| British Columbia
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The Legislature resumed sitting on October
11, having been adjourned for the summer since June 21. Among the more
prominent issues which surfaced early in the new sitting were provision of
French language services and the prospects for official bilingualism; the
responsibility for a serious reactor shutdown at the Pickering nuclear
generating station and the financial implications for Ontario Hydro; and the
government's intention to extend or modify its wage restraint legislation
passed late in 1982. Dozens of petitions, containing thousands of names, were
presented in the House from teachers calling on the legislature to restore
their collective bargaining rights, which were suspended by the restraint act.
Newly appointed Treasurer Larry Grossman
announced to the House major changes in the budget-making process aimed at
enabling members, interest groups and citizens to participate more effectively
in setting budgetary policy. Late in November an economic and fiscal statement
is to be tabled including "projections which set the stage for major
policy decisions to be taken in the spring budget".
Following this, a series of prebudget papers
is to be tabled on specific aspects of economic policy. These papers are to be
less technical and more focused on policy issues than the budget papers which
used to accompany the budget. The Treasurer also indicated that he would be
engaging in a public consultation exercise more wide ranging than in the past,
but no mention was made of possible mechanisms for review by the Assembly of
the economic statement and prebudget papers.
Perhaps the most significant matter before
the House in October was a debate on Ontario's ratification of the proposed
constitutional amendment relating to the rights and freedoms of Canada's
aboriginal peoples. The Ontario legislature became the seventh legislature to
approve the resolution arising from the March 1983 constitutional accord which,
in the words of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Tom Wells, "captures
some of the hopes and aspirations of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. It also
provides a mechanism through which other goals of the aboriginal peoples may be
discussed and, I hope, agreed upon".
Over the course of several day's debate,
attention was directed less to the substance of the resolution than to the
government's record in dealing with the problems faced by the province's
Indians. Liberal Northern Affairs critic Ron Van Horne spoke of "hollow
gestures" and an "uncooperative attitude" on the government's
part. Jack Stokes, the NDP member for Lake Nipigon, argued that passing of the
resolution would not make "one tittle of difference" unless the
government becomes more aware and responsive to conditions in Northern Indian
Despite the criticism of provincial and
federal governments and the depressing litany of native social and economic
problems, the debate was leavened with optimism. Conservative Jim Gordon spoke
hopefully of abandoning "the old paternalism which too often found
expression as malign neglect", and Robert Nixon of the Liberals cited the
experience of the large Six Nations reserve in his riding as proof that Indian
self-government does work.
A resolution put forward by Liberal Shelia
Copps generated unusual attention for an item of private members business. On
October 20, the House considered Ms. Copps' resolution that the principle of
equal pay for work of equal value be enshrined in The Employment Standards Act.
Following a debate in which members from all parties voiced support for the
principle, the resolution passed, on a recorded vote, 820. Equal pay for work
of equal value had been the government's policy for some time said Robert
Welch, Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, who indicated that the
government would continue to follow a strategy of 'Staged progress" in
implementing the principle.
August was almost entirely devoid of
committee activities, but September and early October saw the customary flurry
of committee meetings and trips. The Social Development Committee debated a
contentious bill on university administration and continued its enquiry into
child abuse, on which it hopes to report by Christmas. The Public Accounts and
Procedural Affairs Committees both reviewed specific agencies, boards and
commissions and also considered the larger issue of crown corporation
accountability. Both committees travelled to Washington to gain an American
perspective on their work. The Select Committee on the Ombudsman performed its
annual review of the Ombudsman and his report; the Committee also attended the
Canadian Conference of Legislative Ombudsmen in Vancouver. Other committees
reviewed the issue of workers' compensation and considered a controversial
private bill from the City of Toronto to control demolition of apartment
Graham White, Clerk Assistant, Ontario Legislative Assembly.
The third session of the 25th Legislature
was reconvened on October 17, 1983. To date, the most contentious legislation
has been the Access to Information Act which was introduced by Bea Firth,
Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Cultural Resources, on the first day of the
Fall Sitting. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Tony Penikett, had had a
Private Members' Bill entitled An Act to Provide for Freedom of Information on
the Order Paper for some time but it had not been dealt with. In speaking to
second reading on the government's bill, Mr. Penikett noted that three
important principles had been enshrined in the proposed legislation: public
access, respect for necessary privacy, and judicial review if a request for
information were denied.
The debate in Committee of the Whole
centered around the opposition's concern regarding the section dealing with
matters to be excluded from public access. In Committee, Mrs. Firth brought
forward an amendment to clarity the government's intention regarding matters
that cross a minister's desk by specifying that only "opinions or recommendations
communicated to, between, or from members of the Executive Council on matters
relating to the formulation of government policy and the making of government
decisions" would be excluded.
A bill greeted positively by both sides of
the House was the Financial Administration Act, introduced by the Government
Leader, Chris Pearson, which provides for a more modern system of financial
management and organization of the Yukon government. The most significant
section provides for a Management Board, similar to Treasury Boards in the
provincial jurisdictions. The Bill also limits the powers of the Treasurer (the
Deputy Minister of Finance) which up to this point have been considerable.
An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act
introduced increases consistent with the Government's 6% and 5% program for the
indemnities, expense allowances and salaries of members, presiding officers,
ministers and leaders of parties. Only indemnities and expense allowances had
been subject to annual indexing and salaries had not been increased since
The index formula used for that purpose was
repealed in a further provision of this bill; the argument being made that it
has not really ever properly worked its nine year history.
