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Since the House rose on June 10, 2004 legislative activity has been very
light in Manitoba. Despite the relative quiet, our Standing Committees
have continued to meet. The Public Accounts Committee held two meetings
in September with more meetings anticipated. Our Public Accounts Committee
has continued its evolution this year with several matters of procedure
being debated in committee.
Other committees also met during this intersessional period to consider
legislation and other matters. The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations
met twice to consider Annual Reports from both the Manitoba Liquor Control
Commission and the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation. Additionally, the Standing
Committee on Social and Economic Development assembled to consider and
hear public presentations on Bill 22 The Water Protection Act. Bill
22 sets out a legislative scheme to provide improved protection for Manitobas
water resources. Carried over from the last session by agreement, the
Bill will go back to the House for Third Reading sometime during the next
On October 12, 2004 Premier Gary Doer (NDP - Concordia) announced the following
changes to his cabinet:
Dave Chomiak (NDP Kildonan), the long serving Minister of Health, moved
to the recently created portfolio of Energy, Science and Technology.
Tim Sale (NDP Fort Rouge) switched positions with Minister Chomiak, taking
over in Health after his time as the debut Minister in Energy, Science
Scott Smith (NDP Brandon West) becomes the new Minister of Intergovernmental
Affairs and Trade. Mr. Smith was formerly the minister of Industry, Economic
Development and Mines.
Jim Rondeau (NDP Assiniboia) moves from Healthy Living to become the
Minister responsible for Industry, Economic Development and Mines.
Theresa Oswald (NDP Riel) enters cabinet for the first time as Minister
of Healthy Living.
The 3rd Session of the 38th Legislature began on November 22, 2004 with
the Speech from the Throne.
Clerk Assistant /
Clerk of Committees
The election for the 15th Legislative Assembly was held in November 2003.
The NWT's consensus style of government is such that all Members are elected
as independent Members and are subjected to an orientation period prior
to choosing a Premier and Cabinet Ministers to form the government. For
the 15th Assembly, this orientation period lasted from December 4, 2003
to the opening of the first session on December 11, 2003 and included
two days of administrative orientation, three days of procedural and socio-economic
familiarization, a two-day Territorial Leadership Committee to elect the
Speaker, Premier and Cabinet, a swearing in ceremony and a quick two-day
session followed by prorogation.
Both, the Speaker, David Krutko, and the Premier, Joe Handley, were acclaimed
to their respective offices. In keeping with recent practice, the Leadership
Committee elected two Cabinet Members from each of the northern, Yellowknife
and southern constituencies. The secret ballot elections were settled
on the first ballot for the northern and Yellowknife constituencies with
a second ballot required for the south.
One unique feature of consensus government is the absence of the political
party platforms that would ordinarily give a new government a head start
on its strategic planning following an election. The result is that setting
the agenda for a new NWT Assembly can only begin after the election, and
typically includes the entire Caucus.
The 15th Assembly's strategic planning began at the very first meeting
of Caucus two weeks after the election. Each Member was given an opportunity
to introduce themselves, and speak for ten minutes. Suggested topics,
for example, "Why did you run for office?", were sent to Members in advance
to help them prepare their comments. Significantly, this meeting took
place before the selection of the Speaker and Cabinet Members, so that
all 19 Members were able to speak freely and independently. Staff attendance
was restricted to the Clerk and the Special Advisor to the Speaker, which
contributed to the openness of the speeches.
A consensus emerged at the first meeting of Caucus that other northern
governments should have a voice in setting the agenda for the 15th Assembly.
This resulted in an historic gathering of aboriginal leaders, municipal
government leaders and the 19 MLAs hosted by the K'atl'odeeche First Nation
on the Hay River Dene Reserve. The gathering, which became known as the
Circle of Northern Leaders, was held over three days in April 2004. In
order to ensure that all governments were treated as full participants,
the overall planning for the meeting was overseen by a Steering Committee
with representatives from aboriginal and municipal governments, the Legislative
Assembly, and the Government of the Northwest Territories. The Committee
selected two independent co-chairs, including former Premier Jim Antoine,
and two independent facilitators, including former Clerk David Hamilton.
Although the Circle of Northern Leaders contributed to Caucus and Government
strategic planning efforts, its most significant outcome was a general
agreement among the delegates that it should mark the beginning of an ongoing
forum to develop more trust and collaboration among northern governments
on common interests. The Circle of Northern Leaders will now likely be
an annual event.
Following the Circle of Northern Leaders, Caucus and Government completed
their strategic planning processes. The final outcome was two documents:
the 15th Assembly's vision and goals, and a government strategic plan which
elaborates on the first document by identifying specific actions to accomplish
the goals identified by Caucus. Both documents were released to the public
in June 2004.
On May 28, 2004, Norman Yakeleya, the Member for Sahtu, gave notice that
on May 31, 2004, he would move that the Assembly revoke the appointment
of Henry Zoe to the Executive Council. The circumstances giving rise to
this motion, which were widely reported in the local and national media,
related to an alleged verbal and physical altercation between Mr. Zoe and
certain members and guests of the Royal Canadian Legion.
In the end, the motion was carried with thirteen in favour, four opposed
and one abstention. The following day, a second meeting of the Territorial
Leadership Committee of the 15th Legislative Assembly was convened to elect
a new Member of the Executive Council. Prior to the commencement of the
meeting, Mr. Krutko submitted a letter to the Clerk advising of his resignation
as Speaker. The first order of business therefore, was the election of
a new Speaker. Following a call for nominations, Paul Delorey, MLA for
Hay River North was acclaimed Speaker by the Clerk and immediately assumed
the Chair of the meeting. Each of the two candidates for the vacant cabinet
seat was provided ten minutes to make a speech, followed by a secret ballot
election. Former Speaker Krutko was elected to the Executive Council and
has since assumed the portfolio of Minister of Housing.
The second disciplinary matter relates to the declared place of residence
of former Cabinet Minister Roger Allen. Members who permanently reside
outside of commuting distance of the capital are entitled to an accommodation
allowance of up to $30,000 per year. This allowance is intended to cover
the cost of a second residence in Yellowknife for the Member's use while
in the capital on business of the Assembly. To access the allowance, Members
are required to swear a statutory declaration attesting to their primary
place of residence and provide the Board of Management with certain documents
to substantiate the declaration.
On March 31, 2004, Mr. Allen provided then Speaker Krutko with a statutory
declaration claiming permanent residence at 107B East Campbell Lake, Inuvik.
This declaration was subsequently tabled in the House. Upon review of
the supporting documentation, the Board of Management advised Mr. Allen
that further substantiation of his place of primary residence was needed.
The Board gave Mr. Allen until June 30, 2004 to provide it with additional
proof of residence.
The Board met on June 30 to review the additional documentation provided
by Mr. Allen. At this meeting, the Board determined the documentation
to be insufficient and advised Mr. Allen that his access to the capital
accommodation allowance was revoked and that repayment of all funds previously
provided was required within ninety days. It is important to note that
the Board did not make a determination as to Mr. Allen's place of permanent
residence, be it Inuvik or otherwise. It simply concluded that adequate
documentation in support of the declaration, and the housing allowance,
was not provided. The Board's decision was made public by way of a news
In light of further investigations by the news media and in response to
pressure from the public and other Members of the Legislative Assembly,
the Board invited Mr. Allen to appear before the Board to respond to questions
concerning his statutory declaration of residence. Mr. Allen did not appear
however, and instead requested that the meeting be held at a later date.
Rather than delay the matter further, the Board decided to submit a complaint
to the Assembly's Conflict of Interest Commissioner. The complaint was
made pursuant to section 75 of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council
Act, which requires a Member to "arrange his or her private affairs in
such a manner as to maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity,
objectivity and impartiality of the member."
