Appointment of New Lieutenant Governor
Saskatchewan’s 22nd Lieutenant Governor, W. Thomas Molloy, passed away on July 2, 2019. Mr. Russ Mirasty was sworn in as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor on July 18. An installation ceremony took place in the Legislative Chamber on September 12, 2019.
Mr. Mirasty is Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous Lieutenant Governor. He was born and raised in northern Saskatchewan, is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and speaks Cree fluently. His swearing-in day featured many Cree and Indigenous elements. On the morning of his swearing-in ceremony, a pipe ceremony was held at Government House. His Honour wore beaded hide moccasins and he began and ended his remarks in Cree. He received an Honour Song performed by the Kawacatoose Boys; gifts from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan; and a blessing delivered by Elder Abel Charles of Grandmother’s Bay. Prior to his appointment as Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Mirasty had a distinguished career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including serving as Commanding Officer of ‘F’ Division (Saskatchewan) at the rank of Assistant Commissioner.
Cabinet Shuffle and Changes in the Government Leadership Roles
On August 13, 2019, Premier Scott Moe, announced changes to cabinet and to the government house leadership team. Three ministers changed portfolios. Lori Carr became the Minister of Government Relations, Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs and Minister Responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission. Greg Ottenbreit replaced Ms. Carr as the Minister of Highways and Infrastructure and also became the Minister Responsible for the Water Security Agency. Warren Kaeding replaced Mr. Ottenbreit as the Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health. He also became the Minister Responsible for Seniors, a new cabinet responsibility.
Jeremy Harrison and Paul Merriman were appointed as the Government House Leader and Government Deputy House Leader respectively. Everett Hindley was appointed as the new Government Whip and Todd Goudy became the Provincial Secretary.
Two seats became vacant when MLAs Warren Steinley and Corey Tochor resigned their seats on September 11, 2019. Both are candidates in the federal election. The legislation provides that a by-election to fill a vacancy does not need to be held within six months if a seat becomes vacant after the first 40 months following a general election. Saskatchewan’s last general election was held on April 4, 2016.
Prorogation and Opening of New Session
At the request of the government and pursuant to the order adopted by the Assembly on May 16, 2019, the third session of the twenty-eighth legislature was prorogued on the morning of October 23, 2019. The fourth session of the twenty-eighth legislature was opened in the afternoon by Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty who delivered his first Speech from the Throne.
1st Session of the 30th Legislature
The first sitting of the 30th Legislature adjourned for the summer on July 3, 2019. In September it was confirmed that the fall sitting would commence, two weeks earlier than anticipated, on October 8, 2019. It has also been announced that the 2019 Budget address will take place on October 24, 2019.
On December 4, 2018, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta referred the review of the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act to the Standing Committee on Families and Communities, pursuant to section 14 of the Act. However, when the 29th Legislature was dissolved in March 2019, the Committee had not completed its review. To fulfill the requirements of the legislation, on July 2, 2019, the Act was again referred for review, this time to the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship. The Committee invited the public, identified stakeholders and participants in the previous Committee’s review to provide written submissions regarding the Act by September 9, 2019.
Following the May 2019 changes to the Standing Orders all Private Members’ Public Bills now stand referred to the new Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members’ Public Bills after first reading. The Committee must consider each bill and report back to the Assembly within eight sitting days with a recommendation of whether a Bill should proceed. During the spring sitting the Committee reviewed three bills: Bill 201, Protection of Students with Life-threatening Allergies Act, which has since received Royal Assent; Bill 202, Child, Youth and Family Enhancement (Protecting Alberta’s Children) Amendment Act, 2019, which is currently in Committee of the Whole; and Bill 203, An Act to Protect Public Health Care, which has been reported to the Assembly. The motion to concur in the report for Bill 203, which recommends that the Bill not proceed, will be debated at the earliest opportunity.
On July 3, 2019, the Legislative Assembly referred consideration of the 2017 Annual Report of the Alberta Property Rights Advocate to the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future. Having met with the Advocate and the ministries affected by the recommendations made in the Advocate’s report, the Committee has expressed support for the recommendations of the Advocate. The final report by the Committee on this matter is anticipated in October.
On August 6, 2019, the Special Standing Committee on Members’ Services met and reduced the salaries of Members of the Assembly and of Executive Council by five per cent. The Premier’s remuneration was reduced by an additional five per cent. The Committee also discontinued the ability of Members to claim for fuel, car washes, etc., but increased the mileage rate available to Members to match the rate for the public service. Finally, the Committee granted Members the discretion to permit staff to be reimbursed for any portion of the mileage that could be claimed by the Member.
As part of the orientation process, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts invited the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation to deliver a training session on effective parliamentary oversight of government expenditures at a meeting on September 10, 2019.
Election Commissioner – First Annual Report
On September 24, 2019, Mike Ellis, MLA (Calgary-West), as Chair of the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices, deposited the 2018-2019 Annual Report of the Office of the Election Commissioner. This is the first annual report released by this Office. The report includes the Office’s audited financial statements and an overview of its activities during its first year of operations. It also recommends potential amendments to the province’s election legislation.
Sergeant-at-Arms – Retirement
When session resumes in October a familiar face will be absent from the floor of the Chamber. After 27 years as Sergeant-at-Arms for the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Brian Hodgson retired on September 16, 2019. Mr. Hodgson was also the Director of Visitor, Ceremonial and Security Services.
The spring 2019 sitting of the House of Assembly finished on April 12, 2019 when 22 bills received Royal Assent and the Fall 2019 sitting commenced on September 26, 2019 and ended October 30, 2019 when 20 bills received Royal Assent
Distribution of Seats in the House
The distribution of seats in the House of Assembly at the start of the fall 2019 sitting on September 26, 2019 was 27 seats for the Liberal Party, 17 seats for the PC Party, 5 seats for the NDP Party, 1 Independent Member and 1 vacant seat.
Four by-elections were held during the summer of 2019. The seat for the constituency of Sackville-Cobequid was vacated when Dave Wilson resigned on November 16, 2017. A by election was held on June 18, 2019 and Steve Craig of the PC Party was elected. Three PC Members resigned on July 31, 2019 to run for election as MPs in the October 2019 federal election; Chris d’Entremont for Argyle-Barrington, Alfie MacLeod for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg and Eddie Orrell for Northside-Westmount. The three by-elections were held on September 3, 2019 and the PC Party kept all seats by electing Colton LeBlanc for Argyle-Barrington; Brian Comer for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg and Murray Ryan for Northside-Westmount.
On June 24, 2019 PC Party member Alana Paon who represents Cape Breton-Richmond was removed as a PC member by her caucus and she now sits as an Independent member.
On June 9, 2019 NDP Party member Lenore Zann resigned as an NDP member to sit as an Independent while seeking the Liberal nomination to run in the October 2019 federal election. She resigned her seat as an Independent Member on September 12, 2019 leaving her seat vacant in the House of Assembly.
57th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Canadian Regional Conference
From July 15-19, 2019 the Nova Scotia House of Assembly hosted the 57th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Canadian Regional Conference in Halifax. More than 100 delegates attended and participated in a full program of business sessions and cultural events.
