| New Brunswick
| House of Commons
Since the prorogation of the New Brunswick
Legislature on November 3, 1989, Standing and Special Committees have been
active, the Legislative Library sponsored a series of noon-hour luncheon
speakers, and New Brunswick initiated its first Legislative Internship Program.
The Special Committee on Social
Policy Development, mandated to review the issues raised by school integration,
met to prepare its final report which it expects to present to the Spring
The Law Amendments Committee held
public hearings to examine the Discussion Paper Municipal Conflict of
Interest Legislation. Part One of the paper provides an overview of the
province's current municipal conflict of interest legislation, as well as an
interpretation of the legislation. Part Two identifies specific issues related
to municipal conflict of interest legislation and presents a policy framework
for new legislation which would establish a code of conduct for municipal
officials in New Brunswick.
Also referred to the Law Amendments
Committee was the paper Strengthening Inshore Fishermen Associations
which states that "the Government of New Brunswick intends, through the
Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to take the necessary steps to insure
the long term financial viability of inshore fishermen organizations." The
resulting public hearings focused on the discussion of proposed legislation to
provide for source deduction of dues for inshore fishermen organizations,
outside the collective bargaining process.
During January, the Standing
Committee on Public Accounts considered departmental reports as well as the
Public Accounts for the year ending March 31, 1989. Representatives from the
recently registered Confederation of Regions Party, the New Democratic Party,
the Progressive Conservative Party, and Members of the Legislative Assembly,
questioned officials and requested additional information from the various
The Standing Committee on Crown
Corporations is slated to meet with representatives and examine the respective
annual reports of the provincial Crown Corporations during the second week in
During the fall, the Legislative
Library convened three noon-hour talks for the Members of the Legislative
Assembly, the public service and the general public. At the first lecture, held
in October, Linda Dyer, President of Baseline Market Research, and Paul
Willcocks, President of the Telegraph Journal, discussed the uses,
interpretation and influences of polling. In November, Robert Marleau,
Clerk of the House of Commons, discussed the effects of the Report of the
Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons (McGrath Report) on the
House of Commons and on the committee system. In December, the final guest
lecturer, New Brunswick political cartoonist Josh Beutel, showed slides
and shared his political cartooning experiences.
New Brunswick's Internship Program
will allow four individuals under the age of twenty-five years to work for
twenty weeks in the various departments of the Office of the Legislative
In addition, the first Student Legislative
Seminar is scheduled for March 23-25, 1990. Senior high school students from
throughout New Brunswick will be brought to the capital city for three days to
participate in an intense educational program on the Machinery of Government.
This pilot project is jointly sponsored by the Government of New Brunswick, the
Office of the Legislative Assembly and the Canadian Association of Clerks
A mid-March opening of the Third
Session of the Fifty-first Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick is
Diane Taylor Myles, Research and Planning Officer, Legislative
The Alberta Legislature did not sit
during the fall of 1989. The spring sitting of the Twenty-Second Legislature is
expected for March 1990.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
has extended the term of Lieutenant Governor Helen Hunley by one year.
Her five-year term was due to expire on January 21, 1990.
During November and December, the
Select Special Committee on Electoral Boundaries held public hearings in towns
and cities across Alberta. This all-party committee was struck to develop rules
to govern the setting of electoral boundaries. After the committee reports, an
Electoral Boundaries Commission will be appointed to propose new electoral
divisions as is required after every second general election.
The review panel studying conflict
of interest guidelines for MLAs has been granted a second extension to February
15, 1990. The panel is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Provincial Court, Edward
Environment Minister Ralph Klein
announced a major overhaul of Alberta's environment laws. The Minister intends
to introduce draft legislation in the spring session. The Alberta
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act will consolidate and update
existing legislation and include new sections on enforcement, spills and
Other matters that may be dealt
with in the spring session include changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act.
New policies on hospitals and health care are also expected in response to
reports by the Advisory Committee on the Utilization of Medical Services,
chaired by Dr. Mo Watanabe, and the Premier's Commission on future
Health Care for Albertans, headed by former provincial treasurer Lou Hyndman.
In January, Harley Johnson
was selected as Alberta's fifth Ombudsman. At the time of his appointment, Mr.
