justice of the
Peace Advisory Council, to provide increased penalties for people unlawfully
supplying liquor; to provide immunity to peace officers who breach the liquor
ordinance for purposes of obtaining evidence, and to establish a private
recreational facility license"; to eliminate the duty of a second-hand
dealer to record details about the purchaser of goods valued at less than fifty
dollars; to allow the Commissioner to deal with citing and numbering
Complying with a motion adopted at the fall
session 1980, the Assembly entered into a two-day debate in Committee of the
Whole concerning Uranium exploration and mining. A number of witnesses were
heard and responded to questions. Time constraints, however, prevented
conclusion of the debate and it was agreed to continue it at the next session.
A lengthy debate in Committee of the Whole
culminated in the adoption of a motion of the Assembly with respect to Bill
C-48 An Act to Regulate Oil and Gas Interests in Canada Lands and to Amend the
Oil and Gas Production and Conservation Act. In the course of the: debate
representations were received from officials of the Dene Nation and the Council
of Yukon Indians who appeared as witnesses. Many concerns were expressed about
the legislation including the absence of reference to the aspirations of
northern peoples with respect to aboriginal rights and constitutional
development and the Territorial Government's responsibilities in the
socio-economic and environmental area.
The Standing Committee on Finance, presented
it's ninth report, concerning the 1981-82 appropriations, during the session.
This document, containing twenty-seven recommendations, the majority of which
were adopted by the Assembly, was the product of comprehensive reviews prior to
the session of draft appropriations. Departmental programs and policies were
examined with the assistance of the ministers responsible and senior
The same Committee's eighth report on
"responding to non-renewable resource development was also adopted by the
Assembly. This document addressed itself to the potential impact of major
resource developments in the territories.
The recommendations of the Special Committee
on Education with respect to student aid were considered by the Assembly, and
adopted as amended. The most significant of these recommendations were:
That all eligible Dene and Inuit students
and students of Dene ancestry be entitled to the full levels of assistance as
specified under the terms of the Federal Government's (DIAND) Post Secondary
Education Assistance Program;
And that all other eligible students be
awarded a basic grant to cover transportation, tuition, books and supplies; the
next $1,800 of assistance be awarded as a Canada Student Loan subject to the
regulations governing that plan but repayable by the NWT Government on the
basis of one year of loan repaid for each two years of work in the Territories
following graduation, and subsequent aid be awarded to eligible students as an
NWT grant using CSL fund levels of aid.
The Special Committee on Education was
formed in 1980 to enquire into current problems and public concerns about
education in the NWT, to review the underlying philosophies, policies and
legislation and to make recommendations for change to the Legislative Assembly.
During April. in pursuit of these purposes,
the Committee visited communities in the Central and Eastern Arctic holding
Rules of the Assembly
The Commissioner occupies a scat in the
House only during Committee of the Whole. The Deputy Commissioner is at no time
seated in the House. By adopted motion the Assembly invited these officials to
he present daily during the oral question period to permit MLAs to address
questions to them personally concerning government departments for which they
are responsible. Appropriate amendments will be incorporated in the Rules of
the Assembly as part of a revision which is now underway.
Clerk, Legislative Assembly Northwest
Senate and House of Commons
The government's proposed constitutional
resolution continued to dominate proceedings in Parliament during the Spring
session. The resolution was reported to the House on February 13, 1981 by the
Special Joint Committee created last November. The Committee had made some
sixty-seven amendments to the resolution including seven by the Progressive
Conservative Party and two by the New Democrats. Debate in the House began on
February 17 on a further amendment introduced by Conservative constitutional critic,
After several weeks of discussion on this
amendment the Government tried and failed to obtain all-party agreement to
allocate time for the rest of the debate. Therefore on March 19, Government
House Leader Yvon Pinard gave notice of a motion to limit debate. The motion
was called on March 24 but before it could be considered the Conservatives
responded with a barrage of points of order and questions of privilege. Their
filibuster continued until April 7, with a brief respite for a two-day debate
on a bill to authorize government borrowing. Finally, after intense
negotiations, some of which were done on the floor of the House, an agreement
was struck whereby three days (April 2123) were set aside for debate on
amendments to the resolution. Following disposition of all amendments, the
government agreed. it would hold the resolution in abeyance pending a decision
of the Supreme Court of Canada. After the court decision, it was agreed there
would be a two-day debate with extended hours and speeches limited to twenty
minutes to finally approve or reject the resolution.