The Conflict of Interest Commissioner, in investigating the matter, has
the authority to either dismiss the complaint or refer it to a sole adjudicator.
A sole adjudicator has the authority to recommend a wide range of sanctions
to the Assembly. The Assembly may either accept or reject the recommendations
of the sole adjudicator, but not vary them. In the meantime, Mr. Allen
submitted his resignation as a Member of the Legislative Assembly to the
Speaker on October 12, 2004. The Member's seat has been declared vacant
and a by-election is being held in the Inuvik Twin Lakes riding to select
a new Member. The Conflict of Interest Commissioner's investigation continues.
Legislation and Committees
Due to the timing of the election, which did not allow for major changes
to be made to the 2004-2005 budget, or for Committee reviews of business
plans, which ordinarily precede consideration of Main Estimates, all Members
agreed to an accelerated budget review process. Committees reviewed the
draft Main Estimates during the last two weeks of February, and the Appropriation
Bill for 2004-2005 was considered and passed during a two and a half week
session in March. A Supplementary Appropriation Bill and two income tax
bills, raising the corporate tax rate and top tier personal income tax
rates, were also passed at that session. A second Supplementary Appropriation
Bill, as well as an increase to the payroll tax and related amendments
to the Income Tax Act were passed in the June session.
The only other major legislation considered to date by the 15th Assembly
is the Tlicho Community Government Act, which was introduced in March and
passed in June. This is the second of three Acts the Legislative Assembly
must pass in order to implement the Tlicho Agreement, a comprehensive land
claim and self-government agreement that covers an area of approximately
39,000 km2 north of Great Slave Lake. These Acts cannot come into force
until Canada passes its own settlement legislation, including amendments
to the Northwest Territories Act, which will authorize these territorial
laws that would otherwise be ultra vires.
The Act deals with the establishment of new community governments in accordance
with the Agreement, and sets out their municipal-type powers and procedures.
A significant portion of the Act was dictated by the negotiated Agreement
itself, which left little room for amendments by legislators. The Committee
did identify some very minor areas of concern, and the Minister undertook
further consultations with the Tlicho before agreeing to the amendments.
Public hearings were held in Rae-Edzo, the largest of the Tlicho communities,
where the Committee heard unanimous support for the Bill. The Committee
made funds available for residents of the other three Tlicho communities,
which are accessible only by air for most of the year, to attend the hearings.
The Committee also held hearings in Yellowknife, where some witnesses
opposed the Bill. Generally these witnesses had objections to the overall
Agreement, which the Committee had no power to change, and not to the specific
contents of the Bill itself.
The Assembly's experience with the first two Tlicho implementation Bills
raised a number of issues of procedure and the meaningfulness of the role
of Committees in reviewing self-government legislation. We expect to be
challenged by many such issues over the next several years as more and
more self-government Bills come before the Assembly. One such Bill is
the third Tlicho implementation Bill, the Tlicho Community Services Agency
Act, which received Second Reading in the House on October 21, 2004 and
stands referred to the Standing Committee on Social Programs.
During the October sitting, in considering two separate Supplementary Appropriation
Bills, Regular Members raised concerns about the Government's apparent
excessive use of special warrants to appropriate funding for several projects.
The House subsequently debated and passed a motion brought forward by
the Regular Members calling for amendments to the Financial Administration
Act to limit the use of special warrants and to ensure that all Members
are given adequate notice when their use is being contemplated.
In January 2004 the full Caucus adopted, for the first time, a legislative
planning calendar. The calendar establishes three distinct sittings, Winter,
Spring and Fall, as well as three distinct "blackout periods" or recesses
when neither the House or its Committees will ordinarily sit. These blackout
sessions include a three-week period around the Christmas holiday, a two-week
period during the school spring break, and a six-week summer recess during
which many of the aboriginal summer assemblies occur. Thus far, the planning
calendar has not been formalized within the rules of the Assembly but operates
by convention only.
Cultural Enhancement Plan
In March of 2004, the Board of Management adopted and began implementation
of a Cultural Enhancement Plan for the Legislative Assembly. Following
the division of the Northwest Territories in 1999, the Assembly's art collection
was divided between the new NWT and the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.
The artwork that remains does not fully and adequately reflect the many
cultures that continue to make up the Northwest Territories. The Cultural
Enhancement Policy sets out a plan and dedicates resources to the physical
enhancement of the precincts of the Legislative Assembly including its
grounds and art collection. The Plan also calls for the establishment
of a Legislative Precinct Advisory Committee that will provide advice to
the Board on the commissioning, acquisition and placement of artwork within
the precincts. A Call for Expressions of Interest to serve on the advisory
committee was recently issued.
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and
Director of Research Services
The Member for Gouin and Official Opposition House Leader, André Boisclair,
announced his retirement from politics last August 17. Mr. Boisclair resumed
his studies and is currently registered in the Master's programme in public
administration at Harvard University. The following day, Bernard Landry,
Leader of the Official Opposition, appointed Diane Lemieux, the Member
for Bourget, as Official Opposition House Leader. Mrs. Lemieux is the first
woman in the history of the National Assembly to hold this office. On
September 9, 2004, Mr. Landry announced the appointment of Jacques Côté,
the Member for Dubuc, as Deputy Opposition Whip, thus replacing Nicole
Léger, the Member for Pointe-aux-Trembles.
By-elections were held in four electoral divisions on Monday, 20 September
2004. Nicolas Girard (Parti Québécois) was elected in the riding of Gouin,
Elsie Lefebvre (Parti Québécois) in the riding of Laurier-Dorion, Yolande
James (Québec Liberal Party) in the riding of Nelligan and Sylvain Légaré
(Action démocratique du Québec) in the riding of Vanier. The membership
of the Assembly currently stands as follows: Liberal Party, 73 Members;
Parti Québécois, 46 Members; independent, 6 Members, 5 of whom are from
the Action démocratique du Québec party.
On September 1, 2004, the President of the National Assembly of Quebec
and his counterpart from the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, Bev
Harrison, signed an agreement establishing the New Brunswick-Québec Parliamentary
Association. This initiative on the part of President Bissonnet aims to
develop interparliamentary dialogue between both institutions for the purpose
of reinforcing exchanges and friendly relations between New Brunswickers
Nancy Charest, the Member for Matane and parliamentary assistant to the
Minister of Finance, and Serge Deslières, the Member for Beauharnois, were
respectively designated chair and vice-chair of the Quebec section of this
new association, which will meet once a year and will be composed of five
members from both assemblies.
The proceedings of the 18th session of the Commission interparlementaire
franco- québécoise, which met from September 4-16, 2004, focussed mainly
on the health systems in Québec and France, particularly with regard to
funding, the impact of ageing populations and health insurance.
The Quebec delegation was composed of Dominique Vien (Bellechasse), Maxime
Arsenault (Îles-de-la-Madeleine), Normand Jutras (Drummond), Sarah Perreault
(Chauveau), Marc Picard (Chutes-de-la-Chaudière) and Éric R. Mercier (Charlesbourg).
With their French counterparts, the Members discussed cultural and linguistic
diversity and presented a review of France-Québec cooperation over the
course of the past year.
The President of the National Assembly of Quebec, Michel Bissonnet, and
his counterpart from the French National Assembly, Jean-Louis Debré, underlined
the 25th anniversary of the Commission. For the occasion, both presidents
took part in the planting of an oak tree on the Parliament Building premises.
The oak, which symbolizes longevity, marks the vitality of the cooperation
between both assemblies.
On September 13, 2004, the Vice-President of the Quebec National Assembly
and Member for Abitibi-Ouest, François Gendron, officially launched the
fifth edition of the Seniors' Parliament. Composed of retired men and women
hailing from various regions of Quebec, this parliamentary simulation takes
place at the National Assembly and highlights the concerns of citizens
aged 55 years and over, while allowing them to become more familiar with
the stages of the legislative process and the role of Members.