Johnson was a Superintendent for the Calgary Police Service. During the XV
Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, he was manager of Olympic security. Mr.
Johnson has a Master's Degree in Public Administration, and has served as a
member of several national policy advisory committees on police and community
involvement. Mr. Johnson was sworn in by the Speaker on February 1, 1990 at the
Leslie Geran, Legislative Intern, Alberta
The new Standing Orders now contain
provision for a parliamentary calendar that outlines the days on which the
House shall meet and the remaining time available for committee meetings during
the calendar year. The Standing Orders stipulate that the House will not sit
later than the third Thursday in December. In fact, the House adjourned on
Wednesday, December 20, 1989 after sitting until midnight for three nights in a
row. The last two weeks of the sitting saw major legislative activity. Twenty-eight
bills had second and third reading and received Royal Assent including such
important pieces of legislation as the Commercial Concentration Act, the
Courts of Justice Amendment Act, the Education Amendment Act, the
Employer Health Tax Act, the Municipal Freedom of Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, the Ontario Lottery Corporation Amendment Act
and the Teachers' Pension Act.
Changes to the Legislative
Assembly Act passed before the Winter Adjournment, saw members' indemnities
rise approximately 5.5%, from $41,113 to $43, 374. Members' expense allowances
also rose, from $13,790 to $14,548. New annual indemnities were established for
Chairs of select committees, Vice Chairs of standing and select committees
($5,313), the Chair of the caucus of the Party from which the Government is
chosen ($8,311), the Chair of the caucus of the Party recognized as the
Official Opposition ($8,311), the Chair of the caucus of every other Party that
has a recognized membership of twelve or more persons in the Assembly ($7,480),
the Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition ($5,995) and the Deputy
House Leader of every other Party that has a recognized membership of twelve or
more persons in the Assembly ($5,450). Changes to the Executive Council Act
also dealt with increased rates of pay for the Premier, ministers with/without
portfolio and parliamentary assistants.
Two questions of privilege were
raised by members in December. New Democrat Richard Johnston argued that
disrespect had been shown to the House by public servants acting in a way that
disregarded amendments that had been made to a bill in committee. In essence,
property assessment notices prepared by the officials from the Ministry of
Revenue ignored the right of Catholics to send their assessment to the public
school system and presumed that all Catholics in business wished to send their
taxes to the separate school system. The bill was amended at the committee
stage to distinguish between Catholics who do and do not support the separate
school system. Mr. Johnston argued that public servants were acting upon
legislation before it had passed all the steps in the legislative process. The
Speaker ruled that this was not a question of privilege, rather an
administrative error and therefore did not amount to contempt of Parliament.
The Speaker stated that it is perfectly valid for the public service to proceed
with plans based on a bill that is already in the system in order to be able to
act swiftly once the bill becomes law. It does, though, go without saying, that
if a bill is amended during the legislative process the public service must
take note and act accordingly. The Speaker was satisfied that the
administrative error had been corrected.
Progressive Conservative member W.
Donald Cousens also raised a question of privilege. He requested that the
Speaker look into the circumstances that led to his being denied the right to
be heard and to speak on matters legally and properly before the House. Mr.
Cousens argued that during Committee of the Whole House consideration of Bill
46, An Act to establish a Commercial Concentration Tax, the First Deputy
Chair refused to recognize him when he was properly standing in his place. The
Speaker will deliver his ruling when the House resumes in March.
The Select Committee on Education,
chaired by Sterling Campbell, released its report on primary and
secondary school financing in January. This is the third report of the
Committee, whose mandate is to review various aspects of the provincial
education system. The Committee examined the question of financing of
elementary and secondary education in Ontario by hearing from educators,
parents, students and ratepayers. It focused on three key themes: adequacy,
equity, and accountability, and made 34 recommendations. The Committee
recommended that the Ministry of Education consult with partners in education
to determine a clear and understandable way of calculating the costs of
providing education services mandated in the Education Act, and other
related Acts, and develop a rational means of updating these cost calculations.
It also made a number of recommendations concerning General Legislative Grants,
such as funding for small and isolated boards, adult education, special
education and native education. The Committee also recommended that the
Ministry reinstate designated allocations for renovations of existing
facilities. While the Committee recommended that property tax should be
retained as a source of education revenue, it recommended that a task force examine
options to make the tax base for funding more progressive.
