| British Columbia
| New Brunswick
| Northwest Territories
| House of Commons
The first session of the
Fifty-First Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick opened Tuesday, March 22,
1988 with all 58 seats occupied by members of the Liberal Party. As their first
order of business MLAs elected as their Speaker, Frank Branch, a veteran
of 17 years in the Legislature.
For the first time in New
Brunswick's history, Premier Frank McKenna chose to retain the same seat
he had occupied as Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, to the left of the
The newly renovated Chamber,
formerly red and gold, has been restored to green and includes a Victorian
adaptation wallpaper and Oriental carpet commissioned in the traditional green
and grey with terra-cotta accents to complement the newly refurbished Members'
chairs and restored chandeliers.
Lieutenant Governor Gilbert Finn,
delivered his first Speech from the Throne. It proposed the start of major
social and economic renewal aimed at long-term projects rather than predicting
immediate legislation for change. It promised to publicly scrutinize power rate
changes, ensure the independence of the justice system, review provincial
policing services, make higher education more accessible and conduct public
hearings on the Constitution Amendment, 1987.
Finance Minister Allan Maher
delivered the budget Wednesday, April 6, 1988 calling it an Agenda for Change.
Described as a moderation budget aimed at reducing the deficit, it promised to
introduce a comprehensive Economic Development Strategy later in the year. The
biggest spending initiative, job creation and economic development, will be
offset by increases in personal income tax, sales tax on cigarettes and
corporation taxes. While extending tax breaks to seniors, farmers and the
physically disabled, the budget reduced educational supplies spending,
eliminated civil legal aid and stressed completion of schools and hospitals now
under construction rather than introduction of new projects.
The government adjourned for one
day following bth the throne and budget speeches in order to allow greater
media exposure of the views of registered political parties without
encroachment by government statements.
Amendments to the Standing Rules permit
the House to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday,
Thursday and Friday to allow the committees to sit in the afternoons. Another
change allows a member other than a Minister of the Crown to make a statement
for not more than one and one-half minutes, thus allowing backbenchers another
outlet for putting their concerns on the public record.
During Question Period in the
all-government House, backbenchers followed a practice of not tipping off
Ministers in advance of their questions. On the other hand, they appeared to be
trying not to intentionally embarrass Ministers.
Because other political parties did
not elect representatives to the Legislature and are compelled to observe from
the gallery, the government chose a program to make the legislative process
more open and accessible to the general public. After examining the estimates,
department by department, on the floor of the House in the Committee of Supply,
the departmental estimates are referred to the Standing Committee on Estimates
where representatives of the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic
Parties can make a statement or express their concerns. Following that
procedure, the estimates are referred back to the floor of the House until such
time as they are closed. An ex-officio non voting member is now appointed to
the Standing Committee on Legislative Administration. The government also
intends to refer significant legislation to the Standing Committee on Law
The unofficial opposition is
allowed to participate in Public Accounts Committee hearings by means of
written inquiries as well as oral presentations to the Committee.
Representatives of registered political parties are permitted to take notes in
the Legislative Assembly, in seats normally occupied by the Pres Gallery.
For the first time, proceedings in
the Legislative Chamber beginning with the Speaker's procession and Prayers
until the daily adjournment of the Assembly are being televised. A local cable
company installed two television cameras in the legislature to film
proceedings. Although it does not have the capacity to broadcast live as is
done in the House of Commons, it will send tapes by courier to any New
Brunswick cable company desiring coverage.
After 17 sitting days, only ten
debatable motions had been introduced. By contrast, after 17 sitting days in
1987, a total of 57 motions and 31 Bills had been introduced. This year only 27
Bills had been introduced in the House, one of which was referred to the Law
Last fall the government divided
the Justice Department into the Department of Justice and the Department of the
Solicitor General. Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Executive Council Act, which is
now before the Committee of the Whole House, spells out the rights and responsibilities
of the Solicitor General and transfers to him the powers and responsibilities
of the Minister of Justice with respect to the Compensation for Victims of
Crime Act, the Coroners Act, the Corrections Act, the Custody and Detention of
Young Persons Act, and the Motor Vehicle Act. Bill 11, An Act to Amend the
Auditor General Act, which is now before the Law Amendments Committee, gives
the Auditor General authority to examine the books of the New Brunswick
Electric Power Commission and the Workers' Compensation Board as well as to
perform value-for-money auditing.
With few major pieces of
legislation on the order and notice paper and committees completing their
agendas in a methodical manner, speculation abounds that this will be a short
session and, rather than be prorogued, it may be adjourned to a date in the
Diane Taylor Myles, Research and
Planning Officer, Clerk's Office, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly.
The Legislative Assembly of the
Northwest Territories prorogued April 18 after a record 39-day budget session.
During the longest session in the
history of the Assembly, MLAs approved the government's $798.5 million budget,
the transfer of responsibility for health care from the federal to territorial
government and the purchase of the Northern Canada Power Commission.
In introducing the budget, Minister
of Finance Michael Ballantyne called it a restraint budget. "This
is achieved through an across-the-board control of new program initiatives and
efforts by all departments to identify savings", he noted in his address.
"The government recognizes
that the budget falls short of addressing all capital and program needs.
Meeting these needs is a daunting task which will require time and
substantially increased funding from the federal government", Mr.