The hundred or so participants in the Seniors' Parliament 2004 adopted
the Act concerning the implementation of a policy on ageing well, which
aims to promote the well-being of seniors, to stimulate their participation,
to recognize their contribution to society and to eliminate age discrimination,
as well as the Act respecting home care services, whose purpose is to implement
measures aiming to provide home care services for seniors, thus enabling
them to live at home while maintaining their functional independence.
Last September 14 the President of the National Assembly of Quebec and
the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jacques P. Dupuis, launched,
in the Legislative Council Room, in the presence of several dignitaries,
including the President of the French National Assembly, the exhibition
entitled The Civil Code: All in the Family. This exhibition, which is addressed
to a broad public and presented in collaboration with the National Capital
Commission of Quebec from September 15 to December 17, 2004, concerns Quebec's
civil law as experienced by the men, women and children whose daily relations
are governed thereby.
The scholarship programme, offered by the Jean-Charles- Bonenfant Foundation
since 1978, pursues pedagogical objectives, including that of promoting
studies and research on the political and parliamentary institutions of
Quebec. For the first time this year, the Foundation will welcome five
scholarship holders rather than four for a ten-month internship at
the National Assembly, during which university students come to acquire
theoretical and practical knowledge of the parliamentary institutions and
of the role and work of Members.
The internship programme is divided into three parts:
the discovery of the National Assembly and a comparative study with other
Canadian and foreign parliamentary institutions;
alternate twinning with a Member from the parliamentary group forming the
Government and with an Opposition Member;
the drafting of a research paper on the parliamentary institutions of Québec.
The new scholarship holders for 2004-2005 are Jean-Francis Clermont-Legros,
who holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in history and is currently
a doctoral candidate in the same field at McGill University; Pierre-David
Jean, Bachelor of Political Science; Marjolaine Pigeon and Chantal Rainville,
both Bachelors of Political Science, the first of whom is pursuing a Master's
degree in political science, and the second, in sociology; Yannick Vachon,
who holds a Bachelor's degree in philosophy and a law certificate and who
is currently registered in the Master's programme in policy analysis at
Francine Boivin Lamarche
Secretariat of the National Assembly
As is customary, the standing committees slowed down their activities during
the summer holidays. Nonetheless, certain of them held consultations within
the framework of the clause-by-clause consideration of bills or carried
out statutory orders. They also were involved in various innovative technological
projects which are part of the reform undertaken by the National Assembly
to bring the citizens and the Parliament closer together.
The Use of Videoconferencing
On September 8, 2004, the Committee on Social Affairs (CSA) heard the Nunavik
Regional Health and Social Services Board within the framework of the examination
of its annual report for 2002-2003. This mandate stems from the statutory
orders of the Committee, pursuant to the Act respecting social services
and health services.
Nunavik being a remote location that is virtually inaccessible by land,
the expenses incurred by the Board when its head officers must travel to
Quebec City to attend a hearing are significant. Consequently, the Committee
took advantage of this mandate to innovate and heard the representatives
of the Board via videoconferencing. It was a first, which allowed the committee
to experiment with the possibilities and limitations of this technology
during the television broadcast of a public hearing.
The challenges were twofold: combine videoconferencing technology and the
world of television broadcasting and adapt the "person-to-person" communication
of the videoconference to the parliamentary committee proceedings. To render
the situation even more complex, the participants were located in three
different places: Quebec, Montreal and Kuujjuaq. Moreover, the proceedings
took place in French and in English, thus requiring translation services.
The experience was most successful. Much as they regretted the absence
of the participants, the Members were enthusiastic regarding the possibilities
provided by videoconferencing. They expressed the desire that this method
again be used in the future, in justifiable circumstances.
The CSA innovated once again at the end of September during a general consultation
on Bill 56, An Act to amend the Act to secure the handicapped in the exercise
of their rights and other legislative provisions. On this occasion, it
implemented a series of measures to make its proceedings accessible to
the greatest number of persons with disabilities. The Legislative Council
Room was thus chosen for the holding of public hearings, owing to its easy
accessibility. Adapted parking areas were reserved near the Parliament
Building and visitor reception and accompaniment services were put at the
disposal of persons requiring them. Interpreters assisted participants
who had requested their services, and, for citizens attending the proceedings,
monitors broadcast an interpretation service in Quebec sign language. Furthermore,
since the conclusion of the hearings, the interested parties can obtain,
free of charge, the entire Committee proceedings with the superposition
of a sign interpreter on VHS tape or on CD-ROM by addressing the request
to the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec.
Briefs Available On-line
A pilot project is currently underway at the Committee on Transportation
and the Environment (CTE) in order to facilitate citizens' access to documents
produced for a Committee's proceedings. Within the framework of the general
consultation on Bill 44, An Act to amend the Act respecting the Ministère
de l'Environnement, the Environment Quality Act and other legislative provisions,
the briefs submitted by the interested persons and organizations and the
documents tabled are digitized and then made available on the Internet
site of the Assembly within a 48-hour delay. At the conclusion of the consultation,
the briefs of those persons and organizations who were not heard will also
be placed on the Internet site. The same will hold for the minutes of the
Committee proceedings, once this document has been tabled in the Assembly.
The results of this project will indicate to what extent this initiative
may be applied to all parliamentary committees.
Secretariat of committees
Translation: Sylvia Ford
Secretariat of the Assembly
House of Commons
In the wake of an election that saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in
Canadian history, Members assembled in Ottawa to launch the Thirty-Eighth
Parliament. In addition to confronting the challenges presented by a minority
parliament, Canada's first in a quarter of a century, the new government
faces heightened public expectations around the need to modernize and reform
our political institutions. Initial steps were taken during the last Parliament,
including provisional new procedures for Private Members' Business to ensure
every Member at least one opportunity during the course of a Parliament
to have a bill or motion voted on by the House. Those provisions will
remain in force, again provisionally, until the end of June 2005, at which
time a decision will be taken as to whether or not they are to be made
The Thirty-Eighth Parliament also saw the election of Steven Fletcher (CharleswoodSt.
James Assiniboia), the first quadriplegic federal Member of Parliament.
Paralyzed at age 23 as the result of a car accident, the new Winnipeg
area MP gets around using a motorized wheelchair operated by head movements.
While all parliamentary buildings and grounds met federal and provincial
accessibility standards, some modifications were required to meet Mr. Fletcher's
specific needs. Similarly, a new standing order was adopted authorizing
the Speaker to alter the application of any standing order or practice
of the House to permit the full participation of any Member with a disability.
In the Chamber, Mr. Fletcher sits in the front row near the Speaker, where
a chair and fold-away table have been provided for his attendant. He uses
a wireless headset to follow and speak during debate.
Opening of Parliament
On October 4th, Members gathered in the Chamber to elect their Speaker.
In presiding over the election, the Dean of the House, Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg-Transcona,
NDP), remarked that, back in 1985, as a member of the McGrath Committee
on the Reform of the House that recommended the Dean serve this function,
he could never have imagined that one day he would be the individual in
question. Given that all of the other candidates rose to withdraw their
names from the ballot, leaving only that of the incumbent Speaker, Peter
Milliken (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.), Mr. Blaikie sought and received
consent to forgo the balloting and related procedures and declare Mr. Milliken
The next day, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, accompanied by her husband
John Ralston Saul, arrived on Parliament Hill to deliver the Speech from
the Throne. The speech outlined Prime Minister Paul Martin's policy agenda
for the new session: health care, cities, child care, foreign relations,
and institutional reform. Citing seven 'guiding principles'fiscal discipline;
the national interest; diversity; focus on results; the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms; equality of opportunity; and global projection of Canadian
interests and valuesthe Speech outlined a number of major policy initiatives,
including a new Workplace Skills Strategy, Equalization reform, strengthening
the armed forces, and a national, universal, accessible system of quality
early learning and child care. The government also signalled its intention
to examine the need and options for electoral reform.
The motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was proposed
and seconded by newly-elected government Members Mario Silva (Davenport)
and Françoise Boivin (Gatineau).
In their responses, the opposition accused the government of exploiting
the federal spending power to introduce policy initiatives in areas of
provincial jurisdiction and called for a 'rebalancing' of the federal-provincial
fiscal relationship. Official Opposition Leader Stephen Harper (Calgary,
CPC) charged that the proposed health care 'reforms' were simply reparation
for the damage Liberal governments had inflicted since 1993. Setting out
the Opposition agenda, Mr. Harper called for catastrophic drug coverage,
a clean air act, increased defence spending, and improved relations with
the United States. He then proposed an amendment calling for an independent
tripartite commission to set and monitor EI premiums; tax reductions for
low and modest income families; a parliamentary budget office; a citizens'
assembly on electoral reform; and a parliamentary vote on any Canadian
participation in a continental missile defence treaty.
Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe (LaurierSainte-Marie) echoed many
of Mr. Harper's points, but focused more emphatically on "fiscal imbalance"
and what he held to be continued federal incursion into provincial jurisdiction.
These two issues formed the substance of his subamendment to Mr. Harper's
For his part, NDP Leader Jack Layton (TorontoDanforth) acknowledged the
need to make this Parliament work and vowed that he would do his part to
ensure that the government kept its promises. Like the other leaders,
Layton noted that many of the Throne Speech proposals had been promised
but not delivered by previous Liberal governments and questioned the Prime
Minister's preoccupation with the debt, at the expense of a clean environment,
healthy cities, and affordable housing.
Shortly before proceedings on Mr. Duceppe's subamendment expired, and citing
consultations with the Prime Minister and the other parties, the Bloc leader
proposed an amendment to the subamendment, which was agreed to. The amended
subamendment was then put to the House and adopted, unanimously. Subsequently,
Mr. Harper proposed an amendment to his amendment, which also was adopted,
unanimously, as was the main motion on the Address in Reply.
Among its first items of business, the House approved a Government motion
dealing with, among other things, the Business of Supply (the schedule
for considering the 2004-2005 Estimates and the number of Opposition Days);
parliamentary committees (revised list, membership, and chairs); providing
for Members with disabilities; and the selection of Chair occupants. (Government
Business No. 1)
The motion introduced new rules governing the nomination of candidates
for Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole, Deputy Chair of
Committees of the Whole, and Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the
Whole. Under the new rules, the Speaker is authorized, after consultation
with party leaders, to propose a candidate for each of the positions and
to proceed immediately to a confirmation vote, with no debate or amendment.
In accordance with the new procedure, Chuck Strahl (Chilliwack Fraser
Canyon, CPC) was appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the
Whole and Marcel Proulx (HullAylmer, Lib.) and Jean Augustine (Etobicoke
Lakeshore, Lib.) were appointed Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole,
and Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole, respectively.
The Government introduced several bills during the first two weeks, including
legislation dealing with child pornography, DNA identification, infectious
diseases, and public sector whistleblowers. Six of the bills propose legislative
measures originally introduced during the last session of the 37th Parliament,
C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other
vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (formerly C-12)
C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts (formerly C-29)
C-11, An Act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings
in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose
the wrongdoings (Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act) (formerly C-25)
C-12, An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases
(Quarantine Act) (formerly C-36)
C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and
the National Defence Act (formerly C-35)
C-14, An Act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement
among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government
of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource
Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts (Tlicho
Land Claims and Self-Government Act) (formerly C-31)
Four of these were referred to committee before second reading, specifically
Bill C-2 (Child Pornography), Bill C-12 (Quarantine), Bill C-13 (DNA identification),
and Bill C-11 (Whistleblowers).
Bill C-2, protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the
Canada Evidence Act strengthens existing prohibitions on the exploitation
and abuse of children, by expanding the scope of selected offences, narrowing
the availability of statutory defences, and, in certain cases, increasing
the penalties. The bill also creates new offences relating to voyeurism
and introduces aids to assist children who testify in criminal proceedings.
The current bill is the third version of the legislation to reach the House.
Bill C-20, passed the House but failed to receive Royal Assent in the
Second Session of the 37th Parliament, and died on the Order Paper at the
report stage in the Third. While the bill attempts again to restrict or
redefine 'artistic merit' as a legal defence against pornography charges,
the opposition claims that the government is merely opening up another
'loophole'. In addition, official opposition critic Rob Moore (Fundy Royal,
CPC) voiced concern over the failure to raise the age of consent from 14
Another significant legislative initiative carried over from the previous
Parliament is Bill C-11, the renewed Public Servants Disclosure Protection
Act, or 'whistleblower' legislation. Drafted partly in response to the
sponsorship scandal and the Radwanski affair, the original legislation
(Bill C-25) stood referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations
when the 37th Parliament was dissolved. While C-11 retains many of the
features of the earlier bill, including requiring that all federal organizations
establish internal disclosure mechanisms and protecting whistleblowers
from reprisals for good faith disclosures, it also proposes significant
revisions, such as delegating investigatory responsibility to the President
of the Public Service Commission in order to increase the independence
and objectivity of that function. This latter measure was criticized,
however, by official opposition critic Guy Lauzon (StormontDundasSouth
Glengarry, CPC) who challenged the 'independence' of the PSC office, and
reiterated that only a fully autonomous bodyreporting directly to Parliament
rather than to a ministercan properly protect the whistleblower.
The House has created two new standing committeesthe Standing Committee
on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and the Standing Committee
on the Status of Womenand reduced the size of the membership of all standing
committees to 12 (5 from the government, 4 from the official opposition,
2 from the Bloc Québécois, and one from the NDP). With the exception of
the Standing Committees on Public Accounts, Access to Information, Privacy
and Ethics and Government Operations and Estimates, and the Standing Joint
Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, committee Chairs will be government
members, while the first and second Vice-Chairs will be members of the
Official Opposition Party and an opposition party other than the Official
Opposition, respectively. The remaining three committees will be chaired
by a member of the Official Opposition, with the first and second Vice-Chairs
members of the government party and an opposition party other than the
Official Opposition, respectively.
Despite new rules providing for the election of Chairs and Vice-Chairs
by secret ballot, only two committees used this procedure the Standing
Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
(election of the Chair) and the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
(election of the Official Opposition Vice Chair).
A number of committee studies are already underway. Among the most significant
are inquiries into the purchase of used British submarines (Standing Committee
on National Defence and Veterans Affairs), child pornography (Justice,
Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), public sector
whistleblowers (Government Operations and Estimates), and the annual Pre-Budget
Consultations (Finance). Some of work from the Thirty-Seventh Parliament
has been carried forward into the current session, including a request
from the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for a comprehensive
Government response to its report recommending, among other things, that
the Coast Guard become an independent civilian agency, and that a select
number of Coast Guard officers be designated peace officers and be allowed
to carry arms.
The House debated bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Committee of the
Whole on the evening of Thursday, October 7, 2004. The debate was extended
to a second sitting evening on Tuesday, October 12.
On Wednesday, October 6, the Prime Minister rose in the House to announce
the death of Lieutenant Chris Saunders from the injuries sustained during
an accident aboard the HMCS Chicoutimi. Members stood for a moment of
silence, following which, the House adjourned.
On Friday, October 22, the House paid tribute to retiring Liberal Senator
and former Member of Parliament for OttawaVanier, Jean-Robert Gauthier
and on Monday, November 1, 2004, the House paid tribute to Canada's Olympic
and Paralympic athletes.