The Standing Committee on Public
Accounts, chaired by Ed Philip, continued its review of the 1988 Annual
Report of the Provincial Auditor. As well, the Committee reviewed the special
audits of Ontario Place and the Ministry of Housing. The Committee's reports on
the special audits and on sections of the Auditor's Report are expected to be
tabled early in the new year. The Standing Committee on Resource Development,
chaired by Floyd Laughren, conducted public hearings on Bill 208, An
Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers'
Compensation Act, in Toronto, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Timmins, Sudbury,
Sault Ste. Marie, Kitchener, London, Windsor, Ottawa, Kingston, Thunder Bay and
Dryden. The Committee then proceeded to clause-by-clause examination of the
bill. This legislation must be reported to the House on March 26, 1990.
In December, 1989, the
Administration of Justice Committee, chaired by Robert Chiarelli,
concluded public hearings and clause-by-clause consideration of Bills 49 and
52, which provide for freedom of information and protection of individual
privacy in municipalities and local boards. The Committee also completed
hearings on a private members' public bill introduced by New Democrat Mike
Farnan in 1988. Bill 145, An Act to Prohibit the Sale of Gun Replicas,
was reported to the House as amended by the Committee. The purpose of the bill is
to prohibit the sale of replicas of guns that might reasonably be mistaken for
real guns in the commission of a crime.
During the Adjournment, the
Committee scheduled 3 weeks of hearings for its review of alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) in Canada and the United States. The aim of the study is to
consider the extent to which Ontario public policy should develop and encourage
alternative means for the resolution of disputes both outside and within the
established court system. ADR covers a broad range of non-judicial measures for
resolving conflicts, including: negotiation, mediation and arbitration, private
judging, neutral expert fact-finding, mini-trial, summary jury trial and
moderated settlement conferences.
This will be the first time under
the new rules that a standing committee will be setting its own agenda item.
Traditionally, agenda items are referred to committees by the Assembly.
The Standing Committee on
Estimates, chaired by George McCague, completed its deliberations on the
1989/1990 Estimates and rendered its report to the House in accordance with the
Standing Orders. The Committee does not have any meetings scheduled during the
Adjournment; however, it will meet to consider the selection of Estimates to be
considered in 1990 shortly after the House resumes in March.
The Standing Committee on
Government Agencies, chaired by Norman Sterling, completed a series of
agency reviews and is expected to file its report during the Adjournment. The
Committee met during February and March and began its review of nine more
agencies, including the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, the Ontario
Board of Parole, the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation and the
Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario.
The Order of the House referring
the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the Committee for review is still under
consideration. A failed attempt by Progressive Conservative Party critic Margaret
Marland to have various former employees of the Commission, including the
former Chief Commissioner, appear before the Committee led to the Opposition
members walking out of the Committee proceedings. The Opposition claimed that
the government was hindering the Committee from carrying out its mandate by
refusing to allow these individuals to appear as witnesses.
During the month of November, the
Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, chaired by Herb Epp,
continued its consideration of matters relating to members' services and
security in the parliamentary precinct.
On January 23, 1990, the Committee
began a comprehensive review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, 1987. Section 67(1) of the Act requires the Committee to
undertake a comprehensive review of the Act within 3 years of its proclamation
and to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly regarding amendments.
The Committee began its review with a briefing by the Freedom of Information
and Privacy Branch of Management Board of Cabinet and reviewed problem areas
identified by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
On December 20, 1989, a Select
Committee on Constitutional and Intergovernmental Affairs, chaired by Allan
Furlong, was appointed to consider Senate Reform. The Committee is to
prepare a report for the House by October 15, 1990, in anticipation of the
First Ministers' Conference tentatively scheduled for November 1, 1990. The
Committee is empowered to travel anywhere in Canada and may meet concurrently
with the House and during any adjournment. The completion of the report of the
Committee is subject to the proclamation on or before June 23, 1990 of the
Meech Lake Accord.
During the week of February 19,
1990, the Committee travelled to Ottawa for meetings with Senators Lowell
Murray, Allan MacEachen, Gerald Beaudoin, Norm Atkins, Arthur Tremblay and
the Clerk of the Senate Gordon Barnhart. The purpose of these meetings
was to familiarize members with the current operation of the Senate and to
discuss ideas and proposals for improvement. The Committee plans to travel to
other provinces for further discussion on Senate Reform in the Spring or Summer
of this year.
