Proceedings of the National Assembly of Quebec
On August 1, 2020, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Member for Gouin, was appointed Leader of the Second Opposition Group, replacing Manon Massé, Member for Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques. Christine Labrie, Member for Sherbrooke, replaced Mr. Nadeau-Dubois as House Leader of the Second Opposition Group.
On August 18, 2021, Pierre Arcand, Member for Mont-Royal–Outremont, was appointed Chair of the Official Opposition Caucus in place of Frantz Benjamin, Member for Viau.
On September 1, 2021, Pierre Fitzgibbon, Member for Terrebonne, returned as Minister of Economy and Innovation. He was also appointed Minister Responsible for Regional Economic Development.
On September 9, 2021, Joël Arseneau, Member for Îles-de-la-Madeleine, was appointed Leader of the Third Opposition Group in place of Pascal Bérubé, Member for Matane-Matapédia.
Since June 21, 2021, Claire Samson, Member for Iberville, has been sitting under the banner of the Conservative Party of Québec. In addition, Louis-Charles Thouin, Member for Rousseau, returned to the caucus of the parliamentary group forming the Government on September 14, 2021. Consequently, the National Assembly is now composed of 75 Coalition avenir Québec Members, 28 Quebec Liberal Party Members, 10 Québec Solidaire Members, seven Parti Québécois Members and five independent Members, including one affiliated with the Conservative Party of Québec.
Terms of resumption of Assembly sittings
When the National Assembly reconvened on September 14, 2020, the parliamentarians adopted a motion establishing the rules for Assembly sittings until December 10, 2021. The motion, essential to the continuation of proceedings in the context of the pandemic, renewed most of the measures put into place since proceedings resumed in September 2020.
The measures still set out that the National Assembly sits with a reduced number of Members. However, the number of Members was increased, from 36 to 61 (not counting the Chair), who can be in Chamber at the same time, according to the following distribution:
No more than 35 Members from the parliamentary group forming the Government;
- No more than 13 Members from the parliamentary group forming the Official Opposition;
- No more than five Members from the Second Opposition Group;
- No more than four Members from the Third Opposition Group;
- No more than four Independent Members.
During Routine Proceedings, the number of Government Members allowed in the Chamber was decreased to leave more space for Members in Opposition, and when Independent Members are absent, Members belonging to the parliamentary groups are entitled to fill in for them, according to a specific order.
As more Members were able to be present in Chamber, the measure providing for ministers to split into two groups to participate in Question Period was not renewed. All ministers may now attend simultaneously.
Parliamentarians are still allowed to take the floor and vote from seats that are not the ones usually assigned to them. Procedure masks are also still required, except when taking the floor to speak.
The previously adopted procedure for recorded divisions was maintained. Under that measure, the vote of the House Leader or of the Deputy House Leader of a parliamentary group or, where applicable, of another Member identified beforehand is valid for all the Members of their group. However, parliamentarians are entitled to individually record a vote that differs from the vote of their group or to choose not to vote. In addition, if an Independent Member is absent, the Government House Leader is authorized to record the Member’s vote regarding a stage in the consideration of a bill according to the prior instructions sent by the absent Member to the Government House Leader.
Since the resumption of proceedings, on September 14, 2021, five Government bills have been passed: Bill 59, An Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime, Bill 64, An Act to modernize legislative provisions as regards the protection of personal information, Bill 97, An Act to amend the Act respecting energy efficiency and energy conservation standards for certain electrical or hydrocarbon-fuelled appliances, Bill 99, An Act to amend mainly the Food Products Act, and Bill 105, An Act to establish a perimeter around certain places in order to regulate demonstrations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rulings from the Chair
September 14, 2021 – Ruling concerning the distribution of certain measures and speaking times during limited debates following changes in the composition of the Assembly.
A ruling was handed down following changes in the composition of the Assembly. Since the Member for Iberville had moved from the group forming the Government and become an Independent Member, the President made changes to the distribution of measures and speaking times during limited debates. The Member for Iberville was granted three questions per two 10-sitting cycles, in substitution for questions from the parliamentary opposition groups according to the rotation established at the beginning of the Legislature for questions granted to Government Members.
Disclosure of Members’ expenses
On September 16, 2021, the National Assembly published the Members’ expense reports for the last fiscal year on its website. This measure follows the recommendations on working conditions and the various allowances granted to Members made by the committee that the President entrusted with the mandate to reflect on the National Assembly’s transparency, notably concerning the disclosure of the expenses of Members and House Officers.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
On September 30, 2021, following a motion carried unanimously in the Chamber on September 29, François Paradis, President of the National Assembly, announced that orange lighting would illuminate the façade of the Parliament Building from dusk until the dawn of October 1, in solidarity with First Nations communities.
Proceedings in committees
Below are some of the highlights of the parliamentary committee proceedings held between July and September 2021.
Organization of proceedings
A motion on the organization of parliamentary proceedings, in force until December 10, 2021, was adopted by the National Assembly on
September 14, 2021. It provided for several changes to the usual parliamentary committee procedure in order to ensure compliance with public health measures in effect due to the COVID19 pandemic and to ensure the participation of as many Members as possible in committee proceedings. In particular, the motion provided for the possibility of holding a meeting simultaneously in two rooms, thanks to technology enabling communication between the rooms. Independent Members would have to inform the House leaders and Committees Secretariat when they wanted to participate in the proceedings of a parliamentary committee of which they were not a member. In rooms where the number of Members was limited, it would be possible for certain Members of the parliamentary group forming the Government to vote by proxy on behalf of an absent Member. Parliamentary committee schedules, especially during ordinary hours, were also modified. Tuesday sessions would end at 7:15 p.m. instead of at 9:30 p.m.
The measures already in place to avoid distributing and handling paper documents in committee, such as projecting amendments onto large screens during clause-by-clause consideration of bills, were maintained. In addition, for public hearings, witnesses’ participation by videoconference was encouraged. However, upon request, witnesses could testify in person at the Parliament Building. The Committee on Public Administration was also authorized to hold its proceedings, including its deliberative meetings, virtually.
In August and September 2021, four parliamentary committees held special consultations and public hearings related to five public bills, including the Committee on Labour and the Economy for Bill 100, Tourist Accommodation Act. The Committee heard 13 individuals and organizations. Among other things, Bill 100 provides for new rules applicable to tourist accommodation establishments, notably requiring them to be registered and to communicate information about their accommodation offerings and related activities and services. The bill also provides for certain measures to reduce the administrative burden of tourist accommodation operators.
The Committee on Culture and Education held nine sittings and heard over 50 witnesses on Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec. That is the greatest number of witnesses to have been heard in special consultations during the current legislature. The purpose of Bill 96 is to affirm that that French is the only official language of Québec and that French is the common language of the Québec nation. It proposes, among other things, new fundamental language rights as well as various measures to reinforce French.
The Committee on Citizen Relations also heard close to 20 testimonies, in three sittings, in the framework of special consultations on Bill 101, An Act to strengthen the fight against maltreatment of seniors and other persons of full age in vulnerable situations as well as the monitoring of the quality of health services and social services. The bill provides for, in particular, clarifying the definition of “maltreatment” by making express reference to the harm and distress that are caused on the physical, psychological, sexual, material and financial levels.
Four sectorial committees carried out clause-by-clause consideration of public bills:
- The Committee on Institutions’ clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 64, An Act to modernize legislative provisions as regards the protection of personal information, began on February 2, 2021, and ended on August 24, 2021. The Committee required over 95 hours to complete the mandate.