On Monday, October 25, 2004, Vincente Fox, President of the United States
of Mexico, addressed a joint meeting of the House and the Senate in the
The House has agreed that its provisional standing orders governing Private
Members' Business, as well as its guidelines for televising committee proceedings,
will remain in force for a further period of time.
On Tuesday, October 26, 2004, the House unanimously adopted a resolution
requesting that the Canadian government impress on the government of the
Ukraine the need to ensure a fully transparent process for its upcoming
presidential election. The motion was sponsored by Borys Wrzesnewskyj
(Etobicoke Centre, Lib.).
New Brunswick served as host of the 25th Annual Conference of the Canadian
Council of Public Accounts Committees (CCPAC), held in Fredericton from
August 29 to 31. The conference is held jointly with the Annual Conference
of the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors. Over 130 delegates and
guests attended the three-day joint conference, representing every territory
and province as well as the island country of Bermuda. The CCPAC conference
was hosted by New Brunswick Public Accounts Committee Chair Frank Branch
(Lib., Nepisiquit), as well as Vice-Chair Milt Sherwood (PC, Grand Bay-Westfield).
The business sessions touched on various topics of interest to legislators,
including health care accountability, the implementation of generally accepted
accounting principles, and public performance reporting. The social activities,
included a visit to Kings Landing Historical Settlement and a dinner and
entertainment at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.
A delegation of New Brunswick MLAs were present at the National Assembly
of Quebec as the First Session of the 37th Legislature resumed on Oct.
19. At 4 p.m., the proceedings were suspended and a special ceremony was
held to commemorate the Royal Proclamation designating July 28th of every
year "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval". To mark the occasion,
the New Brunswick and Acadian flags were flown on top of the National Assembly
building. Among the Members present were Cy Richard LeBlanc (PC, Dieppe-
Memramcook), Ronald Ouellette (Lib. Grand Falls Region), Claude Williams
(PC, Kent South), John Betts (PC, Moncton Crescent), and Eugene McGinley
(Lib., Grand Lake).
Earlier in the week, the delegation attended the first meeting of the Quebec-New
Brunswick Parliamentary Association. The agreement establishing the new
association was signed in Quebec City on Sept. 1, 2004, with the aim of
strengthening the close ties and bonds of friendship that already exist
between Quebec and New Brunswick and providing a regular forum for meetings
between members of the two assemblies.
President Designate LeBlanc noted that New Brunswick and Quebec share a
common border, several centuries of history, deep cultural roots and strong
economic ties. The meetings of the two assemblies will provide a forum
for continued discussion and information sharing. Among the topics discussed
during the two-day meeting were: tourism as a regional economic development
engine; the e-government project (one-stop centres, online services, consolidation
of phone inquiry services); automobile insurance; interprovincial trade
and cross-border labour mobility; cross-border highway safety issues (Route
185); and the education system (early intervention). Mr. Ouellette has
been designated vice-president of the new association. The meetings of
the association will be held yearly and alternate between the two provinces.
On October 27, Victor Boudreau (Lib.) was sworn in as the Member of the
Legislative Assembly for Shediac-Cap-Pelé. Mr. Boudreau was elected in
a by-election held Oct. 4, 2004. The former manager of the Village of Cap-Pelé
was active in politics for many years and served as executive assistant
to Bernard Richard who resigned as the longstanding Member for the riding
in November 2003 to take up the post of Provincial Ombudsman. With the
election of Mr. Boudreau the standings in the House are 28 Conservatives,
26 Liberals and one NDP.
The Select Committee on Wood Supply tabled its final report on September
15. The report contains 25 recommendations relating to wood supply in the
Province and other matters pertaining to the management of New Brunswick's
Following the input received through a series of 13 public meetings, the
Committee deliberated over several months. The 12-member Committee, chaired
by Kirk MacDonald (PC, Mactaquac), began its work in October 2003, examining
the Crown forest management system and the many complex issues related
to the current wood supply situation. This was a continuation of the process
that began with the Jaakko Pöyry study examining the possibility of doubling
the softwood supply of New Brunswick. The Committee did not endorse the
Jaakko Pöyry strategy as a 'go forward' one, but instead recommended a
more holistic approach managing for a forest of greater diversity, thereby
creating greater benefits for the people over the long term.
The report recommends continued participation of the public through the
adoption of a formal consultation process. It recommends the establishment
of a Provincial Advisory Committee, giving representatives from various
stakeholder groups an opportunity to routinely provide advice to the minister.
The Committee also recommends establishment of specific wood supply objectives,
with a silviculture fund devoted to support the management needed to meet
those objectives. These recommendations respond to two issues of considerable
significance to the forest industry, and signify the Committee's recognition
that such commitments are essential to generate more stability and greater
assurance about the Province's commitment to a vibrant forestry future.
The Standing Committee on Law Amendments is undertaking a review of two
bills recently introduced in the Assembly. Restricted Dogs Act, Bill 55,
which was introduced by Kelly Lamrock (Lib., Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak).
The Bill would make several changes to the law regarding certain breeds
of dogs; namely, rottweilers, Japanese akitas, and two varieties of pit
bulls. The Bill would require owners to have a licence for these dogs,
and to carry liability insurance to cover damages caused by them. As well,
the Bill would hold owners strictly responsible for any injuries caused
by these dogs, and requires owners to maintain control of them both on
and off their property.
The second bill under consideration is the Pay Equity Act, Bill 77, which
was introduced in the legislature by NDP Leader Elizabeth Weir (NDP, Saint
John Harbour). The Bill sets out a framework for resolving the differences
in the payment of wages to men and women in predominantly female work occupations.
The Bill applies to both private and public sector employees and would
require that employers take proactive measures to achieve pay equity in
the work place. As well, the Bill proposes the establishment of a Pay Equity
Commission to help promote and achieve pay equity in the province. The
Committee, chaired by Jody Carr (PC, Oromocto-Gagetown), will commence
public hearings in mid-November.
The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, chaired by Wally Stiles (PC,
Petitcodiac) remained active during the parliamentary recess, having reviewed
the activities and financial statements of 15 Crown Corporations and agencies
during the months of October and November. The Committee also had prepared
a summary of testimony heard during the Committee hearings last March on
the troubled NB Power deal with Venezuela to purchase Orimulsion. Orimulsion,
a mixture of water and bitumen produced only in Venezuela, was supposed
to fuel the newly refurbished Coleson Cove power plant near Saint John,
N.B. The deal for Orimulsion fell apart earlier this year after the Venezuelan
government decided to scrap its Orimulsion production.
During the months of September to November the Standing Committee on Public
Accounts, chaired by Frank Branch (Lib., Nepisiquit), completed its review
of the fiscal activities of government. The Committee reviewed the spending
of each government department up to and including the fiscal year ending
March 31, 2003. The Committee is expected to report to the House in December.
The House, which adjourned on June 30, is expected to reconvene in early
December. It is widely expected that the First Session which lasted 61
sitting days and spanned 12 months, will be prorogued and a new session
Donald J. Forestell
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
During the summer recess, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
elected a new leader. John Tory, who had placed second in the mayoral
race for the City of Toronto last year, was elected the new leader in the
place of outgoing leader and former Premier, Ernie Eves. Mr. Tory does
not have a seat in the House and the Speaker recognized Bob Runciman, long
serving member from Leeds-Grenville, as Leader of the Official Opposition.
The two other leadership candidates, Jim Flaherty (Whitby-Ajax) and Frank
Klees (Oak Ridges), were named Finance Critic and Education Critic, respectively.
The Legislature resumed on October 12, 2004. Legislation introduced to
date includes a bill regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities
to establish standards that apply to both public and private organizations
and a bill to establish the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
that is independent of the government. This is in response to recommendations
that arose from a review of services during the SARS crisis during the
summer of 2003. Legislation that is being debated includes a bill to allow
customers to bring their own wine to restaurants and to take a partial
bottle of wine home from the restaurant.