The Standing Committee on Social
Development closed out the year dealing with a trio of bills relating to
education in Ontario. Bill 64, An Act to amend the Education Act, and Bill
65, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French Language School Board Act,
were dealt with together. These Bills create a regime whereby members of a
partnership or owners of a publicly traded corporation can now designate that a
portion of the municipal tax paid by that organization for school purposes be
forwarded to either the public or separate school board in the proportion to
their ownership stake. This change makes it much easier for separate school
boards to get a share of industrial and commercial assessment. Because of this
change, it is expected that the amounts of municipal tax revenue going to
separate school boards will increase, and public boards will suffer a decline.
The government has promised, however, that no school board in the province will
experience a decline in budget as a result of these measures and has designated
that up to $160 million be made available to supplement those boards that
experience a loss due to `pooling'.
Bill 66, An Act to amend the
Teachers' Superannuation Act and to make related changes to the Teaching
Profession Act, was dealt with by the Committee as its final item of
business before the House adjourned. The bill establishes a Board to administer
the teachers' pension plan, subject to direction from the government and final
approval of any changes to the pension plan. Because the plan has an immense
unfunded liability due to legislative changes to the plan in the 1970s, the
government has committed itself to a 40-year payment plan which will cover the
unfunded liability through monthly mortgage-style amortized payments from the
Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The Select Committee on Energy,
chaired by Barbara Sullivan, was appointed on 20 December 1989 to
identify the extent to which current provincial energy policy affects carbon
dioxide emissions, the potential for controlling, stabilizing or reducing
carbon dioxide emissions, and the types of public policy or programme
initiatives to achieve the objectives of limiting the adverse environmental and
economic impacts of carbon dioxide emissions. The Committee will also study all
sectors of energy applications, including the industrial, commercial,
residential, institutional and transportation sectors. The Committee expects to
present its Interim Report by March 19, 1990 and its final report by Autumn.
The Standing Committee on Finance
and Economic Affairs, chaired by Steven Mahoney, completed its public
hearings on Bills 46 and 47. The former, An Act to establish a Commercial
Concentration Tax, would impose a tax on large commercial structures,
commercial parking lots and parking garages within the Greater Toronto Area and
the latter, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing
for Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of
Premiums under the Health Insurance Act, would establish a new employer
health tax to replace Ontario Health Insurance Plan premiums. The Committee
completed clause-by- clause consideration of Bill 46 and reported it to the
House. Progressive Conservative and New Democratic opposition to Bill 47 slowed
the clause-by-clause progress. This necessitated a Liberal motion that
"The Committee proceed no further and report the Bill, with amendment, to
the House". The bill was reported back to the House and final amendments
were passed in Committee of the Whole House at 12:30 a.m. on December 19, 1989.
During the Adjournment the
Committee engaged in its annual Pre-Budget Consultation. After hearing from
interest groups and economic forecasters, the Committee plans to write a report
that will be forwarded to the Treasurer for his consideration in the
preparation of this Spring's Budget.
The Standing Committee on the
Ombudsman, chaired by Murad Velshi, tabled its report on the expansion
of jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman. The Committee looked at two
questions. Is there a need for expansion of the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman
in Ontario to include other provincially-constituted organizations? If so what
is its scope and who should perform the function covered by the expanded
jurisdiction? The Committee limited its review to public hospitals, children's
aid societies and the Ontario New Home Warranty Program. The Committee
concluded that there was no need for expansion of the jurisdiction of the
Ombudsman into any of these areas. The New Democratic party members of the
Committee issued a dissenting opinion saying that there was a need to expand
the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman into each of the three areas.
The Standing Committee on General
Government, chaired by Harry Pelissero, held public hearings on Bill 36,
An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act. This Act
continues the existing pension plan with certain changes. Changes will be made
respecting who is eligible to become a member of the plan, the level of
contributions required under the plan and certain rules governing pension
transfers and the purchase of credit under the plan. In addition the Act
creates a Public Service Pension Board to administer the plan and pension fund.