In addition to the borrowing authorization
bill a number of other items passed both Houses and received Royal Assent
during the Spring session. The most important was the bill to turn the Post
Office into a Crown Corporation. All parties recognized the need to provide
more efficient postal service and the bill passed after study in committee. and
a few days debate in the house.
Bill C-60, An Act to Amend the National
Energy Board Act was passed on March 6. It set out new procedures for pipeline
companies under federal jurisdiction to acquire land for proposed routes.
Amendments to the Income Tax Act, some of which were first announced nearly two
years ago, were also adopted. A bill to increase the salaries of judges
received Royal Assent as did an amendment to the Auditor General's Act which
gives him the same salary as a puisne judge of the Supreme Court. Some minor
changes were made to the Student Loans Act which will have the effect of
increasing the numbers of students eligible to apply for assistance.
On February 16, 1981 the third of the six
parliamentary task forces created last year, presented its final report. The report
of the Special Committee on the Disabled and the Handicapped was tabled in the
House of Commons by the Chairman, David Smith. The report contains some 130
recommendations. Among other things it called on all federal department
agencies and Crown Corporations to increase employment opportunities for the
disabled and to take action to remove obstacles preventing their employment. It
said the Canadian Human Rights Act should be amended to broaden the grounds for
discrimination to cover the disabled, a Comprehensive Disability Insurance
Programme should be established with the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec
Pension Plan; a cost-sharing agreement should be negotiated with the provinces
to provide a comprehensive range of aids designed to compensate for the effects
of a disability or to enable an individual to live as independently as possible
within the community.
A new parliamentary task force was
established on February 5, 1981. Unlike previous committees this one originated
directly out of debate on a bill, C-24, An Act to Amend laws relating to fiscal
transfers to the Provinces. Like previous task forces it consists of seven
members (Herb Breau, Chairman) Bill Blaikie, Don Blenkarn, Hal Herbert, Bernard
Loiselle, Blaine Thacker and David Weatherhead . As with other task forces the
rules relating to substitution on committees were suspended.
The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by
Bill Clarke, presented two reports. The first dealt with the Control and
Accountability of Crown Corporations". It reviewed the work of the Auditor
General on this subject and recommended that the government introduce
legislation which would authorize the Auditor General to put into effect a
program of comprehensive auditing in wholly-owned crown corporations. The
decision to conduct a comprehensive audit be based on the results of a
preliminary. survey, and be concurred in b\, the corporation's board of
The second report dealt specifically with
the Auditor General's findings regarding Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's
decision to seek forgiveness of loans for the La Prade, Glace Bay. and Port
Hawkesbury heavy, water plants and to mothball the La Prade Plant while
continuing to produce heavy water at the other two. The committee concluded
that future loans to AECI should be approved on condition that the management
of the corporation has introduced sound planning and control mechanisms. The
Auditor General should be able to give Parliament an independent assessment as
to whether such mechanisms are operating eflectively. It also recommmended that
the government and or mothballing of' one or both of' the remaining heavy water
plants and these plans be reported to Parliament.
AECL take measures to increase export sales
of CANDU reactors or abandon this program. The corporation should make
contingency plans for the closure.
The Standing Committee on Transportation,
chaired by Maurice Dionne, examined the annual report of the Canadian National
Railways and made a number of recommendations regarding the relationship
between VIA rail and the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railway
companies ' For example it called on both CN on CP to disclose their unit costs
to VIA rail to assist it in planning its operations. Similarly stations used
for passengers should be sold to VIA at nominal cost or net book value.
On March 18 the Standing Committee on
External Affairs and National Defence was given two references. One empowered
it to examine all aspects of Canada's relations with countries of Latin America
and the Caribbean while the other authorized a study on the status, capability
and role of the Armed Forces Reserves. In both cases the committee was
instructed to report no later than December 15, 1981.