The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Canada Region held outreach activities, business sessions and a steering committee meeting in Nova Scotia immediately prior to the CPA conference.
Annette M. Boucher
The spring sitting of the fourth session of the 41st Parliament of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia adjourned on May 30, 2019. The Legislative Assembly will resume sitting on October 7, 2019. The fall sitting is expected to focus on legislation.
Legislative Assembly Administration
On September 19, 2019, Auditor General Carol Bellringer released an audit report titled, Expense Policies and Practices in the Offices of the Speaker, Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms. The performance audit was carried out with the support of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee in response to the issues first raised by Speaker Darryl Plecas, in his January 21, 2019 report titled, Report of Speaker Darryl Plecas to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee Concerning Allegations of Misconduct by Senior Officers of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.
Based on a review of expense claims and documentation from the period between April 1, 2016 and December 31, 2018, the audit report found that the expenses in the Offices of the Speaker, Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms were not adequately governed by policies; where policies were in place, they were not consistently followed. The Auditor General made nine recommendations aimed at guiding the Assembly in developing new policies to address weaknesses and gaps and establishing efficient and effective oversight of its use of public resources, including ensuring that the Legislative Assembly has: a comprehensive policy framework to govern financial practices and authorization; a comprehensive travel policy; appropriate expense authorization and review; and that existing contracts are in compliance with procurement policies. The Auditor General also recommended that the Legislative Assembly provide clear guidelines on what work-related clothing it will pay for and clarify expectations for the purchase of gifts. Finally, the Auditor General recommended formalizing the reporting relationships of the Assembly’s Executive Financial Officer with the Speaker, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, and its advisory subcommittee, the Finance and Audit Committee.
In the formal response to the audit report, the Legislative Assembly acknowledged the Auditor General’s key findings and accepted all recommendations. In recent months, the Committee and the Acting Clerk initiated work related to many of the audit report recommendations. The General Expenditure Policy, Corporate Purchasing Card Policy and Standards of Conduct Policy have been updated and new employee policies have been introduced in the areas of travel, uniforms and clothing, liquor control, and gifts and honoraria. In addition, work is currently being undertaken to formalize the responsibilities and accountabilities of the Legislative Assembly’s senior management and implement a schedule of policy training sessions for employees.
The Committee will consider the development of a new policy governance framework and establish more effective oversight of Assembly administration to ensure that all audit report recommendations are fully implemented in the months ahead. The Auditor General advised that this audit is the first in a series of upcoming audits on the Legislative Assembly. Future reports will examine purchasing cards, compensation and benefits, capital asset management and overall governance.
Earlier this summer, the Committee approved in principle the Assembly’s first comprehensive Respectful Workplace Policy on July 3, 2019. The policy affirms a respectful workplace environment free of bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence and applies to all participants of the Legislative Assembly (including Members, Ministerial staff, Caucus staff and Assembly employees) and their interactions with external parties such as visitors, contractors, and members of the Legislative Press Gallery. The Committee also established a working group to oversee the implementation of the policy, including selecting an individual or firm to operationalize it. The successful proponent will create a framework for an Independent Respectful Workplace Office to coordinate compliance with the policy and conduct investigations. The proponent will also administer the policy on a transitional basis by providing the services and delivering on the responsibilities of said office and carrying out training on the policy. This work is expected to begin in November.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services is responsible for considering and making recommendations on the budgets of the province’s nine statutory offices. The Committee held meetings from May 6 to May 10, 2019 to discuss emerging issues and possible implications for further changes to legislative frameworks and priorities with statutory officers. It released its report titled, Interim Report on Statutory Offices, on July 5, 2019. The report underscored the value of ongoing transparency in ensuring accountability to British Columbians for the expenditure of public funds on the important work of statutory offices. Impacts of the rapid pace of technological change were highlighted as was the merit of seeking input from Members in aligning the work of statutory offices with the needs of the Legislative Assembly. Finally, it was noted that some statutory offices do not currently benefit from the opportunity to have their reports considered by the Legislative Assembly or a parliamentary committee. The report indicated that the Committee would continue discussing ways to enhance oversight and accountability, and strengthen opportunities for regular and meaningful reporting relationships with statutory officers.
The Committee also holds an annual budget consultation each year in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. It is required to report its findings by November 15. This year, the Committee collaborated with the Ministry of Finance to have the budget consultation paper released earlier than is typical, thereby allowing the budget consultation to be conducted in June instead of during the fall. As a result, the Committee could deliver its report sooner in the budget process, giving government more time to consider its recommendations. After visiting 15 communities and deliberating over the ideas and priorities shared by 1,226 individuals and organizations across the province, the Committee released its unanimous report on August 7, 2019. The report made 106 recommendations regarding areas of concern to British Columbians including supports for youth formerly in care, critical challenges facing the forestry sector, water sustainability, fish and wildlife conservation and climate change. The Committee is currently gathering feedback from participants and evaluating the merits of conducting subsequent annual budget consultations during the summer, as compared to the usual, later fall time period.
Fiona Spencer resigned from the position of Acting Merit Commissioner on September 16, after having served as Merit Commissioner from February 2010 to April 2019, and as Acting Merit Commissioner since April 2019. A Special Committee to Appoint a Merit Commissioner, first established on November 27, 2018, is continuing its recruitment process.
On September 24, 2019, Carol Bellringer provided written notice to the Speaker of her resignation as Auditor General effective December 31, 2019. Ms. Bellringer, who had previously served as Auditor General in Manitoba, was appointed by the Legislative Assembly for an eight-year non-renewable term on September 15, 2014. It is expected that a Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General will be established early in the fall sitting to undertake the task of unanimously recommending an individual for appointment as Ms. Bellringer’s successor.
On June 11, 2019, the Legislative Assembly held the 6th annual Legislative Lights Employee Recognition Program event. The event acknowledges the leadership, dedication and service of Assembly staff. Award recipients are selected from nominations submitted by their colleagues. Staff who have worked in the public service for 25 years or more were also honoured with Long Service Awards. Speaker Plecas and Kate Ryan-Lloyd, Acting Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, addressed nominees and recipients and congratulated them for their outstanding achievements.
Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The Legislative Assembly hosted an Earthquake Awareness Day for staff on September 17, 2019 to promote safety and emergency preparedness. John F. Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, presented a seminar titled, “Earthquakes of British Columbia: Past, Present, and Future…” and the Quake Cottage simulator was on the precinct to provide an interactive experience of what a major earthquake feels like. The Red Cross Disaster Response Vehicle and Legislative Assembly Sea Container were on display, and representatives from ShakeOut BC, Prepared BC and the Insurance Bureau of Canada were stationed at booths in various locations to share information and answer questions. The Legislative Library made available books on earthquakes and emergency preparedness and, on September 18, a new video demonstrating earthquake evacuation procedures was shown on the Legislative Assembly internal TV channels throughout the day.
Following the summer adjournment, the Legislature is scheduled to resume sitting on November 19, 2019. The current standings in the House are 21 Progressive Conservatives, 21 Liberals, 3 Greens, 3 People’s Alliance, and 1 vacancy.