Mr. Pearson, also introduced the Capital Budget
on October 27th in the total of 29.95 million dollars with about one-third of
that committed to Municipal and Community Affairs. In his address, Mr. Pearson
emphasized the government's commitment to stimulative measures to assuage the
difficulties facing the Yukon economy.
A lively debate was held on the B.C.
restraint program. Mr. Penikett raised his concern that the program may be seen
as a model for other jurisdictions and went on to say that 1here has never been
a more reactionary program of legislation in any jurisdiction anywhere in the
history of this country". Dan Lang, Minister of Municipal and Community
Affairs, berated the opposition for raising concerns related to B.C. rather
than concerns of Yukoners. After much debate, the motion to deny approval of
the B.C. program was defeated.
On a less partisan note and of particular
interest to parliamentarians was the motion of Mr. Penikett to urge the
government to renovate the old Territorial Council Chambers located in Dawson
City so that people could better appreciate just how far back in time the Yukon
Legislature goes as a wholly-elected body. In reply, Mrs. Firth gave an
in-depth history of the old Territorial Administration Building which houses
the Chamber. The motion was carried. This was not a totally new idea as a
one-day sitting had been held in the old Council Chamber in June, 1977, in
recognition of Dawson City's Diamond Jubilee.
The Minister of Renewable Resources, Howard
Tracey, brought forward a motion urging the House to support the Yukon
Government's position on development of Yukon's north coast. In particular, the
government is promoting a hydrocarbon exploration support base at Stokes Point
and a sandstone quarry, haul road, and port facilities at King Point. Roger
Kimmerly, of the opposition, summed up his party's position by stating that it
"is in favour of development in an orderly, stable way, taking into
account the legitimate land claims of the people and the long term renewable
Missy Follwell, Clerk Assistant, Yukon Legislative Assembly
The longest and most acrimonious session of
the legislature recessed on August 18 to allow the Standing Committee on
Privileges and Elections to hear public representations on proposed changes to
the French language guarantees of the province's constitution. The opposition
agreed to cease delaying passage of several contentious government bills when
the government agreed to ensure ample opportunity for province-wide public
hearings.The government's action on French language rights stemmed from a case
pending before the Supreme Court of Canada. The "Bilodeau case" seeks
to invalidate all provincial laws passed since 1890 because the laws were
enacted in English only, contrary to the province's constitution. Hoping to
avoid a court decision on the matter, the government reached an agreement with
the Socidt6 Franco-Manitobaine and the federal government regarding proposed
changes to the constitution whi0ch were satisfactory to Mr. Bilodeau. The
agreement proposed in effect that instead of having to translate all Manitoba
statutes, only major public statutes would be translated and, in exchange,
limited French language services at government offices would be guaranteed.
The government has argued that the agreement
is reasonable because, should the Bilodeau case proceed, all post 1890 laws
would likely be declared null and void, resulting in legal chaos. The
Opposition, led by Sterling Lyon, and supported by NDP member, Russell Doern,
have argued that this is highly unlikely and oppose the constitutional
entrenchment of French language services.
Between September 6 and October 4, the
Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections received 305 oral presentations
and 99 written briefs. The issue was eminently contentious. The House had not
reconvened by November I but the sponsor of the language resolution, Attorney
General Roland Penner, as stated that the government wants the matter dealt
with by the year's end.
Gordon Mackintosh, Clerk Assistant, Manitoba Legislative Assembly
Important rule changes were agreed to during
the period under review. On September 27 and October 18, Senator Hartland de M.
Molson presented the Fourth and Fifth Reports of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee
which proposed certain reforms to take effect at the commencement of the new
The changes dealt primarily with the
committee system. Membership changes, which previously had to be made upon
motion in the Senate Chamber, would now be made by a notice filed with the
Clerk of the Senate who would cause the change to be recorded in the Senate
Minutes. Select committees would be reduced in membership from twenty Senators
to twelve, and their quorums reduced from five to four. Exceptions were made,
however, for the Standing Rules and Orders Committee and the Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, whose membership was fixed at
fifteen. The Agriculture Committee was renamed the Senate Committee on
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The Health, Welfare and Science Committee,
which had been renamed the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee
earlier in the session, was given the added responsibility of studying matters
relating to fitness and amateur sports, employment and immigration, consumer
affairs and youth affairs. The newly established Standing Committee on Energy
was renamed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Leader of
the Government, or in his absence, the Deputy Government Leader, as well as the
Leader of the Opposition, or in his absence, the Deputy Opposition Leader, were
made ex officio members of the Selection Committee and all select committees,
including special committees. Finally, all subcommittees would henceforth be composed
of not more than half of the members of a select committee, three of whom would
constitute a quorum. The Senate approved the rule changes on October 25.
On October 13, Senator Joan Neiman tabled
the Report of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the
subject-matter of the Constitution Amendment Proclamation, 1983, dealing with
aboriginal rights. Since it was given its Order of Reference on June 29, the
committee conducted numerous hearings and heard testimony from Ministers and
many native groups. The committee felt that it provided a badly needed forum
for all parties to express views and to expose areas of misunderstanding and
possible conflict in the interpretation of the proposed amendment. While
recommending that the resolution be passed, the committee made certain
proposals to the parties involved in the constitutional negotiations. It
suggested that, as a first priority, an agreement be reached on the definition
of such terms as "existing treaty rights", "aboriginal
rights" and "land claims agreements", since these terms are the
foundation stones upon which any future agreements must be built. It
recommended that an understanding be reached as to what portions of treaties.