In the Senate the Special Committee on the
Northern Pipeline, chaired by Senator Earl Hastings, presented a report on
"Enhanced Oil Recovery in Canada". Enhanced oil recovery techniques
could lead to the exploitation of about four billion barrels of oil from known
reserves in western Canada. The committee argued that the costs and risks of
the technology involved are comparable with those of oil sands development and
it recommended that oil recovery by enhanced oil techniques be subject to the
same price structure. It also suggested that oil produced by this technique
should be exempt from the proposed petroleum and gas revenue tax until capital
costs are recovered. Additional recommendations designed to promote enhanced
oil development were also suggested by the committee.
Following an adjournment of some three
months, the third session of the thirty-second Parliament resumed on March 9
with Minister of Finance Hugh Curtis delivering a budget speech in the House
which featured a variety of tax increases In support of the government's stated
policy of balancing the budget. The minister indicated that the estimated
expenditures for 1981/82 will rise 16.7% over the revised figure for the last
fiscal year to $6.61 billion dollars. In order to generate the $625 million
dollars required to balance revenues with expenditures, Mr. Curtis announced an
increase in the provincial sales tax from 4 to 6 per cent as well as increased
taxes on gasoline, cigarettes and tobacco, corporate and personal incomes, and
increased mark-ups by the Liquor Distribution Branch. These revenue measures
reflect large budgetary increases in some existing programmes such as health
where spending will increase 15% to $1.97 billion dollars in 1981/82 as well as
expenditure initiatives in other areas including $293 million dollars for improved
forest management, $70 mill I on dollars towards servicing the debt of the
British Columbia Railway and $48 million dollars for development projects in
the north-east corner of the province.
At the conclusion of his address to the
Legislature, Mr. Curtis summarized the rationale behind the government's
budgetary, policies for the coming year:
It is expected that 1982 will be another
less than satisfactory year for resource revenue. It order to insure a
continuation of a high level of essential services to people, and in order to
maintain investment in our economy and our future, I have made the difficult
decision to raise taxes.
In reply, the opposition finance critic
David Stupich accused the government of picking the pockets of BC
taxpayers" with a highly inflationary budget:
Not content with benefiting from inflation,
the Social Credit government has institutionalized it and given it a shot in
the arm to boot. It is clear that the Minister of Finance has brought in a
tougher budget than is warranted under the circumstances.
On March 19, the House agreed to the motion
to go into the Committee of Supply. Since then, its proceedings have been
largely preoccupied with debate on the estimates. As of May 8, slightly more
than 99 hours in debate had been spent in authorizing the estimates of 7
ministries involving the expenditure of approximately $1.25 billion dollars.
The debate in the Committee has been quite heated at times. On separate
occasions, Gary Lauk, NDP member for Vancouver Centre, Lorne Nicolson, NDP
member for Nelson-Creston and Finance Minister Curtis have each been suspended
from the service of the House for the duration of a sitting day. Following
another similar incident, Colin Gabelmann, NDP member for North Island, was
named by the Speaker in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 19 and
suspended from the service of the House for three sitting days.
Of the 22 government bills, 2 members'
bills, and I private bill on the Order Paper during the period under
consideration, six have progressed beyond the first reading stage. Of these,
Bill 16, the Medical Service Plan Act, 1981, has received the most wide spread
publicity. This piece of legislation was introduced in the House by Jim
Nielsen, Minister of Health, during the course of a dispute between the
provincial Medical Services Commission and the British Columbia Medical
Association over a new agreement which will set the level of fees that doctors
may claim under the medical services plan of the province. The primary purpose
of the bill is to prevent doctors who are currently delivering services under
the medical plan from requiring patients to pay extra fees or charges in excess
of those provided for in the plan. It also provides for a resolution of the
current fee dispute by arbitration. However, further legislative action on the
bill has now been suspended pending the outcome of renewed negotiations on the
revised fee schedule.