Custody of the pension fund will be transferred from the Treasurer to the
The Committee began its
consideration of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
The purpose of the Bill is to establish the Ontario Insurance Commission, to
provide for a no-fault benefits scheme and to establish a new dispute
resolution system for resolving disputes related to no-fault benefits. Over the
Adjournment, the Committee held hearings in Toronto, Sudbury, Thunder Bay,
Windsor and Ottawa. The Committee is required to report the Bill to the House
on March 19, 1990.
Lisa Freedman, Committee Clerk, Ontario
In the middle of a rare, gentle
prairie winter, the 2nd Session of the 34th Manitoba Legislature which resumed
after a summer break on September 18, 1989, continues. On Day 119 the House
exhausted the 240 hours available for consideration of Estimates. If the
Session continues into April, it may challenge the record of 165 sitting days
for the longest session in Manitoba's history.
Of the 96 Bills introduced at this
session, to date 20 have received Royal Assent.
Among the more significant is The
Highway Traffic Amendment Act which enacted on November 1 the toughest
anti-impaired driving legislation in Canada.
This Act permits police to suspend
immediately, for a period of up to three months, the driver's licence of anyone
who registers a breathalyzer reading of .08 or over, or who refuses to submit
to a breathalyzer test. As well, anyone caught driving while their licence is
suspended will have the vehicle impounded for 30 days, regardless of vehicle
Minister of Highways and
Transportation, Albert Driedger hoped the new legislation would produce
a fundamental change in attitude toward drinking and driving, and driving while
suspended. "It is this change in attitude which is fundamental to
producing a significant reduction in the number of drivers who get behind the
wheel when they are impaired, which will save the lives of hundreds of
Manitobans and greatly reduce as well the number of people who are injured in
such car accidents," Driedger said.
Driedger said 20 American states
currently operate similar programs, and the American experience was a 25 per
cent reduction in the number of fatal injuries resulting from impaired driving.
The Electoral Divisions
Amendment Act which received Royal Assent on June 26, 1989, did not
increase the number of ridings in Manitoba but redistributed them, with a shift
to more urban ridings and fewer rural ridings.
The House supported unanimously the
recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, an independent body
appointed every 10 years in Manitoba to review boundaries and recommend
The amendments eliminate four urban
ridings, Ellice, Fort Rouge, Logan, and Seven Oaks, and two rural ridings,
Rhineland and Churchill. They create six new Winnipeg ridings, Broadway,
Crescentwood, Point Douglas, Seine River, the Maples, and Wellington, and one
new rural riding, Steinbach, as well as combining the ridings of Arthur and
Winnipeg now has 33 ridings, while
rural Manitoba has 21 and northern Manitoba has three.
Premier Gary Filmon said the
shift would still guarantee rural and northern Manitobans fair and adequate
representation in the Legislature. Deputy Opposition Leader Jim Carr,
however, mourned the loss of the historic name of his riding, Fort Rouge, which
dates back to the fur trading era.
The City of Winnipeg Amendment
Act was introduced by Urban Affairs Minister Gerry Ducharme.
The purpose of the Act, Ducharme
said, was to improve the political structures and processes of local government
and to expand citizens' rights in the local government.
Three main functions of the
amendments are: to strengthen the role and authority of the mayor; to
restructure the composition of the Executive Policy Committee and clarify its
responsibilities; and to create the position of a presiding officer to chair
Ducharme said the Bill would
strengthen the role of the mayor, by making that official the chairperson of
the Executive Policy Committee and by giving to it the responsibility for
appointing a deputy mayor, an acting deputy mayor, and the chairpersons of the
four standing committees of council. The Executive Policy Committee will now
consist of the four chairpersons of the standing committees of council, the
mayor as chairperson, the deputy mayor, and four members elected by council.
Balance is achieved, Ducharme said,
by having the mayor appoint five members of the EPC while council elects four.
The last major thrust of the amendment
creates the position of presiding officer. "In chairing council meetings,
the presiding officer will be responsible for maintaining order and decorum and
deciding questions of order. The presiding officer would be entitled to
participate in council debates, but would not be eligible to sit on EPC,"
On January 12, 1990, the Municipal
Assessment and Consequential Amendments Act received Royal Assent. These
amendments are an extremely complex piece of legislation 10 years in the
making, designed to update an antiquated assessment system and to establish
assessment standards at current market value, a more frequent assessment cycle,
and province-wide property classes.