Lieutenant-Governor Jocelyne Roy Vienneau passed away on August 2 following a courageous battle with cancer. Ms. Roy Vienneau became New Brunswick’s 31st Lieutenant-Governor in 2014. She held a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Industrial Engineering from the Université de Moncton, as well as a teaching certificate from the province of New Brunswick. Ms. Roy Vienneau had an extensive career in education, having served as Assistant Deputy Minister for Post-Secondary Education and having worked at the New Brunswick Community College in Bathurst for 23 years as dean, department head, professor and principal. She was the first woman to occupy a secular position as vice-president of a campus at the Université de Moncton, the first woman to direct a francophone community college in New Brunswick, and one of the first women to graduate from the faculty of engineering at the Université de Moncton.
On September 8, Brenda Murphy was sworn-in as the 32nd Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick. Ms. Murphy served three terms as a municipal councillor for the Town of Grand Bay–Westfield. She is the former executive director of the Saint John Women’s Empowerment Network, an organization she led for more than 20 years. She has volunteered with a variety of organizations, including the Hestia House shelter for women, the Saint John Legal Centre, the Coverdale Centre for Women, and the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation of New Brunswick. Ms. Murphy commenced her duties immediately and a formal installation ceremony was held in the Legislative Assembly Chamber on October 8.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Roger Melanson, held a special examination related to the province’s funding agreement with the City of Saint John — a topic stemming from the Auditor General’s latest report. On August 6 and 7, current and former civil servants, the former Premier and his Chief of Staff, the Mayor of the City of Saint John, and Saint John city officials appeared before the Committee and answered questions on the development and implementation of the agreement.
For three days in late August, the Standing Committee on Law Amendments, chaired by Justice Minister and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason, held public hearings on Bill 39, An Act Respecting Proof of Immunization, introduced by Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. The Bill removes the option for non-medical exemptions from the mandatory immunization requirements for public school and licensed early learning and childcare admissions. Including the Education Minister, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the Child, Youth and Seniors’ Advocate, the Committee listened to 30 presentations on the issues surrounding the Bill. The Committee also received over 250 written submissions, mostly in the form of emails, from individuals and organizations across North America, the majority of whom were opposed to the Bill and the mandatory vaccination of children.
The Law Amendments Committee also held two days of public hearings in early September on whether to reduce or eliminate any property assessment or property taxation exemptions or benefits that apply to heavy industry. The issue was referred to the Committee by way of Motion 31, introduced by Gerry Lowe, a Member of the Official Opposition. The Committee heard from Department of Finance and Treasury Board officials and 19 organizations representing independent businesses, large industrial corporations, manufactures and exporters, appraisers, business councils, various chambers of commerce, and other interested stakeholders. The Committee also received over a dozen written submissions. It is expected that the Committee will report back to the House on the issues raised by Bill 39 and Motion 31 when the House resumes sitting in November.
Meetings were held on September 24 and 26 by the Select Committee on Public Universities, chaired by Glen Savoie, to hear from the province’s four publicly-funded universities (Mount Allison University, Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, and St. Thomas University), the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, and the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, to gain insight into university administration, programming, performance measurement, accountability and transparency.
Auditor General Kim MacPherson held an orientation session on October 2 and 3 with the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation to discuss the principles of an effective Public Accounts Committee. The session, which was open to all Members and the support staff of the various parties, covered such topics as parliamentary oversight, cross-party collaboration, and effective hearings.
Brian Gallant, former Premier and current Member for Shediac Bay-Dieppe, announced that he will be resigning his seat in October. Gallant was elected Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party in 2012 and became Leader of the Official Opposition after winning a by-election in 2013. He was sworn-in as Premier following the 2014 general election. The September 2018 general election saw the Liberals win a minority government, which eventually lost the confidence of the House and forced Gallant to resign as Premier in November. He continued to serve as Leader of the Official Opposition until an interim leader was chosen in 2019.
From August 14 to 16, the Legislature was honoured to host the Joint Annual Conference of the Association of Parliamentary Counsel in Canada (APCC) and the Association of Legislative Counsel in Canada (ALCC). Topics of discussion included the following: dialogue theory in section 1 analysis, minority governments, new drafting guides and tools, incorporation by reference, aboriginal consultation, regulatory modernization, Senate review of Bill C-69, and gender-neutral drafting.
Former Speaker Eugene McGinley passed away on July 16. He was first elected in a by-election as the Liberal Member for Bathurst from 1972 to 1978 and Grand Lake (Gagetown) from 2003 to 2010. He served as Speaker in 2007. He was admitted to the New Brunswick Barrister’s Society in 1962 and was honoured with the designation of Queen’s Counsel in 1985.
Greg Thompson, Progressive Conservative Member for Saint Croix, passed away on September 10. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1988 and served six terms as a Member of Parliament. He was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs from 2006 until his retirement from federal politics in 2010. In 2018, he returned to politics and was elected in the provincial general election, serving as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Upgrades to the Chamber gallery railing were completed in September. The height of the original railing, which contours the overhanging second story gallery, was below an acceptable modern standard and visitors had been prohibited from using the first row due to safety concerns. In cooperation with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, an extension to the original railing was fabricated using glass panes encased by a brass tube railing. The upgraded railing was completed in time for the installation ceremony of the Lieutenant-Governor.
Clerk Assistant and Committee Clerk
The Third Session of the 34th Legislative Assembly will commence at 1:00 pm on October 3, 2019 with the Commissioner of Yukon, Angélique Bernard, delivering the Speech from the Throne.
Based on Yukon’s Standing Orders (which provide that there be a minimum of 20 and maximum of 40 sitting days for each of the spring and fall Sittings, and a maximum of 60 sitting days per calendar year), it is anticipated that the 2019 fall Sitting will conclude between November 7 and 30 (being the 20th and 30th sitting days of the fall Sitting).
Passing of former Premier Fentie
On August 29, Dennis Fentie, the former Yukon Party Leader who served as Yukon’s Premier from 2002 to 2011, died of cancer at the age of 68. In a statement released the following day, Premier Sandy Silver noted that Mr. Fentie “was a respected leader who served as Yukon’s Premier for nearly a decade and passionately represented the people of Watson Lake and southeast Yukon for 15 years in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. As an MLA, he fought hard to ensure rural Yukon communities were at the forefront of decision making in the territory. Mr. Fentie’s distinguished career has had an immeasurable impact on the territory and all Yukoners.”
In a statement on August 30, Yukon Party Leader Stacey Hassard credited Mr. Fentie’s efforts with achieving great strides in implementing devolution in the territory. Mr. Hassard further observed that Mr. Fentie “had a tenacious spirit and always fought for his constituents and for Yukoners no matter the issue… he was instrumental in negotiating a better health care funding agreement between the territories and Canada as well as for getting improvements to the territorial formula financing arrangements…..”, and that through the late Premier’s efforts, “Yukoners now have access to modern hospitals in the communities of Dawson City and Watson Lake.”
On August 30, Liz Hanson, MLA for Whitehorse Centre and former NDP Leader, tweeted that Mr. Fentie was “a tenacious and vigorous advocate of his vision for Yukon.” In a statement issued the same day, the Yukon NDP said that Mr. Fentie had been “a capable and passionate leader in his representation of both his community and the Yukon.”