Three reports were presented to the House
during the months of March and April which merit specific mention. On March 11,
pursuant to the Legislative Procedure Review Act, Mr. Speaker H.W. Schroeder
tabled the much anticipated report by the Deputy Clerk of the Legislative
Assembly George MacMinn. entitled "Parliamentary Practice in British
Columbia. It is expected that this volume will become an indispensable aid for
all students of parliamentary procedure as it has evolved in the British
Columbia Legislature. Erma Morrison's third annual Report of the Auditor
General" for the 1980 fiscal year was tabled in the House on March 31 by
the Minister of Finance. As In her two previous reports, Mrs. Morrison
continued to express concern regarding certain of the historic financial
administration practices of the government but she was also able to report that
progress was being made in meeting many of those concerns, much of it through
the proposed new Financial Administration Act.
"Special Report No. 1" of the
provincial Ombudsman. Dr. Karl Friedmann, was tabled in the House on April 22
by Mr. Speaker Schroeder marking the first occasion on which Dr. Friedmann has
exercised his statutory authority to appeal directly to the Legislative
Assembly for redress of a complaint against a government agency. In this
instance, Dr. Friedmann found that the Ministry of Environment's response to
complaints by residents in the Garibaldi area raising serious issues of justice
and fairness in the administration of a government programme designed to
mitigate the consequences of a potential natural disaster" was
"neither adequate nor appropriate". Dr. Friedmann's unprecedented
action followed what he considered to be an unsatisfactory response to an
earlier report on this matter which had been submitted to the Executive Council
under provisions of the Ombudsman Act.
David J. Adams
British Columbia Legislative Assembly,
For the first time in twenty years,
Quebecers did not elect any third parties or independent members to the
National Assembly at the general elections held April 13th. Premier René
Lévesque's Parti Québécois now has eighty members of whom twenty-four are
newcomers. Mr. Claude Ryan's Liberal Party won in 42 ridings whereas the Union
Nationale was completely wiped out. Four of the five seats held by that party
at dissolution of the 31st Legislature have gone to the Parti Québécois while
the fifth went to the Liberals.
The Parti Québécois registered 1,773,918
votes or 49.24% of the popular vote. The Liberal Party obtained 1,660,504 votes
or 46.09% of the vote. The Union Nationale followed way behind with 144,163
votes, or 4% of the popular vote.
One member of the cabinet was defeated,
Jocelyne Ouellette, Minister of Public Works and Supplies who lost Hull to the
mayor of that city, Gilles Rocheleau. The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly,
Louise Cuerrier, was defeated in Vaudreuil-Soulanges by Daniel Johnson at the
Liberals. He is the son of former Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson, and the
brother of a cabinet minister, Pierre-Marc Johnson, re-elected in the riding of
Premier Lévesque was re-elected in Taillon
with a majority of close to 12,000 votes. The leader of the opposition, Mr.
Ryan, was re-elected in his own riding of Argenteuil with a majority of over
4,800 votes. As for the leader of the Union Nationale, Roch La Salle, he had to
make do with third place in the riding of Berthier which went to Albert Houde,
an administrator and one of the twenty newcomers elected under the Liberal
Perhaps the most unexpected defeats were
those of Camil Samson in Rouyn-Noranda-Temiscamingue and Solange Chaput-Rolland
in Prévost. Mr. Samson had been sitting in the Quebec Assembly since 1970. He
was then a member of the Ralliement erd~ditiste. He was head of the Créditiste
Party between 1973 and 1975 and leader of the Ralliement créditisie from 1975
to 1978 when he participated in the foundation of the Democratic Party. He
jointed the Committee for the NO before the referendum campaign of May, 1980
and crossed over to the Liberal Party at the end of October of that year. He
was defeated by Gilles Baril. Mr. Baril. is a sports reporter who, at 24, is
the youngest Member of the National Assembly.
As regards Mrs. Chaput-Rolland, she lost to
Robert Dean, one of the two anglophones elected under the Péquiste banner. Mr.
Dean obtained a majority of more than 3,000 votes over the well known
journalist who had won Prévost for the Liberals in 1979. The other anglophone
PQ member is David Payne, a teacher, who represents the new riding of Vachon.