Rural Development Minister, Jack
Penner said the legislation being replaced was drafted in the early 1900s
when most Manitobans lived in rural communities.
Penner said over 80 per cent of
Manitobans would either benefit from the amendments or experience only marginal
increases in their property taxes.
The Standing Committee on Municipal
Affairs that considered the Bill in detail received over 40 representations
from private citizens and municipal representatives from throughout the
province, and agreed to 64 amendments to the Act.
Finance Minister Clayton Manness
introduced on June 8 the Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Manness, in an announcement
on June 5 said the fund similar to Alberta's Heritage Fund, is an important
component of his government's long-term planning strategy and that it would
create a more stable and responsible fiscal planning environment for the
The fund, initiated March 31, 1989
with the first deposit of $200 million, will be used Manness said as a fiscal
shock absorber and "will provide the fiscal stability for the Government
to maintain existing programs and services, while at the same time proceed with
tax reductions appropriate to Manitoba's circumstances."
"The Stabilization Fund,"
Manness said, "will allow the benefits from years of exceptional revenue
growth to help balance years when that growth is not as strong", and added
that money coming out of the fund would be used solely as a revenue transfer
into the budget and would not be directed to specific expenditures.
An incident in the early hours of
May 2, set the stage for precedent setting rulings by Manitoba's Speaker, Denis
On that day Government Members of
the Standing Committee on Economic Development, including Finance Minister Clayton
Manness, walked out of the meeting after the defeat of an adjournment
motion. A short time later the Chairperson recessed the meeting and left.
Liberal MLA John Angus (St.
Norbert) raised the issue in the House on May 19 alleging that the Minister,
the Chairperson and the Government (PC) members of the committee were in
contempt of the committee. Mr. Speaker Rocan heard brief arguments and took the
matter under advisement.
On June 4 Speaker Rocan ruled that
the house could not consider a matter of contempt alleged to have occurred in a
committee until the matter had been brought to the attention of the House by a
report from the committee. (See the Autumn 1989 issue for text of this ruling).
The matter was raised in the
Standing Committee on Economic Development when it next met on October 3 and
was reported to the House on October 4. Again Speaker Rocan heard brief
arguments and took the matter under advisement.
On January 10 Mr. Speaker ruled
that a prima facie case of contempt had been established and accepted a
motion to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Privileges and
Elections for consideration and report which was carried on January 11.
That Committee met on January 13
and 20 and is still considering the matter.
Several Standing Committees of the
House, notably Economic Development, Industrial Relations, Public Accounts and
Public Utilities and Natural Resources met on a number of occasions to consider
and report on the various Crown Corporations' Annual Reports and other reports
which are referred to them by statute.
More recently the Standing
Committees on Industrial Relations, Law Amendments, Municipal Affairs, Private
Bills and Public Utilities and Natural Resources have been meeting very
frequently to consider and report on Bills referred to them by the House.
In accordance with long standing
Manitoba practice members of the public may appear before and make
presentations to Standing Committees considering Bills.
Since the House reconvened on
September 18 approximately 230 presentations have been scheduled for persons
appearing either as private citizens or representing particular organizations,
regarding Bills being considered.
And the 2nd Session of the 34th
W.H. (Binx) Remnant, Clerk of the House, Manitoba
House of Commons
A wise old Clerk of the British
House of Commons once remarked, "What does it signify about precedents?
The House can do what it likes." True to this innovative spirit, the House
in Ottawa has been anything but dull from a procedural standpoint. Throughout
the month of January, when Finance Minister Michael Wilson was attempting,
with some difficulty, to bring forward the Goods and Services Tax legislation,
a number of new procedures were resorted to in an effort to keep the House
On January 25, for instance,
Secretary of State for External Affairs Joe Clark's plan to make a
ministerial statement on Canadian foreign policy in Indochina was superseded
unexpectedly when Albert Cooper, Parliamentary Secretary to the
Government House Leader, moved that the House "proceed to Orders of the
Day." Negotiations ensued on the floor of the House and it was eventually
agreed that due to its important nature, the Minister's statement, together
with the corresponding responses by André Ouellet for the Liberals and Bill
Blaikie for the New Democrats, would be appended to that day's Hansard.