In opening this second session of
the Eleventh Assembly, Commissioner John Parker acknowledged that the
budget reflected some "some tough choices your government has had to make
in a difficult fiscal environment".
"We must learn to live
reasonably close to our means, avoid undue taxation and continue to support the
private sector which will be the source of jobs in the future", the
Several contentious items prolonged
discussion of the budget. Proposals to reduce funding to non-native
post-secondary students and to raise the student/teacher ratios in public
schools were both dropped from the Department of Education's budget after
There was considerable controversy
over plans announced by Minister of Social Services Jeannie Marie-Jewell
to move a $1.7 million Young Offenders' facility from Yellowknife to her home
riding of Fort Smith. Despite opposition from several members, the government
motion to fund the move was approved.
During discussion of the health
transfer, Minister of Personnel Gordon Wray was criticized by Members
concerned about problems with federal emploees who had received delayed or
incorrect job offers from the Territorial government. Many of the nurses had
also refused to sign their contract offers because of a battle over union
jurisdiction. Although the deadline for signing the offers had to be extended,
most federal employees eventually agreed to the transfer.
After years of negotiation,
Minister of Energy Nellie Cournoyea was able to announce the acquisition
of the Northern Canada Power Corporation by the Territorial government at a
cost of $53 million. During the session, members approved a motion appointing
six members to the Power Corporation's board of directors.
Although the government was forced,
for the first time in history, to introduce a bill to approve interim
appropriations for the public service when consideration of the budget was not
completed by April 1, the budget did eventually receive the Assembly's
Early in the session, members
affirmed their opposition to the Meech Lake Agreement by appointing two
representatives to appear at hearings in Ontario into the agreement and inform
the people of Ontario and Canada "of the hasty and unconscionable decision
taken at Meech Lake which removed the people of Yukon and the Northwest
Territories from participation as equals and partners in the Canadian
Among the 25 bills passed during
the session were:
amendments to the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act
increasing members' indemnities and allowances and providing an automatic
indemnity for constituency work;
Labour Standards Act, reducing the standard hours of work to 40 and
increasing the maximum hours of work to 60 weekly;
the Liquor Act, providing for prohibition or restriction of liquor in
certain communities; reducing the minimum alcohol content of an intoxicating
preparation; and prohibiting liquor stores from selling alcohol to people under
the influence of alcohol or drugs;
the NorthwestTerritories Public Service Association Act, changing the
name of the Association to the Union of Northern Workers';
the Northwest Territories Energy Corporation Act which changes the
Corporation's name to the Northwest Territories Power Corporation; provides
that the president is not the chairperson of the board of directors; provides
that the corporation will be operated as a fully integrated power corporation;
provides that employees of the corporation are public servants; and, provides
for the capital structure of the corporation;
the Fire Prevention Act, increasing the Fire Marshal's powers of
investigating fires and structures that pose a threat to public safety and
increasing the amounts of fines;
amendments to the Judicature Act increasing the number of judges of the
Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories from two to three; and,
a provision in the Public Service Act providing for payments of union
membership fees to a charitable organization if an employee objects to these
deductions on religious grounds.
The Assembly also approved the terms of reference for its
newly-established Special Committee on the Northern Economy. This committee
will inquire into current problems and public concerns related to a viable
northern economy and the development of an economic strategy and plan for the
Northwest Territories. The Special Committee will present interim reports to
the Legislative Assembly from time to time and prepare a final report for the
fall sitting of 1989.
Assembly Installs Braille System
A special computer program and
printer capable of producing documents in braille was installed recently in the
Legislative Assembly to assist Charlie Crowe MLA for Hudson Bay. Mr. Crow will
now be able to receive braille copies of most documents and correspondence
prepared for other members. The software, called Hot DOTS enables Legislative
staff to convert any document on a micro-computer into a format that uses both
lettes and symbols to represent various combinations of raised dots. The
program is produced by Raised Dot computing Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin and the
printer, an MSBOSS-1 is manufactured by VTEK of Santa Monica, California. A
letter prepared on a computer can be converted into braille in less than ten
The Speaker of the Assembly, Red
Pedersen noted that "it has been a priority of the Legislative Assembly to
provide these services to Mr. Crow in order to assist him as much as possible
in carrying out his duties as an MLA."
The Fall session of the Assembly
begins Wednesday, October 12, 1988 in Yellowknife.
Ann Taylor, Public Affairs Office, Northwest Territories
The Spring sitting of the Third
Session of the 21st Legislature opened on March 17, 1988, with the Speech from
the Throne by the Lieutenant-Governor, Helen Hunley.
The 1988-89 Budget Address was
presented on March 24 by Dick Johnston, Provincial Treasurer. The
subsequent debate filled the maximum 25 days as allowed under Alberta Standing
Order 58 (1).
The first bill of this session,
introduced March 17, was the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with
Disabilities Act, sponsored by Premier Donald Getty. Other government
bills expected to receive significant attention are the Employment Standards Code,
the Labour Relations Code, the School Act, the Workers' Compensation Amendment
Act, and the Motor Vehicle Administration Amendment Act.
