| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The first session of the twenty-sixth
Legislature opened on July 15. The purpose of the four day session was to
determine whether Mr. Tony Penikett and his newly elected government held the
confidence of the House and to gain interim spending authority for the
government until a full budget could be presented in the Fall.
Prior to the Speech from the Throne the
Assembly elected Sam Johnston as its Speaker. Mr. Johnston, a New Democrat
representing the electoral district of Campbell, is believed to be the first
native Indian to be Speaker in a Canadian Legislative Assembly. He designed and
adopted a Speaker's robe incorporating emblems faithful to his Tlingit ancestry
and, in the case of the raven and fireweed, depicting Yukon's bird and flower.
Following a brief Speech from the Throne,
four Bills were introduced. Mr. Penikett then gave a short budget speech on
second reading of the Interim Supply Appropriation Act which he described as
being a "holding action" giving the government time to undertake the
development of a budget reflecting its policies and priorities. He said that
although rates of unemployment were not available for 1984 and 1985, they were
likely in the range of 14% which he viewed as being "intolerable." He
went on to say 1t is the government's intention to aid and accelerate economic
growth with specific emphasis on local employment, maximum use of local materials
and enlarged opportunities for native Yukoners."
In speeches the following day on the Address
in Reply and the Interim Supply Appropriation Act, Willard Phelps, Leader of
the Official Opposition, attacked the government for having created "a
territory-in-waiting" because the citizens "do not know what kinds of
policies or actions this new government is going to take." He also accused
the government of being secretive, inconsistent and arrogant and said that if
it was really committed to open government, it would not have entered into
"some kind of secret deal with the Liberal party."
In his speech on the Address in Reply, Roger
Coles, Leader of the Liberal Party, responded that "Liberals in this
Legislature will be doing all in their power to help fulfill and restore
Yukoners' faith and expectations in our government .... The only alliance the
Liberals have made is the alliance with all Yukoners. The Liberals represent
the balance in this House, where the extreme views of left and right are
The only recorded division on a government
sponsored motion occurred on third reading of the Interim Supply Appropriation
Act at which time the two Liberal Members voted with the government side. Three
recorded divisions took place under Private Members' Motions. On one occasion
the House voted unanimously to pass a motion, on another the Liberals voted
with government members to defeat a motion sponsored by Mr. Phelps and, on yet
another occasion, the Liberals voted with the Official Opposition to defeat an
amendment proposed by a Minister to a Private Member's motion.
An old and, in some circles, revered
tradition was put to rest with the passage of An Act to Amend the Liquor Act.
Although it was illegal to drive a vehicle while intoxicated it was not, in the
past, illegal for either the driver or passengers in a vehicle to imbibe
alcoholic beverages. This bill ended all that. The Minister of justice, Roger
Kimmerly, said in his second reading speech "It is clearly demonstrated
that drinking while driving is dangerous and it is not acceptable to the Yukon
public. It is a restriction on individual freedom and that is regrettable as
are all restrictions on freedom. In balancing the restriction on freedom and
public safety, the response of the government is clear in this instance. We
feel that the public safety has a greater public interest and greater public
On the fourth and final day of the sitting
the Assembly passed a motion introduced by Mr. Phelps under Standing Order 28
(Motions of urgent and pressing necessity). The subject was the referral of the
offshore northern boundary between Yukon and Northwest Territories by the NWT
Government to the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories. The final
paragraphs of the motion read: Whereas the delineation of the boundary has
serious ramifications with regard to the application of Yukon territorial laws
and the economic future of Yukon;
Now Therefore, this Legislative Assembly is
of the opinion that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the
Hon. David Crombie, should introduce in the House of Commons appropriate
amendments to the schedule of the Yukon Act to clearly delineate the offshore
boundaries between the two territories, and thereby clarify that the Yukon
territorial laws apply to that part of the Beaufort Sea adjacent to Yukon.
In his speech on the motion Mr. Phelps said
"The Beaufort Sea is one of our most important areas in terms of future
economic development potential.... It is critical that our northern boundary be
clarified so that we can clearly demonstrate our jurisdiction over the
offshore, and so that we will have an ethical right to share in the revenues
that may be generated by the gas and oil discoveries there."