This of course was unusual since the printed Debates are meant to be a record
only of what was actually said, a policy heretofore adhered to very
stringently, the only regular exceptions being allowing lengthy motions to be
taken as read and printing written questions and answers tabled in the House.
A few days later, on January 29,
when the Finance Minister was scheduled to open the second-reading debate on
the GST bill, he did so under the aegis of a special order which merits reproduction
By unanimous consent, it was
ordered, - That, immediately after the completion of Routine Proceedings, the
House proceed to Orders of the Day for debate on the motion for second reading
of Bill C-62, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Criminal Code, the
Customs Act, the Customs Tariff, the Excise Act, the Income
Tax Act, the Statistics Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act;
That, following the speech on the
said motion by the Minister of Finance, further proceedings this day on the said
motion and any amendment thereto be as follows and in this sequence:
a speech (without time limit) by the Leader or designated spokesperson
of each of the Official Opposition and the New Democratic Party;
a period of one hour for questions and comments, directed to the
Minister of Finance, following the format used in Question Period;
a deemed adjournment of debate, without further debate or question put,
on the said motion and any amendment thereto;
a deemed adjournment of the House until 11:00 o'clock a.m. on Tuesday,
January 30, 1990, without further debate or question put on such motion for
Provided that, for the remainder of
this day, no dilatory motion shall be receivable by the Chair.
This novel approach to dealing with
a contentious piece of legislation resulted in all parties achieving many of
their objectives while also allowing outside observers to witness lively and
The Standing Committee on
Privileges and Elections released its report on the House's Broadcasting policy
and the CPaC (Canadian Parliamentary Channel) proposals December 31, 1989. The
report recommended a liberalization of the now-strict House broadcast rules,
endorsed the idea of televising committee proceedings and gave its support to
the CPaC group's proposal.
On February 23 the House
unanimously endorsed the principle of the CPaC proposal as it had been
presented to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, "on the
understanding that CPaC will broadcast the proceedings of the House of Commons,
as well as any other proceedings that are provided to it by the House."
In a startling revelation last
December, RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster stated that 15 Members of Parliament
were under active investigation by his force. This statement understandably
caused grave concern among Members. The House wasted little time in taking
action and established a Special Committee, chaired by Marcel Danis, and
composed of a membership which includes party Whips, to: …review the Parliament
of Canada Act regarding the powers, duty and obligations of the Members of
the House in relation thereto and regarding the authority, responsibilities and
jurisdiction of the Board of Internal Economy.
The Committee held numerous meetings
and tabled an interim report February 16. In addition to observations on
matters as diverse as procedures relating to the execution of search warrants,
the use of telephones, deficiencies in the Parliament of Canada Act and
the need for a new mechanism relating to Members' budgets, the Committee
recommended the adoption of certain general principles.
Specifically, the Committee called
on the House to reaffirm the following principles that apply to its Members:
that the Board of Internal Economy
is the authority which determines how the financial resources and
administrative services provided by the House are to be applied and adhered to;
that in the performance of a
Member's activities and functions, a Member is entitled to financial resources
and administrative services provided by the House, subject to the statutory
authority of the Board of Internal Economy;
that partisan activities are an
inherent and essential part of the activities and functions of a Member;
that a Member has the
constitutional rights and immunities applicable to that office and independence
in the performance of the activities and functions of that office free from
interference or intimidation; and
that a Member is allowed full
discretion in the direction and control of the work performed on a Member's
behalf by the Member's employees or independent contractors and is subject only
to the authority of the Board of Internal Economy or the House of Commons in
the exercise of this discretion.
The Committee also recommended that
"the Board of Internal Economy recognize and apply these principles and
reflect them in its orders."
A final report is expected by the
end of June, when the Committee's order of reference, which has already been
extended from March 5, runs out.