The two pieces of labour
legislation are a result of extensive study of labour legislation around the
world and are designed to address concerns raised by labour and management. The
new School Act, if passed, will completely replace the previous law which had
been in effect for several decades. The Workers' Compensation Amendment Act is
designed to separate the appellate and administrative duties of the current
board into two distinct sections. The Motor Vehicle Administration Amendment
Act is intended to increase the penalties for impaired driving and driving hile
suspended. It also would give courts the authority to impound or immobilize
The Interprovincial Lottery
Amendment Act, sponsored by the Government, is one bill which has been
vigorously debated. Responding to suggestions made by the Auditor General, this
bill would formally allow lottery proceeds to remain outside the General
Revenue Fund of the province.
There have been a record number of
Private Members' Bills introduced in the House, 29 sponsored by Opposition
members and 9 by Government Members. In addition, 55 Motions other than
Government Motions have appeared on the Order Paper.
Oral Question Period has produced
several complex situations for Speaker David Carter regarding repetition and
proposed legislation. On numerous occasions the Speaker has voiced concern over
the repetitive nature of questions. His response has taken the form of
admonition rather than any formal ruling. Another issue arose over
admissibility of questions about legislation currently before the House. There
was some uncertainty as to whether Question Period is an appropriate forum for
discussion of legislation coming up for second reading. The Speaker's ruling on
this matter was that questions are admissible if the bills involved have not
yet reached debate on second reading. Furthermore, the questions should be
confined to general policy of the government, thereby avoiding the clause by
clause examination reserved for Committee of the Whole.
In the wake of the Supreme Court of
Canada's decision on the Mercure case, the Government has announced its
intention to address formally, through legislation, the French language issue
within Alberta during the current session. The Premier stated in Question
Period on May 17 that future legislation will provide an opportunity to
preserve the rights of Francophone Albertans but will not alter the fundamental
nature of Alberta. The Premier stated that the Government would not accept full
bilingualism for Alberta.
Kathryn Lee Mellen, Alberta Legislative Assembly.
The First Session of he
Thirty-fourth Parliament resumed sitting on Tuesday, February 23, 1988 at two
o'clock p.m. with a matter of privilege being raised by Munmohan Sihota
(Esquimalt-Port Renfrew). He referred to statements made earlier in the House
about the Coquihalla Highway Project to the effect that Members had been
This issue has permeated most
levels of debate in the House and the Select Standing Committee on Public
Accounts since February 23.
Speech from the Throne
The Legislative Assembly was
prorogued on Friday, March 11, by the Lieutenant Governor Robert Gordon
Rogers who reviewed His government's accomplishments during the First
On Tuesday, March 15, the Second
Session of the Thirty-fourth Parliament commenced with the Speech from the
Throne. It referred to the restructuring of government involving a
"careful but bold program of privatization", "a program of
regional development" to increase public participation at the community
level; a "long term strategic plan for the Province"; and the creation
of an investment climate compatible with the "growing economies of the
Pacific Rim". The objective, it was revealed, is for the government to
"become more efficient, accountable and affordable."
His Honour reported that the
Assembly will have a variety of trade opportunities legislation placed before
it in an attempt to foster closer economic ties with, in particular, the
northwestern United States. He also alluded to inequities incurred by British
Columbia as a result of its participation in Canadian Confederation and the
intention of His government to remedy the situation. The government, aware of
rising health care costs is to "initiate and spearhead a pilot project
involving ... a focus on new strategies, new techniques and new ways of
delivering health care, particularly to senior citizens, through a
community-based, integrated delivery system."The cross-government
coordination of substance abuse in the Province; pomotion of a Family Life
program; and delivery of income assistance were according to the Lieutenant
Governor other matters the government would deal with during the Second
Numerous other measures were being
proposed for adoption by the Assembly ranging from mandatory safety inspections
of vehicles; computerized registry of organ donors; and legislation reflecting
The government's decentralization plan to improving the justice system "so
that it is more relevant, accessible, efficient and less costly", ensuring
reforestation of harvested areas and the endorsement of the Meech Lake
On Thursday, March 24, 1988 M.B.
Couvelier, Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations, presented the
Government's second budget of the Thirty-fourth Parliament to the Legislative
For fiscal year 1988-89 taxation
revenue would rise to $6.59 billion from $6.15 billion for FY 1987-88 or a 7.2%
increase; natural resource revenue would rise 3,7% to $1,21 billion; other
revenue would contribute $1.208 billion - up 20%; contributions from government
enterprises would produce $448 million - up 1.8%; and contributions from the
federal government would amount to $2.108 billion - up 4.7%. Total revenue was
predicted to be $11.564 billion - up 7.4%. A transfer to the Budget
Stabilization Fund of $124 million meant that the government would have $11.44
billion with which to meet its fiscal year 1988-89 expenses.
By contrast, expenditure for all
government ministries is predicted to be $10.9734 billion; the Legislative
Assembly, $16.6 million; management of the public debt, $605 million;
contingencies, $50 million; new programs, $90 million; appropriations for crown
land, $20 million and lotteries, $80.5 million. Total general fund expenditure
is set at $11.835 billion or a 6.4% increase over fiscal year 1987-88. Net
borrowing for government purposes is expected to be $191 million. Crown
corporation net borrowing is estimated at $216 million. The governmentmentioned
that it is considering a British Columbia savings bond issue in an effort to
meet its borrowing requirements.