(and claims agreements and aboriginal rights would be entrenched in the
Constitution and which parts would be ancillary. It also proposed that since
the "equality clause" with respect to the sexes was unclear, as
another early priority, the issues of membership and equality be resolved. The
committee's report was taken into consideration by the Senate on October 18 and
following the conclusion of the debate, the Senate passed the resolution
proposing the Constitution Amendment Proclamation.
Finally, the report of the Special Committee
on the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was tabled by Senator Michael
Pitfield. The report, entitled: "Delicate Balance: A Security Intelligence
Service in a Democratic Society", provided an in-depth analysis of the
subject-matter of Bill C-157 which proposed the establishment of a security
intelligence agency. While the committee found that the main structural
elements surrounding the creation of such an agency were basically sound, it
recommended that several adjustments be made to the Bill. It felt that the
legislation should contain a defined mandate and statement of the functions of
the agency and that there should be judicial control and a system of external
monitoring and review of security operations. While the committee rejected the
idea of establishing a special parliamentary committee to scrutinize the
activities of the agency, it did recommend that a parliamentary committee be
empowered to review the operation of the legislation after perhaps a five year
period. The committee concluded that if such revisions were incorporated, Bill
C157 could adequately deal with Canada's security requirements without
unjustifiably infringing on individual rights.
Gary W. O'Brien, Chief, English Minutes and Journals Branch, The
House of Commons
During the period under review, from August
1 through the first week of November, the highly contentious Crow Bill occupied
much of the time of the House. Despite implacable opposition from the New
Democrats and, to a lesser degree, the Progressive Conservatives, the
Government persisted in its determination to secure the passage of Bill C-155.
On October 26 they obtained a time-allocation order limiting consideration of
the report stage and the third reading stage to three more days. The successful
conclusion of proceedings on this legislative measure cleared the way for
prorogation and the beginning of a new parliamentary session.
The attention of the House returned to the
Crow Bill on September 26 when the Standing Committee on Transport presented
its seventeenth report. After holding forty-one public hearings during the
summer to sound out the reactions of western prairie grain producers and other
groups, and after an additional 25 meetings on the clause-by-clause study of
the bill, the committee reported the bill back to the House with numerous
amendments. By the time proceedings on the report stage began the following
Thursday, 174 motions in amendment had been filed. Of these, the Speaker ruled
78 out of order for procedural reasons. During much of October, the House
debated the amendments. As the Government became increasingly impatient, the
opposition became more obstreperous. This, in turn, created an atmosphere of
considerable tension and occasional friction. As had happened last Spring
during second reading on the Bill, both sides became involved in a procedural
tug-of-war. On several occasions, the voting bells were used by one side to
frustrate the tactics of the other. The Speaker was sometimes obliged to
intervene to limit the use of the bells on motions which lapsed at the adjournment
or which had to be disposed of by a certain time.
On October 19, the Minister of Transport,
Lloyd Axworthy, gave notice of his intention to move a time allocation order.
The Conservative House Leader, Erik Nielsen, objected that the notice had been
given on a point of order. The Speaker, however, ruled the notice to be
acceptable. Commenting on the Chair's decision, Svend Robinson suggested that
"the Speaker was taking her marching orders from the Government in this
matter". After asking him several times to withdraw his words, Speaker
Jeanne Sauvé was obliged to name Mr. Robinson. The motion to expel the NDP
member from the House for the remainder of the sitting was subsequently moved
by the Government House Leader, Yvon Pinard.
Proceedings on the time allocation order did
not take place until October 26. After the Minister of Transport had spoken to
his motion, Don Mazankowski rose to speak. He concluded by moving "That
the Orders of the Day be now read". The bells were once more set to ringing,
only to be stopped two hours later when the Speaker came into the House to
explain that it was necessary, according to the Standing Orders, to dispose of
proceedings on the time allocation order two hours after they had commenced. To
do this, the motion of Mr. Mazankowski had to be decided first; thereafter the
motion of Mr. Axworthy was adopted.
Still, the opposition found other ways to
make its point. On October 27 and 28 they presented more than 225 petitions and
thus prevented any consideration of government orders including, of course, the
Crow Bill. On the following Monday, the Opposition managed to extend the
sitting beyond the normal hour of adjournment. During the course of this
sitting, which lasted through the night, NDP House Leader, Ian Deans, was named
by the Chair and subsequently expelled from the House for the rest of the day.
The sitting finally ended Tuesday morning with a vote on the motion to adjourn
the House proposed by the Minister of Transport.
In addition to considering the Crow Bill,
the House adopted several other pieces of legislation. Of these, the first was
Bill C-110, the Export Development Act which received third reading September
27. Its purpose was to bolster the activity and funding of the Export
Development Corporation, a crown agency charged with assisting the private
sector in competing in the international marketplace. The four other bills to
be given third reading were considered under the terms of a motion arranged by
the House Leaders and adopted by the House October 24. Under the terms of the
agreement, Bill C-163, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board Act was passed that
same day. The board established by the Act will have the power to investigate
air accidents and hazards to aviation safety.
The remaining three bills were passed by the
House the following day. One was Bill C-169, the Canada Elections Act (No.3)
which dealt mainly with campaign election expenses. The bill adjusted the level
of maximum expenses to the cost-of-living index, and also provided a new
formula for reimbursements to candidates and to the political parties. The
second bill, C-168, amended the Bretton Woods Agreement Act by increasing
Canada's subscription to the International Monetary Fund and its system of
Special Drawing Rights from two million SDR to 2.9 million SDR or approximately
$3.8 billion. Thirdly, the House passed Bill C-152, the Government Organization
Act which related mainly to changes in the government's departmental structure
in the area of regional economic development, regional industries expansion and
external affairs, including international trade.
The House adopted two resolutions, one of
which concerned Manitoba language rights. After some negotiations among the
Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Leader of the New
Democratic Party, an agreement was reached on the issue which allowed Mr.
Pinard to give notice of the resolution October 5. According to the terms of
the resolution, the House endorsed the agreement struck by the federal
government and the province of Manitoba, and invited the province to take
action as expeditiously as possible to protect the rights of its
French-speaking minority. In speaking on the resolution the next day, Prime
Minister Pierre Eillot Trudeau explained that the resolution was of fundamental
importance because it provided "an encouragement to all those in this
country, no matter how weak or small or poor they be, to know that the men and
women sitting in this place are dedicated to that principle of setting wrongs
right". The new leader of the Progressive Conservatives, Brian Mulroney
said that "bilingualism is a valued principle and an indispensable
dimension of our national life". He spoke of the need for 'Sensitivity to
people and the presumption of good faith" in the implementation of such
policies. Such traits, he added "will ensure for bilingualism a more
durable character and more provincial acceptance". Speaking on behalf of
the New Democratic Party, Ed Broadbent observed that the House in supporting this
resolution is "acting in the spirit of those who created Canada in 1867
... a spirit of tolerance and a respect for diversity which should always be
the hallmark of Canada and of Canadians".
The second resolution adopted by the House
was proposed September 12 during the course of an emergency debate requested by
Mr. Broadbent on the destruction of the South Korean civilian aircraft by a
Soviet fighter. The terms of the resolution, in addition to expressing sympathy
for the families of the victims and to condemning the unwarranted attack by the
Soviet authorities, demanded an explanation from the Soviet Government and
generous compensation to the families of all the victims. Moreover, the
resolution directed the Speaker to convey the text of the motion to the leadership
of the Soviet Union. On September 28, the Speaker reported to the House that
the Chargé d'affaires of the Soviet Embassy had refused to accept the text of
the resolution. Nonetheless, the Speaker believed that the sense of the House
had been appreciated by the Embassy and that this had been conveyed to the
Soviet government in Moscow.
Two special committees of the House
presented reports during this period including one by the Special Committee on
Indian Self Government. The report proposed sweeping changes in the
relationship between the federal government and the Indian First Nations.
Foremost was the need to recognize the right of Indians to self-government
which should be explicitly stated and entrenched in the Constitution of Canada.
This objective should be supported by specific legislative action as soon as
possible. In addition, the report urges that the present Department of Indian
Affairs and Northern Development be phased out over a period of five years. The
work of managing and co-ordinating the federal government's relations with
Indian First Nation governments should rather be performed through a Ministry
of State for Indian First Nations Relations, linked to the Privy Council
Office. In this way, the committee believed that the many issues involved in
achieving Indian self-government can be better negotiated and developed.
The second special committee to report was
that on Standing Orders and Procedure. Its tenth and final report presented
September 30 proposed that the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization
take up the task of reviewing the provisional Standing Orders as well as
examining a number of outstanding issues raised by the Special Committee. Among
the recommendations was one urging a revival of Ministerial Statements followed
by a comment from each of the opposition parties rather than the time consuming
mini question period currently permitted. The report also suggested that the
motions of non confidence should be based only on the explicit sense of the motion
itself. Another recommendation dealt with Ways and Means motions which,
according to the committee, could be more adequately considered outside the
Committee of the Whole by a legislative committee as defined in an earlier
report (the Sixth).
Charles Robert, Procedural Clerk, Table Research Branch, House of
The fall sittings of the first session of
Alberta's 20th Legislature commenced on October 19, 1983. The first major item
of business was Premier Peter Lougheed's motion that the "Assembly approve
in general the operations of the government since the adjournment of the spring
sitting". In his "State of the Province" address, in support of
the motion, the Premier focussed upon economic and fiscal matters. He observed that
after a period of overbuilding due to the natural resource boom and the effect
of the world economy on Alberta, the province's economy is presently
experiencing a period of adjustment. Changes in the economic environment
require the government to reassess its economic strategy, he said, which will
result in the announcement of a new economic plan next spring. In outlining the
government's current priorities, Mr. Lougheed emphasized the need to practice
sound fiscal management, to market Alberta's products and services abroad, to
co-operate with producers and to build upon the province's existing strengths.