Following Assent to the four bills which had
been introduced by the government and passed by the House the Yukon Legislative
Assembly adjourned on July 18.
The second session opened on October 1 with
the Speech from the Throne which emphasized the themes of building and
diversifying the Yukon economy and of open government: "Our government
will be an open government and it will work with Yukoners from every corner of
the territory to build an economy where jobs are plentiful and consistent with
the cultural traditions Yukoners embrace. Yukoners are entitled to feel secure
and at home in their own land."
Mr. Phelps was not impressed. In his speech
on the Address in Reply he said, in reference to the Throne Speech: "I am
saddened by it saddened because the people of Yukon deserve more. The Throne
Speech confirms that the members opposite are unable to lead and have no new
policies. ... The government has really done nothing so far but to administer
our previous initiatives."
Mr. Coles was not as critical but thought
there could have been more: "Although I am pleased with some of the
initiatives that have been taken, this new government is a long way from
fulfilling its past campaign promises."
In the session which followed a total of 39
bills were introduced, of which 37 were passed and received Assent. The
remaining two bills were referred to committees of the House for review prior
to the 1986 spring sitting. One of those bills, the Human Rights Act, will be
subject to Yukon-wide public, hearings.
Much of the legislation fell within the
"housekeeping" category. The majority of the House's attention was
focused on three budget bills and on the Yukon Development Corporation Act and
the Loan Guarantee Act, 1985. In second reading on the Yukon Development
Corporation Act, which was supported by all parties in the Assembly, Mr.
Penikett explained: "This act provides for a corporation that will acquire
the Northern Canada Power Commission's current Yukon assets, then perhaps, in
conjunction with the private sector, ensure that electrical power is provided to
Yukoners in a manner that reflects Yukoners' needs."
The Loan Guarantee Act, 1985 was introduced
following Mr. Penikett's announcement on October 28 that Curragh Resources had
made arrangements to purchase and reopen the former Cyprus Anvil lead-zinc mine
in Faro. The mine has been closed since June, 1982 due to low world metal
prices and the financial difficulties of Dome, its owner. The package leading
to Curragh's purchase was agreed to in lengthy negotiations between Dome,
Curragh, and the Governments of Yukon, Canada and Alaska. Commitments from the
Government of Yukon included the purchase of 122 real estate properties in
Faro, year-round opening and maintenance of the Skagway-Whitehorse road and a
possible $3 million incentive contribution under the Yukon Mineral Recovery
Program. The Loan Guarantee Act, 1985 contained the Government's other major
commitment, that being the guarantee of 85 percent of the $15 million line of
credit that Curragh Resources had obtained from its banks. The Government of
Canada, in turn, is committed to re-guaranteeing 90 percent of the Government
of Yukon's obligations.
In his ministerial statement on the subject,
Mr. Penikett said: 'It is my view and the view of this government that the
above arrangements are unequivocally beneficial for the Yukon. The largest and
most visible benefit from these arrangements will be the jobs. When the mine is
fully operational, over 1,000 jobs, including 450 at the mine-site, will be
created in the Yukon. This figure represents an eleven percent increase in the
total number of fulltime jobs in the Yukon. ... There is no single project that
I can think of that can do for our economy, for our people, what this project
is capable of accomplishing." Although the Bill and the agreement received
all party approval, Members of the Official Opposition did raise a number of
concerns. Many of these concerns were related to the urgency of the matter
(which required the House to pass the bill in one day), the level of Government
involvement in the deal and to the damage which would be inflicted on the Yukon
if the mine were to reopen and then be closed down again in the near future.
Casting Vote by the Speaker
During the session there were a total of
nine recorded divisions. The Liberal members voted with the government in the
two divisions which would have been considered "matters of
confidence", these being the third reading stage of two budget bills. In
the other seven divisions two resulted in tie votes and the Speaker, Hon. Sam
Johnston, was, therefore, required to give a casting vote. In the first
instance the Speaker voted against a government sponsored amendment to a
private member's motion on the basis that the House had not clearly expressed
itself and he was, accordingly, inclined to retain the main motion in its
original form. The second tie occurred on a motion placed before the House by a
private member and the Speaker voted against the motion saying: "An
important principle is that important decisions should not be taken except by a
majority and it is, therefore, my duty to vote against the motion."