An article in the Whitehorse Daily Star the day after the former Premier’s passing included a characterization of Mr. Fentie by a friend as “a no-nonsense man of principle, who got things done… ’When Dennis said something, and he said he wanted to do something, he meant it.’ He said, “you never left a meeting with Fentie wondering what was on his mind.” In an April 27, 2011 interview with CBC News, Mr. Fentie said, “As far as leadership, there’s actually only two kinds: passive and aggressive. And guess which one I was?”
A former logger, truck-driver and businessman, Fentie was first elected in 1996 as a member of the NDP. In 2002, he became Leader of the Yukon Party, and led the party to two successive majority governments. Mr. Fentie stepped down as party leader in May 2011;, but remained an MLA until the dissolution of the 32nd Legislative Assembly that September (he did not stand for re-election).
In 2005, Premier Fentie sponsored the Co-operation in Governance Act, legislation that established the Yukon Forum – a meeting between Yukon government leaders, Yukon First Nations, and the Council of Yukon First Nations.
On November 8, a celebration of life for Mr. Fentie was set to be held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse.
New Collection of Art on Display
When the 2019 Fall Sitting begins, a different collection of Yukon artwork will be on display in the Chamber. The collection that will be exhibited for the coming year comprises pieces by Ken Anderson, Elizabeth Bosely, Fanny Charlie, Phyllis Fiendel, Kitty Smith, and Brian Walker. The six works, which are drawn from Yukon’s permanent art collection, are fashioned from an assortment of media, including copper, abalone, beads, coyote fur, moose hide, beaver fur, poplar and birch.
In October 2018, Speaker Nils Clarke delivered a statement in the House regarding the first collection of Yukon art displayed in four new showcases in the Chamber. Speaker Clarke noted that the display came about as a result of a decision by the all-party Members’ Services Board to feature more art by Yukon artists in the House. In 1976, when the Assembly held its inaugural meeting in the then-new Chamber, there was no Yukon art in the Chamber.
May – June Sitting
On May 23, 2019, Speaker Jackson Lafferty addressed the Assembly to emphasize the importance of language for the culture and heritage of the Northwest Territories. The Speaker advised Members of the House and the public that throughout the May/June sitting, the proceedings would be interpreted in four languages: Tlicho, North Slavey, Chipewyan, and French. The short, but busy, sitting adjourned June 6, 2019.
Premier Robert R. McLeod delivered a sessional statement for the continuation of the third session. The Premier spoke of the efforts of the Government of the Northwest Territories over the past four years, in raising the profile of the territory at the national level, Canada’s vision for the Arctic, and Northerners setting the terms about how land, environment, and resources are managed.
Three substantive Committee Reports were presented during this Sitting. On May 28, the Standing Committee on Government Operations presented its report on Bill 29: An Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Committee held four public meetings and received several public submissions. Based on the work of the Committee and public feedback received, the Committee moved 25 substantive motions to amend the bill at the Committee stage. All of these motions were carried and received concurrence from the Minister, in accordance with the Rules of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.
The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment presented its report on Bill 38: Protected Areas Act. The Committee held eight public meetings and received submissions from Indigenous Governments, Local Community Governments, and various non-government organizations and individuals. The committee moved 30 separate motions to amend the bill at the Committee stage and all were concurred with by the Minister.
The Special Committee to Increase the Representation of Women in the Legislative Assembly presented its Final Report which included three recommendations: that if the 2019 election does not meet 20 percent women representation, the 19th Legislative Assembly call a plebiscite to determine which of the options set out in a discussion paper on special temporary measures is preferred by the electorate; that the Legislative Assembly create an election rebate for candidates who receive at least 5 per cent of the votes cast in her or his electoral district in the Northwest Territories, reimbursing 50 per cent of eligible personal election expenditures to a maximum of $3,000; and that the Legislative Assembly continue to support the new Northwest Territories Polytechnic University to establish a leadership program designed to assist women to gain the skills and knowledge to take on leadership roles, including territorial, Indigenous, and municipal political positions.
Eight bills received Assent in the May/June Sitting:
Bill 26: Statistics Act;
Bill 29: An Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
Bill 30: An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act;
Bill 35: Supply Chain Management Professional Designation Act;
Bill 38: Protected Areas Act;
Bill 55: An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly;
Bill 59: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures) No. 2, 2019-2020; and
Bill 60: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures) No. 2, 2019-2020
On May 23, a joint news release was sent out on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Robert C. McLeod, and the Chair of the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, Cory Vanthuyne, regarding Bill 38: Protected Areas Act, and Bill 44: Forest Act. The news release announced that in the spirit of consensus government, an agreement had been reached to provide for the expedited review of Bill 38: Protected Areas Act during the May-June sitting. Both the Minister and Committee members recognized the importance of the Act to the people of the Northwest Territories and the broad support from Indigenous Governments and Organizations. In the review of Bill 44: Forest Act, the Minister and Committee came to the mutual conclusion that after many public meetings and submissions, the Act required substantive changes and would be reintroduced in the life of the 19th Assembly, in order to re-engage with working group and Indigenous partners. Bill 44 was subsequently withdrawn at Third Reading on June 4, 2019.
From May 6 to 10, 2019, 19 youth from across the Northwest Territories attended the annual educational outreach program – Youth Parliament. This weeklong event brings northern youth together to learn about the Northwest Territories’ unique form of consensus government and about what the Members of the Legislative Assembly do on a day-to-day basis.
On Thursday, May 9, the students held a model session in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly where they read their Members’ and Ministers’ statements and debated three Motions. The Youth discussed and decided on the content of the motions, which related to: Youth Mental Health Support Programs, Increased Student Loans for Nursing and Education, and Forgivable Loans for Students Not Returning to the Northwest Territories. The debates were lively and created some great discussion. The next Youth Parliament is scheduled for May 2020.
August Sitting – Committee Activity
The months leading up to the final August sitting were unprecedented in the Northwest Territories in terms of the number of substantive bills that were before Standing Committees for review. In addition to reviewing legislation, most standing Committees, as well as the Special Committee on Transition Matters, prepared Reports on Transition Matters. In total, Committees presented 20 substantive reports during the August Sitting.
The Special Committee on Transition Matters tabled its report titled “Lessons Learned”. The Committee’s report intended to offer the best advice and accumulated wisdom of the Members of the 18th Legislative Assembly to the Members of the 19th. The report, which offers incremental improvements to the unique form of consensus government, includes suggestions for planning and staging of new Member orientation; the process to set and report upon priorities; the size, structure, and appointment of Cabinet and standing committees. The Report also included recommendations, including: the need to maintain unity amongst newly-elected and returning Members at the commencement of a new Assembly; the desire to set priorities, mandates and budgets earlier in the term, and requirement to evolve the processes of consensus government to reflect the increasingly complex policy making environment of the post-devolution era.
Six significant bills were before the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, chaired by Mr. Vanthuyne. Five of these bills stemmed from the devolution agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, including Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act; Bill 36: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Resources Act; Bill 37: An Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Operations Act; Bill 39: Environmental Rights Act; and Bill 46: Public Land Act. The devolution agreement transferred responsibility for public land, water, and resource management in the Northwest Territories from the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to the Government of the Northwest Territories on April 1, 2014. The Committee also considered Bill 25: An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Standing Committee on Social Development presented its report on Bill 45: Corrections Act which repealed and replaced the previous Corrections Act. The Committee, which had many concerns and received several submissions from experts in the field, proposed 32 very substantive amendments to the Bill, with the Minister concurring with all 32 of them.