There are several areas of debate that have generated public interest.
The Minister of Health has introduced initiatives to encourage physicians,
nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other health professionals to move
into family health networks with OHIP payments based on capitation instead
of fee-for-service. Also, the Attorney General has introduced legislation
to ban the pit bull breed of dogs from all of Ontario.
The Estimates Committee met over the summer recess to consider the Estimates
of the Ministry of Finance, Health and Long Term Care, and Energy. It has
since considered the Estimates of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and will
finish with Children and Youth Services and Education.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs travelled to Ontario's
far north for public hearings on Bill 97, Revenue Sharing For First Nations.
The Committee traveled to Sioux Lookout, New Osnaburg (Mishkeegogamang),
Attawapiskat and Moose Factory on a four day tour, September 20-23, 2004.
The visit to Attawapiskat on the Attawapiskat River near James Bay marked
the first visit of a Legislative Committee to that community.
On June 29, 2004 a motion passed unanimously in the Legislative Assembly
for the Standing Committee on Justice Policy to meet over the summer break
to review and report on the adequacy of Ontario's emergency management
statutes. This motion also gave the Committee an opportunity to hear what
witnesses had to say about emergency powers before drafting legislation.
The deadline for reporting is November 1, 2004.
Public hearings were held in Toronto in August and October as Members of
the Committee were individually free to invite deputants to appear before
the Committee, and they issued invitations, as did the Committee as a whole.
All individuals and groups who sought to appear were invited as well.
Deputants included representatives from Ontario Ministries, emergency services
workers, organizations, private citizens and representatives from out-of
province emergency management organizations who spoke to the Committee
by teleconference. In all, the Committee heard from 91 people and received
20 written submissions.
As we are approaching the deadline of November 1, 2004, it is the intention
of the Committee to introduce a bill which will incorporate some of the
results of the above mentioned deliberations. The draft legislation will
be introduced in the House as a "Committee Bill" by the Acting Chair of
the Committee. Committee Bills are introduced in the name of the Chair,
who is the primary sponsor of the bill and the other Committee members
who support the bill may have their names printed on the face of the bill
as secondary sponsors. The Committee also intends to table a substantive
report which will outline many suggestions heard by the Committee in the
course of the hearings that it believes should be part of Ontario's emergency
preparedness but were not incorporated in the draft statute.
The Standing Committee on General Government met towards the end of the
summer recess to consider Bill 26, An Act to Amend the Planning Act. The
purpose of the Bill is to change the criteria that must be met when any
decision, comment, submission or advice is made or provided by a municipality,
local board, planning board, the provincial government or a board, commission
or agency of the provincial government that affects a land use planning
matter. The Bill also increases the time period for making decisions before
appeals may be made to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The Committee held one day of public hearings and one day of clause-by-clause
consideration on the bill at Queen's Park in September.
The Speech from the Throne delivered by the Governor General in the Senate
Chamber on October 5, 2004 signified the opening of the First Session of
the Thirty-eighth Parliament. The first weeks of this new session had none
of the intensity of the final weeks of the previous session. The expectation
of an election call during the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament
strongly influenced the Senate's working pace. It forced the Government
to move quickly to complete its legislative agenda and thrust the Senate
into an immediate legislative workload. Such was not the case at the beginning
of the Thirty-eighth Parliament. While the Senate waited to receive Government
legislation from the House of Commons, its committees sought approval of
budgets for special studies and attended to other matters.
The Senate gave several committees orders of reference to begin special
studies while others were granted permission to continue special studies
which had not been completed during the previous Parliament.
When the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee tabled its sixth
report with final recommendations for reform and renewal of the Canadian
health care system in October 2002, it was with the intention of continuing
an examination of other health-related issues. On October 7, the Committee
was given authority by the Senate to continue its work on mental health
and mental illness, the first in a series of thematic reports that will
be produced by the Committee.
The Transport and Communications Committee began its investigation into
the impact of public policy on Canada's news media early in the Thirty-seventh
Parliament but was not able to make its first interim report until the
final days of the Third Session. On October 19, the Committee received
permission to continue this important work, the first media study undertaken
by the Senate since the Special Committee on Mass Media reported in 1970.
Similarly, on October 19, the Senate approved the mandate referred to the
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to address issues
first taken up in the spring of 2004. The Committee plans to present a
succession of reports on different matters related to its terms of reference.
On the same day, the Agriculture and Forestry Committee also received its
authority to continue its study of agricultural issues. It was under this
broad mandate that the committee examined issues related to bovine spongiform
encephalopathy in Canada and tabled an interim report on April 15.
The terms of reference for the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee which
allow it to continue its inquiry into the present state of the domestic
and international financial system were approved by the Senate on October
20. The Committee has already reported on a variety of topics including
small business, investor confidence and bank mergers.
The National Security and Defence Committee will also continue its work
on a series of studies investigating the security of Canadians. Its most
recent report, tabled on March 30, examined the preparation for national
emergencies. In this new session the Committee will focus on a review of
the Department of National Defence. In addition, the Senate gave the Committee
approval to resume its study of veterans' services and benefits.
The Human Rights Committee received authority on November 3 to begin two
new studies and to continue work on another two. One of the new studies
will be an examination of how the Public Service Commission and the Government
of Canada deal with cases of discrimination in the federal public service.
The focus of the other will be on Canada's international obligations in
regard to children's rights and freedoms. Final reports are expected in
2005. The Committee intends to conduct a follow-up to its report on the
Organization of America States American Convention on Human Rights in which
the Committee recommended that Canada take action to ratify the American
Convention on Human Rights. With approval of the fourth order of reference
authorized the Human Rights Committee will receive an update from the Minister
of Indian and Northern Affairs on the implementation of the recommendations
contained in its interim report on matrimonial real property on Indian
Since its creation in 2002, the Official Languages Committee has examined
the application of the Official Languages Act and the activities of the
main federal agencies responsible for official languages. On November 3
the Senate authorized the Committee to continue its study of the reports
produced by the Minister Responsible for Official Languages as well as
those by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Commissioner of Official
The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee will resume its review of
the implications of including non-derogation clauses in legislation relating
to aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Authority
was granted by the Senate on November 3.
New orders of reference were given to the Fisheries and Oceans Committee
and Aboriginal Peoples Committee. On October 28 the Fisheries and Oceans
Committee was mandated to undertake a study of issues relating to the Government's
policy for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans. The Aboriginal Peoples
Committee was authorized to consider the involvement of Aboriginal communities
and businesses in economic development activities in Canada on November
History was made on November 2 when the Senate adopted an amendment to
the motion for an Address-in-Reply to the Speech from the Throne. Although
amendments have been proposed in the Senate on a few occasions, the actual
adoption of such an amendment was unprecedented.
On November 4, a motion was adopted designating the first week of November
as National Pain Awareness Week.
For the past several years, a special service has been held in the Senate
Chamber during Veterans' Week. On November 5 the Annual Ceremony of Remembrance
paid tribute to Canada's veterans of the Italian Campaign during the Second
World War which took place sixty years ago.
Tributes were paid to two former Senators. Jack Marshall who championed
for the rights of war veterans, died on August 17. Calvin Ruck, who died
on October 19, worked to promote the rights of Blacks in Canada. A defender
of francophone causes, Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier, retired on October
22 and Senator Edward Lawson, well known labour leader, retired on September
24. Both had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 years.
Prince Edward Island
The First Session of the Sixty-second General Assembly was prorogued on
November 2, 2004, after 47 sitting days. The House had adjourned to the
call of the Speaker on May 20, 2004. It is unusual for the Legislative
Assembly of Prince Edward Island to be prorogued during an adjournment
A total of seven private members bills, 12 government motions, and 13 motions
other than government died on the Order Paper.