Following Assent to the Bills passed by the
House the Yukon Legislative Assembly adjourned indefinitely on October 28.
Patrick Michael, Clerk, and Missy Follwell, Assistant
Clerk, Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Three weeks after being sworn in as Premier
of Quebec, Pierre-Marc Johnson announced that a general election would be held
on December 2, 1985.
New System for Choosing the Party Leader
The Parti québécois set a precedent on
September 29, 1985, when it elected Mr. Johnson president of the party by
direct universal suffrage of its members. Mr. Johnson replaced the founder and
only president of the party René Lévesque, who announced his resignation on
June 20, 1985.
Mr. Johnson was elected leader on the first
ballot with 58.5% of the vote. The Minister of Manpower and Income Security,
Pauline Marois, placed second with 20% of the vote. Third with 16.2% was the
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Jean Garon, followed by Guy
Bertrand with 2.8%, Francine Lalonde with 1.5% and Luc Gagnon with 1.1%.
This new system of electing a leader drew a
turnout of 63% of party members. Mr. Johnson led the polls in all regions and
118 out of 122 ridings. In some ridings he captured more than three-quarters of
the votes: (78% in Roberval, 77% in his own riding of Anjou and 76% in Johnson
named after his father, former Premier Daniel Johnson).
The rules for the election by direct
universal suffrage were laid down by the ninth national congress held in
Montreal in January 1985. They covered election procedures, voting method,
appointment of an electoral officer and the regulation of expenditures by the
party and the candidates.
Under the rules any member in good standing
may stand as a candidate provided he obtains the signatures of at least 250
other party members. Between the forty-fifth and seventh day before the
election date, the electoral officer organizes a candidates' meeting in each of
the ten regions of Quebec. There is also a final public meeting on the Friday
preceding the vote. The election is held on the Sunday following the end of the
ninety-day campaign. Members present their identification documents and vote by
secret ballot in their home ridings, in one of the 734 polling stations in
Quebec's 122 electoral districts. Votes are counted and results released on the
same day, under the control of the electoral officer.
A candidate is declared elected to the
position of party president after he has obtained over half of the votes cast.
If there are three candidates and none
obtains over half of the votes a second ballot is held for the two candidates
who have received the most votes. If there are more than three candidates and
none receives more than half the votes on the first ballot, only the three
candidates who have received the most votes are retained. On this second
ballot, a vote by preference is conducted: eligible voters must indicate their
first and second choice; to be valid, the ballot must show two different
choices. Candidates eligible for the second ballot have forty-eight hours after
the polls close to withdraw their candidacy. If no candidate receives over half
the first choice votes, the one who has received the fewest is eliminated. The
second choices of the voters who supported that candidate are transferred to
the other two candidates.
The party's national council appoints the
electoral officer and determines his responsibilities. He arranges with the
council to allocate the material, financial and human resources that are
required for the election. He ensures that the party's statutes and the bylaws
adopted for the election art! observed. To discharge his mandate, he submits a
report on the presidential election campaign to the national council.
The electoral officer chosen June 23, 1985
was Francine Jutras, a member of the Drummondville municipal council and a
former member of the national executive of the party.
According to the rules of procedure, the
budget allocated by the party to electing its president by universal suffrage
must not exceed $500,000 (or $600,000 if a second ballot is required).
Yvon Thériault, Indexing and Bibliographic
Service, Legislative Library, Quebec National Assembly.
0n Sunday, October 13, 1985 former cabinet
minister Don Getty was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative
party replacing Peter Lougheed who retired. He outdistanced rivals Julian
Koziak, Municipal Affairs Minister, and Calgary lawyer Ron Ghitter, and won on
the second ballot. Mr. Getty was sworn in as Alberta's 11th Premier on November
1, 1985. A by-election to allow Mr. Getty to seek a seat in the Assembly was
called for December 11, 1985.
Mr. Getty has promised to act quickly on
pressing agricultural problems and to deal with the unemployment situation in
As a result of the leadership race the
Legislative Assembly did not sit this fall. However, the normal convening of
the Heritage Trust Fund Committee did take place.
On the opposition side of the House the New
Democratic Party has become simply the "New Democrats". Opposition
leader Ray Martin also unveiled new party colours replacing the traditional
orange and brown with burgundy. Both moves are designed to give the New
Democrats an enhanced image. At present, the official opposition consists of
two seats in the 79 seat Legislature.