The Standing Committee on Government Operations provided its report on the Carbon Tax bills: Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act and Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, which outlined the Committee’s concern over the lack of meaningful engagement from the Government of the Northwest Territories and the lack of information on the federal back stop approach. The report contained several recommendations, including: plain language summaries available to the appropriate Standing Committee at the time the Bill is introduced in the Assembly; that the department of Municipal and Community Affairs completes work to assess municipal funding gaps, taking into consideration the increased cost of the carbon tax to all local authorities; and that the Department of Finance table an annual report on the carbon tax, providing details on total carbon taxes collected, carbon taxes collected from large emitters, total rebates provided, the number and nature of grants provided, the cost of administering the carbon tax, among other elements.
The House sat for two weeks, August 12 – August 23, and considered 17 bills which all received assent:
Bill 25: An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act;
Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act;
Bill 36: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Resources Act;
Bill 37: An Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Operations Act;
Bill 39: Environmental Rights Act;
Bill 40: Smoking Control and Reduction Act;
Bill 41: Tobacco and Vapour Products Tax Act;
Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act;
Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act;
Bill 45: Corrections Act;
Bill 46: Public Land Act;
Bill 48: Post-Secondary Education Act;
Bill 54: Standard Interest Rate Statutes Amendment Act;
Bill 56: An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 2
Bill 57: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act;
Bill 58: Justice Administration Statutes Amendment Act; and
Bill 61: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures) 2020-2021
Order of the Northwest Territories
The Order of the Northwest Territories, established in 2013 by the Territorial Emblems and Honours Act, recognizes individuals who have served with the greatest distinction and excelled in any field of endeavor that benefits the people of the Northwest Territories or elsewhere. It is the highest honour awarded to Northwest Territories residents. A member of the Order can wear the insignia of the Order as a decoration and use the initials “O.N.W.T.” after his or her name. The recipients of the Order of the Northwest Territories inducted on August 20, 2019 are:
Joe McBryan of Yellowknife. Mr. McBryan, fondly known as ‘Buffalo Joe’, was nominated for his work in business in the aviation field. His generosity has helped families in need, provided sports teams and schools discounted fares, and assisted Elders when they were short on airfare.
Lyda Fuller of Yellowknife is the Executive Director of the YWCA NWT and is an advocate for services and programs that increase the safety for women and families throughout the north.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Fourth Session of the Forty-Eighth General Assembly convened on April 4.
The House began disseminating the proceedings via closed captioning on that date. Routine Proceedings and special proceedings (e.g. Speech from the Throne, Budget) are available via the House of Assembly webcast and via the House of Assembly television channel for viewers in certain locations.
Privileges and Elections Committee
On April 8, the Chair of the Privileges and Elections Committee tabled the Committee’s Final Report to the House of Assembly on the Development of a Legislature-Specific Harassment-Free Workplace Policy.
The report included a proposed policy applicable in cases of complaints against Members of the House of Assembly and recommended changes to the principles of the Code of Conduct for MHAs as well as the Code of Conduct provisions outlined in the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act. The report was not concurred in before dissolution.
On April 15, the Committee tabled a report on a point of privilege raised by the Member for Mount Scio regarding the premature disclosure of a report of the Commissioner for Legislative Standards by the Member for Terra Nova. The Committee found that the circumstances of this case were such that a contempt had not been made out.
On April 16, the Minister of Finance delivered the 2019-2020 Budget.
A writ of general election was issued on April 17. At dissolution the standings were 27 Liberals, 8 Progressive Conservatives, 2 New Democrats and 3 unaffiliated Members.
The General Election, which took place on May 16, resulted in a minority parliament comprising 20 Liberals, 15 Progressive Conservatives, three New Democrats and two unaffiliated Members.
49th General Assembly
Members of the 49th General Assembly, with the exception of the Member for Labrador West, were sworn on June 10 in the morning. A judicial recount had been held for the District of Labrador West as the difference in outcome between the New Democratic and Liberal candidates was five votes. The final tally was a two-vote majority for the New Democratic candidate, Jordan Brown, over the Liberal candidate, former Minister Graham Letto. MHA Brown was sworn and took his seat in the House on June 25, 2019.
The First Session of the 49th General Assembly commenced on the afternoon of June 10, 2019. Perry Trimper, MHA, Lake Melville, first elected Speaker in August of 2017, was returned by acclamation. Scott Reid, MHA, St. George’s – Humber was elected Deputy Speaker and unaffiliated MHA, Paul Lane (Mount Pearl – Southlands) was elected Deputy Chair of Committees.
The Budget and Supply were passed on June 26. The House then adjourned to July 23 when it re-convened to appoint Information and Privacy Commissioner, Michael Harvey. Mr. Harvey succeeds Donovan Molloy, who was appointed to the Territorial Court of the North West Territories in February.
Report of Commissioner for Legislative Standards
On June 25, the Speaker tabled a report of the Commissioner for Legislative Standards regarding an allegation by the former MHA for the District of Mount Scio that the MHA for the District of Harbour Grace – Port de Grave had violated a number of the principles of the Code of Conduct. The Commissioner found that the latter Member had not violated the Code. The House will take up the matter when it reconvenes in November.
On September 6, Deputy Speaker Reid assumed the role of interim Speaker following the resignation of Perry Trimper, MHA, from the Speakership. The election of a new Speaker will take place on November 4 when the House reconvenes.
The House adjourned on July 23 to November 4.
The 42nd General Election in Manitoba took place on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. Once the polls closed and the ballots were counted, the Progressive Conservatives won 36 seats in the 57 seat Legislature and accordingly they remain in government. The New Democratic Party won 18 seats to retain its status as the Official Opposition, and the Liberals won three seats, losing their status as official party (four seats are required under Manitoba rules and legislation for status as recognized party).
A total of 13 new members took their seats in the Manitoba Legislature when the House met for the first time on September 30 to elect a new Speaker and to hear the Speech from the Throne. Among the new MLAs there are eight men, four female, and one gender nonconforming Member. For the first time in the history of the legislative assembly, three black individuals were elected to serve as MLAs in the upcoming Legislature. Also Malaya Marcelino, daughter of former MLA and Minister Flor Marcelino, has been elected to represent the newly created constituency of Notre Dame.
First Session of the 42nd Legislature
The House resumed on September 30 with the First Session of the new Legislature with the Speech from the Throne delivered by the Chief Justice of Manitoba in his role as Administrator of the Province. The address highlighted a range of commitments and proposals in different areas, including:
completing necessary legislative requirements in order to implement the measures outlined in Budget 2019;
reducing regulatory red tape and encouraging innovation;
completing the implementation of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement;
addressing addictions and public safety issues;
making strategic investments to strengthen front-line health, education and social services.
A very short debate followed the Throne Speech. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Wab Kinew, the Member for St. Boniface Dougald Lamont (who is also the leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party), as well as Premier Brian Pallister spoke to the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech. The motion was then carried.