The Second Session of the Sixty-second General Assembly will open at 3
pm on November 18, 2004, with the reading of the Speech from the Throne
by the Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable J. Léonce Bernard.
Re-organization of Government Departments
On October 4, 2004, Premier Pat Binns announced the re-organization of
two government departments. The forestry portfolio became part of the
new Department of Energy, Environment and Forestry. The change streamlined
departmental management for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Aquaculture, formerly the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture
One further change was also announced. Mildred A. Dover, Minister of Education
and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, has taken on the additional
responsibilities of the Office of the Attorney General.
The Standing Committee on Community Affairs and Economic Development, charged
with undertaking a review of the Freedom of Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, has completed the public consultation phase of its investigations
into the legislation and has commenced consideration of its report to the
A Special Committee on Climate Change was established by motion on May
20, 2004, to consult with Islanders and to develop recommendations on a
climate change strategy for the province. The committee has solicited
the views of residents of the province and continues its consideration
of this matter. An interim report will be tabled in the upcoming fall
sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has held two meetings on the
topic of equalization, including a discussion of principles, its impact
on the finances of the province and current issues. The committee will
table a report in the fall sitting.
Electoral Boundaries Commission Final Report
The Prince Edward Island Electoral Boundaries Commission released its final
report on October 5, 2004, with recommended revisions to the area, boundaries
and names of the 27 electoral districts in the province. The Commission
began its work in January 2004 and conducted a total of 17 public meetings
across the province to hear from residents of Prince Edward Island.
The findings of the Commission reflect the fact of the growing urban population
residing in the four municipalities of Summerside, Cornwall, Charlottetown
and Stratford. The urban electorate now comprises 44.27% of the total
number of 99,252 electors in the province. Accordingly, among its recommendations,
Commission has advised that 44% or 12 of the province's electoral districts
should be comprised of electors, the majority of whom reside within those
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
The 2004 Fall Sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly began on October
21. As the Standing Orders stipulate that the Assembly shall sit a maximum
of 60 days per year, and the Assembly sat for 30 days this spring, there
will be a maxim of 30 sitting days this fall. Should the sitting go the
maximum of 30 sitting days the 2004 Fall Sitting will end on December 14.
Eleven government bills were introduced during this Sitting. These bills
Bill No. 11, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04;
Bill No. 12, Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05;
Bill No. 46, Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Act;
- Bill No. 47, Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act;
- Bill No. 48, Act to Amend the Elections Act;
- Bill No. 49, Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act;
- Bill No. 50, Act to Amend the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust
- Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act;
- Bill No. 52, Act to Amend the Education Staff Relations Act and the Public
Service Staff Relations Act;
- Bill No. 53, Act to Amend the Insurance Act; and
- Bill No. 54, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act.
The Leader of the Official Opposition,
Todd Hardy (Whitehorse Centre, NDP),
also introduced three private members' bills. These bills are:
- Bill No. 105, Act to Amend the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers)
- Bill No. 106, Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act; and
- Bill No. 107, Democratic Reform Act.
So far four government private members motions have been brought forward
for debate. Three of the four passed the House with the support of all
members who voted on them. Motion No. 332, standing in the name of Dean
Hassard (Pelly-Nisutlin, Yukon Party), was debated on October 27. This
motion urged the Government of Yukon to design and develop a license plate
to honour Canada's military veterans. The motion passed on a vote of 15-0.
On November 10 the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Elaine Taylor (Whitehorse
West, Yukon Party) and the Minister of Community Services, Glenn Hart (Riverdale
South, Yukon Party) unveiled the government's design for such a plate and
announced that it would be available early in 2005.
Two government private members motions passed the House on November 10.
Motion No. 335, standing in the name of Patrick Rouble (Southern Lakes,
Yukon Party) urged the Government of Canada to restore funding to the Committee
on Abuse in Residential Schools Society, a local organization that offers
support to victims of residential school abuse. The motion, as amended
on motion of Mr. Hardy, passed the House on a vote of 14-0. Motion No.
333, standing in the name of Mr. Hassard, passed the House by a similar
vote. This motion urged the Government of Canada to restore its funding
to Skills Canada, a program designed to promote participation in the skilled
The only government private members motion to not pass the House was Motion
No. 328, standing in the name of Brad Cathers (Lake Laberge, Yukon Party).
This motion urged the federal government to eliminate the Goods and Services
Tax on heating fuel and electricity north of 60 in recognition of the higher
costs associated with home heating in the north. While the opposition parties
did not disagree with this they urged the Yukon government, in the form
of an amendment, to also assist in this effort by eliminating the territorial
tax on diesel fuel and gasoline. Government members did not support the
amendment and it was defeated. Debate on the motion adjourned without a
decision having been taken.
Electoral and Legislative Reform
Electoral reform has been an issue of regular debate in Yukon this year.
In January 2004 the Yukon government appointed former MLA and Commissioner
Ken McKinnon as its senior advisor on electoral reform. So far the bulk
of Mr. McKinnon's work has been focused on monitoring the electoral reform
process in British Columbia. On July 30 he issued an interim report containing
his observations about the BC experience and its applicability to Yukon.
The Premier, Dennis Fentie (Watson Lake, Yukon Party) tabled the report
in the Legislative Assembly on October 25. Opposition members have questioned
the depth and quality of the report. Mr. McKinnon's final report is due
in February 2005.
On October 21 Premier Fentie introduced and received first reading for
Bill No. 48, Act to Amend the Elections Act. The purpose of the bill is
to give effect to recommendations made by the Chief Electoral 0fficer in
a report tabled in the Legislative Assembly on November 13, 2003. The bill
proposes six main changes to the current Elections Act. These changes would
give all prisoners the right to vote; allow proxy voting for electors who
do not have road access to polling stations or regular postal service;
permit all electors to vote by special ballot; ensure better understanding
and compliance with the election financing provisions of the act; improve
some administrative procedures; and correct provisions of the Legislative
Assembly Act and the Education Act which relate to the Elections Act.
Bill No. 48 was called for second reading on November 9. Opposition members
reserved their support for the bill citing unanswered questions about some
of its content (such as the disqualification of government employees from
serving on an electoral boundaries commission) and concern about issues
that they feel should have been addressed, but were not (such as problems
one member identified with enumeration in his electoral district). Nonetheless
Bill No. 48 passed second reading on a vote of 7-5 and was referred to
Committee of the Whole.
Committee of the Whole debate was enlivened by the appearance of the Chief
Electoral Officers, Patrick Michael, and the Assistant Chief Electoral
Officer, Jo-Ann Waugh, as witnesses. The appearance of experts changed
the tone of discussion to one that was more technical than partisan. Nonetheless,
Members did comment on the policy behind the bill. For example, the leader
of the third party, Pat Duncan (Porter Creek South, Liberal), reiterated
her view that some of the policy choices in the bill (such as allowing
prisoners to be candidates in elections) had not received thorough public
input. She also repeated her view that the bill not be proceeded with until
such public input had been received. After an hour and 45 minutes in Committee
of the Whole the bill was reported without amendment and now stands at
Bill No. 107 is the third element in this debate. This bill adds to the
debate on electoral reform, but also broadens the debate to include the
issue of 'Legislative Renewal.' The bill, if passed, would establish an
electoral reform commission "for the purpose of conducting a public review
of the method to be used to elect members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly."
This includes the use of different types of balloting (such as the single
transferable vote) and different methods of allocating seats to parties
(such as proportional representation). These are issues that may also be
addressed in Mr. McKinnon's final report.