In response to last year's White Paper:
"An Industrial and Science Strategy for Albertans, 1985 – 1990", two
position papers have been produced. The first one came out in June, 1985 and
deals with Tourism. The second one outlines the provincial government's
position on "Enhancing the Alberta Capital Market" and was released
in September of this year. A number of others will be released in subsequent
Brad Faught, Legislative
Intern, Alberta Legislative Assembly.
Senate committees were very active during
the period under review. On September 27 the Energy and Natural Resources
Committee's interim report on Canadian Energy Policy was tabled. Headed by Earl
Hastings, the committee conducted a thorough review of the fiscal arrangements
and structure of the domestic petroleum industry and considered energy
policymaking from a "national interest" perspective. The report
supported the deregulation of crude oil prices and the phased withdrawal of
both the Petroleum and Gas Revenue Tax and the Petroleum Incentives Program. A
number of recommendations were made with respect to energy conservation and
substitution, energy alternatives and energy security. The committee made clear
its support of the "Canadianization of the petroleum industry.
On October 29, the government tabled its
response to the Second Report of the joint Committee on Official Languages,
presented June 26. It reaffirmed its commitment to promoting official
bilingualism. In accordance with the committee's wish, it announced that the
Court Challenges Program would be maintained and broadened. The government
accepted the recommendation that official language obligations be included in
all contracts under which a private contractor is judged to be providing a
public service. However, the recommendation that the government maintain the
budgetary envelope for official languages programs at current levels was not
accepted. The government assured the committee that when reviewing language
programs, the primary emphasis would be on improving their quality and adapting
them to the needs of Canadians.
On November 6, the Standing Rules and Orders
Committee chaired by Gil Molgat, presented three reports. They dealt with
changes to the Royal Assent Ceremony, amendments to the Senate Rules so that
they better reflect the use of male and female genders and granting committees
the power to request comprehensive government responses to their reports. With
regard to Royal Assent, the committee recommended that while the present formal
procedure be retained, a simpler procedure also be established based on the
following principles: it involve representation from both Houses, it be public,
and the declaration of Royal Assent be subsequently reported to both Houses.
Certain senators disapproved of the report. Senator Henry Hicks felt
"there is a good deal of value in traditions that have governed our
proceedings for more than 100 years" and believed that the formal Royal
Assent process should not be lightly abandoned. Debate continued on the
adoption of the report.
Several committees began new studies. On
September 26, the National Finance Committee, chaired by Fernand Leblanc, was authorized
to examine the Government's financial support of post-secondary education and
vocational training. On October 29, George van Roggen's Foreign Affairs
Committee was empowered to examine Canada's participation in the international
financial system and institutions. Also on October 29, the Social Affairs,
Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Arthur Tremblay, was authorized to
study the Consultation Paper on Employment Training, issued by the Employment
and Immigration Department.
One of the more controversial orders of
reference dealt with an examination of the National Film Board's activities
with respect to the production and distribution of the documentary film on
Billy Bishop entitled "The Kid Who Couldn't Miss". The motion was
moved by Hartland de Molson who questioned whether the film should be released
by the NFB as a documentary. He claimed 1t is shameful that the Canadian
Government endorses and circulates a documentary that harms our national image.
Equally distressing is the fact that $400,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on
the destruction of a hero's credibility without proof or even accurate
information". Phillippe Gigantès opposed the inquiry feeling it "may
further damage the reputation of Billy Bishop and may be harmful to the Senate
itself". He felt the inquiry would be an attempt at censorship. On October
8, the motion was adopted, on division. The study will be carried out by jack
Marshall's Sub-Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Gary O'Brien, Director of Committee's Branch of the Senate.
Upon the return of the House in mid-October,
members resumed the adjourned debate on proposals for redistribution of
Provincial electoral districts. With regard to municipal voting procedures, the
Legislature approved with despatch Bill 38, An Act to amend the Municipal
Elections Act, in time for the November 12 elections. The Act enfranchises all
psychiatric patients, inmates of penal or correctional institutions not serving
a sentence, and all judges.
The first budget of an Ontario Liberal
government in 42 years was presented to the House on Thursday, 24 October 1985.
Treasurer Robert F. Nixon, son of the last Liberal Premier Harry C. Nixon,
promised a balance of social responsibility with fiscal responsibility. He set
as his top priorities jobs for young people and growth for the provincial
The budget predicted a slower rate of real
growth, 2.4% in 1986 compared to a current estimate of 4.5% for 1985. Average
annual employment was expected to rise by 108,000 jobs in 1986, bringing a
reduced unemployment rate of 7.7% (compared to an average 8.2% in 1985). The
Treasurer forecast provincial expenditures would rise by 7.85, to $28.99
billion, while revenues would increase by 8.4% to $27.3 billion. The projected
deficit of approximately $2.2 billion would thus represent an increase over the
previous budget's estimates of $2.04 billion.
To pay for new initiatives in the areas of
rental housing, child care, agriculture, Northern Ontario development, and
youth employment and training, the Treasurer proposed a wide range of tax
increases and reforms. These included: a 2 point rise in Ontario personal
income tax, to 50% of Basic Federal Tax for 1986 and subsequent years; a one
year surtax of 3% of Basic Ontario Income Tax over $5,000, an increase in land
transfer taxes; a 1/2% rise in corporations income tax, to 15%. The budget also
contained a number of cost-cutting and accounting reforms, including:
elimination of the Ontario Economic Council; transfer of the prestigious
independent research body, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, to the
University of Toronto; and removal from the province's accounts of the previous
government's controversial $650 million investment in Suncor, with an
accompanying pledge to sell the shares "as soon as financially
A measure that generated criticism both in
the budget debate and in subsequent Question Periods was the proposed increase
in gasoline and fuel taxes. The statement by both opposition parties that they
would not support this particular legislation promised an early test of the
commitment in the Liberal-NDP accord that defeats on budget bills would not be
considered votes of non confidence.
In his budget debate response, the
Progressive Conservative critic, George McCague, termed the Treasurer's
document "a budget without any clear sense of direction", a budget of
half-measures and half-kept promises reflecting a government "uncertain
about how it might best exercise the authority it so tenuously holds."
While finding evidence in the budget to defend the previous Conservative
government's economic management, Mr. McCague attacked the increased deficit
and taxes, and predicted a possible loss of Ontario's triple-A credit rating,
and a future retail sales tax increase. Mr. McCague concluded with a
twelve-point motion of non confidence in the government.
New Democratic critic Jim Foulds on the
other hand stated, I want to indicate right off the top that our party will
support the Budget". He praised the document for its modest, honest style
and found it to be, like the Treasurer himself, ... workmanlike,
well-intentioned, straightforward ... mildly reformist and fiscallv
conservative". While claiming credit for the achievements of the Budget as
resulting directly from the NDP accord with the Liberals, Mr. Foulds also saw
major flaws: (1) lack of direct job creation for those over 25; (2) absence of
an economic or industrial strategy; (3) failure to set up an environmental
protection fund; and an inadequate (4%) increase in social assistance payments.
In addition to the Budget statement,
Treasurer Nixon tabled a discussion paper entitled Reforming the Budget
Process. The paper reviews the pre-budget consultation process, the convention
of budget secrecy, and the role of the legislature, and suggests reforms to
allow greater involvement by the public and by Members. In particular, it is
proposed that the Treasurer provide an annual statement each fall on Ontario's
economic and fiscal outlook. This statement would have wide distribution, and
would be referred to the proposed new Standing Committee on Economic and Fiscal
Affairs for open pre-budget hearings and a report to the Legislature. The new
Committee would review all budget bills, prepare a recommendation on the
overall level of provincial revenues, expenditures and net cash requirements,
and generally advise on reform of the budget process. The Treasurer's proposals
appear to dovetail with those of the Procedural Affairs Committee which
recommended that all Estimates be referred to a proposed Standing Committee on
Finance and Economic Affairs.
Legislative Committees were active through
August and September, until the return of the House on October 15. Committee
work reflected the priorities of the new Liberal government and the accord
signed by Premier David Peterson and NDP leader Bob Rae.
The Standing Committee on Social
Development, under the Chairmanship of New Democrat Richard Johnston, did
exhaustive work on Bill 30, to grant public funds to Roman Catholic secondary
school programs. The bill introduced by Education Minister Sean Conway, and
carried on the promise by former Premier William Davis to extend such aid. The
Social Development Committee, in turn, honoured the commitment by Premier
Peterson that all wishing to speak on this controversial bill would be heard.
From July 16 until mid-October, the Committee devoted 300 hours, morning to
evening and even weekends, hearing over 450 scheduled presentations by
witnesses in 8 cities of Ontario. Approximately 900 exhibits were received. The
Committee's proceedings in Toronto were broadcast live, gavel to gavel, by a
cable television company. The hearings continue through the fall sittings.
The renamed Standing Committee on Procedural
Affairs and Agencies, Boards and Commissions held hearings in August on
televising of Ontario legislative proceedings. The Committee visited the House
of Commons in Ottawa and the Legislative Assembly in Saskatchewan to examine
their television systems. The Committee's report recommended that a "state
of the art" television broadcast system similar to Saskatchewan's be in
place during the second session (early 1986). The report also recommended
amending the Committee's terms of reference to designate it an advisory and
review body on matters related to the television system. Early in the fall
sittings the Legislature debated and adopted the Committee's Report.
The Procedural Affairs Committee also
ventured afield – to Albany, New York, Washington D.C., and Sacramento,
California – in considering its new Order of Reference to examine procedures
governing Cabinet appointments to Agencies, Boards, Commissions and certain
corporations. As well, the Committee continued its review of Legislative
Assembly procedures and the Committee structure, with a report proposing major
reforms finally hammered out on October 31.
Among its extensive recommendations, the
Committee proposed: election of the Speaker by all Members of the Assembly, and
be secret ballot with two or more candidates; adoption of a Parliamentary Calendar;
limits on ringing of division bells; reform of Committees and the Board of
Internal Economy; and ground rules delineating matters of confidence.
The newly-established Select Committee on
Energy was set up as a result of the Liberal-NDP accord and the pledge to
revive the old Select Committee on Ontario Hydro (1977-81). The Committee met
to consider the cost and future of the Darlington nuclear generating station.
The Select Committee on Economic Affairs met
for three months in the first phase of its Ontario Trade Review, focussing
particularly on Canada's and Ontario's trade relations with the United States.
In fulfilling its lengthy mandate, the Committee travelled to Ottawa,
Washington, D.C., Kitchener and Sault Ste. Marie, as well as meeting at Queen's
Park to hear seventy-eight presentations. The Committee's Interim Report,
tabled in early November, recommended: reduction of international trade
barriers through GATT; reduction of inter-provincial barriers in conjunction
with any agreement to reduce Canada-US trade barriers; Ontario involvement in
any Canada-US trade discussions touching provincial jurisdiction or interest.
The Committee also recommended establishment of an international joint
commission to arbitrate trade disputes between Canada and the US, and the
setting up of an Ontario House in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the above reform activity,
three Committees carried on with their usual assignments from the House. The
renamed Standing Committee on the Ombudsman (no longer "Select")
reviewed the 1985 Annual Report of the Ombudsman. The Procedural Affairs
Committee continued its study of the operation of selected agencies, boards and
commissions of the Ontario government.
The Resources Development Committee
undertook its review of the Workers' Compensation Board's Annual Report for
1984, as required by the Workers' Compensation Act. Unusual, this time, was the
Committee's approach. Rather than engage only in dialogue between Committee and
Board, the Committee Members for the first time agreed to hear presentations by
employer and employee representatives. Furthermore, the Committee sought and
received special authorization from the House to report its recommendations
based on its hearings
Doug Arnott, Assistant Clerk, Ontario Legislative Assembly.
The highlight of the Sixth Session of the
Tenth Assembly, which began October 16 in Yellowknife, was the review of the
Executive Council and selection of a new Government Leader.
When the Tenth Assembly took office two
years ago, members agreed to a review of the eight-member Executive midway
through the Assembly's four-year term. The Executive Council has
responsibilities and performs duties similar to a provincial Cabinet.
Members of the Assembly named Nick Sibbeston
Government Leader in a motion carried unanimously. Mr. Sibbeston, a lawyer, has
been an MLA since 1979 and was previously a Member of the Territorial Council
from 1970 to 1974. Before his nomination as Government Leader, he was Minister
of Local Government and Associate Minister of Aboriginal Rights and
Also named to positions on the Executive
Council were Yellowknife North MLA Michael Ballantyne and Red Pedersen. They
replace former Government Leader Richard Nerysoo and former Minister of
Renewable Resources Nellie Cournoyea on the Executive. During the session, Mr.
Sibbeston announced the portfolios he had assigned to Executive Council
Among the 12 bills passed during the ten-day
session were revisions to the Coroners Act to reflect the modern role of the
coroner in investigating sudden or unexplained death and to reform the
investigation procedures; amendments to the Education Act providing for
appointment of school attendance counsellors and setting out procedures to be
followed when a child does not attend school regularly; amendments to the
Labour Standards Act setting standard hours for seismic workers, increasing the
minimum wage from $4.25 an hour to $5.00 and eliminating differences in minimum
wage based on age; amendments to the Liquor Act establishing a liquor
commission and requiring that the liquor licensing board report on its
activities to the Legislative Assembly annually; and a bill amending and
repealing certain NWT acts to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Members unanimously approved a motion by Sam
Gargan directing the Executive Council to continue its efforts and support for
the hunting and trapping activities of the aboriginal people of the NWT.
A motion calling on the federal government
to rescind the nine per cent tax on air travel in the NWT and reinstate the $30
maximum tax for this region was also carried unanimously.
To mark the United Nations' International
Year of Youth, a forum bringing together 50 young people from across the NWT
was held at the same time as the Assembly session. Following a week of
meetings, the youth delegates presented a brief to a special sitting of the
Assembly recommending increased government action to involve and enhance the
role of young people in the North. A motion by Ted Richard was passed directing
the Executive Council to review the recommendations made by the youth
representatives and prepare a formal response for consideration at the next
Legislative Assembly session.
A motion establishing a Special Committee on
Rules, Procedures and Privileges was approved. The Special Committee will
examine the powers, rules, procedures, practices and organization of the
Legislative Assembly and make its final report to the Assembly during the first
Session in 1987.
The Assembly's Standing Committee on
Legislation recently completed a review of the NWT Elections Act and, during
this session, presented its recommendations. The 45 recommendations, including
provisions for the NWT to take over administration of Territorial elections
from Ottawa, were considered and adopted with some amendments.
During debate on a motion to establish a
Special Committee on Economic and Social Development, MLAs agreed instead that
the Department of Economic Development and Tourism should sponsor a regional
economic development conference before the end of the 1985-86 fiscal year and a
major territorial economic conference early in the new fiscal year.
Commissioner John Parker prorogued the session
October 29. The Seventh Session of the Tenth Assembly will begin in Yellowknife
February 12, 1986.
The Clerk of the Cayman Islands Legislative
Assembly, Gaye Jackson, spent five days in Yellowknife observing the NWT
Legislative Assembly in operation. Ms. Jackson visited Yellowknife at the
invitation of NWT Hansard Editor Marie Coe after attending the CPA Conference
in Saskatoon. The Assemblies of the NWT and the Cayman Islands, a small
Caribbean country, are similar in size and operations, with both having
consensus-style government. Ms. Jackson, who is also Hansard editor in the
Caymans, observed the use of word processors in the NWT's Hansard production
and was guest Clerk at Table on the opening day of the Legislative Assembly
Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Officer, Northwest Territories
House of Commons
The weeks following the summer recess were
highlighted by a determined opposition attack on the government over two
issues, the collapse of the Canadian Commercial Bank and the sale of
In the former case the Minister of Finance,
Michael Wilson, and the Minister of State (Finance), Barbara McDougall,
weathered concerted opposition questioning although they did agree to establish
an independent judicial inquiry headed by Justice Willard Estey.
In the other matter, the Minister of
Fisheries, John Fraser, eventually resigned over his decision to overrule
fisheries inspectors and allow cans of tainted tuna to be shipped and
distributed. Mr. Fraser resigned as the opposition was escalating their
criticism claiming the Prime Minister had been aware of the decision.
In an unrelated incident a few days later
the government lost a second minister when Marcel Masse, Minister of
Communications, told the House that the RCMP was investigating a possible
infraction of the Election Expenses Act. He said he was confident he would be
exonerated but preferred to resign pending the result of the investigation.