- The Committee on Labour and the Economy completed clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 59, An Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime, on September 22, 2021. Clause-by-clause consideration of this bill began on March 9, 2021, and required over 187 hours. The Committee also completed, in a little less than 15 hours, clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 100, Tourist Accommodation Act.
- The Committee on Planning and the Public Domain continued clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 49, An Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act and various legislative provisions. So far, over 80 hours have been dedicated to clause-by-clause consideration of this bill.
- The Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources completed clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 99, An Act to amend mainly the Food Products Act, in around 14 hours. The Committee also completed clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 97, An Act to amend the Act respecting energy efficiency and energy conservation standards for certain electrical or hydrocarbon-fuelled appliances, in a little less than 3 hours.
Orders of reference
The National Assembly gave the Committee on Health and Social Services an order of reference to proceed, on August 26 and 27, 2021, with special consultations and hold public hearings on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of caregivers in the health sector and other categories of workers who are in prolonged contact with the public. The special consultations provided an opportunity to hear around 20 witnesses.
On September 14, 2021, the Committee on Institutions also undertook the consideration and approval of the Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting the conditions of exercise of the duties of returning officer, tabled in the National Assembly on April 14, 2021. In the framework of this mandate, the Committee heard the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec. It should be noted that the Election Act requires this order of reference to be carried out.
Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care
During July and August 2021, the Select Committee, created by the National Assembly on March 31, 2021, gauged public opinion respecting end-of-life care, notably through an online questionnaire. It held its second phase of special consultations, virtually, from August 9 to 23, 2021. A total of 42 witnesses were heard during that phase. Under the National Assembly motion creating the Select Committee, virtual deliberative meetings were authorized. The Committee is currently preparing its report, which must be tabled in the Assembly in November 2021.
On August 7, 2021, David Birnbaum, Member for D’Arcy-McGee, was appointed Vice-chair of the Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care. On September 8, 2021, Frantz Benjamin, Member for Viau, was appointed Vice-chair of the Committee on Institutions.
Sittings and Parliamentary Procedure Directorate
Parliamentary Committees Directorate
The Forty-third Parliament was dissolved by Proclamation of Governor General Mary May Simon on August 15, with the federal general election scheduled by statute to occur on September 20.
On June 22, Bernadette Clement, Jim Quinn and Hassan Yussuff were appointed to the Senate.
Ms. Clement, who was appointed to represent Ontario, is a lawyer and politician who has served as Mayor of Cornwall since 2018. Ms. Clement was the first woman to be elected as Mayor of Cornwall and the first Black woman to serve as a mayor in Ontario. Prior to this, she served three terms as city councillor.
Mr. Quinn, who was appointed to represent New Brunswick, has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Saint John Port Authority since September 2010. Mr. Quinn has extensive experience in the marine and public sectors, including with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian International Development Agency. He is the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel for the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (The Loyal Company), 5th Canadian Division.
Mr. Yussuff, who was appointed to represent Ontario, is the past President of the Canadian Labour Congress. Mr. Yussuff is also a prominent international activist. In 2016, he was elected for his second term as President of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, which represents more than 55 million workers in 21 countries.
Further appointments were made on July 29 when David Arnot, Michèle Audette, Amina Gerba, Clément Gignac and Karen Sorensen were also appointed to the Senate.
Mr. Arnot, who was appointed to represent Saskatchewan, became the Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission in 2009. Previously, he worked as the federal Treaty Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan, a provincial court judge, a Crown prosecutor, and as Director General of Aboriginal Justice in the Department of Justice Canada. He is the former Chair of the Canadian Judges’ Forum of the Canadian Bar Association. As a judge with the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan, Mr. Arnot worked closely with the Poundmaker First Nation to pioneer the use of sentencing circles and restorative justice measures. Mr. Arnot holds a Juris Doctor from the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan.
Ms. Audette, appointed to represent Quebec, is a recognized Indigenous leader and comes from the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam in Quebec. She was elected President of the Quebec Native Women Inc. at 27 years of age. In 2004, she was appointed Associate Deputy Minister to the Secrétariat à la condition féminine of Quebec. From 2012 to 2015, she served as President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She was appointed one of the five commissioners responsible for conducting the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Since 2019, she has been Assistant to the Vice-Rector of Academic and Student Affairs, and Senior Advisor for reconciliation and Indigenous education at the Université Laval.
Ms. Gerba, appointed to represent Québec, is an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience and has acted as an economic link between Canada and Africa for many years. Ms. Gerba is Chair of the Board of Directors of Entreprendre ici, an organization set up to support entrepreneurs from cultural communities. Ms. Gerba has served on several public and private boards, including the Université du Québec à Montréal and its executive committee and the organization ENSEMBLE for the respect of diversity. She is a member of the Canadian Council on Africa, the African Business Roundtable, and member and former president of the Rotary Club of Old Montreal.
Clément Gignac, who was appointed to represent Quebec, is an economist with over 35 years of experience in the public and private sectors. He was the Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at iA Financial Group, where he managed diversified funds with assets in excess of $5 billion. Mr. Gignac previously worked as an economist and strategist for major financial institutions, including as Vice-President and Chief Economist for National Bank Financial from 2000 to 2008. In 2009, Mr. Gignac was elected as a member of the National Assembly of Québec. He was named Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade in the Quebec government, and went on to serve as Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife from 2011 to 2012.
Ms. Sorensen, appointed to represent Alberta, has served three terms as Mayor of Banff. Ms. Sorensen previously served as a municipal councillor for six years and as a school board trustee for four years. After a 17-year career in the hotel industry in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, she founded Catalyst Enterprises Consulting in 2000, providing customer service and sales training in the hospitality industry, and sharing her expertise as a keynote speaker.
During this period there were also a number of departures from the Senate.
Senator Jim Munson retired from the Senate on July 13. Senator Munson was appointed to the Senate on December 10, 2003, by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, to represent the province of Ontario. Prior to joining the Senate, he was a journalist with CTV and served as the bureau chief in Beijing, covering the Tiananmen Square protests. As a senator, he served as the Whip of the Senate Liberal Caucus from 2008 to 2016. He served on numerous committees over the years, including as Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament and as Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration in the 42nd and 43rd Parliaments.
Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen retired from the Senate on July 26. She was appointed to the Senate on August 27, 2009, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to represent the province of New Brunswick as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. Prior to joining the Senate, she was a registered nurse and had a 20-year nursing career in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. She served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press secretary when he was in opposition and in government. As a Senator, she served on numerous committees including the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and as Chair of its Special Subcommittee on Diversity.
Senator Linda Frum resigned from the Senate on August 27. Senator Frum was appointed by Prime Minister Harper on August 27, 2009, to represent Ontario as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. She had a career as an author and journalist prior to her appointment to the Senate and served as a volunteer for community organizations. As a senator, she served as the Caucus Chair of the Conservative Party of Canada in the Senate from 2015-2017 and on numerous committees, including the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector.
Senator Judith Keating died in office on July 15. Senator Keating, an accomplished legal and constitutional expert with over 30 years of senior public service experience in the Government of New Brunswick, was the first woman to serve as Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney General of New Brunswick. Senator Keating was an advocate for the equal status of the English and French languages in New Brunswick, the equal and just treatment of women in the legal profession, and Indigenous issues in her role as provincial chair of the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation in New Brunswick. She was appointed to the Senate on January 31, 2020, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and was a member of the Independent Senators Group.
House of Commons
This account covers the period from July to end of September 2021.