The Minister of Finance and
Corporate Relations revealed two new funds that would be established to reduce
the public debt, stabilize revenue and contribute to the elimination of the
deficit: the Budget Stabilization Fund and the Privatization Benefits Fund.
According to the Minister these
vehicles would be the most sensible way to cushion the public and the Treasury
against unforeseen calamities.
The Opposition Finance Critic,
David Stupich (First Member for Nanaimo) characterized the budget as
failing to live up to the pre-election promises of the government and
contributing to the demise of public confidence.
On Friday, March 18, 1988 the
Special Committee of Selection reported to the House lists of Members for the
ten Select Standing Committees of the Legislative Assembly. No previous
selection committee in any session of the Assembly had dispatched its business
with such speed - a mere three days after being appointed on Opening Day. In
British Columbia, committees are struck for the life of a session only.
On the same day, W.B. Strachan,
Government House Leader moved that the Select Standing Committee on Forests and
Lands, chaired by Graham Bruce, review timber harvesting contracts - an issue
the committee's predecessor had begun to consider during the First Session.
Public hearings have been held in Cowichan Bay, Kamloops, Prince Rupert,
Nelson, Prince George, Williams Lake and Vancouver.
On March 22, 1988 the Legislative
Assembly referred the matter of the financial planning and advisory industry in
the Province to the Select Standing Committee on Finance, Crown Corporations
and Government Services, chaired by Bud Smith. During the spring
sittings of the House this Committee conducted its meetings in the Douglas Fir
Committee Room in the Parliament Buildings. The months of May and June have, so
far, been set aside for receiving written submisions and oral presentations
from anyone interested in the issue. Again, this Committee is continuing an
examination into a matter which was begun by its predecessor during the First
Session. The Committee expects to hold public hearings outside Victoria after
the House rises for the summer.
On Wednesday, March 23, 1988 the
Legislative Assembly referred the Builders Lien Act to the Select Standing
Committee on Labour, Justice and Intergovernmental Relations chaired by Ms. Kim
Campbell. After receiving a briefing on the Act by Arthur Close, Chairman of
the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia and Bob Ward, a lawyer from
Vancouver specializing in the Act, the Committee turned its mind to hearings in
Victoria throughout May and June. The Committee is anticipating public hearings
outside Victoria after June. Given the effect of prorogation upon committees,
this matter was referred to the Committee in an effort to continue the review
of the Builders Lien Act begun during the First Session.
On Monday, March 7, 1988 the
Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, chaired by Herb Epp,
visited Victoria to review the renovation and restoration of the Parliament
Buildings undertaken since the early 1970's. The agenda consisted of
discussions with Doug Pletsch of the British Columbia Buildings Corporations,
charged with the responsibility of maintaining and renovating the Buildings
upon the recommendation of the Speaker; Alan Hodgson, a Victoria architect
engaged in the restoration process of the Parliament Buildings and
knowledgeable in the architectural history of the Buildings; Members of the
Legislative Assembly generally; and other Officers of the House and officials.
Following the Supreme Court ruling
respecting abortion the predominant feature of Oral Question Period, the
Address in Reply, and the Budget Debate (especially as it related to the
Department of Health) was questions arising out of the Province's position
vis-avis the federal decision. The issue was a live one throughout the Spring
The federal free trade agreement
has provoked much discussion in the House. Considering its economic impact on
the Province, all Members are expected to join the debate.
The government appears committed to
divesting itself of businesses it believes are more appropriately undertaken by
and through the private sector. Mindful of privatization developments elsewhere
in Canada, Britain and the United States, the Legislative Assembly has debated
the privatization of the Distribution Branch of the Queen's Printer, the
highways maintenance division of the Ministry of Highways and Transportation
and other segments of provincially owned and operated enterprises.
John Cashore, M.L.A. (Maillardville-Coquitlam)
circulated to Members and staff of the Legislative Assembly a poem entitled
"A Spring Limerick". Mr. Cashore intends to establish a tradition of
A Spring Limerick
A yearly occurrence in Spring
It's a strange and inscrutable
not without inhibitions
their partisan posturings bring.
They converge on the Parliament
where hyperbolic debate knows no
And the capital city
hosts the dull and the witty
while the polls chart the ups and
It's a comical opera to see
Each side greets the other with
Then a strange tribal rite
done with humour and spite
calls the Speaker for order to
Victoria's not always that way
By mid-summer they don't want to stay
But Mayor Brewin won't care
for the tourists will be there
better spenders when the time comes
Craig James, Second Clerk Assistant and Clerk of
Committees, British Columbia Legislative Assembly.
The Spring Session has been filled
with procedural surprises, principally the result of the introduction of Bill
113, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act. This bill permits
municipalities to pass by-laws allowing retail business establishments o be
open or closed on holidays and open on Sundays if they always close on another
day of the week by reason of the owner's religion.
On Wednesday, April 13, the
opposition parties joined together to delay the introduction and first reading
of the Bill by presenting petitions for the whole day; this was repeated on
Thursday. This procedure prevented the House from proceeding to Introduction of
Bills and then to Orders of the Day. This was the first time that such a tactic
had been used at the Ontario Legislature.