The legislative renewal aspect of the bill advocates the appointment of
a special committee of the Assembly to conduct "a public review of the
legislation, rules and practices that apply to the Yukon Legislative Assembly
and its members." Among the areas of consideration proposed in the bill
are the establishment of a Code of Ethical Conduct for Members, the creation
of a Legislative Indemnification Act to address matters of compensation
for Members, and changes to the Standing Orders.
Bill No. 107 is the only private members' bill to have been debated in
the 2004 Fall Sitting so far. Second reading of the bill began on November
3. Those government members speaking to the bill appreciated the opportunity
to discuss electoral and legislative reform but expressed a lack of enthusiasm
for bill as presented. Debate adjourned on November 3 without a vote having
Yukon Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly adjourned its autumn sitting on October 26, having
sat for a 10-day period since October 4, 2004. The government explained
that the abbreviated sitting, which was 4 weeks shorter than originally
scheduled, was primarily intended to finalize legislative initiatives that
had been introduced or implemented earlier this year. These included Bill
45, the Community Living Authority Act, which was reported on in the previous
During the brief fall sitting, 19 pieces of legislation were introduced
and received Royal Assent. At the close of the session, a single private
members bill remained on the order paper: Bill M207, the Election Act
Amendment Act (An Act Limiting Government Advertising During Elections
and By-Elections), which had been introduced by Leader of the Opposition,
Joy MacPhail (Vancouver-Hastings), on October 20.
Among the first bills introduced this session, were Bill 58,
Benefits (First Nations) Trust Act, and Bill 59, Northern Development Initiative
Trust Act. Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon (Surrey- Cloverdale)
introduced these companion pieces of legislation on October 6. The two
bills provide a framework for the anticipated economic benefits of the
B.C. Rail - CN Investment Partnership, previously approved by the Legislature
in December 2003.
The first bill establishes a $15million B.C. Rail benefits trust to support
targeted economic development, educational and cultural programs for up
to 25 first nations with historic business relationships with B.C. Rail.
During 2nd reading debate on Bill 58, Ms. MacPhail and Independent MLA
Paul Nettleton (Prince George-Omineca) expressed their concerns about the
governments consultation process with First Nations, particularly as some
of the land affected by the B.C. Rail transaction could potentially be
subject to future land claim negotiations. In his closing comments, Minister
Falcon explained that nothing in the new Act would abrogate the constitutional
or treaty rights of British Columbias first nations. He also emphasized
the significant financial opportunities to those communities that wish
to participate in the investment partnership.
The second bill, which also results from the B.C. Rail Investment Partnership,
establishes a $135-million Northern Development Initiative Trust. This
government funding initiative is intended to give northern communities
the funding and ability to pursue new opportunities for stimulating sustainable
economic growth and job creation in their regions. The bill provides for
an independent 13-member board of directors that will be appointed to oversee
the distribution of the funds. During 2nd reading debate, Ms. MacPhail
noted that although the Opposition supported providing northern communities
with the requisite tools for economic development, it remained opposed
to the source of these funds: the B.C. Rail Investment Partnership.
In closing debate, Minister Falcon described the Northern Development Initiative
Trust, and the renewed B.C. Rail transportation network, as vital steps
in the economic revitalization of northern British Columbia. He also acknowledged
the support of Premier Gordon Campbell and the many Members of the government
caucus who represent northern communities, who had whole-heartedly spoken
in favour of the bill. Both Bill 58, B.C. Rail Benefits (First Nations)
Trust Act, and Bill 59, Northern Development Initiative Trust Act, passed
third reading and received Royal Assent on October 21.
Attorney General, Geoff Plant (Richmond-Steveston) introduced Bill 71,
the Safe Streets Act, and Bill 72, the Trespass Amendment Act, 2004, on
October 7. These two bills are significant in that they were first introduced
as private members bills by Lorne Mayencourt (Vancouver-Burrard) in May
2004. Although the bills were relatively brief, they generated much discussion
and attention both inside and outside the Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Mayencourt was successful in seeing his private Members bills debated
and passed at second reading stage. Then following adjournment of the spring
sitting, he also saw the ideas debated and supported by a large majority
of delegates at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.
Although Mr. Mayencourt withdrew his two private Member bills in October
to make way for the two government bills, it is widely acknowledged that
the latter are modeled on his legislative proposals.
The Safe Streets Act is essentially designed to give police forces in British
Columbia a new tool to deal with aggressive panhandling. Key components
of the bill make it an offence to solicit anyone in an aggressive manner,
either verbally or physically. The bill also prohibits solicitation of
either a person in a vehicle while they are stopped at a traffic light
or stop sign, or of a captive audience whether at pay phones, automated
banking machines, public toilets, or transit stops.
The Trespass Amendment Act, 2004, which addresses related issues, prohibits
someone from remaining on private property after they have been asked to
leave. It also allows prohibition of specified activities on private premises,
such as skateboarding on a mall parking lot.
Although Opposition Member, Jenny Kwan
(Vancouver-Mount Pleasant) agreed
that society should not tolerate aggressive and abusive behaviour on the
streets, she argued that the legislation was ineffectual. Her comments
suggested that the government had failed to address the root causes of
poverty and other serious social problems. Ms. Kwan proposed that, instead
of putting forward these bills, the government should fund more community
policing programs aimed at improving street safety.
The Trespass Amendment Act, 2004 received Royal Assent on October 21, and
the Safe Streets Act received Royal Assent on the final day of the fall
sitting, October 26.
On October 20, the Minister of Finance, Gary Collins (Vancouver Fairview)
introduced the final government bill of the session, Bill 76, the Social
Service Tax Amendment Act (No. 2), 2004. The immediate effect of this bill
was to reduce the provincial sales tax from 7.5 per cent to 7 per cent,
a tax policy change designed to benefit both BC businesses and consumers.
The Minister commented that the tax reduction eliminated the half percentage
point implemented in the 2002 budget, which had helped pay for nearly $800
million in higher compensation costs for health professionals. This measure
passed third reading on October 25, and
received Royal Assent the following
The all-party Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services,
under the leadership of Committee Chair, Bill Belsey (North Coast), conducted
its annual public consultations regarding the next provincial budget and
future fiscal policy. Just prior to the start of this process, the government
announced that improving economic conditions had generated a surplus of
$865 million this fiscal year, rising to $905 million in both 2005/06 and
2006/07. This positive news generated much input to the Committee from
British Columbians who offered their views on how to spend these surplus
For the first time, the Committee supplemented its traditional consultation
methods with an online submission option, made available through the Committees
web site. This medium provided direct access to an electronic questionnaire,
consisting of four questions included in the governments Budget 2005 Consultation
Paper. The online consultation option was heavily used and generated more
than 1,300 responses. The level of participation set an all-time record
for public input to any legislative committee in British Columbia and resulted
in 19 recommendations addressing the key fiscal and budgetary priorities
of British Columbians. Highlights of the Committees report included support
for the governments sound fiscal management and the call to target some
funds to people in need and to use part of the surplus to promote further
The Special Committee on the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform will
meet in December to conclude their work in conjunction with the body tasked
with reviewing British Columbias electoral system. The Citizens Assembly
announced in October that their final report will recommend that the province
adopt a Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system. This recommendation
will be put to British Columbians in the form of a referendum question
at the next provincial election, scheduled for May 17, 2005.
Four other Select Standing Committees (Crown Corporations, Education, Health
and Public Accounts) continue to work this fall on a variety of issues.
Updates on their efforts will be provided in our next legislative report.
A hard-fought by-election was held in the constituency of Surrey-Panorama
Ridge on October 28, 2004 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation
of Gulzar Cheema in May. The successful candidate, Jagrup Brar of the
New Democratic Party of B.C., won the seat with 53.5percent of the vote.
Once Mr. Brar has taken his oath of office, the party standings in the
House will be 74 BC Liberals, 3 NDP and 2 Independent Members.
Clerk Assistant and Committee Clerk