Marc Bosc, Committee Clerk, House of Commons
Five bills currently command the
attention of the Senate. Bill C-16, An Act to establish the Canadian Space
Agency and to provide for other matters in relation to space is presently
before the Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology; the Committee
on Energy and Natural Resources has Bill C-23, An Act to amend the National
Energy Board Act and to repeal certain enactments in consequence thereof;
Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial
Fiscal Arrangements and Federal Post- secondary Education and Health
Contributions Act, the Old Age Security Act, the Public Utilities
Income Tax Transfer Act, the War Veterans Allowance Act and a
related Act was referred to the Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce; Bill
C-25, An Act to amend the Geneva Conventions Act, the National
Defence Act and the Trade-marks Act, was referred to the Committee
on Foreign Affairs; and finally, the Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs received Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Federal Court Act, the Crown
Liability Act, the Supreme Court Act and other acts in consequence
The Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries tabled its long-awaited report on the East Coast fisheries on December
20, 1989. The Committee has toured the East Coast extensively, holding public
hearings in all five Atlantic provinces. While the Committee's mandate was to
study the marketing of fish in Canada, its report explores resource management
issues as well. Among its many recommendations, the report includes a suggested
cull of the grey seal population; measures to curtail foreign overfishing; and
advice on action to be taken by industry and government to promote Canadian
fish products. For a copy of The Marketing of Fish in Canada: The East Coast
Fishery, please write the Director of Information Services, the Senate, 140
Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A4.
The recommendations of the report
of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on
Bill C-3, An Act to establish the Department of Industry, Science and
Technology, to repeal the Department of Regional Industrial Expansion
Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts were included in the
message to the House of Commons, acquainting them of the passage of Bill C-3.
A significant milestone in the
ongoing debate over the respective role of the Senate and the Commons in
financial matters was set February 13, 1990. The Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance tabled a report which examined the question of how the use of
the Royal Recommendation has evolved in Canadian parliamentary practice. In
summary, the Committee found that the Royal Recommendation has become
ill-defined and arbitrarily employed, without clear guidelines for its use.
Moreover, the Committee was concerned by the fact that the Royal Recommendation
is only included with a bill at first reading in the Commons, thereby leaving
the Senate in the dark as to whether or not they are dealing with a "money
bill" when it arrives in the Senate. Anyone wishing to examine the report
of the Committee may refer to the Debates of the Senate for February 13,
1990 where it is printed as an appendix, or they may write the Clerk of the
Committee, Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 140 Wellington
Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6, for a copy.
Another committee, however, grabbed
the lion's share of attention. The Special Committee of the Senate on Bill
C-21, An Act to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act and the Employment
and Immigration Department and Commission Act, heard 105 witnesses,
including those who appeared before the Committee in St. John's, Newfoundland
and Canso, Nova Scotia, during public hearings in those two cities.
The Committee reported the bill to
the Senate with amendments. In the ensuing debate over the acceptability of the
amendments, Senator Alan J. MacEachen, Leader of the Opposition in the
Senate referred to the problem that - as identified in the National Finance
report tabled earlier - the form Royal Recommendations take today make it
impossible to identify any appropriations proposed in Bill C-21. Moreover, he
argues, no appropriations in fact exist, leaving the bill open to amendment
since it simply amends an existing statute and does not propose an
appropriation. Consequently, Senator MacEachen argued, it was competent of the
Senate to amend the bill. The Speaker ruled that eight of the amendments were
in order since they made no charge. On the last two, however, the Speaker,
after consulting Department officials and independent economic consultants,
determined that they were out of order. While admitting his ruling was based on
certain assumptions, the Speaker felt that in certain circumstances the
amendments would have the effect of increasing the payments made over and above
those of the parent act.
Contingent to the struggle between
the Senate and the Commons over Bill C-21 was the debate over Bill S-12, An
Act to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act. This bill was designed to
extend the variable entrance requirements beyond January 1, 1990 in order that
applicants not be hurt by any delay in the coming into force of Bill C-21.
Using a device normally envisaged as a way for the Government to introduce a
money bill in the Senate, Senator MacEachen "red lettered" S-12. In
other words, the clause of the bill incurring an expense was printed in italics
and sent to the House of Commons technically blank, leaving it to a Minister to
apply a Royal Recommendation and write in the clause at that time. S-12 was
rejected by the House of Commons which is now in possession of C-21. The Senate
awaits their reaction.
The Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology will undertake a special study on the
Problem of Illicit Drug Use. The Committee, chaired by Senator Lorna Marsden,
is to report by June 29, 1990. For information, please contact the Clerk of the
Committee, 140 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A4.
Blair Armitage, Committee Clerk, The Senate