The following Monday, the New Democratic
party members continued to present petitions to prevent the introduction and
first reading of the legislation. This same procedure was followed on Tuesday
and Wednesday. At 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20, the time at which the
Treasurer and Minister of Economics had announced he would present his Budget
to the House, the New Democrats were still presenting petitions. The Treasurer,
Robert Nixon, asked for unanimous consent to present the Budget. Such consent
was refused. The Treasurer then presented the text of the Budget and the budget
papers pursuant to S.O. 35(d) which states that "Reports, returns and
other documents required to be laid before the House by any Act of the Assembly
or under any Standing Order or Resolution of the House, or that any minister
wishes to present to the House, may be deposited with the Clerk of the House
... ". Members of the Official Opposition continued to present petitions
for the balance of the day. This was the first time that a Budget had been
presented in Ontario without a speech from the Treasurer in the House. It also
meant that the motion, "That this House approves in general the budgetary
policy of the government," was not moved.
On Thursday, the presentation of
petitions came to a sudden halt at 5:10 p.m. and the House proceeded to
"Introduction of Bills". The Solicitor General, Joan Smith, moved
introduction and first reading of the Bill and a recorded division was required
by members. Th division bells rang from 5:12 p.m. on Thursday until 4:00 p.m.
the next afternoon when the Speaker, Hugh Edighoffer, stood in the House and
indicated that he had been advised by representatives of all three parties in
the House that no vote would be taken before 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 25.
Therefore, the Speaker suspended the sitting and the bells were deemed to be
ringing until the sitting resumed at 8:30 a.m. on the following Monday.
On Monday, April 25, at 1:10 p.m.,
the division was taken on the introduction and first reading of Bill 113. The
House then adjourned at 1:18 p.m. and a new Sessional day began at 1:30 p.m.
During the period when the division bells were ringing there continued to be a
Speaker in the Chair, a Clerk at the Table and a Sergeant-at-Arms and security
personnel present in the Chamber.
The Standing Committee on Social
Development has been dealing with education issues. The Committee concluded its
work on Bill 125, An Act to amend the Education Act and certain other Acts
related to Education, and reported the Bill back to the House with amendments.
Currently, Bill 109, An Act to establish a French-language School Board for the
Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, is before the Committee for public
hearings and clause by clause consideration. The Committee will be travelling
to Ottawa to hold hearings on this legislation.
The annual review of the Annual
Report of the Ombudsman is being conducted by the Standing Committee on the
Ombudsman and the Committee expects to present its report before the end of the
The Standing Committee on Resources
Development continued its inquiry into the issue of accidents and fatalities in
Ontario mines. The Committee has received over 80 briefs and submissions and
has heard oral submissions from 62 groups and individuals. In addition, the
Committee conducted underground tours of mines in Hagersville, Goderich, Elliot
Lake, Sudbury, Caledonia, Windsor, Timmins, Balmertown, Hemlo and Manitouwade.
It is expected that the Committee's report will be presented to the House
before the Session ends.
On February 12 the Select Committee
on Energy was established and Doug Carrothers was appointed Chairman. The
Committee will conduct hearings during the Summer Adjournment to investigate
the affairs of Ontario Hydro.
The Standing Committee on
Regulations and Private Bills met during the Winter Adjournment to discuss the
regulatory process in Ontario. The Committee heard presentations from
academics, people involved in the regulatory process at the Parliament of
Canada and from individuals interested in the process of notice and comment.
The Committee expects to present its report shortly.
The Standing Committee on Finance
and Economic Affairs met in February to consider and subsequently presented a
report on the Pre-Budget Consultation summary of recommendations. Currently,
the Committee is conducting hearings on the Free Trade Agreement and
anticipates that its consideration of this matter will be completed in July.
The Select Committee on Education
was established February 12 and is chaired by Dianne Poole. The Committee will
review the education philosophy in Ontario and the fundamental goals as they
relate to the equal life chances and full development of each student. Later
the committee will address the specifics of the education process relating to
streaming, grade promotion, semestering and OSIS (Ontario Schools: Intermediate
In March, the Standing Committee on
the Legislative Assembly attended meetings of the National Conference of State
Legislatures in Sacramento, California. While in Sacramento, the Committee
reviewed the restoration and renovation of the State Capitol building.
The Committee also travelled to
Victoria, British Columbia, to review the restoration of the Parliament
Building and the rules of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
The Committee also conducted the
second annual review of the television broadcast service, and considered the
need for interpretation fcilities in committee rooms and bilingual committee
The Standing Committee on the
Legislative Assembly presented a report to the House to prohibit the service of
legal process in the Legislative Building and in other defined areas. The
Chairman of the Committee, Herb Epp, subsequently moved first reading of Bill
112, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act, which would provide for the
prohibition respecting service of process. This was the first time that a
committee chairman has introduced legislation at a committee's request to give
effect to a committee's recommendations.
At the end of March, the Deputy
Minister and other senior officials of the Ministry of Government Services gave
evidence before the Committee on postal services to members. The Minister of
Government Services, Richard Patten, and the Speaker appeared to discuss the
restoration and renovation of the Legislative Building and the transfer of
jurisdiction over the Legislative Building from the Minister of Government
Services to the Speaker.
The Committee considered the use of
party names and colours during an election period. Warren R. Bailie, Chief
Election Officer, gave evidence on this matter and will appear before the
Committee at a later date to deal further with it. In April, the Committee
reviewed its obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, 1987. The Committee heard evidence from Murray Elston, Chairman of
the Management Board of Cabinet, as well as the Information and Privacy
Commissioner, Sidney Linden.