On October 9 the President of the Privy
Council, Ray Hnatyshyn, tabled the government's response to recommendations of
the Third Report of the Special Committee on Reform of the House. Among other
things the reforms proposed by the government include: new rules spelling out
which votes are matters of confidence; more scope for Standing Committees to
review the operations of government departments; new power for the Speaker to
suspend MPs who violate the rules of the House; broadcasting of committee
hearings; authority for the Joint Committee on Regulations and Statutory
Instruments to recommend cancellation of regulations adopted by the Cabinet.
The government also said it will give
parliamentary committees the right to scrutinize most government appointments
but, unlike the reform committee's recommendations, it will not allow any veto
Establishment of Legislative Committees
Pursuant to earlier recommendations of the
Special Committee on Reform of the House a new method of considering
legislation was introduced during the fall session.
As each bill receives second reading in the
House it is referred to a legislative committee consisting of twenty members
and chaired by a person named by Speaker John Bosley from a Panel of Chairmen
consisting of members drawn from all parties as well as the only independent
member of the House of Commons Anthony Roman. The actual operation of
legislative committees will be similar to standing committees when they
examined legislation, however, once a bill is reported back to the House the
legislative committee automatically ceases to exist.
From September 19 when the first legislative
committee was established until November 8 when the House recessed for one
week, more than a dozen legislative committees were established. All but three
managed to report the bills back to the House by the time the members adjourned
for a week. Among the bills reported in this way were C-77 an amendment to the
Criminal Code relating to pari-mutual betting, C-77 The Canada Development
Reorganization Act, C-64 an amendment to the Seed and Grains Act, C-49 an
amendment to the Criminal Code relating to prostitution and C-79 the Financial
Institutions Depositors Act.
During this period some legislation was
still being studied by Standing Committees. The result was a certain overloading
of Members, particular from the opposition parties who were hard pressed to man
all the committees. With the start of a new session in 1986 the new system
should result in more effective work by the standing committees which have been
reduced in size and which will be able to concentrate on studies of broad areas
of government policy. Legislative committees, as envisaged by the reform
committee, will spread responsibility for getting legislation through the House
among many more individuals than has traditionally been the case.
Until members and staff become familiar with
the new system a certain amount of duplication and frustration was bound to
occur. For example at one point there were four inquiries into the Commercial
Bank collapse the Standing Committee on Finance, which had been examining a
government Green Paper on Financial Institutions, the Legislative Committee on
Bill C-79, the Senate Banking Committee and the Estey Inquiry. Many of the key
witnesses repeated their story three or four times as they went from committee
Virtually all of the standing committees
have been active during the period under review. For example the Standing
Committee on Transport, chaired by Pat Nowlan, held hearings related to the
government paper "Freedom to Move a Framework for Transportation
Reform". The Committee on National Resources and Public Works, chaired by
Barbara Sparrow looked into the feasibility of full scale production and
distribution of a substitute gasoline product. The Standing Committee on
External Affairs and National Defence held hearings on the proposed renewal of
the 1958 North American Air Defence Command (NORAD). The Standing Committee on
Privileges and Elections looked into the proposed redistribution of seats in
the House of Commons.
A sub-committee of the Standing Committee on
justice and Legal Affairs presented its report on Equality Rights in October.
Chaired by Patrick Boyer, the subcommittee noted that of the various guarantees
under the Charter, the assurance of equality and non discrimination (Section
15) is most likely to effect Canadians on a day to day basis.
The report focused on federal regulations,
policies and statutes an held hearings in 12 centres across Canada. The report
is organized on a thematic basis reflecting areas o concern rather than
particular kinds of equality or discrimination (i.e. maternity and parental
benefits, mandatory retirement, sexual orientation, marital and family status,
women and the armed forces, immigration, the disabled etc. The report includes
some 85 recommendations including changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act
making benefits related to childbirth available to both parents. Mandatory
retirement, according to the report, should be abolished. It also calls for "federal
laws to be drafted in non sexist language" and makes many other
suggestions in the areas mentioned above.
Conflict of Interest Guidelines
On September 9 Prime Minister Mulroney tabled
new conflict of interest guidelines for cabinet ministers as well as a proposed
new code of ethics for all members of Parliament. The code for private members
is to be worked out in consultation with opposition parties.