The Forty-Third Parliament was dissolved by means of a proclamation from Governor General Mary Simon on August 15, 2021. The General Election was held on September 20, 2021.
During the final year of the Forty-Third Parliament, the House adopted a hybrid format that permitted Members to attend House of Commons and committee proceedings in person or remotely by video conference due to the safety measures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also introduced during the pandemic was a remote voting application that greatly accelerated the taking of recorded divisions in the House of Commons during the hybrid arrangement. Prior to its implementation, recorded votes in the adapted Chamber took an average of 45 minutes each due to the process of individually registering the votes of Members participating remotely. The motion adopted by the House on January 25, 2021, reflecting the changes to the Standing Orders and usual practices of the House allowing for the conduct of proceedings according to the recommendations from public health authorities was in effect until June 23, 2021.
The General Election resulted in the Liberal Party winning enough seats in the House of Commons to form a minority government. Based on the unofficial results from Elections Canada, party standings in the House are as follows: the Liberal Party with 159 seats, the Conservative Party with 119 seats, the Bloc Québécois with 32 seats, the New Democratic Party with 25 seats, the Green Party with 2 seats, and 1 Member sitting as Independent. The Green Party is below the twelve Member threshold required for recognized party status in the House of Commons. The complete official list of elected Members of Parliament should be available on October 11, 2021, the last day for the return of the writs of election. At the time of writing, we continue to await word as to when the Forty-Fourth Parliament will convene.
Table Research Branch
2021 Fall Sitting
On October 7, the 2021 Fall Sitting of the First Session of the 35th Yukon Legislative Assembly began. It is anticipated that the Sitting will consist of 31 sitting days, with the final sitting day being December 2.
Government Bills introduced
Pursuant to Standing Order 74, the following government bills were introduced by the fifth sitting day (the deadline for the introduction of government legislation to be dealt with during a given Sitting):
- Bill No. 3, Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act and the Municipal Act (2021) —Richard Mostyn
- Bill No. 4, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act (2021) — Nils Clarke
- Bill No. 5, Act to Amend the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act (2021) —John Streicker
- Bill No. 6, Act to Amend the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act (2021) — Tracy-Anne McPhee
- Bill No. 7, Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act (2021) —Ms. McPhee
- Bill No. 8, Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act —Mr. Mostyn
- Bill No. 9, Act to Amend the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act (2021) — Ranj Pillai
- Bill No. 10, Act to Amend the Territorial Court Judiciary Pension Plan Act (2021) —Ms. McPhee
- Bill No. 202, Second Appropriation Act 2021-22— Sandy Silver
As of the time of writing, no new private members’ bills have been introduced.
Opposition Private Members’ Motions
On October 13, the first of the Sitting’s biweekly “opposition day” Wednesdays, two motions were considered.
The first motion debated during Opposition Private Members’ Business that day was Motion No. 112, moved by Annie Blake (Vuntut Gwitchin), a member of the Third Party caucus. The motion, which urged the Yukon government to provide full coverage for Trikafta, the cystic fibrosis drug treatment, carried unanimously (18 ayes, nil nay).
The second motion considered on October 13 was Motion No. 113, standing in the name of Currie Dixon, the Leader of the Official Opposition. Mr. Dixon’s motion sought to restrict the use of the “guillotine clause” (i.e. Standing Order 76) by limiting the application of that standing order to appropriation bills, as opposed to government bills in general. At the end of the sitting day, debate was adjourned on a government amendment seeking to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges for the committee’s consideration.
Public Accounts Committee – First Report
As noted in Yukon’s previous legislative report, on June 7, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) presented a performance audit report, Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Yukon – Mental Health Services in Rural Yukon – Department of Health and Social Services, to Speaker Jeremy Harper.
On August 18, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts held a public hearing on mental health services in rural Yukon. At the hearing, witnesses from the Department of Health and Social Services answered questions from the Committee.
On October 18, Mr. Dixon, the Chair of PAC, presented the Committee’s first report in the Legislative Assembly. In the report, the Committee recommended that the Department of Health and Social Services provide the Committee with an update by January 31, 2022, on progress made on the four recommendations contained in the OAG’s June 2021 performance audit.
Tributes in remembrance of Jack Cable
On July 21, Jack Cable, a former Yukon Commissioner and previous Leader of the Liberal Party, passed away. The lawyer, chemical engineer, MBA, and former Captain in Canada’s Reserve Force hailed from Ontario, moving to Yukon in 1970. Mr. Cable served as the MLA for Riverside from 1992 until 2000 and as Liberal Leader from 1992 to 1997. After retiring from politics, Mr. Cable was appointed as Yukon’s Commissioner in late 2000, a position he held for more than five years.
On July 22, Premier Silver issued a statement which noted that Mr. Cable “….was a mentor to me and several other MLAs and was known for his depth of knowledge, compassionate approach and strong leadership….”
In a statement released the same day by the Official Opposition Leader, Mr. Dixon observed, “….Known as ‘Gentleman’ Jack, [Cable] was respected by members of all parties during his tenure as a Member…His conduct and demeanour in the Assembly were a reminder of what we should aspire to and enabled him to work constructively with others….”
On October 13, 2021, Mr. Cable was tributed in the Legislative Assembly by Premier Silver, former Commissioner and Official Opposition MLA Geraldine Van Bibber, and Third Party Leader Kate White. Those present in the Chamber included current Yukon Senator Pat Duncan, who had been a caucus mate of Mr. Cable prior to her becoming Premier of Yukon; his son, Dan Cable, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly; his daughter Sue Edelman, a former Member whose tenure as an MLA had included four years’ serving alongside her father (from 1996 to 2000); and his wife, Faye Cable.
Prince Edward Island
Second Session, Sixty-Sixth General Assembly
Having adjourned to the call of the Speaker on May 13, 2021, the Second Session of the Sixty-sixth General Assembly will resume on October 19, 2021, in the Honourable George Coles Building. Pandemic-related precautions will remain in effect: public galleries will remain closed, and members’ seats will continue to be separated by added distance or plexiglass barriers. Proceedings will be live-streamed on the Legislative Assembly’s website and Facebook page and broadcast on Eastlink TV. Virtual hybrid proceedings are provided for in the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, but to date, they have not been employed.
In terms of business carried over from the last sitting, there remain three Government Bills, five Private Members’ Bills, and 31 Motions available for debate. Government typically presents its capital budget during the Fall sitting.
Resignation of Member
On August 18, 2021, Heath MacDonald resigned as the Member for District 16: Cornwall-Meadowbank, in order to run as the Liberal candidate in the district of Malpeque in the September 20, 2021, federal election. He was elected, receiving 41.8 per cent of the vote. As a member of the provincial Liberal Party, Mr. MacDonald had served in the Legislative Assembly since 2015, being re-elected in the 2019 general election. During the 2015-2019 period, he served as Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, and then as Minister of Finance. From 2019 until his resignation, he served as Third Party House Leader.
A by-election for District 16 has not yet been scheduled.
The Assembly’s standing committees have held many meetings since the House adjourned in May. The Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability met with government representatives, agricultural and environmental groups to discuss a sustainable irrigation strategy for PEI, the work of the Land Matters Advisory Committee, and a 2020 application to the AgriRecovery Program that was denied. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts reviewed the 2021 annual report of the Auditor General, the provincial 2019-20 Public Accounts, a special Auditor General’s report on COVID-19 Financial Support Programs, implementation of audits from 2017 and 2018, and other matters. The Standing Committee on Health and Social Development met with many different groups and individuals as it examined a range of topics, including firefighting resources, recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals, dementia care, a women’s health strategy, Indigenous reconciliation, adoption disclosure and legislation, and anti-racism efforts. The Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth was also quite busy with diverse topics of study, including labour shortages, protections for temporary foreign workers, diversity and discrimination in the public school system, the back-to-school plan as the pandemic continues, the economic impact of the pandemic on women, and recruitment and retention of early childhood educators.