A Sub-committee on Staff
Appointments was appointed to meet with the Speaker and the Clerk to interview
candidates for the new position of Executive Director of Assembly Services and
to recommend to the Board of Internal Economy a suitable candidate for
Lynn Mellor, Committee Clerk, Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
On March 8, 1988, the NDP
Government of Howard Pawley was defeated on a motion "that this
House approve in general the budgetary policy of the Government."
The specific item on which the
Government was defeated was the opposition non-confidence amendment to this
motion. It was carried on a recorded vote of 28 Yeas, 27 Nays when former
Speaker James Walding voted with the opposition to defeat the
Government. An election was held on April 26, 1988. The Speaker-designate is Denis
C. Rocan, the MLA for Turtle Mountain, first elected in 1986.
W. H. Remnant, Clerk, Manitoba Legislative Assembly.
The Fifth Session of the
Twenty-sixth Legislative Assembly opened in Dawson City on March 23. The
sittings on March 23 and 24 took place in the old Territorial Administration
Building in the chambers used by Yukon Councils from just after the turn of the
century until 1953 when the capital was moved from Dawson City to Whitehorse.
The Assembly last sat there in June, 1977, for one day to mark the Diamond
Jubilee of Dawson City.
In the Speech from the Throne,
delivered by Commissioner Ken McKinnon, the Government reviewed the
economic performance of the Yukon during its term in office (highest growth
rate in Canada three years in a row) and then stated "We must not let our
present good health distract us from the challenge of maintaining it. We must
continue to diversify and strengthen our economy. We must plan for sustainable
growth and greater self-reliance. And we must use our new economic means to continue
building a more just and more equitable society."
Much of the remainder of the Throne
Speech highlighted those actions the Government would be taking in pursuit of
its stated goals. These included the tabling of a Yukon economic strategy
resulting from a public participation process called Yukon 2000; acting on many
of the ideas found in that strategy; implementing new and continuing existing
economic support programs; centering on community development of schools,
training, childcare and housing; opening the new Yukon College and bringing
forward legislation to ensure public participation in the operation of the
The Trone Speech also highlighted
land claims and constitutional development. Aboriginal land claims were
described as "the most urgent public issue facing the Yukon" and the
Government stated "We are confident of major progress this year."
On constitutional development the
speech noted that the Meech Lake Accord showed "We cannot count on other,
southern forces to protect our interests," and the Government committed
itself to continuing to "oppose those sections of the Accord which
undermine what we in the North have accomplished and what we hope to
On March 28, the Government Leader,
Tony Penikett, presented the 1988-89 operations and maintenance budget to
the Assembly. ln his budget speech Mr. Penikett emphasized prudent financial
management as being at the core of his approach, pointing out that it was a
balanced budget, that there were no tax increases needed and that the total
government expenditures of $302 million (both capital and O & M) were
slightly below those forecast for 1987-88.
The Leader of the Official
Opposition, Willard Phelps, described the budget as being an
"election year budget" proposed by a government "out of
control." He was critical of the dominance of government in the Yukon
economy and stated "What we have is uncontrolled government growth,
untrustworthy estimates, uncontrolled management and spending, a vague, almost
invisible agenda, and the lack of any vision for the future of this great
region of Canada."
During the course of the session
nineteen bills were passed, five of which were budget-related. Major
legislation included the College Act and the Languages Act. The former created
a Yukon College board of governors to oversee the day-to-day operations of the
College "at arms length" from the Government. Community campus
committees (which advise local campuses on courses and programs to be offered
in communities outside Whitehorse), Indian bands and Yukon College students and
staf are guaranteed representation on the board.
The Languages Act was introduced
near the end of the session as the result of an agreement reached on April 28
between the Governments of Canada and the Yukon on the protection and
enhancement of French and the aboriginal languages in the Yukon. The central
provisions of the legislation provide:
(1) The right to use English,
French or a Yukon aboriginal language in the Yukon Legislative Assembly or in
any court established by the Assembly;
(2) That Acts of the Yukon
Legislative Assembly and regulations made thereunder shall be printed and
published in English and French and that both language versions are equally
(3) That "Any member of the
public in the Yukon has the right to communicate with, and to receive available
services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Legislative
Assembly or of the Government of the Yukon in English or French, and has the
same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where
(a) there is significant demand for
communications with and services from that office in both English and French,
(b) due to the nature of the
office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office
be in both English and French." [Subsection 6(1)]
The agreement between the two
governments also included commitments by the federal government of (1) $4.25
million over five years for the preservation and development of aboriginal
languages, (2) full federal funding on an ongoing and on an "as
needed" basis for the development, enhancement and implementation of
French language rights and services in the Yukon, and (3) exclusion of the
Yukon Government and its institutions from the provisions of the Official
Although the opposition parties
supported the agreement and resultant legislation concerns were raised on two
points - the lack of commitment by the federal government to fund aboriginal
language services beyond five years and the potential for subsection 6(1) of
the Languages Act to be misinterpreted by the courts in a way which would
inflict official bilingualism on the Yukon. Mr. Penikett responded that he was
"absolutely convinced that the commitment of the federal government to the
enhancement of aboriginal languages ... is not a commitment for only five
years; the commitment ... , it has been made very clear to us, is
ongoing." On the second concern he stated: "We have got an agreement
and a law, which does not provide for official bilingualism. It avoids the
question of the status of the language, and concentrates on services to both
the aboriginal community and the francophone community."