In his reply to Premier Lougheed's opening
address, Grant Notley, Leader of the Official Opposition and of the Alberta New
Democratic Party, concentrated on government inconsistency. Mr. Notley
contended that the government, which has increased income taxes and stressed
the need for restraint in areas such as health care has wasted money on
projects such as Kananaskis Park and extravagant expenditures for travel. Mr. Notley
moved that Mr. Lougheed's motion be amended to read: the "Assembly approve
in general the operations of the government since the adjournment of the spring
sitting, but deplores the fact that the government's failure to effectively
resolve our economic crisis has led to a decision to increase income tax
Early on in the fall sittings, opposition
members repeatedly challenged Speaker Gerard Amerongen. During the Premier's
State of the Province Address, the Speaker rose 13 times to call heckling
opposition members to order. Rising on points of order, the four opposition
members Ray Speaker, Waiter Buck, Ray Martin and Mr. Notley questioned the
Speaker's interventions. Mr. Notley conceded that there is a point in any set
of interjections when the Speaker has the power to ask that those interjections
cease. He argued, however, that the Speaker stopped the interjections because
it was the Premier who was speaking and that the same rules are not applied
when opposition members are interrupted. Mr. Notley contended that all members
must be subject to the same rules, including the Premier. It was the first time
in twelve years as Premier that Mr. Lougheed had been interrupted during his
annual State of the Province Address.
While the four opposition members would like
the presiding officer to allow them more latitude in asking questions, Mr.
Amerongen is standing by the statement of rules he made in the House last
spring, rather than following the practice of the House of Commons, as
opposition members would prefer. (Opposition discontent over Speaker
Amerongen's rulings is a carryover from the spring sittings when they boycotted
Question Period the last five days before the summer recess).
This fall, the Standing Committee on the
Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund Act debated, defended and amended a total
of forty-seven recommendations, fifteen of which would have required new
funding. However, after Premier Lougheed made his annual appearance before !he
committee on October 5, 1983, only three recommendations were passed: that the
Farming for-the-Future program continue; that high technology research funding
continue; and that the province do more to promote its historic sites. Mr.
Lougheed indicated that the cabinet would not consider any new capital projects
until current projects are completed. He emphasized that the fund cannot
"resolve the problems of economic diversification" and reiterated
that it is an 1nvestment fund with a rainy day aspect to it." He said that
Albertans' current serious misconceptions regarding the fund must be overcome
through better communication. He also emphasized that economic recovery in the
province will soon be visible and that Alberta "will be a very strong
leading province in the economy of Canada in the near term."
On October 28, 1983, Treasurer Lou Hyndman
won legislative approval in principle to transfer 15 percent of provincial
energy income, approximately $750 million, to the Alberta Heritage Savings
Trust Fund next year from general revenues. Mr. Hyndman said the transfer is
needed to meet fund commitments.
Several noteworthy pieces of legislation
have been introduced this fall. Bill 81, the Electoral Boundaries Commission
Amendment Act, was introduced on October 26, 1983. This Bill would increase the
number of urban divisions from 37 to 42, while rural divisions would be reduced
from 42 to 41. Bill 93, the Police Officers Collective Bargaining Act,
complements Bill 44, the Labour Statutes Amendment Act, passed in the spring of
1983, which established new rules for the arbitration of contract disputes in
hospitals, fire departments and the public service. Bill 92, the Pacific
Western Airlines Act, was introduced to facilitate the continued broad
ownership of P.W.A. when the government sells some of its interest in P.W.A.
The Bill sets the ceiling for a single shareholder or associate group of
shareholders at four percent. Transportation Minister Marvin Moore stated on
October 28, 1983 that Alberta will likely begin to sell shares in P.W.A. within
Hospital Minister Dave Russell has said that
the hospital user-fee program will come into effect January 1, 1984, instead of
the October 1, 1983 date originally announced. Mr. Russell announced several
changes to the program that was announced last spring. Senior citizens will be
exempt, admission fees and fees for private rooms have been excluded from the
program, and hospital boards will be given blanket authority to implement user
fees whenever they want. In the original program, cabinet was to authorize user
fees for individual hospitals.
Cynthia J. Bojechko, and Joanne Pawluk, Legislative Interns, Alberta Legislative Assembly.
The term of office of the Ninth Legislative Assembly
ended in the fall of 1983, and a territorial general election was held on
Monday, November 21, 1983. This was the second election conducted under the NWT
Elections Ordinance passed by the Assembly in October, 1978.
The number of electoral districts was
increased to twenty-four in preparation for the election, and changes were made
in boundaries of a number of constituencies. Some of the constituency names
were also changed. The Western Arctic constituency was renamed Nunakput;
Mackenzie Great Bear was renamed Sahtu; the former constituency of Mackenzie
Liard was split into Deh Cho and Deh Cho Gah; Great Stave East was renamed Tu
Nede; the former riding of Central Arctic was split into Kitikmeot East and
Kitikmeot West; the boundaries of Keewatin North and Keewatin South were
realigned and the constituencies were renamed Kivallivik and Aivilik; and
Frobisher Bay was renamed lqaiuit.
The last session of the Ninth Legislative
Assembly began August 30th and ended September 10th. It was a time for
reflection and for some farewells but some major projects and bills also were
dealt with by the legislators.
Major legislation introduced included the
Regional and Tribal Councils Ordinance, providing legislative recognition to
various regional bodies proposed for or operating in the Northwest Territories.
Changes to the Education Ordinance to allow for the creation of divisional
boards of education were passed, and an ordinance allowing the government to
make agreements with other governments for the management of water resources
A motion opposing the testing of the Cruise
missile over Northern Canada narrowly passed after extensive and often eloquent
debate. Another expressing the Assembly's support for the proposed aboriginal
rights amendments to the Canadian Constitution was passed unanimously. Two
motions dealing with pornography were passed, one supporting federal moves to
strengthen the obscenity provisions of the Criminal Code, and one supporting
initiatives by the Minister of Communications to safeguard the contents of
television in Canada.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Public
Accounts provided its third report to the Assembly, comprising the report of
the Public Accounts Committee on the government's Financial Information System
and the government's response to the committee's report. The report was drawn
up by the committee after several days of public hearings on the FIS Project
held last March.
The Special Committee on Division tabled a
report on division of the NWT administrative structures for Nunavut which had
been submitted to the committee for its consideration. Later in the session,
the committee was dissolved by motion of the legislature.
The Special Committee on Constitutional
Development presented five research reports prepared for it, covering Residency
Requirements; Protection of Aboriginal Rights; Guaranteed Representation;
Regional Government; and Liberal-Democratic Government: Principles and
A major revision Of the rules of the
Assembly was prepared by the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures and
accepted by the legislature after some debate and discussion. The Assembly
directed that the rules should be translated into lnuktitut, for the first
time, in preparation for the Tenth Assembly.
Following discussion of the revised Rules,
the Assembly approved two motions requesting the Executive Council to approach
all three federal parties to secure support for amendments to the Northwest
Territories Act to allow the legislature to set its own quorum and to allow the
Assembly to set its own procedures for convening sessions and determining their
Two supplementary appropriations ordinances
were passed during the Eleventh Session. One provided for additional expenditures
of $2.2 million for the public service in the 1982-83 financial year; the other
provided for additional expenditures of $5.5 million for 1983-84.
Two new ordinances were passed. A major bill
providing for the establishment and operation of regional and tribal councils
and dealing specifically with the Baffin Regional Council, the Kitikmeot
Regional Council, the Keewatin Regional Council, the Deh Cho Regional Council
and the Dogrib Tribal Council was passed. Previously, only the Baffin Regional
Council had been recognized in law. As part of the new ordinance, the Baffin
Regional Council Ordinance was repealed. A second new bill allows the
government to enter into agreements with the federal or provincial or Yukon
governments for the planning and management of water resources in the
Among the eight bills amending existing
ordinances was a major revision of the Education Ordinance which reflected
changes recommended earlier by the Assembly's Special Committee on Education
and accepted earlier by the legislature. The ordinance amending the Education
Ordinance allows for the establishment of education divisions, divisional
boards of education and community education councils, paving the way for major
changes to the territorial education system.
Other ordinances amended by bills during the
Eleventh Session were: the Companies Ordinance to repeal provisions which will
become redundant with the introduction of a flat incorporation fee and to
provide that annual information be filed for each company on its incorporation
date; the Council Ordinance to allow for in-town living allowances to be set by
regulation on the recommendation of the Management and Services Board, and to
set constituency allowances for twenty-four ridings; the Interpretation Ordinance
to provide a definition of the Executive Council for use in legislation
generally; the Judicature Ordinance to provide that the Court of Appeal for the
Northwest Territories sit only in the Northwest Territories and that it sit at
least twice a year; the Medical Care Ordinance to authorize the inspection and
auditing of accounts submitted to the Medical Care Plan and to provide a
statutory base for recovery of overpayment of claims; and the Regulations
Ordinance to provide a means whereby any regulation, statutory instrument or
non statutory instrument can be proved in court by filing a certified copy.
Rosemary Cairns, Public Affairs Officer, Legislative Assembly of the
The Quebec National Assembly convened on
October 18 but adjourned, after two days of debate on a ministerial statement
by René Lévesque.
Mr. Lévesque noted that where economic
matters were concerned, legislative action was not appropriate and there was no
great harm in postponing legislative activities until November 15. Added Mr.
Lévesque: "The people of Quebec are asking us to focus our attention and
efforts on creating thousands of jobs for our unemployed and for our young
people in particular."
The Liberal MNAs clearly did not share Mr.
Lévesque's opinion about the advisability of postponing the session. On the
contrary, the Liberals felt it was important for the National Assembly to
convene and propose new economic recovery measures. The Leader of the
Opposition, Gérard D. Lévesque, even stated that the government was afraid to
face the National Assembly and wanted to take refuge in the committees:
Tuesday, in a committee studying independence and Thursday, in a committee
studying the economy. He concluded that the government was no longer providing
any answers. The Independent MNA for Sainte-Marie, Guy Bisaillon, commented on
the number of days for which the P.Q. government had convened the National
Assembly since the 1980 referendum, stating that the Assembly had sat for
barely 219 days in four years, or an average of 55 days per year. Mr. Bisaillon
asked the Premier to "get back to the real business of Parliament and let
the legislative assembly make suggestions to the Executive, rather then
muzzling it at every opportunity.
In answer to these observations, the Premier
corrected some of the figures quoted by the opposition. He stated that between
1970 and 1976, under the Bourassa government, the National Assembly sat for 31
days for every 100 days in office, whereas from 1976 to June 22, 1983, the
average was 30 days of sittings for every 100 days in office, or only one day
less. Parliamentary committees, on the other hand, met on average 58 times for
every 100 days of the Bourassa government's term of office, as compared to 74
times for the same period under the current administration. After a final
appeal by the Premier to postpone the work of the Assembly, the Assembly
approved the tabling of various documents, namely letters exchanged between the
Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, a bound document containing
thirty-three decisions reached by the new Executive Council of the Assembly
since June, a notice from the Public Service Commission concerning certain
administrative regulations and the reports of parliamentary committees which
sat during the summer. Four bills were also tabled for first reading and
referred immediately to the Municipal Affairs Committee. The question period
provided the Opposition with an opportunity to question the government about
certain problems facing Quebec's economy and about the role of the new
committees of the Executive Council as regards the formulation of economic
programs and the review of Quebec's constitutional aims.
A motion without notice congratulating
Robert Bourassa on his recent election to the leadership of the Quebec Liberal
Party was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition and seconded by Premier
L6vesque before receiving the unanimous consent of the 107 MNAs present.
During the final hour of the morning of
October 18 the Assembly dealt with some 27 motions without notice introduced by
the Opposition calling for the government to take concrete action to set the
economy on the road to recovery. These motions died on the floor of the
Assembly, failing to receive the unanimous endorsement of the Assembly. After
the dinner recess, the Assembly resumed its activities at 8 p.m.
The pace of the debate changed when the
Chief Government Whip, Jacques Brassard (Lac Saint-Jean), moved that "the
National Assembly sit immediately and regularly in order to seek ways of
convincing the new Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party to give back to the
Public Treasury the $750,000 which his party virtually extorted from the Quebec
taxpayers during construction work for the Olympics".
The opposition House Leader, Michel Pagé
(Portneuf), rapidly agreed to debate this motion, on condition that the motion
on the floor be amended by adding, after the word "convincing", the
words "on the one hand", and by adding at the end the following:
"and of convincing, on the other hand, the Leader of the Party Québécois
to shed some light on France's $300,000 contribution to the PQ election
coffers, on the two $50,000 bribes made in the housing corporation affair, on
the tax attitude toward the friends of the former member for Saint-Jacques,
Claude Charron, in the matter of the National Holiday".
The Government House Leader, Jean-François
Bertrand, reacted by questioning whether Mr. Brassard's motion had received the
unanimous consent of the Assembly. The Speaker Richard Guay, suspended the sitting
to verity the audio visual recording of the incident before authorizing the
continuation of the debate on the motion and on the amendment. The sitting
resumed with statements by both Mr. Brassard and Mr. Page. Several minutes
before the conclusion of the sitting, Jacques Parizeau called to mind the PQ
government's position on the financing of political parties. With respect to
the alleged contribution by the French government to the PQ coffers, Mr.
Parizeau stated that the National Assembly had already settled this matter.
At 10 p.m., the Speaker rose, commented on
the late hour and adjourned the Assembly until the following morning, namely
Wednesday, at 10 a,m. On Wednesday the Government House Leader argued that the
interruption by the Speaker had nullified the motion being debated.
Consequently, he moved under Standing Order 76 that the Assembly adjourn until
November 15. Following a brief procedural debate, the motion passed by a vote
of 61 to 35. The two-day mini session lasted a total of seven and a half hours.
Yvon Thériault, Indexing and Bibliographic Service, Legislative
Library, Quebec National Assembly.
0ne of the most tumultuous legislative
sessions in British Columbia if not all Canadian history came to an end on
October 21, 1983. The last five weeks featured extended sittings, eleven of
which went beyond midnight with eight lasting all night ' Closure, previously
used only once in British Columbia was invoked twenty times. There were more
than fifty appeals to rulings of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committee of
the Whole. Perhaps the most dramatic moment came in the early hours of October
6 when the Leader of the Opposition was carried physically from the Chamber
and, as a result, suspended for the balance of the session.
The Public Sector Restraint Act and Other
The month of August was devoted largely to
discussion of the July 7 budget and some of the 26 bills introduced at that
time. The budget was adopted on September I following Premier William Bennett's
first address of the session. He called it a lean but not a mean budget and
combined a defence of his government's restraint program with a stinging attack
on the opposition New Democratic Party. 1t is the socialists who invented and
advocate government by Chargex. It is they who really would spend the future
income to be earned in this province by industry, business and working people
to satisfy their need to be loved". The final speaker for the NDP, Robin
Blencoe, condemned the government for not making its restraint policies clear
before the May 5 election. 1t should have told the people of British Columbia
it was going to declare war on children and families".
The most controversial legislation was Bill
3, the Public Sector Restraint Act.
The purpose of the bill was to reduce jobs
in the public sector by about 25% by June 1984. As originally introduced by
Provincial Secretary James Chabot the Bill would have allowed the government to
fire public sector employees without cause. Even after amendments introduced by
Mr. Chabot the Opposition argued that the bill allowed the government to fire
too indiscriminately and without regard to seniority. The NDP vowed to fight
the bill every step of the way.
On September 19 the government moved to
extend the hours of sitting to speed up passage of Bill 3. Speaker Waiter
Davidson also informed the Leader of the Opposition, David Barrett that since
the debate was now on the amendment rather than on the main motion, the
Opposition Leader did not have unlimited time to speak. This caused the New
Democratic Party member from Skeena, Frank Howard, to place on the Order Paper
a motion of censure against the Speaker "for affecting an interpretation
of the Standing Orders which suited the desires of the Government, and therefore,
further declares that Mr. Speaker Davidson has lost confidence of the
Honourable House". The motion was never debated but when Mr. Howard raised
the matter as a question of privilege the Speaker replied on October 5.