Director of Parliamentary Research
Resignation of a member
On August 15, 2021, Buckley Belanger, MLA for Athabasca, a member of the Opposition (NDP) caucus, resigned his seat in order to run as a Liberal Party candidate in the federal election. As per section 46 of The Legislative Assembly Act, 2007, a by-election to fill a vacancy in the Legislative Assembly must be held within six months after a seat in the Assembly becomes vacant. A date for the by-election has not yet been announced.
Independent member and resignation of Deputy Speaker
Nadine Wilson, MLA for Saskatchewan Rivers, resigned from both the Saskatchewan Party caucus and her role as Deputy Speaker on September 30, 2021. The resignation came in the wake of a government caucus requirement to disclose COVID-19 vaccination status.
Following the resignations of Mr. Belanger and Ms. Wilson, the composition of the Assembly is now 47 Saskatchewan Party members, 12 New Democratic Party members, one independent member, and one vacancy.
New cabinet responsibility
On September 20, 2021, Premier Scott Moe announced a small change to cabinet. In addition to her existing role as Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety, Christine Tell became the Minister Responsible for the Firearms Secretariat, a new cabinet responsibility.
Provincial Auditor competition
In February, Judy Ferguson, the Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan, announced her intention to retire on June 30, 2021 after leading the office for nearly eight years. Ms. Ferguson was officially appointed as Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor on June 1, 2015, following almost two years of service as Acting Provincial Auditor.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts is currently conducting a competition for a new Provincial Auditor. The task of selecting a new auditor, overseeing the competition, and unanimously recommending an individual to the Legislative Assembly for appointment is the responsibility of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. The committee’s process for recruiting and selecting a candidate has been outlined in the steering committee’s first report of the twenty-ninth legislature, which can be found on the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan website.
While the competition is underway, Tara Clemett is serving as Acting Provincial Auditor.
Prorogation and the opening of a new session
At the request of the government and pursuant to the order adopted by the Assembly on May 14, 2021, the first session of the twenty-ninth legislature will be prorogued on the morning of October 27, 2021. The second session of the twenty-ninth legislature will be opened in the afternoon with Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russ Mirasty delivering the Speech from the Throne.
As anticipated, the House resumed on October 4, 2021. This marks the first time since March 2020 that all Members of the Legislative Assembly can attend Chamber proceedings in person. It will also be the first time since March 5, 2020 that three Table Officers will be present at the Table, during Routine Business and formal divisions. A limited number of Members may still attend proceedings virtually, as required. COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place, including a proof of vaccination program (see below) and a requirement to wear a face-covering in the Chamber and in common areas of the buildings on the Legislative Precinct.
The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth released its first report of this Parliament on July 21, 2021, entitled Annual Report 2020-21. The report summarizes the activities of the Committee from December 9, 2020, to March 31, 2021, which include its review of five reports of the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, including the Office’s Annual Report 2019/20 and Service Plan 2020/21 to 2022/23.
The Special Committee to Review Provisions of the Election Act was appointed on April 13, 2021, to conduct a review of the annual allowance paid to political parties under section 215.02 of the Election Act, including, but not limited to, a review of whether an annual allowance paid to political parties should be continued to be paid after 2022 and, if so, the amount of the annual allowance; and the number of years the annual allowance should be paid. Under amendments to the political financing provisions of the Election Act adopted in 2017, corporate and union donations were eliminated, individual political contributions were restricted to $1,200 per year, and an annual allowance to political parties was established in 2018 at a rate of $2.50 per vote received in the last provincial general election, which decreased to $1.75 per vote received in 2021 and 2022. The Committee undertook a public consultation from April 19 to May 28, 2021, during which it heard from academics, stakeholders and individuals at three public hearings. The Committee released its report on August 9, 2021, recommending that the annual allowance be continued at the rate of $1.75 per vote in 2023 and adjusted thereafter according to the change in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year.
From June 21 to 24, 2021, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services held meetings with British Columbia’s nine statutory officers to receive financial and operational updates. These meetings provide an opportunity for Committee Members to receive an update from the statutory officers following the Committee’s fall meetings during which it considers the annual reports, service plans and budget submissions of each office, making budgetary recommendations for the fiscal year ahead. The Committee released its Interim Report on Statutory Offices on August 24, 2021.
Legislative Assembly Management Committee
Respectful Workplace Policy
On July 8, 2021, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee formally adopted the Respectful Workplace Policy which applies to all Legislative Assembly employees, caucus staff and Members. The policy builds on existing workplace policies and standards of conduct and replaces the Respectful Workplace Policy that was adopted in principle on July 3, 2019. The policy’s objective is to achieve a respectful workplace by identifying roles and responsibilities for preventing and addressing incidents of bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence within the Legislative Assembly. It also establishes a complaints process and outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Independent Respectful Workplace Office – which are to provide training, advice, mediation and coaching, receive confidential complaints, conduct investigations, and ensure compliance with the policy. Comprehensive training on the policy is expected to be provided in the coming months.
Recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Following the adoption of legislation by the federal Parliament establishing September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in fulfillment of one of the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the provincial government announced that the public sector and schools would be closed that day. As the Legislative Assembly has yet to consider provincial legislation to create a statutory holiday, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee adopted a motion at its August 27 meeting that September 30, 2021, be recognized as a workplace day of commemoration for all employee groups at the Legislative Assembly and be treated as a statutory holiday for administrative purposes. The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly encouraged all employees to use the day as an opportunity for reflection and to take part in commemorative events to honour Indigenous survivors of the residential school system, as well as their families and communities.
Legislative Assembly Proof of Vaccination Program
Recognizing the importance of B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization program, the Committee agreed on September 3, 2021, to implement a proof of COVID-19 vaccination program at the Legislative Assembly applicable to Members, caucus staff, and employees working on the Legislative Precinct, which is also applicable to visitors to the Parliament Buildings. The Committee resolved that appropriate program details would be finalized by the Legislative Assembly Administration under the oversight of the Speaker. The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly subsequently advised that corresponding with the broader provincial proof of vaccination requirement, everyone aged 12 and older accessing buildings on the Legislative Precinct will be required to have proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 13, 2021, and proof of two doses by October 24, 2021. The requirement will be in place until January 31, 2022, and may be extended, subject to a re-evaluation by the Committee.
Appointment of Sergeant-at-Arms
Following an external competition, Ray Robitaille was selected to fill the Sergeant-at-Arms position. Mr. Robitaille has over 35 years of experience with the Canadian Armed Forces and the Calgary Police Service, with progressive leadership and six years at the executive level, including his time as Deputy Chief of Police with the Calgary Police Service. He began his position at the Legislative Assembly on October 18, 2021.
Knowledge Totem Refurbishment Ceremony
As noted in the Summer 2021 edition, a refurbishment of the Knowledge Totem that stands on the Legislative Precinct was undertaken in recent months, led by Doug August, Sr. (Sume’lh), son of Cicero August, the original artist and Coast Salish master carver of the totem. On September 9, 2021, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly hosted a ceremony to celebrate the raising of the totem with Mr. August and the refurbishment team, representatives from the Songhees Nation, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
Committee Research Analyst
2021 Fall Sitting
The 2021 fall sitting is scheduled to begin on October 25, 2021. The seating plan will have changed significantly since the spring sitting due to a variety of membership changes including: the appointment of six Members to cabinet, changes to the United Conservative Party (UC) caucus, and the resignation of a Member so that she could run in the recent federal election.