Another major defeat was that of Jean Alfred
in the riding of Chapleau. Mr. Alfred, the first black MNA, was elected in
Papineau in 1976. Following a misunderstanding with the PQ, the Haitian teacher
sat as an independent member in the latter months of 1980, but rejoined the
party after having been chosen as PQ candidate in Chapleau. He was replaced by
a newcomer on the provincial political scene John J. Kehoe.
The re-election of Rodrigue Biron is also
worth noting; the former leader of the Union Nationale had resigned to campaign
for the YES side during the referendum and then joined the Parti Québécois. He
won in his riding of Lotbinière with a majority of over 3,000 votes.
Eight women will be sitting in the new
Parliament as compared to six in the past They include Denise Le Blanc-Bantey,
of the Parti québécois, re-elected in the riding of Magdelen Islands and
Thérèse Lavoie-Roux, of the Liberals, re-elected in Acadie. The government
party can count among its MNAs Louise Harel who captured the riding of
Maisonneuve from Georges Lalande, the victor in a 1979 by-election; Huguette
Lachapelle, winner in Dorion, a riding left vacant by Lise Payette; Carmen
Juneau, elected in the riding of Johnson and Pauline Marois, elected in the new
riding of La Peltrie.
On the opposition side, there are two other
women members, Lise Bacon, elected in Chomedey and Joan Dougherty, elected in
the riding of Jacques Cartier where she had to fight against, among others, Mr.
William F. Shaw, independent member for Pointe-Claire at the time of
dissolution. Mrs. Bacon is a former member of the Bourassa administration from
1973 to 1976. She was Minister Affairs, Co-operatives and establishments from
July November 1976 and Minister of Consumer Financial 1975 to of Immigration
from January to November of 1976. Mrs. Bacon's seat had been left vacant by Mr.
Jean-Noël Lavoie, former Speaker of the National Assembly, who retired from
Two other MNAs elected on April 13, are also
returning to Parliament. They are Raynald Frechette Péquiste MNA for Sherbrooke
who sat in The House for the Union Nationale from 1966 to 1970. He was Speaker
of the Assembly at the time of his defeat in 1970. For the Liberals, Mare Assad
was re-elected member for Papineau, a riding he represented between 1970 and
1973 before a short retirement from politics.
Finally the dean of the National Assembly,
Mr. Gerard D. Levesque, was re-elected in Bonaventure for the eighth time. Mr.
Lévesque has been sitting at the National Assembly for twenty-five years
without interruption. He was House Leader for the official opposition in the
Chief, Revision Section
Journal of Debates
The fourth session of the 24th Legislative
Assembly opened March 24 when Commissioner Doug Bell delivered the Speech from
the Throne. On March 26, Chris Pearson, Government Leader and Minister of
Finance, delivered the budget speech. As the capital estimates for 198182 had
been approved during the 1980 fall sitting this budget consisted only of the
operation and maintenance estimates. The estimates were presented in a new
format which included considerably, more narration and statistical detail than
previously. Mr. Pearson stated that the new format was the result of a request
from the Public Accounts Committee and of previous concerns expressed by the Auditor
General of' Canada.
The operation and maintenance budget called
for expenditures of $104.497,000 during the 198182 fiscal Year, an increase of
$11,381.000 over forecast expenditures in 198081. Although personal income
taxes were not raised, the government introduced increases in tobacco and fuel
taxes (l cent per cigarette and 1 cent per litre of gasoline) and in health
care premiums and motor vehicle registration fees. Also, under a new municipal
funding program, there was an average increase of about nine percent in the
property tax rate to ensure that local governments are capable of responding to
the needs of residents."
Budgetary increases were allocated in
several areas including: a 32% increase in the Pioneer Utility Grant Program to
help senior citizens offset home heating costs; a 229% increase in funding for
the teaching and development of native languages; a 155% increase in funding
for the French immersion program; and a 245% increase in the allocation to
permit handicapped persons to live in private homes rather than institutions. A
new program for subsidizing parents who send their children to day-care centres
received 5190,000. In an initiative that caused some controversy, the
government announced the opening of an Ottawa office to "facilitate our
dealings with the Federal Government."