Also of note was the passage of a
private member's public bill, the first such occurrence in over a decade. The
legislation, entitled An Act to Amend the Highways Act, was introduced by Art
Webster, Member for Klondike, and makes the depositing of litter on Yukon
highways a punishable offence (to a maximum of $500).
On May 17, the House debated the
1988 report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. During two weeks of
hearings in January, the Committee conducted an intensive examination of the
Government's capital project management. The Committee concluded that, in many
cases, capital projects were out of control as a result of management-
by-omission and management- by-dilemma.
During debate on the motion for
concurrence the Chairman of the Committee, Willard Phelps, said that
emphasis must be placed on the preliminary or front-end planning of all
projects and that the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of all key
players must be clearly defined. He stressed the desire of the Committee that
improvements in the project management system should have as their goal
increased economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the expenditure of public
In responding to the Chairman's
remarks and the report of the Committee,the Ministers most directly involved
with project management Roger Kimmerly, Minister of Government Services,
and Piers McDonald, Minister of Education and of Community and
Transportation Services, agreed with the main thrust of the report but also
stated that they had already considered and taken action on several of the
Committee's 17 recommendations.
Some of the strongest language of
the session was devoted to a unanimous condemnation of a British Government
program which would require the labelling of furs from trapped animals. Debate
on the matter took place during consideration of a motion by Bill Brewster,
Member for Kluane, that: "this House recognizes the importance of the
trapping industry to the economy of Yukon and to traditional Yukon lifestyles;
and That this House urges the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom
to cancel the proposed Fur Labelling Program which could seriously harm the
livelihood of Yukon trappers." Mr. Brewster contended that "The
trapping industry in the Yukon and all across Canada is under attack ... by a
bunch of conservationist fanatics."
Government members supported Mr.
Brewster's motion without reservation. Dave Porter, Minister of Renewable
Resources, accused the British Minister responsible for the program of
"joining the legions of the uninformed [and], in doing so, ... ensuring
that the sale of such fur will be the direct target of attack by the lobbyists,
with their slick TV ads and Madison Avenue brochures, oozing self-righteousness
through their designer sweaters and calfskin loafers while their emotional
blitzkrieg tactics destroy livelihoods, stress families, break the bonds
between generations and strangle cultures of the northern people."
The Fifth Session of the 26th
Legislative Assembly was adjourned on May 18 after thirty-two sitting days.
Patrick Michael, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Yukon.
The Second Session of the
Twenty-first Legislature was opened on March 21, with the Speech from the
Throne given by Lieuenant Governor F. W. Johnson. The debate which followed
dealt with the Government's position on free trade, diversification, health and
education programmes and privatization of some crown corporations and certain
Government operations. The Throne Speech outlined the establishment of the
Department of Public Participation which is to co-ordinate government policy on
providing opportunities for public investment in crown entities. The Throne
Speech noted the 25th anniversary of Medicare in Saskatchewan and announced a
task force to review health services and draft a long-term plan for the
provision and financing of health care.
The budget of Finance Minister, the
Gary Lane, followed immediately after debate on the Speech from the Throne.
A Supreme Court Ruling in February
has had a major impact on this Session of the Assembly. The court's ruling on
the Mercure case declared that section 110 of the 1891 North-West Territories
Act which provided for the use of French and English in the Territorial
Legislature and courts is still in force.
As a result all statutes passed
since the establishment of Saskatchewan in 1905 are deemed to be invalid
because they had been enacted and published in English only. The Court also
indicated that because the language provision had not been entrenched in the
Saskatchewan Act, the Provincial Legislature could itself legislate changes to
the territorial provision.
The Government responded to the
Court Ruling with Bill 2, An Act respecting the Use of the French and English
Languages in Saskatchewan introduced on April 4, by the Bob Andrew, Minister of
Justice. The Bill provided that any person may use French or English in
proceedings before the courts and in the debates of the Legislative Assembly.
Bill 2 further provided that the Acts and Regulations may be enacted, printed
and published either in English only or in French and English. All previous English-only
statutes, records and Journals are deemed valid. The Lieutenant Governor in
Council is authorizedto designate which government bills would be enacted in
both languages and which existing statutes would be re-enacted in both French
and English. Private Members can determine for themselves whether their Bills
will be in English or English and French. Besides statutes, the Legislative
Assembly by resolution may determine which, if any, of its documents would be
published in both French and English. The Government has undertaken to
gradually translate certain statutes that existed before the Court ruling and
to enact certain future bills in both languages once the province has a
capacity to do so.
While the Court ruling and
subsequent language bill excited a great deal of media coverage and interest
particularly in central Canada, the bill itself passed through the Assembly
with little debate and received Royal assent on April 26.
Prior to the coming into force of
the Language Act all legislation of the session had to be presented and
considered in both languages. The first bilingually-enacted piece of
legislation to pass through the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly was a bill to
put striking university professors back to work. Bill No. 3, An Act to provide
for the Resumption of Instruction, Teaching and Examination of Students at The
University of Saskatchewan received Royal Assent on April 8, 1988.