On September 30 Premier Jason Kenney announced that a vaccine mandate would be implemented for public service employees. The policy requires employees to submit proof of full vaccination by November 30 or provide a privately obtained negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result that has been completed within 72 hours of each workday. Eligible employees may request an exemption under the Alberta Human Rights Act. As part of the public service, Legislative Assembly staff are subject to this policy unless the Special Standing Committee on Members’ Services orders an exemption or variation.
On July 8 Premier Kenney expanded and made changes to the membership of his Cabinet. Rajan Sawhney, MLA, formerly the Minister of Community and Social Services, is now the Minister of Transportation. Jason Luan, MLA, has been promoted from Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to Minister of Community and Social Services. Other Cabinet appointments include Mike Ellis, MLA, moving from Chief Government Whip to Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Ron Orr, MLA, taking on the role of Minister of Culture. New Associate Minister appointments include:
- Tanya Fir, MLA, as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction;
- Nate Horner, MLA, as Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development, under the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation;
- Whitney Issik, MLA, as Associate Minister of Status of Women, under the Ministry of Culture and Status of Women; and
- Muhammad Yaseen, MLA, as Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, under the Ministry of Labour and Immigration.
Additional changes to non-ministry roles were also announced including the appointment of Joseph Schow, MLA, as Deputy Government House Leader, and Brad Rutherford, MLA, as Deputy Government Whip.
On September 21 two members of Cabinet exchanged portfolios, as the Jason Copping, MLA, was sworn in as Minister of Health and the Tyler Shandro, MLA, now serves as Minister of Labour and Immigration.
On July 14 the UC caucus announced its decision to invite Pat Rehn, MLA, back into the caucus. Mr. Rehn had been removed from the caucus in January after it was reported that he had been absent from his constituency for significant periods of time. On August 15 Laila Goodridge submitted her resignation as MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche to compete – successfully, as it turned out — in the federal election as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake. A by-election for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche has not yet been called.
The composition of the Assembly is currently 60 Government Members (UC), 24 Members of the Official Opposition (New Democratic Party), two independent Members, and one vacant seat.
The Select Special Child and Youth Advocate Search Committee met on August 23 to approve a position profile and a communications plan for recruiting candidates. Applications for the position will be accepted until October 8.
The Select Special Committee on Real Property Rights continued to meet over the summer to receive presentations and review written submissions from stakeholders and members of the public. The Committee also planned public consultation meetings in various locations throughout the province; however, this initiative was postponed following the declaration of a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Standing Committee on Legislative Offices met on October 7 to conduct the annual review of the salaries of the Officers. The Committee has also provided its recommendation that a search committee be struck during the fall session to recruit a candidate for the position of Information and Privacy Commissioner. Jill Clayton, the current Commissioner, has advised the Committee that she will not be seeking reappointment in 2022 following the completion of her second five-year mandate.
On September 8 and 9 the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and the Office of the Auditor General, Alberta, hosted the 2021 CCPAC-CCOLA Conference. More than 130 delegates attended the two-day virtual conference. Attendees included representatives from across Canada and the international community, including members of Public Accounts Committees from most Canadian jurisdictions, Auditors General from across Canada, and various others involved in supporting the work of Public Accounts committees. There were two keynote speakers: Andre Picard, a columnist from the Globe and Mail, discussed the impact of the pandemic on healthcare systems, seniors long-term care and society as a whole; and Lindsay Tedds, an economics professor from the University of Calgary, discussed public finance during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. Business sessions included a presentation by the Deputy Auditor General, Australian National Audit Office; a panel on audit and oversight of rapidly deployed pandemic spending; a panel on the follow-up of Auditor recommendations by Public Accounts committees; and a panel on the importance of Public Accounts committees focusing on post-expenditure accountability as opposed to policy. In addition, Ms. Clayton hosted a roundtable discussion on pandemic-related information and privacy issues.
On August 16, Lisa Harris resigned as the MLA for Miramichi Bay-Neguac to run as the federal Liberal candidate for the Miramichi-Grand Lake riding. First elected in the 2014 general election, Ms. Harris was re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Ms. Harris served as Deputy Speaker, Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care, Minister of Celtic Affairs, and Deputy Government House Leader. Ms. Harris also served on various committees and was the first woman to chair the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
On August 18, Jake Stewart resigned as the MLA for Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin to successfully run as the federal Conservative candidate for the Miramichi-Grand Lake riding. First elected in the 2010 general election, Mr. Stewart was re-elected in 2014, 2018 and 2020. Mr. Stewart served as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and on various committees.
Due to the resignation of Mr. Stewart, who chaired the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship, an election was held on September 7 and Bill Hogan was elected Chair. Mr. Hogan had been the Vice-Chair of the Committee. Kathy Bockus was then elected Vice-Chair to fill the vacancy.
The Committee extended the public hearings that occurred in June on the use of pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate, in the province. Various First Nations, First Nations organizations, and stakeholders appeared in September. A report with recommendations is expected to be presented to the House during the next session.
The Department of Environment and Local Government also appeared to brief the Committee on freshwater health in the province. Three departmental publications were considered and the Committee plans to continue its discussions on this topic at a later date.
In September, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts elected Chuck Chiasson as Chair and Ross Wetmore as Vice-Chair following the resignations of Ms. Harris as Chair and Mr. Stewart as Vice-Chair. The same week, the Committee reviewed the annual reports of various government departments, Crown Corporations, and other provincial entities, including the New Brunswick Power Corporation, the two provincial health authorities, and Vestcor Inc.
The Select Committee on Public Universities, chaired by Mr. Hogan, met on September 28 and 29. The four publicly funded universities and the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission appeared before the Committee to discuss and provide insight into university administration, programming, performance measurement, accountability and transparency.
New Brunswick Day Celebrations
On August 2, Speaker Bill Oliver hosted the New Brunswick Day Opening Ceremony on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly. The event was attended by Lieutenant-Governor Brenda Murphy, Premier Blaine Higgs, Official Opposition Leader Roger Melanson, Green Party Leader David Coon, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin, and other local Members. The event was a celebration of both New Brunswick Day and the lifting of the mandatory order, effectively removing all restrictions related to the pandemic in the province. A moment of silence was also held to honour the individuals who lost their lives to COVID-19. Remarks were given and the Speaker raised the New Brunswick flag to commemorate the day. After the official opening, approximately 3,000 members of the public enjoyed artisanal kiosks showcasing art by New Brunswickers and live multicultural and Indigenous performances.
Proof of Vaccination and Entry to Building
Starting in September, following an increase in COVID-19 infections in the province, all full-time and part-time employees of the Legislative Assembly, including political staff, contractors, volunteers, and onsite vendors/suppliers, were required to provide proof of full vaccination to Human Resources. Those who did not provide proof were required to wear a mask in the workplace at all times, except when they were alone in their personal workspace, and to follow Covid-19 testing requirements. Starting in October, all visitors to the Legislative Assembly building were required to provide proof of full vaccination, or medical exemption, and government-issued identification to security upon entry.
The standings in the House are 26 Progressive Conservatives, 16 Liberals, three Greens, two People’s Alliance, and two vacancies.