After the Throne Speech debate on September 30, the House agreed by leave to consider a Sessional Order to deal with the passage of certain business, including Budget 2019. In accordance to the Sessional Order, all the steps or segments of the financial process introduced and concluded during the 4th Session of the 41st Legislature were reinstated in this new legislature, including the Budget motion and the sequence for consideration of the Departmental Estimates. In addition, the Estimates were reinstated at the same stage they were when the 41st Legislature was dissolved, with 92 hours and 26 minutes left (out of 100 hours) for consideration of same.
The Sessional Order also reinstated Bill 22 – The Business Registration, Supervision and Ownership Transparency Act from the previous Legislature. When the Legislature was dissolved, the House was considering Second Reading of the bill.
The Sessional Order also set several deadlines and actions to be taken by the Speaker or Chairpersons in Committee in order to complete this business by Friday, October 11, 2019.
The House is scheduled to rise on October 11, 2019, with the Second Session of the 42nd Legislature set to begin with a new Speech from the Throne on November 19, 2019.
Orientation Sessions for new MLAs
On September 16 and September 23, 2019, Assembly staff offered a series of orientation sessions for all new Members. On the first day, the newly elected MLAs met with staff from the Legislative Assembly Human Resources office, Members’ Allowances, Hansard and Legislative Building and Assembly Security. On the same day, they also met with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner for an information session.
The following week, they were offered a session on the House and Committee Procedure and Practices held by the Table Officers. They then met with members from the media who follow the Legislature, followed by a panel of former members, Len Derkach, Kerri Irvin-Ross, and Andrew Swan. The last session was with information booths with Assembly independent officers; the Advocate for Children and Youth, the Auditor General, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Ombudsman, the Legislative Counsel, and Legislative Library.
Following the elections, Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton was also appointed as Minister responsible for Crown Services in addition to his previous duties.
Current Party Standings
The current party standings in the Manitoba Legislature are: Progressive Conservatives 36, New Democratic Party 18, and three Independent Members.
Clerk Assistant/Clerk of Committees
The last sitting of the Senate before the summer adjournment was held on June 21. The Forty-Second Parliament was dissolved by Proclamation of the Governor General on September 11, with the federal general election to occur on October 21.
On July 15, the nineteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry entitled Made in Canada: Growing Canada’s Value-Added Food Sector was tabled with the Clerk of the Senate.
On July 29, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators was tabled with the Clerk of the Senate. It dealt with the committee’s consideration of an Inquiry Report concerning a former Senator prepared by the Senate Ethics Officer.
In addition, on August 12, the same committee tabled its seventh report with the Clerk of the Senate. The report is the result of its comprehensive review of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators and recommends to the Senate a number of amendments to the Code.
Tony Loffreda was appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister on July 23. Senator Loffreda (Quebec – Shawinegan) is a certified public accountant with 35 years of experience in the Canadian financial industry and has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility ranging from senior auditor and Regional Vice-President of Commercial Financial Services at the Royal Bank of Canada to the position of Vice-Chairman of Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management. He has served on various boards and committees, including the Concordia University Board of Governors, the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal and the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. In addition, Senator Loffreda has been in active service to many communities, having chaired fundraising activities across the province for various causes such as the Giant Steps School, the Montreal Jewish General Hospital and the Montreal Cancer Institute.
Senator Raynell Andreychuk retired from the Senate on August 14. She was appointed to the Senate in 1993 on the advice of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. During her 26 years in the Senate, she was instrumental in the creation of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights and chaired various committees, notably the Senate Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators and the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Among her legislative achievements, Senator Andreychuk was the driving force behind the Sergei Magnitsky Law, identified as Bill S-226 before it became law in October 2017. It allows Canada to freeze the assets of corrupt foreign officials. She also chaired the Ukraine-NATO Inter-Parliamentary Council and co-founded the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association.
Senator Jacques Demers retired from the Senate on August 24. He was appointed to the Senate in 2009 on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to represent the division of Rigaud, Quebec. Senator Demers was a member of several committees during his tenure, including the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He was particularly committed to defending vulnerable Canadians struggling with issues he dealt with in his youth, such as poverty, child abuse and literacy.
House of Commons
This account covers the continuing First Session of the 42nd Parliament from July to September 2019.
The House had risen for the summer on June 20, having agreed that it would remain adjourned until September 16. During the adjournment, the Privy Council recommended to the Governor General on September 11, that Parliament be dissolved for the 43rd general election to be held on October 21 and that, after the return of the writs, the House of Commons be summoned to meet on November 18.
Pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), four members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security requested that the Chair call a meeting to consider studying a reported data breach in Desjardins Group. The committee met on July 15, and, after agreeing to study the breach, proceeded immediately to hear witnesses from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Communications Security Establishment, Department of Employment and Social Development, Canada Revenue Agency, Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, and Desjardins Group. At dissolution, the committee had not determined how it would proceed further.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met on July 25 to consider the nomination of Nicholas Kasirer to be a puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Kim Campbell, the Chairperson of the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments, appeared as witnesses. At dissolution, the committee had not made any plans to proceed further.
Also pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), four members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development requested that the Chair convene a meeting to consider a study of undue pressure on former career diplomats by the ministry. The committee met on July 30 to consider a motion to that effect. After an hour’s debate, the committee rejected the motion.
Andrew Bartholomew Chaplin
Table Research Branch
Prince Edward Island
*Due to an editing error, Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Report for Autumn 2019 was omitted from the previous issue. It is reproduced here along with the Winter 2019 legislative report. The CPR regrets the error.
General Election Results
On April 23, 2019, Prince Edward Island held a general election in which voters elected candidates in 26 of the province’s 27 districts. Candidates ran under the banners of the Green Party, Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, Progressive Conservative Party, and independent candidates ran in three districts. After votes were tallied, Progressive Conservative Party candidates won 12 districts; Green Party candidates won eight districts; and Liberal Party candidates won six districts. No recounts were necessary and the successful candidates were officially declared elected.
The popular vote was distributed as follows: Progress Conservative Party 36.5 per cent; Green Party 30.6 per cent; Liberal Party 29.5 per cent; NDP three per cent; and independent 0.4 per cent. Voter turnout came in at 76.27 per cent, which is a low for Prince Edward Island, where it has frequently surpassed 80 per cent in elections dating back to 1966.
Of the 26 successful candidates, 11 have not been previously elected.
Deferred Election – District 9
On Friday, April 19, just days before the general election, Green Party candidate Josh Underhay and his son tragically died in a boating accident. As a result, while the election proceeded in the other 26 districts, Elections PEI deferred voting in District 9, Charlottetown – Hillsborough Park. The date of July 15 was later chosen for the deferred election. The candidates are John Andrew (Green Party), Karen Lavers (Liberal Party), Gordon Gay (New Democratic Party), and Natalie Jameson (Progressive Conservative Party); none have previously sat in the Legislative Assembly.
Electoral System Referendum Results
A referendum on PEI’s electoral system was held in tandem with the April 23 general election. Voters chose “no” or “yes” in response to the question “Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?” Under the Electoral System Referendum Act, the result would be considered binding if the “no” or “yes” side received a majority of the overall vote and a majority in at least 60% of the 27 districts. Referendum voting proceeded as scheduled in District 9 despite the deferred vote to elect a representative in that district.