"The use of a matter of privilege to criticize the conduct or motives of
the chair is not acceptable, and should it arise again, the House may wish to
consider an appropriate action."
From Monday September 19 at 2:00 pm until
noon on Friday September 23 the House was in session almost continuously,
sitting for 80 of a possible 94 hours. Finally at 5:00 am in the morning on
September 22 the Public Sector Restraint Act received seconding reading
(approval in principle) and was referred to the Committee of the Whole House.
Other legislation considered that week
included the Education Finance Amendment Act which gave the government greater
control over school board budgeting, a Property Reform Act, an amendment to the
Employment Standards Act applying to minimum vacation, maternity leave, and
layoff and termination which will not apply to union members whose collective
agreement already covers these areas, The government also introduced the
Municipal Amendment Act which removed regional district planning powers. During
debate on this bill the government moved closure for the first time.
Other bills passed only after closure had
been used on one or more occasions included the Social Service Tax Amendment
which raised the sales tax to 7% and applied it to restaurant meals over $7.00,
the Compensation Stabilization Amendment Act which extended public sector wage
controls and the Income Tax Amendment Act which eliminated two tax credits for
renters and the elderly,
In addition to the aforementioned measures,
other legislation to receive Royal assent during the session included bills to
increase the tax on tobacco, to turn motor vehicle safety testing over to the
private sector and to abolish certain governments agencies such as the Ocean
Fall Corporation, the B.C. Cellulose Company, the Alcohol and Drug Commission
and the B.C. Harbours Board.
On August 11 the legislature debated and
approved a motion by the Minister of Transportation and Highways that:
"This House is of the opinion that changes in the historic Crows Nest Pass
grain freight rate will substantially benefit the economic development and
employment opportunities of Canada and British Columbia and, this House,
accordingly, expresses its support for action by the Parliament of Canada to
deal expeditiously with the issue of the statutory freight rate for export
grain by passing the required legislation."
Expulsion of Leader of the Opposition
On Wednesday October 5 the House met at 8:05
pm to debate Bill 2, the Public Service Labour Relations Amendment Act which
would limit collective bargaining for government employees. It being impossible
for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker to occupy the chair on a round-the-clock
basis, other Social Credit members including John Parks, Terry Segarty, John
Reynolds and Donald Campbell along with Deputy Speaker Bruce Strachan took
turns occupying the Speaker's chair at the sitting.
At 3:00 a.m. Gordon Hanson (NDP Victoria)
ended his speech with an amendment that the bill be not now read but on this
day six months hence the so-called "hoist". The first person to speak
on this was Chris D'Arcy (NDP Rossland-Trail). After forty minutes he moved
that the House adjourn. The presiding officer at this point, Mr. Parks, said
that "the resolution to adjourn, coming on the heels of a hoist motion, is
deleterious and is not in order. His "ruling" was challenged by the
Leader of the Opposition but Mr. Parks said it was not a "ruling" and
therefore not subject to challenge. He said that Standing Order 44 provides
that the Speaker may decline to propose a question if he is of the opinion that
it is an abuse of the rules. Mr. Parks said he was making an
"application" of Standing Order 44.
Mr. Barrett then challenged the
"application". After much heated debate between Mr. Parks and Mr.
Barrett as to whether it was a "ruling" or an "application"
and whether it was challengable, Mr. Parks ordered Mr. Barrett to withdraw from
the Chamber. When Mr. Barrett refused the Sergeant-at-Arms was instructed to
assist him from the chamber. Thereupon Mr. Barrett fell to the floor and was
carried out thus becoming the first member in 112 years to be physically
ejected. Under Standing Order 20 any member physically ejected is suspended for
the remainder of the session.
The next day Mr. Howard argued that the
Leader of the Opposition had been impeded and obstructed in his duties. He
asked for his reinstatement. The request was turned down by Speaker Davidson on
October 11. In view of the gravity of the events the Speaker added a few other
comments. He said the Leader of the Opposition was aware that failure to leave
voluntarily would result in a sessional suspension. "He cannot now be
heard to complain, and it cannot be appropriately claimed on his behalf, that
he is unable to perform his duties in this House when he, the Honourable Leader
of the Opposition, with full knowledge of the consequences, brought upon
himself the manner of his removal from the Chamber. In these circumstances, the
transgressor cannot, by any interpretation of the law of Parliament, be
magically transformed into the aggrieved party, The injured body is Parliament
The Speaker did allow as to how an apology
could result in his return but no apology was forthcoming and Mr. Barrett
remained barred for the rest of the session.
At the time of adjournment only eight bills
had not been passed but they included a few which promise to be controversial.
The final day was devoted mainly to
discussion and approval of the proposed constitutional amendment on aboriginal
rights. An Interim Supply Bill was also introduced. It gave the opposition a
final chance to object to the government's policies. Such bills usually receive
unanimous consent and go through all stages in a single day, however, at first
the NDP refused to co-operate. Finally after the Lieutenant Governor had given
Royal Assent to the rest of the legislation the Opposition House Leader acceded
to the request and the bill was passed. Following Royal Assent to the Supply
Bill the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Gar Gardom, moved that the
House adjourn until 1t appears to the satisfaction of Mr. Speaker, after
consultation with the government, that the public interest requires that the
House shall meet. . ." In reference to opposition taunts about a long
holiday Mr. Gardom added, "this is probably the hardest working administration
that the province has ever had".