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| Alberta | British Columbia | Newfoundland and Labrador | Northwest Territories | Ontario | Quebec | Saskatchewan | Yukon | House of Commons |

Saskatchewan

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. These include:

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 28.

David Mitchell

Clerk Assistant (Procedural)

Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, Regina

Ontario

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 years.

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 spiralling inflation.

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 Official Opposition).

Graham White

Clerk Assistant

Ontario Legislative Assembly Toronto

Northwest Territories

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.

Commissioner's Address

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 stages.

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.

Budget Speech

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 budget process.

Legislation

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 regulations.

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.

Committee Activities

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 departmental officials.

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 public meetings.

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.

William Remnant

Clerk, Legislative Assembly Northwest Territories

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, Jake Epp.

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.

Legislative Activity

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.

Committee Activity

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 directors.

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.

The Editor

 

British Columbia

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

Research Officer

British Columbia Legislative Assembly,

Quebec

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 Anjou.

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 banner.

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 public life.

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 last legislature.

Paul-Emile Plouffe

Chief, Revision Section

Journal of Debates

Yukon

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 Railway Company.

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 reduced.

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.

Patrick Michael

Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly

Alberta

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 constitutional concern.

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.

Ronald Kessler

Legislative Intern

Alberta Legislative Assembly

Newfoundland

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.

Betty Duff

Clerk

House of Assembly


Canadian Parliamentary Review Cover
Vol 4 no 2
1981






Last Updated: 2019-07-15