During debate on the budget the Leader of
the Official Opposition, Ron Veale, was critical of its effects on those with
fixed incomes and termed it a "Bad News Budget." Tony Penikett,
Leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party, was concerned that the budget had
"a certain lack of priority" but saved his more critical remarks for
the federal government which he felt "has decided to resolve their
financial problems by passing the buck" for health and police services to
provincial and territorial governments.
A total of twenty bills were passed during
the spring sitting, most of which were related to the budget. One appropriation
bill which was introduced later in the sitting granted a twenty-year
interest-free loan of one million dollars to the White Pass and Yukon Route
The House adopted resolutions opposing the
unilateral patriation of the British North America Act and the contents of Bill
C-48, the Canada Oil and Gas Act. The arguments for these resolutions tended to
centre on the perceived intentions of the federal government to impose a
perpetual colonial status on the North and on the detrimental effects federal
actions would have on native land claims negotiations.
A further resolution established a Special
Committee on Food Prices for the purpose of "investigating existing
marketing practices in Yukon at both the wholesale and retail levels and
reporting on and recommending means by which retail and wholesale price spreads
between Whitehorse and Vancouver and between Whitehorse and Edmonton may be
Three committee reports were tabled during
the spring sitting including the Second Report of the Standing Committee on
Public Accounts and the Seventh and Eighth Reports of the Standing Committee on
Rules, Elections and Privileges.
The Public Accounts Committee concentrated
on the Department of Highways and Public Works during formal hearings held in
January but also called witnesses from the Departments of Renewable Resources,
Government Services, Finance, and Internal Audit. The bulk of the 15
recommendations in the Second Report dealt with matters arising from the
examination of the Department of Highways and Public Works. The Report was
debated and concurred in on April 14.
In its Seventh Report the Standing Committee
on Rules, Elections and Privileges chaired by Doug Graham recommended that the
Government of Yukon develop a suitable pension plan for MLAs. In its Eighth
Report, the Committee recommended amendments in payments to MLAs and the
development of select committees on economic and social policy. The recommended
changes in remuneration for MLAs were implemented in legislation with the
result that combined indemnity and expense allowances now range from $26,000 to
$28.000 per Year. The select committee system is now being examined and is
expected to be put in place at the next sitting of the House.
During the 1980 fall sitting new conflict of
interest legislation for MLAs had been passed which, in general, replaced a
system of divestment of conflicting interests with one of disclosure. During
the 1981 spring sitting, Mr. Pearson, tabled a new code of ethics for cabinet
ministers which extended the disclosure requirements for ministers.
The fourth session of the 24th Legislative
Assembly was adjourned on April 15, 1981.
Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly
The second session of the Nineteenth
Legislature, having been adjourned since November 27, 1980, ended with prorogation
on Monday, March 30th, 1981. The third session began on April 12th, with the
Speech from the Throne, read by the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour, the Hon.
Frank Lynch-Staunton. In it, the government committed itself to several
priorities. It gave assurance to the legislature of expanded housing programs,
new social service programs, and new and expanded health facilities throughout
the province. It also committed 'itself to pursue efforts for meaningful
negotiations with the federal government in all matters of energy and
On April 14, Lou Hyndman, the Provincial
Treasurer brought down the budget estimates for the fiscal year 1981-82, in
which he outlined the government's expenditures for the coming year. Total
expenditures are expected to rise by 22.5% over last year's budget, to $6.7
billion. Mr. Hyndman expects an overall deficit of $336 million will result,
due to a decline in non-renewable natural resource revenues, from $5.8 billion
to $4.65 billion (of which a portion is transferred to the Trust Fund).
Employment in Alberta is expected to grow by 41,000 new jobs, and real growth
in GPP is expected to be 3%. Exploration and development in the conventional
oil and natural gas industry in 1981 is anticipated to be 1/3 below plans made
prior to the federal government energy proposals.
The Special Select Committee on the
Constitution formed last fall to explore constitutional issues with the members
of other provincial legislatures, has now been to all provinces and territories.
The Select Committee on Surface Rights, has been travelling across the province
to meet with farmers and community, leaders. The report is expected to give the
Legislature a basis for discussing the problems that exist in this area.
The new Leader of the Opposition, Ray
Speaker, and the opposition in general, have been raising points of order and
questions of privilege that are of interest. For example, Mr. Speaker raised
the question of having equal access to the opposition for the media and television
cameras. The Speaker of the House Gerard Amerongen, ruled in his favour and
permitted cameras to be set up on the government side of the House, as well as
on the opposition side, to permit a frontal view of opposition members.
Grant Notley, Leader of the New Democratic.
Party, raised a point of privilege concerning early release of the budget to
members of the media, before it was given to members. He was concerned about a
possible breach of confidentiality, in that a lockup procedure was not followed
as in other parliaments. Mr. Speaker ruled against Mr. Notely, saying that
there are varying practices for pre-release of budget information, none of
which binds the House to a particular practice.
Finally, Dr. Walter Buck (Social Credit)
raised a point of order concerning the length of Preambles permitted during
question period. He cited the example of Ottawa where long preambles are
permitted during question period. Other members joined into the debate before
Mr. Speaker ruled against changing the current practice where a short preamble
is permitted, and several supplementaries are allowed. He said that in order to
allow this practice, the House would have to consider permitting only a few
supplementaries as is practiced elsewhere, and that taking particular selective
features from other parliaments is not a proper way of handling the issue.
Alberta Legislative Assembly
The third session of the 38th General
Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador opened with a Speech from
the Throne delivered by the Hon. Gordon A. Winter, Lieutenant-Governor, on
February 25th 1981.
The Speech re-emphasized the government's
determination to continue the fight against constitutional proposals which
could mean "social and cultural disaster for our distinct, but sensitive
rural society and stressed the conviction that the province's fishery, hydro
power and offshore resources must be developed in line with provincial
priorities. Furthermore, it stated, the province must be the recipient of the
larger share of revenue from these resources.
One area in which the government is taking
new initiatives is the forest industry. It was announced in the Speech that an
agreement has been reached with Abitibi-Price for replacement of its 99-year
lease concession by a 20-year conditional management agreement. Negotiations
are continuing with Bowater for a similar reform. In addition, both companies
have agreed to contribute to a special Silviculture Fund which will ensure that
ongoing permanent financing is provided for enlightened forest management.
More than 60 pieces of legislation were to
be considered during the session. Included in the legislative program is an
amendment to the Conflict of Interest Act, which will strengthen the Act to
allow for the issuance of regulations governing the behaviour of ministers. In
addition, new regulations will be introduced to govern the conduct of civil
servants and will specify conflict of interest situations covering investments
in private assets, outside employment, Public Service appointments and
promotions, dealing with relatives, and acceptance of gifts and benefits. Other
bills to be introduced include a Freedom of Information Act and a Personal
Privacy Act. An amendment to the Urban and Rural Planning Act will extend
control over marine areas so that proper planning of onshore development can be
undertaken by the province.
On April 14th, Finance Minister John Collins
brought down a budget which called for an increase in tobacco and gasoline taxes,
as well as increases in the cost of liquor. Drivers' licence fees and vehicle
registration fees will also increase. The budget provided for a funding of $3.6
million for the spruce bud worm spray program, funding for a province-wide
insurance program for volunteer fire-fighters, funding for an expanded program
of community development projects for social assistance recipients, a 10%
increase in social assistance rates effective May 1st, and a 15% increase in
foster home rates and child welfare allowances.
The select committee to study resource
management, under the chairmanship of Tom Rideout, has commenced hearings and
has visited several areas of the province. On May 4th Freeman White, chairman
of the Public Accounts Committee, tabled the Committee's report for the
financial year ended March 31st, 1979. The committees considering Estimates of
Expenditure have also reported to the House.
During this Session a unique program to
enable selected Members to participate in a french language course was initiated
by the Speaker, Hon. Len Simms, with the co-operation of the Department of
Education. The program, which commenced on March 4th consists of an
introductory french course of 40 hours duration. An excellent response was
received and interest is high. Twenty-two members from both sides indicated
they would be participating in the biweekly two and one half hour sessions.
Speaker Simms, who is also a participant,
has indicated his hope that this course will enable members of the Legislature
to obtain a better understanding of the french language which is very important
to those who live in a bilingual country.
House of Assembly