Alicia R. Del Frate
Parliamentary Support Officer
3rd Session of the 42nd Legislature
The Third Session of the 42nd Legislature resumed on October 6, 2021, for an intense jam-packed six-day session pursuant to a Sessional Order passed by leave on the first sitting day. The Sessional Order, discussed below, was in part prompted by the resignation of Brian Pallister as Premier on September 1 and as an MLA on October 4. Deputy Premier and Government House Leader, Kelvin Goertzen, assumed the reins as Manitoba’s 23rd Premier on September 1, agreeing to do so for a two-month period as the Progressive Conservative Party will select its next leader on October 30. Manitoba will then have its first female Premier as the leadership race is between Heather Stefanson, former Health Minister and current MLA and Shelly Glover, a former Manitoba MP. The Sessional Calendar indicates that the House is scheduled to return on November 16, 2021, usually with a Throne Speech, however that date is not set in stone and it is possible that the new Premier could decide to call back the House at a later date.
Prior to the resumption of the Session, the House Leaders agreed to have a seating plan with two-thirds of MLAs in the Chamber in which the MLAs were separated by a desk instead of sitting side by side, with the remaining number of Members participating virtually. The seating plan required a fourth row of MLA desks due to the numbers of 24 PCs, 12 NDP and two Independent Liberal Members in the Chamber. Masks were worn by all present to enter, exit and move around the Chamber. The House continued the practice adopted in previous Sessions under COVID-19 with document tables used for materials to be distributed rather than having Pages deliver Bills and other items directly to desks. Members not present in the Chamber were still able to engage fully in the proceedings on a virtual basis pursuant to a prior Sessional Order, detailed in a previous edition, allowing for such participation. The Public Gallery was not open as the Legislative Building remains closed.
This sitting period had promised to be extremely busy, especially for Committees, as the Official Opposition designated five Bills to be delayed until these Fall Sittings. Bill 64 – The Education Modernization Act, had received an unprecedented number of over 500 registered presenters. However that Bill, along with the other four government Designated Bills detailed in the previous edition, were withdrawn from any further proceedings as part of the Sessional Order agreed to by all parties. The Sessional Order also dealt with the passage of certain business including completion of Departmental Estimates and all the steps or segments of the financial Main and Capital process to pass Budget 2021. Finally, the Order guaranteed passage of the following two Bills:
- Bill 72 – The Disability Support Act and Amendments to The Manitoba Assistance Act supports the creation of the program that will be separate from Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) and include disability support payments and shelter assistance tailored to the unique and specific needs of individuals with severe and prolonged disabilities. The Manitoba Assistance Act had also been amended to strengthen requirements for participation in programming and supportive planning that would help people move closer to employment and labour market attachment;
- Bill 232 – The Emancipation Day Act which proclaims August 1 of each year as Emancipation Day in order to properly recognize the heritage of Manitoba’s people of African descent and the contributions that members of the Black community have made and continue to make to Manitoba.
The Committees Branch was still active during this short session even though it did not have to manage the expected 500 plus presenters that would have been required to complete the Designated Bill process. The Chief Electoral Officer requested that a Standing Committee be called to deal with some electoral concerns as voting by mail in Manitoba was restricted to absentee voters and to homebound voting. In order to allow voting by mail for the upcoming by-election and all subsequent elections for eligible voters, it was necessary to have a recommendation go forward to a Standing Committee for adoption.
An Advisory Committee of Elections Manitoba met on October 7 and recommended that the following proposals be presented to Members to consider at a Legislative Committee hearing:
- Proposal to Modify the Voting Process titled “Vote Anywhere in your Electoral Division on Election Day” dated November 2020.
- Proposal to Modify the Voting Process titled “Vote by Mail – By-election” dated October 2021.
On October 13, the Standing Committee of Legislative Affairs met to consider the proposals related to voting anywhere and voting by mail during a by-election, and passed the following motions:
- THAT pursuant to subsection 28.1(5) and subject to subsection 28.1(6) of The Elections Act, the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs approve the proposal to modify the voting process tabled in the House on October 7, 2021, and recommend that the Chief Electoral Officer direct that the voting process be modified for any upcoming by-elections occurring before April 1, 2022.
- THAT pursuant to subsection 28.1(5) and subject to subsection 28.1(6) of The Elections Act, the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs approve the aspects pertaining to electronic strike-off contained within the proposal to modify the voting process tabled in the House on December 1, 2020, and recommend that the Chief Electoral Officer implement all aspects governing the adoption of electronic strike-off for the next general election.
- THAT pursuant to section 28.1(4) of The Elections Act, the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs has completed consideration of the proposal to modify the voting process tabled in the House on December 1, 2020, and does not approve the aspects of the proposal pertaining to electronic tabulators at this time, but recommends that legislation be brought forward to implement all aspects governing the adoption of electronic tabulators for the next general election.
The committee report containing these motions was subsequently concurred in on the following sitting day after the committee report was presented to the House.
Amendments to the Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceedings
On October 12, the Standing Committee on the Rules of the House met to consider amendments to the Rule Book. A considerable amount of work was done behind the scenes to make this happen including multiple meetings with House Leaders and considerable efforts in terms of research, drafting, and translation. The new Rules will come into force at the commencement of the Fourth Session of the Forty Second Legislature. Some of the major changes include:
- Replace all gender-specific language with gender-neutral language;
- Changes to the Sessional Calendar to provide sufficient sitting days for the completion of Designated Bills during the Fall Sittings;
- Clarification of terminology and additional definitions for better certainty;
- Changes allowing Opposition staff to be present at tables placed immediately before the front row on the Opposition side of the House during consideration of Estimates meeting in the Chamber;
- Including the names of individuals in Hansard referenced by MLAs making Members’ Statements without leave of the House being required;
- Clarification of speaking times in debate;
- Removing the ability to challenge rulings from Supply Chairs;
- Allowing House Leaders to alter the Estimates sequence without requiring leave;
- Clarification of Supply terminology;
- Streamlining the Main and Capital process with the Capital Supply Resolution to be considered in Estimates.
A fond Adieu
On October 14, 2021, the Speaker paid tribute to Monique Grenier, who announced her retirement effective January 2022. Monique began her career in the offices of Legislative Counsel from 1987 to 1999 after which she subsequently excelled as both Clerk Assistant/Journals Clerk and Clerk Assistant/Committee Clerk serving the Assembly in both capacities with legendary skill and proficiency.
Research Officer/Clerk Assistant
When Nova Scotia was preparing its last Legislative Report in July 2021, rumours of an impending election campaign were aswirl. With the ink still fresh on the writs returned for 41st General Election, we now write to cover two major developments: 1. The newly-composed 64th General Assembly and 2. The legislative work the Assembly undertook during the First Session.
41st General Election and 64th General Assembly
As foreshadowed in our previous Report, on July 17, 2021, (the now former) Premier Iain Rankin (Timberlea-Prospect) visited Government House to ask the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature. One month later, Nova Scotians chose a new House of Assembly. As a result, the Province now also has a new Premier, along with a new 19-member Executive Council.
Election of Members of the House of Assembly
Nova Scotia’s 41st General Election was the first to unfold across 55 electoral districts, encompassing a four-seat increase in the House’s size. Through redrawing existent boundaries and reviving protected districts, the additional four seats effectuated the voter parity recommended by the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission in 2012 (and again in 2019), as well as the constitutional right to effective representation interpreted by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in 2017. (Reference re the Final Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, 2017 NSCA 10.)