In the end, 51.74 per cent of voters chose the “no” option, and 48.26% chose “yes”. “No” achieved a majority in 13 districts, and “yes” in 14. As a result, PEI is expected to continue to use the First Past the Post system, though advocates of proportional representation indicate they will continue to push for electoral reform.
New Government, Opposition and Third Party
On May 9, Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, presided over the swearing in of new Premier Dennis King and eight Ministers of the Crown. All members of Cabinet are from the Progressive Conservative caucus. With the delivery of a Speech from the Throne on June 14, the new government became the first minority government to seek the confidence of the PEI legislature since the Island joined Confederation in 1873.
With the second largest caucus at eight members, the Green Party has formed the Official Opposition. This is the first time the Green Party has formed the Official Opposition in PEI, and is believed to be a first throughout Canada as well. The new Leader of the Official Opposition is Peter Bevan-Baker.
The Liberal Party, which formed the government in the previous legislature, now forms the Third Party with six members. This is the first time in PEI’s history that the Liberal Party has formed the Third Party in the legislature. Former Premier H. Wade MacLauchlan resigned the leadership of his party after losing his district of Stanhope-Marshfield. Robert Mitchell was subsequently appointed interim leader of the Liberal Party and holds the position of Leader of the Third Party in the legislature.
Opening of 66th General Assembly, New Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Members of the 66th General Assembly were sworn in on June 13, and the new Assembly met for the first time that afternoon. The first order of business was the selection of a new Speaker. This is done via secret ballot election, as required by the Rules of the Legislative Assembly. Two members put their names forward for consideration: Colin LaVie, of the Progressive Conservative Party, and Hal Perry, of the Liberal Party. Mr. LaVie achieved a majority of votes and was duly elected Speaker. Mr. Perry was appointed Deputy Speaker upon resolution of the House. Mr. LaVie has represented District 1, Souris – Elmira since 2011; he previously served as Opposition Whip and critic for Fisheries and Agriculture, and served on several standing committees. Mr. Perry has represented District 27, Tignish – Palmer Road since 2011. He previously served as Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Government Whip and has also been a member and Chair of several standing committees.
Speech from the Throne
On June 14, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island delivered a Speech from the Throne for the 1st Session of the 66th General Assembly. The new Government has emphasized a collaborative approach to governing, and the Opposition and Third Party were consulted for their input toward priorities to be identified in the Throne Speech. The shared priorities of all three groups include housing, poverty elimination, climate change, health care and education. Other notable plans included in the Throne Speech include a panel of citizens and elected members to consider reforms to the Legislative Assembly; a secure-income program pilot; a new bioscience skills and training initiative in partnership with post-secondary institutions; and efforts to deepen reconciliation with First Nations.
Debate on the Draft Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne took place over several sitting days and concluded with the Assembly unanimously voting to offer humble thanks to the Lieutenant Governor for the gracious speech with which she opened the present session.
On June 25, the Premier tabled the Estimates of the Revenue and Expenditure for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, and Minister of Finance Darlene Compton gave the Budget Address. Spending highlights include 100 new long-term care beds; 74 new front-line educational positions; $225,000 toward a secure-income project; $6.6 million toward affordable housing via rent supplements and construction of new units; an increase in the basic personal income tax amount to $10,000; $17.4 million toward the high-speed internet initiative; and a one million trees project to increase reforestation. The budget includes a $1.8 million surplus. As of this writing, the Assembly continues to review the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
Legislation to Date
In the first three weeks of the session, 17 bills have been introduced. The majority of government’s 11 bills have been amendatory in nature. These include Bill No. 8, An Act to Amend the Victims of Crime Act, which gives courts discretion on whether to impose a victim surcharge on a person convicted of an offense; Bill No. 6, An Act to Amend the Drug Cost Assistance Act, which adds specifications and requirements to the management of the provincial drug formulary; and Bill No. 3, An Act to Amend the Renewable Energy Act, which establishes an agricultural renewable energy generator class, enhanced net-metering systems, and rules for enhanced net-metering agreements between public utilities and municipal or agricultural renewable energy generators. To date most of Government’s bills have completed the committee stage; two have only received first reading; and one, a bill to reorganize government departments, has received Royal Assent.
The Official Opposition has introduced five private member’s bills to date, four of which have completed the committee stage. These include Bill No. 101, Government Advertising Standards Act, which outlines a process to address partisan advertising by Executive Government; Bill No. 102, An Act to Amend the Climate Leadership Act, which aims to lower the province’s carbon reduction target to 1.2 megatonnes, instead of 1.4 megatonnes, by 2030; Bill No. 104, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, which requires the Employment Standards Board to seek submissions from the public in reviewing its annual Minimum Wage Order and adds criteria for the board to consider on measures of poverty and employees’ ability to maintain a suitable standard of living; and Bill No. 105, An Act to Amend the Rental of Residential Property Act, which increases the period in which a lessee may apply to the Director of Residential Rental Property for an order to set aside a notice of termination for certain reasons from ten days to twenty days.
The Third Party has introduced Bill No. 103, An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act (No. 2), which aims to dispense with the requirement for annual vehicle registration, so that registration will no longer expire. The bill has been read a first time.
On July 2, Speaker LaVie issued a ruling on related points of order raised by Sidney MacEwen (District 7, Morell – Donagh) and Leader of the Opposition Mr. Bevan-Baker on June 28. The Speaker found that Mr. MacEwen’s point of order related to statements made during Oral Question Period, did not state which rule or practice was allegedly breached and therefore did not constitute a true point of order. The Leader of the Opposition’s point of order sought a ruling from the Speaker on Mr. MacEwen’s point of order, which Mr. Speaker provided.
Changes to Committees Structure and Membership
In its June 18 report to the House, the Special Committee on Committees assigned members to the Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges and recommended that that committee consider realignment of the mandates of the other standing committees of the Assembly and potential changes to the rules on the method of appointing committee members. The report was adopted.
The Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges met accordingly, and tabled its report on June 26. The committee put forward new mandates for three new standing committees under the titles Education and Economic Growth; Health and Social Development; and Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability. Previously, the mandated subject areas were spread over five committees. No changes were made to the mandates of the standing committees on Legislative Management; Public Accounts; or Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges.
The Rules committee also recommended rule changes to require that an equal number of members of each recognized political party in the House be appointed to each committee and that each recognized political party have two members on each committee, unless there are fewer than two members of a party. No change to the maximum membership of a committee (eight members) was recommended. Previously, membership of committees was allocated in generally the same proportion as that of the recognized political parties in the House itself, and only the Official Opposition had a minimum threshold of two members on each committee.
The committee’s report was adopted, and membership of the standing committees was subsequently allocated upon recommendation of the Committee on Committees, at two members from the Government caucus, two from the Opposition caucus, and two from the Third Party caucus. Chairs for each committee were elected with Government, Opposition, and Third Party each chairing at least one committee (the Standing Committee on Legislative Management is chaired by the Speaker, as per the rules).
First Session, Sixty-sixth General Assembly
Having adjourned to the call of the Speaker on July 12, the First Session of the Sixty-Sixth General Assembly shall resume on November 12 in the Honourable George Coles Building.