The Standing Committee on Crown
Corporations reviewing crown corporations at meetings held regularly twice each
week. A major focus of the Committee currently, is the review of recent
privatization initiatives in the crown sector. The Public Accounts Committee
tabled its report on May l0th to complete its work on the last session but was
late in beginning its current year's work because of delays in the tabling of
the Public Accounts for 1986-87 (tabled May 19) and in the tabling of the
Provincial Auditor's report. The Provincial Auditor reported to the Public
Accounts Committee that due to lack of resources his report would be delayed
until mid-June. Normally the Public Accounts and the Auditor's reort are tabled
by the end of March.
Gwenn Ronyk, Deputy Clerk, Saskatchewan Legislative
House of Commons
Much legislation has passed through
the House during recent months. Of special interest were Bill C-113, the
Western Economic Diversification Act, and Bill C-103, the Government
Organization Act for Atlantic Canada. With these two bills, the Government's
support of different regions in the country received the approval of the House
on May 10.
Another pair of more contentious
bills were hotly contested at every stage. These are the immigration bills for
which MPs were recalled in August, 1987. Both C-55 and C-84 passed all stages
in the House after considerable debate and have been studied at length by the
Senate as well. By the end of May both bills were back in the House for
consideration of Senate amendments.
The Official Languages Act, Bill
C-72, has had careful consideration by a legislative committee. After witnesses
were heard, the Minister of Justice brought forward amendments in hopes of
meeting concerns of some government Members.
The free trade bill will likely
occupy a substantial amount of time in the House. Indeed, before it was
introduced points of order were raised about the requirement for a Ways and
Means motion to order First Reading. Adoption of the Ways and Means motion is
normally viewed as an order for first reading of the bill based on that motion.
However, the Chief Whip for the Official Opposition felt that the House should
divide on the question of leave to introduce the bill before it considered the
further question of ordering first reading. Providing that it not be considered
a precedent, the Speaker agreed to put both questions and undertook to conduct
further research to deliver a ruling which would settle the procedural matter
in the future.
When the first reading motion was
adopted, the usually - routine question by the Chair is "When shall the
bill be read a second time? At the next sitting of the House?" The House
Leader for the New Democratic Party, Nelson Riis, using rguments based on
precedents dated 1876, 1878 and 1879 suggested that the House should also
divide upon that question. However, the Speaker ruled that a hundred years of
practice had transformed the question into a notice that the bill would be
placed on the agenda of House business under Government Orders.
Since changes were made in the
Standing Orders in June, 1987, standing committees have approached their work
with considerable enthusiasm. They are now able to conduct timely
investigations into significant matters related to the departments they
oversee. For example, the Standing Committee on National Health and Welfare
chaired by Dr. Bruce Halliday tabled its first report entitled "Booze,
Pills and Dope: Reducing Substance Abuse in Canada". Based on evidence
from numerous agencies concerned with dependencies, the committee made
important recommendations regarding prevention, treatment and rehabilitation,
native alcohol and drug programs, driving while impaired, the workplace and
professional education and training. They concluded by supporting the creation
of a National Centre on Substance Abuse which would engage in public education
and substance abuse prevention as well as encourage research. The government
tabled its response on March 28.
Early this year, Bob Brisco tabled
the study of the Standing Committee on Environment and Forestry on high-level
radioactive waste. The cover of the report showed graphically the message the
committee intended to convey with its title "The Eleventh Hour". With
fifteen recommendations, members of the committee urged the government to take
action through the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, the Atomic Energy
Control Board and Environment Canada.
Aideen Nicholson tabled the twelfth
report of the Public Accounts Committee in May. To improve parliamentary
control of the budgetary process, the committee recommended that the House
establish a budget committee to consider the Estimates. They also made the
fundametal observation that the Government should not consider a reduction in
the Estimates to be a matter of non-confidence.
Private Members' Business
Lynn McDonald's Bill C-204, the
Non-smokers' Health Act, was one of only four bills referred to committee for
clause-by-clause consideration after second reading since the new Standing
Orders came into force. After intensive scrutiny, it returned to the House for
report stage and third reading and was adopted on May 31. Bill C-273, An Act
respecting political rights of public employees remained at the committee stage
at the end of March. Two private members' bills have been defeated at second
reading. Dave Nickerson's Bill C-211, An Act to amend the Freshwater Fish
Marketing Act, and Lorne Nystrom's Bill C-221 regarding parity prices for farm
products were both negatived after approximately five hours of debate.
Four motions carried during the
past year: Bill Tupper's motion regarding the construction of a statue of Queen
Elizabeth II; Gordon Taylor's motion to establish an elected Senate; Andrew
Witer's motion to have a Helsinki Human Rights Day; and Bob Howie's expression
of concern for national objectives in education.
Four other motions were defeated:
one regarding a nuclear arms free zone proposed by Neil Young; another in the
name of Gus Mitges to protect the rights of the unborn; Aideen Nicholson's
motion to establish a Royal Commission on organized crime; and Charles Caccia's
motion regarding soil erosion.
Many others have been debated and
dropped from the Order Paper - in ordinary parlance, "talked out".
Nora Lever, Principal Clerk, House of Commons.