From the 759,341 Nova Scotians registered to vote, 55.67 per cent turned out for an election that brought an end to the tenure of the Liberal party, whose elected officials had run the Province for a period of almost eight years. In the end, the former leader of the Official Opposition Tim Houston (Pictou East) prevailed to stand as Nova Scotia’s 30th Premier.
Eleven incumbents opted not to re-offer. Of those 40 incumbents who did indeed reoffer, seven were unseated (five Liberals (Halifax Citadel-Sable Island; Eastern Shore; Lunenburg; Antigonish; Guysborough-Tracadie), one Progressive Conservative (Northside-Westmount), and one Independent (Cape Breton-Richmond)). Cape Bretoners were captivated by a nail-biting judicial recount in redistributed district of Glace-Bay-Dominion on August 30, 2021. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia confirmed the victory of the presumptive Member-Elect, John White, with a total margin of 29 votes over the runner-up (a 4-vote correction to Elections Nova Scotia’s total of 33 votes).
Coincidentally, the recount occurred simultaneously with the 4.5-hour-long Swearing-In Ceremony. On that same day, nearly all other Members-Elect convened caucus-by-caucus to take their constitutional oath and sign the roll.
Upon Commencement, the standings of registered parties in the 64th General Assembly were as follows:
Progressive Conservative: 31
New Democratic Party: 6
Amongst the 55 successful candidates who returned to the House were 24 first-time MLAs. A landmark number of four African-Nova Scotian MLAs (including one incumbent) took their oaths as legislators (Cole Harbour; Halifax-Armdale; Halifax-Needham; Preston). Another milestone was marked when constituents of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank voted the first Nova Scotian of Chinese descent to take a seat in the House. The House also welcomed the first Muslim-Nova Scotian MLA (Halifax-Armdale). As for gender, the Legislature’s membership not only includes 19 MLAs presumed to identify as female, but now also includes the first-ever non-binary MLA (Halifax Citadel-Sable Island).
(What is technically the 56th seat has been vacant since its inception. In 1992, the House allocated a seat for a Mi’kmaw representative “to be chosen and to sit in a manner and upon terms agreed to and approved by representatives of the Mi’kmaq people”. See House of Assembly Act, RSNS (1992 Supp.), c. 21, s. 6.)
Election of Presiding Officers
After the Swearing-In Ceremony on August 30, the next item on the House’s calendar was the Speaker’s Election on September 24. The Chief Clerk fulfilled the duty of ensuring the House has its Guardian and Spokesperson. To synchronize with the Public Health restrictions in force outside of the precinct at that time, the Chief Clerk coordinated the Speaker’s Election through a hybrid format. Ten MLAs attended the chamber, while the rest appeared virtually, but in close proximity to Province House—in the unexpected event that their physical participation be required.
As it happened, MLAs did have to step away from their screens and enter the chamber because the Speaker’s Election went to a secret ballot between two nominees. The Premier put forward the MLA for Victoria-the Lakes, Keith Bain, who had previously served as Deputy Speaker. Across the aisle, the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Halifax-Chebucto) nominated the MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, Lisa Lachance. Remarkably, this departure from the trend of acclaiming an unchallenged nominee was only the second time in the history of the Assembly that MLAs themselves elected a peer to serve as Speaker. (The first secret ballot elected Ronald Russell to preside over the 57th General Assembly in 1998. At that time, Speaker Russell ascended the dais for a third term.)
The historic suspense lasted for a thirty-seven-minute voting period. To secretly and safely cast their ballots, MLAs located off-site quickly came to Province House, queued in a physically-distanced line, and then entered the chamber one-by-one. There, each MLA marked their ballot behind a tartan-draped screen and deposited their ballots in the traditional receptacle – the Speaker’s top hat. The Chief Clerk did not, however, utilize the oldest headpiece in the House’s forgotten collection, which the Legislative Library dusted off for the occasion. (See photos).
Ultimately, the Chief Clerk declared the MLA for Victoria-The Lakes as Speaker of the House of Assembly. The new Speaker was reluctantly dragged up to the Chair, in true Westminster fashion.
The occasion also shattered ceilings. Next, by unanimous Resolution of the House, the Member for Halifax Citadel Hill Sable-Island was appointed Mx Deputy Speaker, thereby becoming Nova Scotia’s first non-binary Presiding Officer. Also breaking records was the MLA for Preston, Angela Simmonds, who, by that same unanimous Resolution was appointed Madam Deputy Speaker, thereby becoming Nova Scotia’s first African-Nova Scotian Deputy Speaker. Together, the two Deputy Speakers also share the role of chairing the Committees of the Whole House.
The House’s Fall Sitting consisted of 17 daily meetings, including some days that extended late into nights (the latest of which was November 3, when the House rose at 10:12 pm). On November 5, the House adjourned sine die. Under the House of Assembly Act, the House is mandated to return for its Spring Session sometime between January 1 and June 30.
After the Speaker’s Election, the House returned for the Speech from the Throne on October 12. In tandem with the Province’s phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the masked event involved relaxed physical-distancing limits and group-gathering restrictions. However, caution surrounding the arrival of COVID-19’s fourth wave did necessitate paring down much of the splendour and frills that ordinarily herald in the beginning of the Legislative Session.
Entitled, “A Healthy Nova Scotia: Solutions for Nova Scotians”, the Lieutenant-Governor delivered the 13-page Speech in less than 45 minutes. The main policy priorities announced from the Throne were fivefold:
- Health: Offering world-class access to healthcare through recruiting professionals and investing in universal mental health support;
- Seniors: Building the capacity of long-term care and enhancing household support for independent living;
- Economy: Supporting the middle-class with employer options to distribute tax returns to employees; increasing the threshold for taxing young trade workers; addressing the housing crisis;
- Environment: Addressing climate change by green measures, sustainable development, and renewable energy;
- Accountability: providing tools to hold the Government accountable, including reinvigorating the Public Accounts Committee, fixing the provincial election date, and strengthening privacy protections and freedom of information.
Debate on Address in Reply
The House began transacting regular business on October 13 – the day immediately after the Throne Speech. Due to the idiosyncrasies of Nova Scotia’s recent practice, the Address in Reply has yet to be voted upon and is still on the Order Paper. Twenty-four members have spoken so far during the Debate.
(Nova Scotia has not voted upon the Address in Reply since the 58th General Assembly in 1999. Unlike many other legislatures, Nova Scotia’s Rules and Forms of Procedure do not restrict the duration of the Debate on the Address in Reply, nor do the Rules restrict the House’s capacity to proceed with regular business while the Address in Reply remains outstanding (and in perpetuity).
In sum, 24 members have spoken so far during the Debate.
Abolition of Daily Prayer
Early into the First Session, the 64th Assembly jettisoned an old Parliamentary tradition. Two substantially-similar Resolutions (one introduced by the Premier, the other by the Leader of the Official Opposition) proposed to amend the House’s Rules and Forms of Procedure by replacing the Daily Prayer with an inclusive opportunity for solemn individual thought. Both Resolutions passed after unanimous waiver of notice and unanimous waiver of debate. Pursuant to Rule 16, Members now observe a “Moment of Quiet Reflection” before the Speaker calls the House to Order.
Throughout the four weeks of the Fall Sitting, a total of 95 Bills were introduced for the House’s consideration. Of those 95 Bills, 20 were passed (including three Private or Local Bills), one was defeated, and 74 now rest on the Order Paper.
Towards accomplishing the priorities announced in the Throne Speech, the Government introduced a total of 17 Public Bills. All 17 passed and received Royal Assent.
“Interestingly, the two Bills most fervently debated actually received all-party support on their fundamental principles, while umbrage was voiced on the details. The fervent debate on these two Bills prompted recorded divisions:
- Bill 1, Elections Act (amended) – fixing the provincial election date to “the third Tuesday in July in the fourth calendar year following election day for the most recent general election.” The controversy revolved around the summer election day.
- Bill 57, Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act – the bulk of the 32 proposed amendments aimed for higher targets and faster action. The pair of amendments that did pass were aspirational in nature and explicitly added:
1. African Nova Scotian communities as a group with whom the Government aims to work with on climate change priorities (Tony Ince, MLA for Cole Harbour); and
2. A goal to create a panel to address environmental racism and recommend redress (Suzy Hansen, MLA for Halifax-Needham).
Private Members’ Public Bills
On the Opposition’s side of the House, Private Members introduced a total of 75 Bills. None of the Private Members’ Bills have passed, while 1 was defeated. Notably, the following 9 Bills were moved for debate on Second Reading during Opposition Business:
- Bill 2, Healthcare Professionals Recruitment Accountability Act
- Bill 5, Municipal Government Act (amended) and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (amended)
- Bill 12, Dismantling Racism and Hate Act
- Bill 22, Redressing Harm and Environmental Racism Act
- Bill 56, Affordable Child Care Accountability Act
- Bill 15, Gender-based Analysis Plus Implementation Act
- Bill 29, Green Jobs Training Act
- Bill 19, Owl’s Head Act – Defeated on a recorded division (28-22).
- Bill 26, Emergency “911” Act
The pre-dissolution September 2021 sitting convened on September 9, 2021, and concluded on September 16, 2021.
Three bills received Assent during the pre-dissolution September 2021 sitting:
- Bill 55, An Act to Amend the Property Assessment and Taxation Act;
- Bill 75, An Act to Amend the Summary Conviction Procedures Act; and
- Bill 77, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 2, 2021-2022.
A total of 81 bills were introduced during the life of the 5th Legislative Assembly, of which 77 received Assent.
Dissolution of the 5th Legislative Assembly, Holding of the 6th General Election and Convening of the 6th Legislative Assembly
The 5th Legislative Assembly was dissolved on September 19, 2021. The Chief Electoral Officer issued writs of election on September 20, 2021.
A number of incumbents did not stand for re-election: Paul Quassa (Aggu), Allan Rumbolt (Hudson Bay), Pat Angnakak (Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu), Elisapee Sheutiapik (Iqaluit-Sinaa) and Pauloosie Keyootak (Uqqummiut).
At the close of nominations, a total of 58 individuals had submitted declarations of candidacy to stand for election in the territory’s 22 constituencies. Five candidates were declared elected by acclamation: John Main (Arviat North-Whale Cove), Joe Savikataaq (Arviat South), Margaret Nakashuk (Pangnirtung) David Akeeagok (Quttiktuq) and David Joanasie (South Baffin)
The 6th general election was held on October 25, 2021. Returning Members were:
Joelie Kaernerk (Amittuq)
Craig Simailak (Baker Lake)
Tony Akoak (Gjoa Haven)
Adam Arreak Lightstone (Iqaluit-Manirajak)
George Hickes (Iqaluit-Tasiluk)
Lorne Kusugak (Rankin Inlet South)
Newly-elected Members were:
Joanna Quassa (Aggu)
Solomon Malliki (Aivilik)
Pamela Hakongak Gross (Cambridge Bay)
Daniel Qavvik (Hudson Bay)
P.J. Akeeagok (Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu)
Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster (Iqaluit-Sinaa)
Bobby Anavilok (Kugluktuk)
Joseph Quqqiaq (Netsilik)
Alexander Sammurtok (Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet)
Karen Nutarak (Tununiq)
Mary Killiktee (Uqqummiut)
Mr. Sammurtok previously served as a Member of the 4th Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Rankin Inlet South.
On November 17, 2021, Members-elect gathered in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly for the convening of the Nunavut Leadership Forum. By convention, the Forum consists of all Members of the Legislative Assembly, and is used to conduct the selection process for the Speaker, Premier and members of the Executive Council (Cabinet) of Nunavut. The Forum’s proceedings were televised live across the territory. As a consequence of the ongoing state of public health emergency under the Public Health Act, the Visitors’ Gallery remains closed to the general public.
The first item of business was the selection of the Speaker. Mr. Akoak was acclaimed to the position and immediately proceeded to preside over the remainder of the day’s proceedings.
Three Members subsequently accepted nominations to serve as Premier: Messrs. Akeeagok (P.J.), Kusugak and Savikataaq. Each candidate was permitted to deliver a speech. Members not standing for Premier were permitted to ask up to two questions to the candidates. In a secret ballot vote, Mr. Akeeagok was elected as Premier on the first round of balloting.
A total of sixteen Members subsequently accepted nominations to serve on the Executive Council. The Assembly’s Full Caucus had previously announced that eight Ministers would be chosen. The following Members were elected: Mr. Akeeagok (David), Ms. Hakongak Gross, Mr. Joanasie, Mr. Kusugak, Mr. Arreak Lightstone, Mr. Main, Ms. Nakashuk and Ms. Quassa.
Commissioner Eva Qamaniq Aariak presided over the swearing-in ceremony for the Members of the 6th Legislative Assembly, which took place on the morning of November 19, 2021, in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly. The event was televised live across the territory.
The 1st sitting of the 6th Legislative Assembly took place that afternoon. At the beginning of the sitting, Mr. Akoak formally took the Chair. Dragging duties were performed by Ms. Gross and Mr. Simailak, who moved and seconded the formal motion of appointment. During the sitting, motions were passed to formally recommend the appointments of the Ministry. Motions were also passed to appoint Mr. Hickes as Deputy Speaker and Messrs. Malliki and Savikataaq as Deputy Chairpersons of the Committee of the Whole. The swearing-in ceremony for the members of the Executive Council took place after the sitting of the House. Ministerial portfolios were announced during the ceremony.
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
In “Thoughts on Prayers: An Analysis of Prayers in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, 2003-2019,” Vol 44, No. 3, pp 12-18, there was a summary of the prayer practices of Assemblies across Canada. Of Nova Scotia, the article noted: “The Speaker reads a shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer, which was written by Speaker Mitchel in 1972”. A member of the Canadian Parliamentary Review’s editorial board explains that this assertion is incorrect and the error has been made in numerous sources over the years.
The text of the prayer used until it was dispensed with recently, was written by Speaker Mitchell in 1972, and contained the entire Lord’s Prayer preceded by the following words:
“O Lord in whom we trust, and with whose guidance and grace this land was founded,
We pray that you will give to each of us the courage required to become servants of God through our service to this province.
Assist us in our deliberations so that our legislation will reflect a true spirit of justice and equity to all people.
Bless, we pray, our Queen and members of the Royal Family.
Give to the Members of this Assembly good health for the physical strains they must endure and good judgement and clear understanding for those decisions which they must make.
O Lord, we pray that with your help, our nation shall remain united and one in which all of its peoples may live and prosper and that it shall ever remain strong and free.”
Thus, this prayer is far from being a shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer.
It is now moot as the prayer has been replaced by a moment of reflection. On October 14, 2021, the Leader of the Official Opposition moved the following motion, which was passed without debate:
Be it resolved that Rule 16 of the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly is amended by striking out “read prayers” and substituting “allow a moment of reflection.”
We regret the error.