In terms of business carried over from the last sitting, there remain two Government Bills, two Private Members’ Bills, and 30 Motions available for debate.
New Member Sworn-In
On August 1, 2019, Natalie Jameson was sworn in as the Member of the Legislative Assembly representing District 9, Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park. She was the successful candidate in a July 15, 2019, deferred election necessitated by the death of a District 9 candidate in the lead-up to the April 23, 2019, general election. Ms. Jameson is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Following the July adjournment of the session, the newly appointed committees of the Legislative Assembly began their work in earnest. To date, the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth has received witness testimony on the shortage of skilled labour in PEI; the impact of the current housing situation on post-secondary students, tourism and economic growth; and standardized assessment of Grade 3 students. The Standing Committee on Health and Social Development has received witness testimony on the PEI Human Rights Commission. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability is scheduled to receive testimony on the Lands Protection Act and solutions to electrical load growth. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is reviewing the 2019 Report of the Auditor General to the Legislative Assembly. The Standing Committee on Rules, Regulations, Private Bills and Privileges is undertaking a review of the Rules of the Legislative Assembly.
Two special committees were established in the recent sitting of the Assembly, and both have begun their work. The Special Committee on Climate Change is directed to explore the options available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to make fully costed recommendations on how the province can best meet its emission reduction targets, and to engage with the public and government in its deliberations. The Special Committee on Poverty in PEI is directed to consult with members of the public and community groups across the province and to report to the Legislative Assembly within 12 months with recommendations regarding definitions and measures of poverty, a living wage for PEI, and a fully costed Basic Income Guarantee pilot project for PEI.
Clerk Assistant – Research and Committees
National Assembly proceedings
On August 30, 2019, Sébastien Proulx announced his resignation as the Member for Jean-Talon. On September 5, 2019, the Leader of the Official Opposition appointed the Member for LaFontaine, Marc Tanguay, to succeed him as House Leader of their party. Following this resignation, the composition of the Assembly now stands as follows: Coalition Avenir Québec: 75 Members; Québec Liberal Party: 28 Members; Québec solidaire: 10 Members; Parti Québécois: 9 Members; and Independent Members: 2 Members. One seat is currently vacant.
Ever since proceedings resumed on September 17, 2019, three Government public bills and two Private Members’ bills have been introduced in the National Assembly:
Bill 35: An Act to modernize certain rules relating to land registration and to facilitate the dissemination of geospatial information;
Bill 38: An Act amending certain Acts establishing public sector pension plans;
Bill 39: An Act to establish a new electoral system;
Bill 199: An Act to amend the Environment Quality Act to establish a right of citizen initiative in environmental matters and reinforce the powers and independence of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement; and
Bill 490: An Act to establish the gradual electrification of Québec’s vehicle fleet.
Appointment of an Acting Secretary General
On September 17, 2019, François Arsenault, Director General of Parliamentary Affairs, was appointed on the advice of the Premier as Acting Secretary General of the National Assembly of Québec until October 22, 2019. Mr. Arsenault is a lawyer by training and has been working for the National Assembly since 2002. He succeeds Michel Bonsaint, Secretary General from 2010 to 2019, who was appointed by Cabinet as the Québec representative in the Permanent Delegation of Canada to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris.
Removal of the crucifix from the National Assembly Chamber
On July 9, 2019, the National Assembly removed the crucifix from the National Assembly Chamber in accordance with a motion unanimously adopted on March 28, 2019. The crucifix was installed in 1982 and replaced an earlier one hung in 1936.
Both crucifixes have since been placed in a museum display case in one of the alcoves near the entrance of the National Assembly Chamber to preserve them and highlight their importance to Québec’s parliamentary heritage.
Here are some highlights of the various mandates carried out by the parliamentary committees between July and September 2019.
The Committee on Health and Social Services completed its clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 2, An Act to tighten the regulation of cannabis, which includes a provision to raise the legal age for cannabis use to 21. The Cannabis Regulation Act, passed in June 2018, had initially set the legal age at 18. In total, 18 sittings and 82 hours were needed to consider this bill.
The Standing Orders of the National Assembly provide a number of consultation mechanisms. Special consultations are the most commonly used and involve inviting select individuals and groups to appear in public hearings. General consultations, on the other hand, call on civil society at large to submit briefs within a specific time frame. Parliamentarians then read the briefs and choose the witnesses they wish to hear.
Two general consultations were held in summer 2019: one by the Committee on Citizen Relations (CCR) as mandated by the National Assembly, and another by the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources (CAFENR) on its own motion under an order of initiative. On June 7, 2019, the CCR was mandated by the National Assembly to hold a general consultation on the consultation document entitled “Québec Immigration Planning for the 2020-2022 Period.” Interested individuals and organizations had until July 22 to submit their briefs or requests to address the committee. As part of this mandate, public hearings were held between August 12 and 15, during which 40 briefs were received and 37 organizations and individuals were heard.
Individuals and organizations could also take part in an online consultation held between June 7 and August 15 by filling out a questionnaire on the National Assembly’s website.
The CAFENR held a general consultation and public hearings on its order of initiative to examine the impact of pesticides on public health and the environment, as well as current and future innovative alternative practices in the agriculture and food sectors, with due regard for the competitiveness of Québec’s agri-food sector. The Committee members received 76 briefs and invited 26 organizations and experts to public hearings held between September 23 and 26.
Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors
The Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors, established on June 14, 2019, began its work during the summer. The members of this select committee met for deliberative meetings from August 26 to 28 for various training sessions on the topic.
This was the first step for the Committee members, who will not only hold public hearings in Québec City, but will also travel across the province.
Orders of initiative
Since the beginning of the 42nd Legislature, the committees have adopted four orders of initiative. For these mandates to be carried out, they must be adopted by a majority of the members of each parliamentary group in a given committee. Once a committee has adopted an order of initiative it see fit it organizes related proceedings, meaning that mandates can vary in length.
From August 26 to 30, the Committee on Culture and Education (CCE) held consultations and public hearings on its order of initiative on the future of information media in Québec. The CCE received 63 briefs, and called 36 individuals and organizations to testify at the public hearings.
On September 9, the CAFENR visited farms as part of its order of initiative on pesticides. Since the use of pesticides in agriculture is central to the Committee’s mandate, CAFENR members went to get a firsthand look at the situation by visiting farms that have developed innovative ways to replace pesticides, including Québec’s largest organic farm and a farm that uses integrated pest management practices. These visits were conducted prior to the hearings scheduled as part of the aforementioned general consultation.
From August 12 to 15, 2019, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment (CTE) held public hearings as part of its order of initiative on glass recycling. CTE members received 36 briefs and invited 30 individuals and organizations to appear. A report with nine recommendations was tabled in the National Assembly on September 19, 2019. It is available here:
Elections of chairs and vice-chairs
On September 18, Lise Thériault (Anjou–Louis-Riel) and Nancy Guillemette (Roberval) were respectively elected chair and vice-chair of the CCE, and Francine Charbonneau (Mille-Îles) and Simon Allaire (Maskinongé) were respectively elected chair and vice-chair of the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain.
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs