The College Employer Council, which represents the bargaining unit for Ontario’s colleges, and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union were parties to a collective agreement for full-time academic staff that expired on September 30, 2017. A strike commenced on October 16, 2017, after bargaining negotiations broke down.
On November 16, at the request of the Executive Council, an Order in Council was issued ordering the Speaker to reconvene the 2nd Session of the 41stParliament at 3:00 p.m. on November 17 so that the Government could introduce back-to-work legislation.
On Friday, November 17, the Government introduced Bill 178, An Act to resolve the labour dispute between the College Employer Council and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. The Legislative Assembly met through the weekend to debate the legislation, which passed third reading and received Royal Assent on Sunday, November 19. College students and staff returned to classrooms later that week.
Jagmeet Singh resigned as the Member for Bramalea—Gore—Malton effective October 20, 2017, following his election as leader of the federal New Democratic Party. Cheri DiNovoresigned as the Member for Parkdale—High Park effective December 31, 2017.
The House expressed its condolences on the passing of former Members W. Donald Cousens, Member for the electoral districts of York Centre and Markham from March 19, 1981 – June 7, 1995; Montgomery “Monty” Davidson, Member for Cambridge from September 18, 1975 – March 18, 1981; and Gordon Robert Carton, Member for Armourdale from September 25, 1963 – September 17, 1975.
Standing Committee on Estimates
The Standing Committee on Estimates met in the fall to review the 2017-2018 Expenditure Estimates of ministries and offices selected for consideration. Over the course of 12 meetings, the Committee reviewed the estimates of the Treasury Board Secretariat for seven hours and 30 minutes, the Ministry of Energy for seven hours and 30 minutes, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for 12 hours and 15 minutes. The Committee presented its report to the House on November 16, 2017.
Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs met to consider Bill 148, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and to make related amendments to other Acts. Following three days of public hearings and one day of clause-by-clause consideration, the bill was reported back to the House as amended on November 17. The bill, which received Royal Assent on November 27, 2017, raises the province’s minimum wage to $14.00 an hour on January 1, 2018 and to $15.00 an hour on January 1, 2019, among other initiatives.
The Committee began its 2018 Pre-Budget Consultations in December, with one day of public hearings held in Toronto. Additional consultations are scheduled to be held in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo and Windsor in January 2018.
Standing Committee on General Government
The Standing Committee on General Government considered three bills in the fall.
The first of these was Bill 152, An Act to amend the Representation Act, 2015 and certain other Acts, which created two new electoral districts in Ontario’s far north. Bill 152 was the next step in a process that began in 2015, with the passage of the Representation Act, 2015, which divided Ontario into 122 electoral districts (up from the current 107), as of the 2018 election. That Act also created a Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission, with a mandate to make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly regarding the creation of one or two new provincial electoral districts from the geography of the existing two ridings in the far north, and to propose the boundaries and names of the new riding or ridings.
The Commission tabled its final report in August, and the Government introduced Bill 152 in September, putting into legislation the report’s recommendations.
The Committee held public hearings on the bill in Moose Factory, a predominantly Cree Island community near the mouth of the Moose River, at the southern end of James Bay, and heard testimony from a number of First Nations chiefs. During clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, in response to public input, the Committee amended the proposed name of one new riding, and added a requirement for the Attorney General to undertake a review of the name, in consultation with affected communities, and to make recommendations on the name to the Legislature.
The bill received Royal Assent on October 25, 2017. With the new ridings, the June 2018 election will return 124 MPPs to the Ontario Legislature.
The Committee next considered Bill 163, An Act to enact the Safe Access to Abortion Services Act, 2017 and to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in relation to abortion services. The bill established access zones around abortion clinics, facilities and providers’ residences, and set out prohibitions on certain activities, such as performing acts of disapproval or dissuasion, within the access zones.
The bill was reported back to the House without amendment, and received Royal Assent on October 25, 2017.
Lastly, the Committee considered Bill 160, An Act to amend, repeal and enact various Acts in the interest of strengthening quality and accountability for patients. Among its stated purposes, the bill makes it mandatory for the medical industry to disclose payments made to health care professionals and other recipients; enacts legislation to govern the practice of medical radiation and imaging technology; and establishes a regulatory system for community health facilities and energy applying and detecting medical devices.
The Committee held four days of public hearings and four days of clause-by-clause consideration on the bill. The bill was reported as amended on December 7 and received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017.
Standing Committee on Justice Policy
The Standing Committee on Justice Policy considered Bill 174, An Act to enact the Cannabis Act, 2017, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, 2017 and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, to repeal two Acts and to make amendments to the Highway Traffic Act respecting alcohol, drugs and other matters.This piece of legislation details how cannabis is to be sold and consumed in the province of Ontario. The bill also outlines the restrictions surrounding the smoking of tobacco products, vapour products and medicinal cannabis, and makes various amendments to the Highway Traffic Act.
The Committee held two days of public hearings, attracting a wide variety of presenters; owners of e-cigarette shops and cannabis dispensaries, safety advocacy groups, pharmacists, nurses and school boards, to name a few. Following one day of clause-by-clause consideration, the bill was reported back to the House as amended on December 11, passed Third Reading, and received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017.
Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills
The Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills reported its Second Report 2017 to the House on December 11, 2017. The report reviews regulations made by the government in the second half of 2016. It contains recommendations to two ministries, as the Committee found these ministries not to be in accordance with Committee guidelines for the making of regulations.
National Assembly proceedings
Composition of the National Assembly
Coalition Avenir Québec candidate Geneviève Guilbault was elected in the by-election held on October 2, 2017, in the electoral division of Louis-Hébert.
On December 8, 2017, at the end of the fall period of extended hours of meeting, the composition of the Assembly was as follows: 68 Members of the Québec Liberal Party, 28 Members of the Parti Québécois, 21 Members of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and eight independent Members, three of whom sit under the banner of Québec Solidaire.
On October 11, 2017, Premier Philippe Couillard shuffled his Cabinet. Nine of the 30 ministers composing the Cabinet were given new responsibilities and six new ministers were appointed. Furthermore, Nicole Ménard, Member for Laporte, was appointed Chief Government Whip and Filomena Rotiroti, Member for Jeanne-Mance–Viger, was appointed Chair of the Government Caucus.
Guy Ouellette, Member for Chomedey, stepped away from the Government Caucus from October 26 to November 21, 2017.
From October to December 2017, the Assembly passed 18 bills (15 public and three private). Of these bills, the following should be noted:
Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies;
Bill 99, An Act to amend the Youth Protection Act and other provisions;
Bill 108, An Act to facilitate oversight of public bodies’ contracts and to establish the Autorité des marchés publics;
Bill 130, An Act to amend certain provisions regarding the clinical organization and management of health and social services institutions;
Bill 144, An Act to amend the Education Act and other legislative provisions concerning mainly free educational services and compulsory school attendance;
Bill 151, An Act to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions.
Ethics Commissioner’s ad hoc investigation report to the President of the National Assembly regarding Claude Surprenant, Member for Groulx
On December 5, 2017, pursuant to section 102 of the Code of Ethics and Conduct of the Members of the National Assembly, Claude Surprenant, Member for Groulx, availed himself of his right to make a statement to the Assembly following the tabling of the Ethics Commissioner’s ad hoc investigation report concerning him. At the following sitting, the Assembly voted on the Ethics Commissioner’s report since the Commissioner had recommended the imposition of a sanction. The report was adopted on the following vote: Yeas: 105, Nays: 0, Abstentions: 5. This is the first time that a sanction has been imposed on a parliamentarian since the adoption of the Code of Ethics and Conduct of the Members of the National Assembly in December 2010.
Rulings and directives from the Chair
Among the rulings and directives handed down by the Chair, some deserve special attention.
On November 7, 2017, the Chair gave a ruling on the point of privilege or contempt raised by the Official Opposition House Leader in which he alleged that the Minister of Justice had acted in contempt of Parliament by knowingly misleading the parliamentarians in the context of the consideration in committee of Bill 62, An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies. The Chair recalled that though parliamentary jurisprudence has established that deliberately misleading the House or its committees can constitute contempt of Parliament, the Member must subsequently acknowledge having done so deliberately. It requires more than a clumsy or poorly prepared statement on how to interpret a provision contained in a bill under consideration for the Minister’s statements to be considered an admission to having deliberately misled parliamentarians. At no time did she admit to having deliberately made statements in order to mislead the committee and, consequently, the Chair concluded that the Minister of Justice’s statements did not constitute contempt of Parliament.
Arrest of a Member
On the afternoon of October 25, 2017, police officers of the Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC) arrested the Member for Chomedey and chair of the Committee on Institutions, Mr. Ouellette. On that day, the Member was to chair the proceedings of this Committee tasked with examining a bill. At lunchtime, UPAC police officers used a ploy to get the Member to leave the parliamentary precincts and to meet him at a location on the outskirts of Québec City before arresting him. The Member’s cell phone and various electronic devices were also seized. At the time of writing, no charges had been laid against the Member.
On October 31, the Member for Chomedey made a statement on this matter during the period set aside for personal explanations. The same day, the President of the National Assembly also made a statement to give the Members of the National Assembly his thoughts on this unprecedented situation, as well as to give his interpretation of his role as President within this context. The Official Opposition House Leader then asked for directives on the following questions:
- Has the President always been notified by the legal authorities when a Member is arrested?
- Have the legal authorities violated a Member’s privileges if they do not promptly lay charges following the Member’s arrest?
- Is the President’s authorization necessary to search Members’ cell phones and computers? Are these devices considered extensions of a Member’s National Assembly office and covered by the same parliamentary privilege?
- Does the fact that a police force misleads a Member, resulting in him being unable to fulfill his parliamentary duties, constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege? Does tricking or misleading a Member to get him out of the parliamentary precincts in order to serve him constitute contempt of Parliament?
- Is electronic surveillance of a Member outside the parliamentary precincts considered a form of harassment, obstruction, molestation or intimidation of that Member? What specific measures must police forces take under these circumstances to respect the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches?
After having taken these questions under advisement, the President of the Assembly handed down a directive in reply thereto at the sitting of November 16, 2017. Owing to the length of this directive, the President’s statement and his directive may be viewed using the following links (in French only):
Consultations and public hearings
From October to December 2017, the National Assembly’s sectorial committees held close to 40 consultation sittings and public hearings. These sittings involved over 110 hours of work.
In early December 2017, the Committee on Health and Social Services (CHSS) began its public consultations within the framework of the consideration of Bill 157, An Act to constitute the Société québécoise du cannabis, to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions. Upon adjournment of proceedings for the holiday period, 32 briefs had been received, and 55 individuals and groups will have been heard by the end of these consultations in January 2018.
In March 2016, the Committee on Citizen Relations (CCR) adopted an order of initiative on women’s place in politics. Within the framework of its mandate, public hearings were held on December 6-7, 2017. During these hearings, 11 individuals and organizations were heard and 12 briefs were received. An online consultation has also been underway since November 9, and will end on December 31, 2017. As of mid-December 2017, almost 500 individuals had filled out the questionnaire. This extensive consultation will make it possible, in particular, to pinpoint the factors that motivate women or discourage them from entering provincial politics.
Clause-by-clause consideration of bills
Since October 2017, 16 public bills have been given clause-by-clause consideration in parliamentary committee. In other words, 53 public sittings totalling over 170 hours of work in committee were set aside for this type of mandate.
Among these bills, we should note the end of the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 108, An Act to facilitate oversight of public bodies’ contracts and to establish the Autorité des marchés publics, which was referred to the Committee on Public Finance (CPF). The consideration of this bill took close to 40 hours during which 216 amendments and subamendments were introduced, 178 of which were adopted. The Committee on Culture and Education (CCE) also concluded the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 151, An Act to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions, in three sittings.
The Committee on Institutions (CI), for its part, gave clause-by-clause consideration to Bill 107, An Act to increase the jurisdiction and independence of the Anti-Corruption Commissioner and the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes and expand the power of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions to grant certain benefits to cooperating witnesses. During the three sittings set aside for this bill, 21 amendments were adopted by the CI members. During the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 143, An Act to improve the educational quality and foster the harmonious development of educational childcare services, the CCR examined 40 proposed amendments, half of which were adopted.
Finally, the CCE members and those of the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain (CPP) heard the interested parties and gave clause-by-clause consideration to three private bills.
Tabling of the Committee on Public Administration’s report and 20th anniversary
On December 6, 2017, the Committee on Public Administration (CPA) tabled its 37th report. This report concerns the accountability of the deputy ministers and chief executive officers of the following public bodies: the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Luttecontre les changements climatiques, the Ministère du Tourisme, the Autorité des marchés financiers, the Commission de la fonction publique and Investissement Québec. This document reflects the public hearings held between September and November 2017. It also contains nine recommendations aiming to improve the administrative management of these departments and public bodies.
Furthermore, on October 31, 2017, the CPA underlined its 20th anniversary during a ceremony held under the honorary chairmanship of the President of the National Assembly, Jacques Chagnon(Westmount–Saint-Louis), and in the presence of several Members and this Committee’s key contributors. To mark this anniversary, an article was also published in the journal The Parliamentarian.
Composition of the standing committees
Last October, several changes were made to the standing committees. Three of them elected a new chair: Rita de Santis (Bourassa-Sauvé) replaced Ms. Rotiroti as chair of the CCE, Mr. Ouellette replaced Pierre Michel Auger (Champlain) as chair of the CPP and Mr. Auger replaced Mr. Ouellette as chair of the CI.
Furthermore, three committees elected new vice-chairs: Guy Hardy (Saint-François) replaced Jean Habel (Sainte-Rose) as vice-chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources (CAFENR), Pierre Reid (Orford) replaced Paul Busque (Beauce-Sud) as vice-chair of the Committee on Labour and the Economy (CLE) and Nicole Léger (Pointe-aux-Trembles) replaced Claude Cousineau (Bertrand) as vice-chair of the CPP.
Cercle des jeunes parlementaires
Last November 30, the President of the National Assembly announced the creation of the Cercle des jeunes parlementaires (circle of young parliamentarians). The main purpose of this circle is to encourage young people’s involvement in politics by organizing meetings, conferences and workshops.
Thus, starting from the next legislature, all MNAs aged 35 years and under will be members of the circle for the duration of the legislature. This group’s steering committee will be composed of cochairs hailing from each of the political parties represented in the National Assembly. Participation in the activities of the Cercle des jeunes parlementaires will be voluntary and non-partisan.
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs
General Directorate for Parliamentary Affairs
As mentioned in the Winter 2017 Legislative Report, the 2nd Session of the 41st Parliament began on September 8, 2017 with the first Speech from the Throne of the minority government led by the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) and Premier John Horgan. The government is supported by the three BC Green Party Members pursuant to a May 30, 2017 “Confidence and Supply Agreement.” The House adjourned on November 30, 2017, and was scheduled to resume on February 14, 2018.
Currently, the BC NDP and the BC Liberal Party have 41 Members each, and the BC Green Party has three Members. The Assembly has one Independent Member, the Speaker, and one vacancy due to the August 4 resignation of former premier and leader of the BC Liberal Party, Christy Clark. A by-election for the former Premier’s constituency must be called no later than February 3, 2018.
In total, 17 government bills and 11 private members’ bills were introduced in this sitting. By the end of the sitting, all government bills received Royal Assent. The significant bills outlined in the Winter 2017 Legislative Report received Royal Assent, including the Election Amendment Act, 2017, the Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act, the Lobbyists Registration Amendment Act, 2017 and the Constitution Amendment Act, 2017. With the adoption of the Constitution Amendment Act, 2017, which changed the definition of “leader of a recognized political party” by reducing the threshold for official party status from four Members to two, the BC Green Party received official party status.
Speaker’s Decision on the Application of Standing Order 18 (Pecuniary Interest)
On October 18, 2017 in anticipation of second reading debate on Bill 5, Constitution Amendment Act, 2017, Opposition House Leader Michael de Jong raised a point of order regarding the application of Standing Order 18 to the Bill. Standing Order 18 states that a Member is not entitled to vote on a question in which he or she has a direct pecuniary interest. As the Bill would result in Members of the Green Party becoming eligible for additional compensation if they were to accept the responsibilities for party positions such as leader, House Leader and whip, the Opposition House Leader sought guidance on whether any Members would be precluded from participating in the debate and voting on the bill.
In his decision, Speaker Darryl Plecas cited previous Speaker’s rulings on Standing Order 18 establishing that a direct pecuniary interest must be immediate and personal. The Speaker stated that the entitlement for additional compensation for Members in the above noted positions is not a personal benefit, but rather a benefit connected to specific positions, pursuant to the Members’ Remuneration and Pensions Act. He also noted that Members should not be prevented from voting on rules that directly or indirectly establish their entitlement to compensation, even if this has the effect of providing them with pecuniary benefits, as “these decisions are expressions of the basic right held by parliaments that a House must be allowed to govern itself.”
Speaker’s Decision on Unparliamentary Language
During Question Period on October 25, 2017, Speaker Plecas cautioned Members against the use of addressing ministers by improper titles, such as “Minister of Job Loss”, “Minister of Consultation Paralysis” and “Minister of Intimidation”. Following continued use of these improper titles, on November 6, 2017, the Speaker advised Members that ministers must be addressed by their proper title. Mr. de Jong, Official Opposition House Leader, rose on a point of order suggesting that the use of other titles did not constitute unparliamentary language. Government House Leader, Mike Farnworth, and the Third Party House Leader, Sonia Furstenau, also spoke to the point of order.
On November 7, 2017, Speaker Plecas delivered his decision. He noted that “numerous rulings and parliamentary authorities affirm that unparliamentary language is not defined in an exhaustive or finite manner” and that “a Speaker must exercise discretion and consider context in which language is used in debate when deciding whether to intervene.” He concluded that “the use of unofficial and, at times, mocking or derogatory titles when directing a question to a Minister of the Crown is indeed disrespectful to the Minister and reflects poorly on this institution.”
Estimates and Supply Legislation
Due to the provincial general election in May, the Assembly was previously unable to consider a budget and the accompanying estimates, and adopted an Interim Supply Bill at the end of the previous Parliament, and a second Interim Supply Bill on September 21, 2017.
The Committee of Supply began consideration of the Estimates for the 2017-2018 provincial budget on October 2, 2017, and concluded its process on November 29, 2017. In keeping with recent practice, a September 20, 2017 motion for Committee of Supply to sit in two sections to facilitate consideration of the Estimates was unanimously adopted. In total, the Assembly spent nearly 140 hours on Estimates, similar to the level of time spent in recent election years. The Supply Act, 2017-2018 received Royal Assent on November 30, 2017.
Legislative Assembly Management Committee
The adoption of the Constitution Amendment Act, 2017 resulted in consequential changes to the membership of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee. The Legislative Assembly Management Committee Act provides that the membership for the committee includes: the Speaker (chair), the Government House Leader, the chair of the Government Caucus, a cabinet minister (recent practice has been to appoint the Government Whip), the Opposition House leader, the chair of the Opposition Caucus, one Member from each additional party (other than the government party or the official opposition party), and for each Member appointed from an additional party, one additional Government Member. As the Green Party received official party status, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee now includes a Green Party Member and an additional Government Member, bringing the total committee membership to eight.
The Committee held two meetings in the new Parliament and approved Vote 1 (Legislative Assembly) for the 2018/19 fiscal year. The Committee also received an update on the implementation of a December 2016 decision on constituency office centralized expenses reporting and discussed staffing arrangements in constituency offices in the new Parliament.
The change in the party recognition threshold also generated discussion with respect to funding as the current funding formula results in an official party of three Members receiving less funding than is afforded to three individual Independent Members combined. Pending an independent review of caucus resources and the caucus funding formula, the Committee approved interim funding for the Office of the Leader of the Third Party equal to 50 percent of the funding received by the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Other Parliamentary Committees
The Special Committee of Selection met on October 23, 2017 to prepare and report lists of members to compose the Select Standing Committees under Standing Order 68(1). The Committee presented its report to the Legislative Assembly on October 24, 2017.
On November 1, 2017, the Legislative Assembly appointed three special committees to select and unanimously recommend to the Assembly the appointment of an Information and Privacy Commissioner, a Chief Electoral Officer and a Conflict of Interest Commissioner.
Since the resignation of former Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in July 2016, British Columbia has had an Acting Commissioner, Drew McArthur, pursuant to Section 39 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. A Special Committee to Appoint an Information and Privacy Commissioner was established in the previous Parliament; however, the Committee was unable to come to a unanimous recommendation as required by legislation, and recommended a new special committee be appointed to undertake this work following the May 2017 election. Section 39(2) provides that an Acting Commissioner holds office until a Commissioner is appointed under Section 37, a suspension ends, the Commissioner returns after a temporary illness or the Legislative Assembly has sat for 20 days after the day of the Acting Commissioner’s appointment – whichever is the case and whichever occurs first. To ensure continuity in the position while a new special committee undertook its work, the Legislative Assembly adopted the Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Continuation Act on October 5, 2017, which temporarily disapplies this last provision, otherwise the Acting Commissioner would have ceased to hold office in October as the Legislative Assembly had sat for 20 days after the date of his appointment. The legislation includes a sunset clause repealing the Act on March 31, 2018 or on an earlier date prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The Special Committee to Appoint an Information and Privacy Commissioner issued a call for applications on November 29, 2017 with applications due on January 12, 2018.
The Special Committee to Appoint a Conflict of Interest Commissioner and the Special Committee to Appoint a Chief Electoral Officer began discussions on their mandates to unanimously recommend a Conflict of Interest Commissioner and a Chief Electoral Officer. The term for the current Conflict of Interest Commissioner ends on April 5, 2018 and the term for the current Chief Electoral Officer ends on May 31, 2018.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its report on the Budget 2018 consultation on November 15, 2017. It also concluded an in-depth review of the budgets of the province’s eight statutory offices, with the release of a unanimous report on statutory office 2018-2019 budgets on December 18, 2017.
On November 28, 2017, Mr. Farnworth moved a motion to authorize the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations to meet for up to three days to study and make recommendations by February 15, 2018 on ride hailing in BC. Mr. de Jong moved an amendment to the motion to remove the limit on the number of days for study and to expand the Committee’s mandate to include the impact on the taxi industry. During debate, government and BC Green Party Members spoke against the amendment, which was subsequently defeated on division, after which the main motion was adopted on division.
Address to the House
On November 20, 2017, the Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a motion to suspend proceedings on November 21, 2017 to allow Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, to address the Legislative Assembly. In his speech, Governor Inslee spoke of shared interests and values in the Pacific Northwest region, discussed partnerships in technology, health care and transportation, and called on legislators on both sides of the border to address the challenge of climate change by making environmental stewardship an economic asset and economic growth strategy. Premier Horgan, Official Opposition Leader Rich Coleman and Third Party Leader Andrew Weaver each made statements in response echoing the Governor’s comments about shared interests and opportunities to strengthen economic prosperity for the region. The last address to the House was by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on February 11, 2010, and the last time a Governor of the State of Washington addressed the House was in 1984.
Legislative Assembly Staff Organizational Update
The Legislative Assembly updated its organizational structure to better address priorities in information and technology management, including digitization initiatives. The Information Technology Branch will now report to the Deputy Clerk and Clerk of Committees instead of the Executive Financial Officer. This move places most information and knowledge-based departments under one umbrella, and will facilitate the development of a digital strategy to guide the Assembly’s priorities, efforts and investments in the area digital information management.
The Assembly is also working on capital, business continuity and disaster response planning. To support these efforts and leverage financial, procurement and other linkages, responsibility for these initiatives has been shifted from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Executive Financial Officer.
Committee Research Analyst
Newfoundland and Labrador
The House met in special session from October 16-19, to consider an amendment to the Elections Act 1991 in response to a decision of Madam Justice Gillian Butler striking down as unconstitutional the special ballot provisions of the Act which allowed for the casting of ballots before nominations had closed. It was necessary to amend the statute sooner rather than later in light of an impending by-election.
On November 6, in accordance with the recently-adopted Parliamentary Calendar, the House reconvened for the continuation of the Second Session of the 48th General Assembly.
On November 8, the Commissioner for Legislative Standards tabled the Report on his investigation of an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct by a Member of the House. The Commissioner concluded that there had been a breach and recommended that the Member be reprimanded as prescribed by the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act and apologize in the House of Assembly to the person aggrieved by the conduct. The Member apologized to the aggrieved party and the Members of the House of Assembly.
On November 16, the Privileges and Elections Committee tabled its report on a prima facie breach of privilege referred on May 29. The matter related to the actions of a Member who had been suspended from the House for failing to withdraw unparliamentary language. The Member then tweeted and re-tweeted the House of Assembly webcast clip of the episode including the unparliamentary language. The Committee found that the actions of the Member had amounted to a contempt but as he had resigned his seat they did not recommend that any action be taken. The Committee did caution however that if the former Member had remained in the House a penalty might have been imposed.
The House confirmed the amendments to the Standing Orders which had been adopted provisionally in November 2016 – principally the Parliamentary Calendar – and adopted several minor amendments recommended by the Standing Orders Committee more recently relating to Members’ Statements, Petitions and the ballots used at the election of the Speaker.
On November 21, Jim Lester (Progressive Conservative) was the successful candidate in the by-election held for the District of Mount Pearl North. The other candidates were Nicole Kieley (NDP) and Jim Burton (Liberal). Mr. Lester was sworn and took his seat on December 7.
Appointment of Statutory Officers
On November 8, Suzanne Brake was appointed the first Seniors’ Advocate for the Province and on December 7, Julia Mullaley was appointed Auditor General. She succeeded Terry Paddon who had resigned on October 31. Both appointments were confirmed by Resolution of the House.
The House passed a Resolution requesting that the Speaker of the House, Perry Trimper, MHA journey to Turkey to advance discussions with the Government of Turkey toward the shared goal of establishing a memorial to commemorate the significant contributions of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Gallipoli in World War I.
The House also passed a Resolution rescinding the tax on books which was one of the taxes introduced as part of the 2016 budget process.
During the Fall sitting the House passed 17 Bills including An Act Respecting An Independent Court of Appeal In The Province, establishing the Court of Appeal as a separate court rather than a division of the Supreme Court of the Province; An Act To Amend The Liquor Corporation Act giving the Corporation the authority to sell cannabis; Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act which mandates the reporting of the death or critical injury of a child or youth and the Status Of The Artist Act which recognizes the contribution of artists to the social and economic well-being of the Province.
Following Royal Assent on December 7 the House adjourned to February 26, 2018.
The 2017 Fall Sitting of the Second Session of the 34th Legislative Assembly concluded on November 27, after 30 sitting days.
Pursuant to an October 2017 change to Standing Order 75 that provides for Spring Sittings to begin during the first week of March and Fall Sittings to begin during the first week of October, the 2018 Spring Sitting will (barring some extraordinary circumstance) begin on March 1.
By the end of the Sitting, Commissioner Doug Phillips had assented to all 11 government bills (detailed in Yukon’s preceding Legislative Report) introduced during the Sitting. (No private members’ bills were introduced during the Sitting.)
Among the bills assented to were Bill No. 8, Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2017), presumptive PTSD legislation sponsored by the Minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board, Jeanie Dendys. The act “establish[es] a presumption that certain emergency response workers who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder have a work-related injury and are therefore entitled to compensation”.
Bill No. 6, Public Airports Act, introduced by Richard Mostyn, Minister of Highways and Public Works, established a legislative framework for public airports. Prior to the passage of this legislation, airports had been managed and administered through a number of different acts and their regulations.
Bill No. 14, Legal Profession Act, 2017, replaced and modernized the previous version of the act regulating the legal profession. In her remarks at second reading of the bill, the Minister of Justice, Tracy-Anne McPhee, recognized the Law Society of Yukon for the extensive work it had undertaken identifying issues with the previous version of the Act and presenting to the department a document on recommended changes and on the underlying rationale for them.
Commissioner of Yukon
Mr. Phillips’ term as Commissioner commenced on December 17, 2010, was extended on November 29, 2015, and concludes on January 31, 2018. For the assent ceremony on the final day of the 2017 Fall Sitting, the Commissioner was accompanied into the House by RCMP Aide-de-Camp Staff Sergeant Jane Boissonneault, and Military Aide-de-Camp Captain Kathleen Tipton (RCAF). Before leaving the Chamber, the Commissioner delivered remarks expressing his thanks to former Premier Darrell Pasloski, current Premier Sandy Silver, MLAs “past and present”, his Aides-de-Camp, staff and family, and the people of Yukon, for their support.
Mr. Phillips’ last major public event as Commissioner was hosting his seventh annual Commissioner’s New Year’s Levee on January 1. This year, the levee, which is open to all Yukoners, was held in the Government of Yukon’s main administration building.
Mr. Phillips served as the MLA for Riverdale North from 1985 to 2000. From 1992-96 he held a number of cabinet portfolios, including Tourism, Education, the Women’s Directorate, Justice, and the Public Service Commission. From 2007 until his appointment as Commissioner in 2010, Mr. Phillips was Yukon’s Administrator (acting in place of the Commissioner in case of the latter’s absence or illness).
On November 9, the House carried Motion No. 178 reappointing Diane McLeod-McKay as Yukon’s Ombudsman for a five-year term, beginning June 10, 2018. The motion carried nemine contradicente. Ms. McLeod-McKay has been Yukon’s Ombudsman since June 2013. The Ombudsman also serves as Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner.
Financial Advisory Panel report
On November 15, the Yukon Financial Advisory Panel, an independent body appointed in April by the Yukon government to look at financial options for the territory, presented its final report to the government. Later that day, the Premier delivered a ministerial statement in the House on the topic. In the statement, Mr. Silver thanked the panel, and the more than 800 Yukoners who submitted their views, for their efforts. He noted that based on Yukoners’ feedback, the government did not plan to implement three of the options proposed by the panel – a sales tax (HST), layoffs of government employees, or an increase in placer mining royalties. Mr. Silver noted that the government would consider the other options presented in the panel’s final report.
Pursuant to a motion adopted in the House the following day, panel Chair Norman McIntyre and two other members of the panel – Ron Kneebone and Grace Southwick – appeared as witnesses before Committee of the Whole on November 21 to answer questions from MLAs about the report.
Electoral District Boundaries Commission
Also on November 21, Speaker Nils Clarke tabled the Interim Report of the Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission. The interim report proposes changing the boundaries of nine (approx. 47%) of Yukon’s 19 electoral districts, as well as changing the names of five ridings. The Commission’s (non-binding) final report will be submitted by April 20, 2018.
Motion re: appointing a commission on electoral reform
During Opposition Private Members’ Business on November 22, Third Party Leader Liz Hanson moved a motion (Motion No. 19) urging the territorial government to appoint a non-partisan commission on electoral reform. Following debate, the motion, as amended, carried.
Auditor General performance audits
Following the 2017 Fall Sitting, on December 5, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) released a report entitled Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Yukon Legislative Assembly – December, 2017: Climate Change in Yukon. On the same day, OAG officials met with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Official Opposition Leader Stacey Hassard The Committee agreed to hold a public hearing on the OAG’s report during the week of February 12. Officials from the following four departments are expected to appear as witnesses at the hearing: Environment; Energy, Mines and Resources; Highways and Public Works; and Community Services.
Passing of a Member
Kevin Phillips, Saskatchewan Party MLA for Melfort, passed away suddenly on November 13, 2017. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2011 and re-elected in 2016. Flags flew at half-mast at the legislative building from November 14 until his funeral on November 20. Mr. Phillips’ desk was draped with the Saskatchewan flag, and a memorial tribute, consisting of flowers and a picture of Mr. Phillips with his wife and dog, were placed on the desktop. Brad Wall, Nicole Sarauer, and other members offered statements of condolence. Members agreed to adjourn the Assembly early and forego routine proceedings and orders of the day. To allow members to travel and attend Mr. Phillips’ funeral, a sessional order was agreed to which altered the regular sitting day to begin at 9:30 a.m. for question period only.
Premier Brad Wall’s last sitting day
In August, Mr. Wall announced his intention to retire once a new leader is chosen at the Saskatchewan Party leadership convention that will be held in January 2018. The final day of the fall sitting, December 7, 2017, was also his final sitting day in the Legislative Assembly. A government motion was moved to pay tribute to the Premier. Seven members, including Mr. Wall, spoke to the motion. At the conclusion of the day, he moved an adjournment motion for his last time.
Three upcoming by-elections
Two current vacancies in the constituencies of Kindersley and Melfort and the impending retirement of Mr. Wall will result in three by-elections in 2018. No dates have been announced yet; however, the by-election in Kindersley must be held by March 1, 2018 pursuant to legislation.
The School Choice Protection Act / Loi sur la protection du choix d’école was introduced and read a first time on November 8, 2017. This bill is intended to protect school choice in Saskatchewan by invoking the notwithstanding clause of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The legislation would allow the government to continue funding students who attend public or Catholic schools, regardless of their religious affiliation. The bill is in response to an April 20, 2017 Court of Queen’s Bench ruling on the 2005 lawsuit between the Good Spirit School Division No. 204, and Christ the Teacher Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 212, and the Government of Saskatchewan. This ruling found that public funding of non-Catholic students in the Catholic school system is unconstitutional.
Expedited passage of legislation for unpaid leave for victims of interpersonal violence
On December 6, 2017, The Saskatchewan Employment (Interpersonal Violence Leave) Amendment Act, 2017 passed through all stages in one day. The legislation established a new unpaid leave of 10 days for an employee who is a victim of interpersonal violence or is the parent or caregiver of a victim of interpersonal violence. The intent of the leave is to enable a victim to take time off work to access medical, psychological, or other professional services; services from victim services organizations; legal or law enforcement services; or to relocate.
Bill No. 605, The Saskatchewan Employment (Support for Survivors of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act, 2017, a private members’ public bill introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Sarauer, was withdrawn from the Order Paper as a result of the passage of the government bill.
The Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) approved an anti-harassment policy for the Members of the Legislative Assembly. The governing principle of the anti-harassment policy is that every member shall commit to contributing to an environment free of personal harassment and sexual harassment and will make every reasonably practicable effort to that end.
The anti-harassment policy includes a four-step resolution process. A member may report allegations of personal harassment or sexual harassment by filing a formal complaint within 90 days of an incident. Whenever appropriate or possible, the parties to the harassment complaint will be offered the opportunity to attempt a resolution through voluntary mediation. If mediation is not pursued or is unsuccessful, the complaint will be examined by an external investigator. The results of the investigation will be provided to the BOIE which may recommend sanctions to the Legislative Assembly.
As a result of the adoption of the anti-harassment policy, the Rules and Procedures of the Legislative Assembly were amended to formalize the process by which the BOIE may table reports and recommend subsidiary remedial action to deal with a breach of the anti-harassment policy.
Currently, the policy applies only to allegations of personal harassment or sexual harassment between members. However, the BOIE has authorized a broader review of existing anti-harassment policies in order to continue to build a framework to ensure best practices are maintained to protect MLAs, any person employed by an MLA, any person employed by contract to an MLA, including any person employed by the Legislative Assembly.
The anti-harassment policy can be found on the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan website.
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy
Speaker Corey Tochor welcomed 16 teachers to the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy that was held from November 18 to 21, 2017. This year marked the 19th anniversary of the program.
The first Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy was held in 1999, with the aim of developing a strategy to enhance the understanding of parliamentary democracy in the classroom. Since then, over 200 teachers from across Saskatchewan have participated in the institute. During the three-day institute, teacher participants receive a behind the scenes look at democracy at work. Participants had the opportunity to meet with: the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker, the Premier, cabinet ministers, caucus leaders, Whips, and Chairs, as well as with private members, the Clerk and other members of the Legislative Assembly Service, officers of the Legislative Assembly, the press gallery association, and the judiciary.
Concurrent leadership races
There are five candidates seeking the Saskatchewan Party leadership. Four of the candidates, Ken Cheveldayoff, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, Scott Moe and Gordon Wyant are sitting Members. The fifth candidate, Alanna Koch, does not have a seat in the Legislature. The new leader, who will become the Premier, will be elected at the Saskatchewan Party leadership convention in Saskatoon on January 27, 2018.
The provincial New Democratic Party is also seeking a new leader. The leadership convention is scheduled for March 3, 2018 to allow the new leader to be in place for the beginning of the spring sitting. Thus far, two candidates, Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon have declared their intention to run for the leadership.
On November 22, 2017 a sessional order was moved by Greg Brkich, Government House Leader, to delay the start of the spring sitting period by a week. The spring sitting will start on March 12, 2018 instead of March 5, 2018 and will conclude on May 28, 2018.
House of Commons
The First Session of the Forty-Second Parliament continued through the late months of 2017. The information below covers the period from October 16, 2017, to December 13, 2017.
On October 20, 2017, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North), sought and obtained unanimous consent for Bill C-60, An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain Acts and provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect, to be deemed read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on the same day.
On December 6, 2017, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett (Toronto—St. Paul’s), Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo), Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue), Marilène Gill (Manicouagan) and Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands) spoke at second reading to Bill C-61, An Act to give effect to the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Pursuant to an Order made November 30, 2017, the Bill was then deemed read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on the same day.
On October 24, 2017, the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau (Toronto-Centre), made a statement concerning the government’s Fall Economic Statement. Mr. Morneau laid upon the Table a Notice of a Ways and Means motion to amend the Income Tax Act and requested that an Order of the Day be designated for the consideration of this motion. He also laid upon the Table a document entitled “Progress for the Middle Class: Fall Economic Statement 2017”. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton), Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie) and Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette) made statements in reply.
On December 4, 2017, during consideration of the motions to concur in the Supplementary Estimates (B), the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, under the chairmanship of the Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole, Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North). It studied Bill C-67, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. The committee reported the Bill to the House without amendment.
Procedure & Privilege
Points of Order
On October 31, 2017, the House Leader of the Official Opposition, Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar), rose on a point of order requesting that the Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 69.1, divide the question, for the purpose of voting, on the motion for second and third reading of Bill C-56, an Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act. This was the first time Standing Order 69.1 was invoked since being adopted by the House on June 20, 2017. Pursuant to this new Standing Order, the Speaker has the power to divide the question at second and third reading when an omnibus bill has no common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked. On November 7, the Speaker delivered his ruling, concluding that, since the subject matter of the bill as a whole dealt with the treatment of inmates, the various parts of the bill were related and that, consequently, the question on Bill C-56 should not be divided.
On November 3, 2017, Mr. Poilievre rose on a point of order, pursuant to Standing Order 69.1, regarding Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, requesting that the Speaker divide the question, for the purpose of voting, on the motion for second and third reading of the Bill. This was the first time section (2) of Standing Order 69.1 was invoked since being adopted by the House on June 20, 2017. New Standing Order 69.1(1) states that the Speaker may divide the question at second and third reading when an omnibus bill has no common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked. However, Standing Order 69.1(2) shall not apply if the bill has its main purpose the implementation of a budget and contains the provisions announced in the budget presentation or in the documents tabled during the budget presentation. On November 8, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling, in which he determined that the question at second reading should be divided into five groups of clauses.
On November 8, 2017, Mr. Ste-Marie , rose on a point of order regarding the participation of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Morneau in the vote on motion M-42, relating to tax avoidance. Mr. Ste-Marie alleged that, due to a private interest, the Minister had contravened the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons. On November 30, 2017, the Speaker ruled that it is the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner who has the sole authority to apply the dispositions of the code and to investigate any alleged conflicts of interest. He noted that Members have the ability to refer matters to the Commissioner under Section 27 of the Conflict of Interest Code, and that the House may direct the Commissioner to conduct an inquiry by way of a resolution. The Speaker also reminded Members that he may not unilaterally deprive a Member of the right to vote.
Questions of Privilege
On November 2, 2017, Peter Kent (Thornhill) rose on a question of privilege concerning allegedly misleading statements made by the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau (Papineau). On November 20, 2017, the Speaker delivered his ruling, noting that the Chair is only able to review the statements made in a proceeding of Parliament, and cannot comment on what transpires outside of the deliberations of the House or its committees. Additionally, he reminded Members of the three conditions that must be met to find that a Member has misled the House: a statement must be misleading; the Member must know in making the statement that it is incorrect; and finally, there must be proof that the Member deliberately intended to mislead the House by making the statement. The Speaker concluded that upon review of the evidence before the House, he did not find that there was a prima facie question of privilege.
On November 24, 2017, Erin O’Toole (Durham) rose on a question of privilege concerning statements made by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville), which were alleged to be contradictory statements to those made by a former nominee for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages, Madeleine Meilleur. On May 17, 2017, Murray Rankin (Victoria) raised a point of order about the adequacy of consultations about Ms. Meilleur’s nomination. On December 5, 2017, The Speaker delivered his ruling stating that he had previously ruled on the matter on May 29, 2017, and confirmed that ruling on May 31, 2017. He now considered the matter closed.
On December 5, 2017, Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge) rose on a question of privilege regarding statements by the Minister of Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier(Gaspésie–Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine), regarding the disability tax credit. Mr. Kelly alleged that the Minister had misled the House when, in a response to questions about the eligibility criteria for a disability tax credit, she stated that neither the criteria nor its interpretation had changed. Mr. Kelly argued that this statement contradicted information found in an internal memo from the Canada Revenue Agency, dated May 2, 2017, obtained through an access to information request, which suggested that aspects of the eligibility criteria for the tax credit had changed. On December 12, 2017, Ms. Lebouthillier added her comments to the question raised by Mr. Kelly. At the time of writing, the Speaker had not yet provided a ruling.
On October 24, 2017, Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk), rose on a point of order regarding the size of paper that is allowed in order for a petition to be certified. Having had her previously submitted petition rejected for reasons of paper size, as required by Standing Order 36(1.1)(c) , Ms. Finley argued that by rejecting her ledger-sized petition, she was prevented from representing her constituents, some of whom have disabilities. The Speaker referred to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 1166, stating that the rule is well established, but also suggested that the matter could be raised with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. On October 25, 2017, Ms. Finley sought and received unanimous consent to present a petition concerning discrimination which was not in the format as prescribed by Standing Order 36(1.1)(c). The petition had not been certified by the Clerk of Petitions due to its paper size.
On October 25, 2017, Rhéal Fortin (Rivière-du-Nord), sought and obtained unanimous consent for the following motion: “That, given the scale of the #metoo campaign, launched by female and female victims of sexual assault and harassment, that the House call on the Senate to consider the victims and promptly adopt Bill C-337, Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act.” This was the first time that a Twitter hashtag (#) was used in the content of a motion.
On November 6, 2017, the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented a report to the main Committee advising that Bill C-352, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to provide for the development of a national strategy (abandonment of vessels), standing in the name of Sheila Malcolmson (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), should be designated non-votable. On November 9, 2017, Ms. Malcolmson and the House Leader of the New Democratic Party, Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) appeared as witnesses before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to explain why Bill C-352 should be votable. At the end of the meeting the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs adopted a motion concurring in the report of the Subcommittee and ordered the Chair to present it to the House. Consequently, on November 20, 2017, Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Larry Bagnell (Yukon), presented the 46th report of the Committee which advised that Bill C-352 should be designated non-votable. Pursuant to Standing Order 92(4), Ms. Malcolmson filed a motion with the Speaker appealing the decision of the Committee. On November 23, 2017, the Speaker reported that he was satisfied that her appeal met the requirements of Standing Order 92(4), and directed that a secret ballot be held on November 28, 2017, and November 29, 2017 on the following motion: “That Bill C-352, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to provide for the development of a national strategy (abandonment of vessels) be declared votable.” On November 30, 2017, the Speaker declared that the motion was defeated, and accordingly, the Bill was declared non-votable. This was the first time that the appeal process outlined in Standing Order 92(4) had been used.
On November 30, 2017, the Speaker named Blake Richards(Banff—Airdrie), for disregarding the authority of the Chair, pursuant to Standing Order 11(1)(a). The Speaker ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove Mr. Richards and ordered the Member to withdraw from the House for the remainder of the day’s sitting.
On October 25, 2017, Mr. Bagnell, Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented the 42nd report of the Committee entitled “Review of the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Commons: Sexual Harassment,” in which the Committee examined the Code and recommended changes to it.
On November 30, 2017, Mr. Bagnell, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented the 48th report of the Committee entitled “Services and Facilities Provided to Members of Parliament with Young Children,” which examined the services and facilities made available to members of Parliament with young children, specifically to members of Parliament who are pregnant and/or raising young children.
Private Members’ Business
On December 12, 2017, the following private members’ bills were granted Royal Assent:
- Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief)
- Bill C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada
- Bill S-211, An Act respecting National Sickle Cell Awareness Day
- Bill S-236, An Act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation
On November 6, 2017, the Speaker made a statement commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the first Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau (Papineau), the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Scheer (Regina—Qu’Appelle), Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques), Xavier Barsalou-Duval(Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères) and Ms. May also made statements.
On November 9, 2017, in honour of Remembrance Day, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale (Regina—Wascana) made a statement in the House. Phil McColeman (Brantford—Brant), Irene Mathyssen(London—Fanshawe) also made statements. By unanimous consent, Michel Boudrias (Terrebonne) and Ms. May , also made statements. The Speaker made a statement as well.
On November 28, 2017, the Prime Minister made a statement of apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians. The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Scheer , Mr. Caron, Monique Pauzé (Repentigny) and Ms. May, also made statements. The Speaker also made a statement.
On December 6, 2017 in honour of the victims of violence against women, the Minister of Status of Women, Maryam Monsef (Peterborough — Kawartha) made a statement in the House. Sylvie Boucher (Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix) and Ms. Malcolmson also made statements. By unanimous consent, Ms. Pauzé, and Ms. May also made statements.
On November 20, 2017, the Speaker informed the House that the Clerk had received from the Acting Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election of Richard Hébert (Lac-Saint-Jean).
On November 22, 2017, the Speaker informed the House that the Clerk had received from the Acting Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election of Dane Lloyd (Sturgeon River—Parkland).
On December 4, 2017, the Speaker informed the House that a vacancy had occurred in the Electoral District of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord by reason of the resignation of Denis Lemieux.
Moment of Silence
On October 18, 2017, the House observed a moment of silence in honour of Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip.
On October 24, 2017, the House observed a moment of silence in honour of the anniversary of the deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, which took place in October 2014.
On December 6, 2017, the House observed a moment of silence in honour the victims of the École Polytechnique shooting.
On November 29, 2017, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole to welcome Canada’s 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games athletes. The Speaker welcomed them onto the floor of the chamber and congratulated the athletes on behalf of all Members. The Speaker also mentioned that there was agreement between all parties to have the names of the athletes who were present to be printed in the Debates.
On December 13, 2017, the House approved the appointments of Raymond Théberge as Commissioner of Official Languages, Nancy Bélanger as Commissioner of Lobbying and Mario Dion as Conflict of Interest and Ethics Comissioner.
Table Research Branch
The House sat until November 9, 2017 to complete the business of the 2nd Session of the 41st Legislature; this included five designated bills mentioned in our last submission, the consideration of the Estimates of the Departmental Expenditure in the Committee of Supply and the remaining steps for the passage of the Budget. In order to do so, the House sat until 4:14 am on the last sitting day, when all the remaining Bills received Royal Assent.
Our rules set defined deadlines for the completion of all stages of these bills by either the end of the Spring Sittings or the Fall Sittings. Government bills meeting certain deadlines are guaranteed to receive royal assent by the end of the Spring Sitting in the beginning of June. Those bills are called Specified Bills. However, the Official Opposition may designate up to five Government bills for the purpose of further consideration, with these bills to be held over until the resumption of the Fall Sittings and be completed by the last sitting day of the session.
The House also passed other Bills which did not fall under anyone of the categories mentioned above, including:
Bill 34 – The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, which allows individuals, without disciplinary or employment repercussions, to refuse to participate in medical assistance in dying because of personal convictions and states that professional regulatory body cannot require its members to participate in medical assistance in dying.
Third Session of the 41st Legislature
The 3rd Session of the 41st Legislature began on November 21st, 2017 with the Speech from the Throne delivered by Lieutenant Governor Janice C. Filmon. The speech focussed in particular on the province’s finances, service improvement and the economy.The address highlighted a range of commitments and proposals in these areas, including:
- planning for a public service transformation strategy, implementing mechanisms to ensure government spends smarter, and reducing overlap and duplication in government services;
- reforming the province’s children in care program, including legislation to remove barriers to guardianship to move children from government care to homes and improve outcomes for those children;
- governance reforms in healthcare designed to reduce senior management and to ensure maximum resources dedicated to front-line care;
- improving self and family-managed home care and a new Priority Home program that will shorten hospital stays;
- a new Early Learning and Child Care strategy;
- a new provincial housing strategy for affordable and social housing;
- reforming the family law system;
- proposed introduction of legislation and the appointment an advisory commission to begin implementing the Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan;
- restructuring economic development efforts to better attract new investments;
- continuing work to unlock the economic potential of northern Manitoba by building on the Look North Economic Task Force’s recommendations;
- re-introducing legislation this session to fully implement the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement.
During the month of October, Standing Committees were busy hearing public presentations and concluding clause-by-clause consideration of designated bills. The Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development held five meetings to hear from the public on Bill 30 – The Local Vehicles for Hire Act, including a meeting on October 27 that started at 10 am and heard presenters until shortly before midnight. On October 31, after hearing from 159 individuals, the committee completed clause-by-clause and the bill was reported to the House the following day.
During the same period, the Standing Committees on Legislative Affairs, Human Resources, and Agriculture and Food also met to complete all other bills.
Before the winter break, the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs met again to consider several reports from the Elections Manitoba, while the Social and Economic Development Committee met to consider the Annual Report of the Manitoba Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion Strategy (All Aboard). Finally, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts met intersessionally the week before Christmas to consider the Public Accounts for the 2015, 2016, and 2017 fiscal years.
Current Party Standings
The current party standings in the Manitoba Legislature are: Progressive Conservatives 39, NDP 13, with five Independent Members.
Clerk Assistant/Clerk of Committees
The Spring 2017 sitting of the 3rd Session of the 4th Legislative Assembly convened on May 30, 2017, and concluded on June 8, 2017. The final sitting of the 4th Legislative Assembly convened on September 12, 2017, and concluded on September 19, 2017.
A total of 83 bills were introduced during the life of the 4th Legislative Assembly, of which 79 received Assent. Thirty bills received Assent during 2017:
- Bill 19, Unlawful Property Forfeiture Act;
- Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Consumer Protection Act;
- Bill 26, An Act to Amend the Social Assistance Act;
- Bill 28, An Act to Amend Certain Acts Respecting Codes and Standards;
- Bill 29, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act;
- Bill 30, An Act to Amend the Fire Prevention Act;
- Bill 31, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act;
- Bill 32, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 5, 2015-2016;
- Bill 33, Supplementary Appropriation (Operations and Maintenance) Act, No. 3, 2016-2017;
- Bill 34, Appropriation (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2017-18;
- Bill 35, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 1, 2017-18;
- Bill 36, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act;
- Bill 38, Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti Implementation Act;
- Bill 39, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2017;
- Bill 41, An Act to Amend Certain Acts Respecting Reports Provided to the Speaker;
- Bill 42, An Act to Amend the Tobacco Tax Act;
- Bill 43, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act;
- Bill 44, Supplementary Appropriation (Operations and Maintenance) Act, No. 1, 2017-2018;
- Bill 45, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 2, 2017-2018;
- Bill 46, Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 1, 2018-2019;
- Bill 47, An Act to Amend the Legal Profession Act;
- Bill 48, An Act to Amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
- Bill 49, An Act to Provide for Elections for Municipal Councils and District Education Authorities;
- Bill 50, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Supplementary Retiring Allowances Act;
- Bill 51, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 4, 2016-2017;
- Bill 52, Supplementary Appropriation (Operations and Maintenance) Act, No. 2, 2017-2018;
- Bill 53, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 3, 2017-2018;
- Bill 54, Write-off of Assets and Debts Act, 2016-2017;
- Bill 55, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act; and
- Bill 56, An Act Respecting Independent Officers of the Legislative Assembly.
Bills 41, 43, 49, 50 and 56 were introduced as House Bills under the authority of the Management and Services Board of the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly appeared before the Committee of the Whole on the occasion of its clause-by-clause consideration of the bills.
Bill 41 amended the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Integrity Act, the Nunavut Elections Act, the Official Languages Act and the Plebiscites Act to create uniform deadlines for the annual reports of independent officers of the Legislative Assembly.
Bill 43 amended Schedule C of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act to change the indemnities and allowances payable to Members of the Legislative Assembly. These changes reflected the recent signing of a new collective agreement between the Government of Nunavut and the Nunavut Employees Union. The base rate of pay for Members of the Legislative Assembly was increased by the same percentage as that which was agreed to for members of the Nunavut Employees Union.
Bill 49 amended the Nunavut Elections Act to provide for the conduct of elections for municipal councils and district education authorities in a manner similar to territorial elections. Elections Nunavut will supervise the administration of these elections.
Bill 50 amended the Legislative Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Supplementary Retiring Allowances Act to harmonize the timing of actuarial valuations.
Bill 56 amended the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Integrity Act, the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, the Nunavut Elections Act, the Official Languages Act and the Representative for Children and Youth Act to provide for uniform definitions of the status of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Integrity Commissioner, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Languages Commissioner and the Representative for Children and Youth.
From May 8-11, 2017, the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Independent Officers and Other Entities held televised hearings on the Auditor General’s Report on Health Care Services in Nunavut and the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s Report on the Privacy Audit of the Qikiqtani General Hospital. The committee’s reports on its hearings were presented to the House during its spring 2017 sitting.
Order of Nunavut
On November 8, 2016, the Order of Nunavut Advisory Council, which is chaired by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, announced that the 2016 appointments to the Order would be Louie Kamookak of Gjoa Haven, Ellen Hamilton of Iqaluit and Red Pedersen of Kugluktuk. The investiture ceremony for the recipients was held in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly on February 28, 2017. The ceremony was televised live across the territory.
Speaker’s Mace Tour
From May 16-19, 2017, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the Commissioner of Nunavut travelled to the communities of Pond Inlet, Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord as part of the Speaker’s biennial mace tour. The tour involved a number of events, including visits to all of the schools in the three communities. A number of Commissioner’s Awards were presented to residents of Pond Inlet during a ceremony held on the evening of May 16, 2017.
Appointment of New Languages Commissioner
On June 15, 2017, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly announced the designation of Helen Klengenberg of Kugluktuk as the new Languages Commissioner of Nunavut. The Languages Commissioner is one of a number of independent officers of the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker’s announcement noted that Ms. Klengenberg was a member of the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures which presented a landmark report in June of 2005 to the Government of Canada. On September 12, 2017, a motion was unanimously passed in the House to formally recommend her appointment.
Dissolution of the 4th Legislative Assembly, Holding of the 5th General Election and Convening of the 5th Legislative Assembly
The 4thLegislative Assembly was dissolved on September 24, 2017. The Chief Electoral Officer issued writs of election on September 25, 2017.
A number of incumbents did not stand for re-election. Retiring Members were Steve Mapsalak (Aivilik), Keith Peterson (Cambridge Bay) and Peter Taptuna (Kugluktuk).
At the close of nominations, a total of 72 individuals had filed papers to stand for election in the territory’s 22 constituencies. One candidate was declared acclaimed: Mila Kamingoak, who stood in the constituency of Kugluktuk.
The 5th general election was held on October 30, 2017. Returning Members were:
- Paul Quassa (Aggu)
- Joe Savikataaq (Arviat South)
- Simeon Mikkungwak (Baker Lake)
- Tony Akoak (Gjoa Haven)
- Allan Rumbolt (Hudson Bay)
- Pat Angnakak (Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu)
- George Hickes(Iqaluit-Tasiluk)
- Emiliano Qirngnuq(Netsilik)
- David Joanasie (South Baffin)
- Joe Enook (Tununiq)
- Pauloosie Keyootak (Uqqummiut)
Newly-elected Members were:
- Patterk Netser (Aivilik)
- Joelie Kaernerk(Amittuq)
- John Main (Arviat North-Whale Cove)
- Jeannie Ehaloak(Cambridge Bay)
- Adam Arreak Lightstone (Iqaluit-Manirajak)
- Elisapee Sheutiapik (Iqaluit-Sinaa)
- Margaret Nakashuk(Pangnirtung)
- David Akeeagok(Quttiktuq)
- Cathy Towtongie (Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet)
- Lorne Kusugak (Rankin Inlet South)
It should be noted that Mr. Netser previously served in the 1st and 2nd Legislative Assemblies and Mr. Kusugak previously served in the 3rd Legislative Assembly.
Six women were elected or acclaimed to serve in the 5th Legislative Assembly. Just over a quarter of the Assembly’s seats are now held by women, which is the highest number to date.
On November 15, 2017, 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 open to the public to observe from the Visitors’ Gallery and were televised live across the territory.
The first item of business was the selection of the Speaker. Mr. Enook was acclaimed to the position, and immediately proceeded to preside over the remainder of the day’s proceedings.
Four Members subsequently accepted nominations to serve as Premier: Ms. Towtongie and Messrs. Netser, Quassa and Savikataaq. Each candidate was permitted to deliver a 10-minute speech. Members not standing for Premier were permitted to ask up to two questions to the candidates. In a secret ballot vote, Mr. Quassa was elected as Premier on the first round of balloting.
A total of 13 Members subsequently accepted nominations to serve on the Executive Council. The Assembly’s Full Caucus had previously announced that seven Ministers would be chosen. The following Members were elected: Mr. Akeeagok, Ms. Angnakak, Ms. Ehaloak, Mr. Joanasie, Mr. Kusugak, Mr. Savikataaq and Ms. Sheutiapik.
Commissioner Nellie Kusugak presided over the swearing-in ceremony for the Members of the 5thLegislative Assembly, which took place on the morning of November 21, 2017, in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly. The event was televised live across the territory.
The 1st Sitting of the 5th Legislative Assembly took place that afternoon. At the beginning of the sitting, Mr. Enook formally took the Chair. Dragging duties were performed by Mr. Rumbolt and Ms. Kamingoak, 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. Mikkungwak as Deputy Speaker and Messrs. Akoak and Rumbolt 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.
The Winter 2018 sitting of the 1st Session of the 5th Legislative Assembly was scheduled to convene on March 6, 2018.
Office of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
Prince Edward Island
Third Session, Sixty-fifth General Assembly
The Third Session of the Sixty-fifth General Assembly opened on November 14, 2017, and adjourned to the call of the Speaker on December 20, after 22 sitting days.
Speech from the Throne
Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry opened the Third Session with a Speech from the Throne on November 14, 2017. Entitled “People, Prosperity, Progress: Working Together for All Islanders,” the speech was wide-ranging and announced strategic initiatives in areas such as poverty reduction, high-speed internet infrastructure, housing, culture and creative industries, and carbon mitigation and adaptation. This was the first Speech from the Throne since the new Lieutenant Governor was installed on October 20, 2017.
A $133.8 million Capital Budget was tabled in the Assembly on November 17, 2017. Major infrastructure and capital projects include the replacement of Sherwood Elementary School, construction of a new Mental Health Campus to replace Hillsborough Hospital, and renovations and new equipment at other healthcare and educational facilities. Points of order were raised regarding budget details being publicized prior to the budget’s tabling, in response to which the Speaker issued a ruling on November 22, 2017, which is discussed below.
Eighteen public bills were introduced by Government during the fall sitting. Of these,17 successfully passed all reading and committee stages and received Royal Assent (one bill was introduced but not called for further reading). Several were amendatory bills, but significant pieces of stand-alone legislation were also passed, including the Water Act (Bill No. 13), the Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act (Bill No. 25), and the Lobbyist Registration Act (Bill No. 24). The Water Act has been several years in development, with significant public input; it aims to support and promote the management, protection and enhancement of the province’s water resources. The Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act establishes a commissioner who is empowered to investigate wrongdoing within provincial government entities, and creates a mechanism for the disclosure of suspected wrongdoing as well as protection against reprisal for such disclosures. The Lobbyist Registration Act defines the various forms of attempting to influence public office-holders that do and do not qualify as lobbying, and establishes a Registrar and registry of lobbyists.
Five private members’ bills were also introduced during the fall sitting. Bill 102, An Act to Amend the Workers Compensation Act, was introduced by Opposition Member Jamie Fox to stipulate that workers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of exposure to trauma in the course of employment shall be considered to have suffered a personal injury in the course of employment per the terms of the Workers Compensation Act. The bill was amended to include a proclamation clause, and passed all stages and received Royal Assent.
Two private members’ bills passed second reading and were debated in Committee of the Whole House. Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker introduced Bill No. 100, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, which would prohibit employers from taking reprisals against employees who report illegal activity to a lawful authority. The bill was debated in Committee of the Whole House on November 28, but the committee did not come to a decision on the bill and it was not again called for committee review. Opposition Member Steven Myers put forward Bill No. 101, An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act, to propose an increase in the minimum fine for failing to stop for a school bus while its red lights are flashing to $2,000 from $1,000. The bill was debated in Committee of the Whole House on November 23, 2017, and then the House agreed to refer it to the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy for further examination and report.
Opposition members Mr. Myers and Mr. Fox also introduced Bill No. 103, Food Waste Awareness and Strategy Act, and Bill No. 104, Public Intervener Act, respectively, but as of adjournment neither bill had progressed beyond first reading.
Resignation of MLA Doug Currie
On October 19, 2017, Doug Currie, the Member for District 11: Charlottetown – Parkdale and Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture, resigned his Cabinet position and his seat. Mr. Currie was first elected in 2007, and served as a Minister of the Crown for his entire political career, holding portfolios such as health, social services, justice, and, over two separate periods, education. Mr. Currie indicated that he resigned to pursue other opportunities and spend more time with his family.
Cabinet Appointment of MLA Jordan Brown
On October 23, 2017, Jordan Brown, the Member for District 13: Charlottetown – Brighton, was appointed as Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture. Mr. Brown was elected in 2015, and had not previously been a part of Cabinet. He had served as Government Whip, Chair of the Standing Committee on Health and Wellness, and Vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
New Leader of the Official Opposition
On October 20, 2017, James Aylward, the Member for District 6: Stratford – Kinlock, won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, defeating fellow Opposition Member Brad Trivers (District 18: Rustico – Emerald). Mr. Aylward was first elected in 2011; prior to becoming party leader he had served as Opposition House Leader, as Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and as a member of several other committees. The Progressive Conservative Party has the second-largest caucus in the Assembly, with eight members, and thus Mr. Aylward also became Leader of the Official Opposition. Mr. Fox had been serving as interim party leader and Leader of the Official Opposition.
District 11 By-Election
Following the resignation of Mr. Currie, Premier H. Wade MacLauchlan announced on October 31 that a by-election for District 11: Charlottetown – Parkdale would be held on November 27, 2017. The candidates for the four major parties were Hannah Bell (Green Party), Bob Doiron (Liberal Party), Melissa Hilton (Progressive Conservative Party) and Mike Redmond (New Democratic Party). The by-election took place on November 27 as planned, with Hannah Bell victorious after receiving 768 of 2,177 votes cast (35.3 per cent). Ms. Bell was subsequently declared elected, and was sworn-in and took her seat in the Legislative Assembly on December 13, 2017. As a member of the Green Party, Ms. Bell forms part of the Third Party caucus, and her election represents the first time a third party has had more than one seat in the PEI legislature.
On November 22, 2017, Speaker Francis (Buck) Watts issued a ruling addressing three matters raised as points of order by members of the Official Opposition. The first two matters dealt with publication of capital estimate details on Twitter and in a local newspaper before the Capital Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure had been tabled in the House. The third matter related to a major announcement by Government made outside of the House while the House was in session.
In his ruling Speaker Watts found that there was evidence supporting the assertion that budgetary information was “leaked” prior to tabling, and that once again Government had made an exterior announcement that ought to have been made within the House. In reviewing the Rules of the Legislative Assembly and parliamentary authorities, he did not find that these actions constituted contraventions of the rules or matters of privilege. However, these actions were nonetheless disrespectful of the House collectively and its members individually. He recommended that Government review its processes and communications surrounding access to budget documents prior to their tabling, and indicated that in future the House procedure for tabling of the budget shall change so that members have the budget prior to the Minister of Finance commencing his budget statement or speech. Speaker Watts reminded members that if they did not themselves show respect for the customs and traditions of their parliament, then they should not expect the people they represent to show any respect for the work they do on their behalf.
On December 5, 2017, Speaker Watts issued a ruling on a December 1 point of order raised by Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Paula Biggar in objection to an ‘over-the-rail’ conversation members of the Opposition were having with members of the media during proceedings. The Speaker reminded members that such interruptions of proceedings are out of order, and that members wishing to speak with the media should exit the Chamber to do so. He also recommended that while in the Chamber, members should be cautious about engaging in conservations that do not form part of the official record of proceedings but are nonetheless reproduced publicly, as such conversations could lead to unintended consequences.
Naming and Suspension of Member
On December 20, Richard Brown, the Member for District 12: Charlottetown – Victoria Park, rose on a point of order to object to Leader of the Third Party Mr. Bevan-Baker’s use of the word “farce” to describe the work of the Legislative Assembly and its Members. Speaker Watts twice asked Mr. Bevan-Baker to withdraw the word, to which he refused both times. Pursuant to the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Speaker then named Mr. Bevan-Baker for disregarding the authority of the chair, and requested that a motion be moved to suspend him from the services of the House. Alan McIsaac, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, moved a motion that Mr. Bevan-Baker be suspended until the next sitting of the legislature, which was carried, and the Speaker instructed the Sergeant-at-Arms to escort Mr. Bevan-Baker from the Chamber.
Changes in Assembly Personnel
Sergeant-at-Arms and Director of Security Al McDonald retired on September 29, 2017, after a total of 22 years working in a security capacity at the Legislative Assembly, and 10 years as Sergeant-at-Arms and Director of Security. Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees Marian Johnston retired from the service of the House effective December 31, 2017, after 17 years at the Assembly. Most recently Ms. Johnston had served as Acting Chief Electoral Officer for Elections PEI. Many members rose in the House to express their appreciation for the expertise and dedication shown by Mr. McDonald and Ms. Johnston throughout the years.
On November 14, 2017, the Assembly appointed Brian Weldon as Sergeant-at-Arms. Mr. Weldon had previously served as Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, and with his promotion the Assembly appointed Amy Unwin to the Assistant role. On the same day, the Assembly appointed Emily Doiron and Ryan Reddin as Clerk Assistant – Journals, Committees and House Operations; and Clerk Assistant – Research and Committees, respectively.
On November 22, 2017, pursuant to the Election Act, the Assembly appointed Tim Garrity as Chief Electoral Officer.
Clerk Assistant – Research and Committees
Several bills received Royal Assent this quarter, including Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général). The Commons had returned the bill in June with three amendments for the Senate to consider. In November, the Senate adopted a motion in response to the Commons message, agreeing with two of the amendments and proposing an alternative to the third. This proposal was later agreed to by the House of Commons.
Other bills that received Royal Assent with Bill S-3 during a traditional ceremony on December 12 were bills C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief); S-211, An Act respecting National Sickle Cell Awareness Day; C-60, Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017; C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States; C-277, An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada; C-67, Appropriations Act No. 4, 2017-18 (supply bill); S-236, An Act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation; and C-36, An Act to amend the Statistics Act.
On December 14, bills C-61, An Act to give effect to the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts; C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures; and C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, received Royal Assent by written declaration.
The Upper Chamber welcomed two new senators on December 13. Senator Mary Coyle, who was appointed to represent Nova Scotia, is known for her leadership in the fields of women’s issues, gender equality and the rights of Indigenous peoples. Senator Mary Jane McCallum, from Manitoba, is a First Nations woman and an advocate for social justice who has provided dental care to First Nations communities across Manitoba. Both senators were sitting as non-affiliated members at the time this article was written.
There were also a number of departures from the Senate. Senator Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie retired on November 5. He was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on August 27, 2009. Senator Ogilvie, an accomplished scientist, was Chair of the Standing committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology from mid-2011 until his retirement.
Senator Nick Sibbeston resigned on November 21. He was appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on September 2, 1999, to represent the senatorial division of the Northwest Territories. During the 18 years that he served in the Senate, Senator Sibbeston focused on issues affecting Indigenous people of the North. He is a former Premier of the Northwest Territories, where he served from 1985 to 1987.
The Senate was shocked and saddened when Senator Tobias C. Enverga, Jr. passed away unexpectedly on November 16. He was the first Canadian of Filipino origin appointed to the Senate, and was appointed on the recommendation of Prime Minister Harper on September 6, 2012. Senator Enverga was a member of several standing Senate committees, and is remembered as an advocate for persons with disabilities and a strong promoter of multiculturalism in Canada.
On November 7, 2017, the Senate adopted a motion to adjust committee memberships. A previous order, which was adopted on December 7, 2016, had expired on October 31. The 2016 order had increased the size of most standing Senate committees by three members, in addition to defining how the membership of committees would be divided between the recognized parties and senators who were not members of a party. Under the new order, which took effect at the end of the day on November 19, the membership of those committees was reset to the number of members provided for in the Rules of the Senate. The motion also empowered certain committees to elect two deputy chairs and expanded the number of ex officio members to include the leaders and facilitators of all recognized parties and groups. The committees have since been reconstituted according to proportions similar to the standings in the Senate overall.
As for the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators, a separate motion was adopted on December 7, 2017, to extend the provisions of the order of December 7, 2016, respecting its membership, and to restore its membership as of October 31.
On November 1, the Speaker ruled on a question of privilege raised on October 24 by Senator Donald Plett, who believed that an open letter from a senator to Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, asking him to encourage the Senate members of the Conservative caucus to move forward on a vote on Bill C-210, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender), undermined the Senate’s independence and impeded the ability of senators to carry out their functions independently. After reviewing past Speakers’ rulings dealing with communications, the Speaker noted that a message from one house to another cannot be treated as a point of order or breach of privilege unless it contains some kind of threat. He also determined that the letter was not impeding senators’ work on Bill C-210, since senators remained free to deal with the bill as they saw fit and, therefore, ruled that there was no prima facie case of privilege.
Committees of the Whole
In December, the Senate resolved itself into Committee of the Whole on three occasions to receive potential appointees to various positions. Subsequently, the Senate adopted motions to approve the appointments of Raymond Théberge as Commissioner of Official Languages, Nancy Bélanger as Commissioner of Lobbying, and Pierre Legault as Senate Ethics Officer.
Before adjourning for the holiday season, the Senate also adopted a motion to resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on February 6, 2018, to receive three ministers, a parliamentary secretary and officials on the subject matter of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. This meeting will be separate from the actual proceedings on the bill, which is currently under debate at second reading.
Lieutenant Governor Jocelyne Roy Vienneau opened the 4th Session of the 58th Legislature on October 24, 2017, with the delivery of the Speech from the Throne. The speech outlined the need to grow the economy, strengthen education, and improve health care.
Highlights of the speech included the launch of a population growth strategy; a review of WorkSafe New Brunswick’s decisions regarding its funding formula; an agreement with the federal government to make daycares more accessible and affordable; an agreement with public universities to specify government funding and to appear annually before the Legislative Assembly; a partnership with Medavie to integrate Ambulance New Brunswick, the extra-mural service program and tele-care 811; benefits to assist seniors and their caregivers so they can remain independent longer, a social innovation fund to support innovation projects that endeavor to end generational poverty; the expansion of the family division cases management model to stream access to services and expedient resolutions of family law disputes; initiatives to protect against intimate partner violence and improve access to reproductive health services; a broader implementation of pay equity; legislation to freeze MLA salaries until 2021, when it is anticipated New Brunswick will have a balanced budget; legislation to address the legalization of recreational cannabis; and legislation to address carbon pricing and establish a climate change fund.
Reply to Throne Speech
On October 26, Official Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs gave his reply to the Speech from the Throne. Mr. Higgs raised concerns about children’s falling literacy rates, increased taxes for small businesses, the space crisis at New Brunswick Community College, business property tax cuts, and missed opportunities in health care and home care models. He also expressed a desire to work with government on legislation to address post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders, alcohol interlock devices, and school zone speed limits.
The 2018-19 capital budget totals $815.3 million. New investments total $28.1 million while $787.2 million is earmarked for maintenance and the continuation of previously announced projects. Specifically, a record $12.6 million will be invested in upgrading tourism infrastructure; $458.1 million will be allocated for road and bridge construction, their maintenance, and building upgrades; $105.8 million for K-12 schools; $99.9 million for the maintenance and improvement of health care facilities; and $20.3 million for energy retrofits and renewable energy upgrades.
In its report to the House on November 17, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Trevor Holder, outlined the activities of the Committee during the second and third sessions of the 58th Legislature. In addition, the report recommended to the House that departmental annual reports include more detailed information to fully comply with government report policy, and that the government review the annual report policy and consider requiring the reports to contain departmental responses on the implementation of Auditor General recommendations, using consistent formatting to address the status of implementation of individual recommendations with clear reasoning.
On November 21, the Standing Committee on Law Amendments, chaired by Attorney General Serge Rousselle, held public hearings on Bill 4, An Act to Amend the Industrial Relations Act. The purpose of the Bill is to include first contract arbitration as an accessible remedy for employees and employers when bargaining has reached an impasse. The Committee met with representatives of the department responsible for the legislation, as well as representatives from labour and management. The Committee also received various written briefs. In its report dated December 5, the Committee recommended Bill 4 to the House.
On November 23, the Standing Committees on Crown Corporations and Public Accounts, chaired by Chuck Chiasson and Mr. Holder, respectively, met with Auditor General Kim MacPherson for the release of her Report of the Auditor General of New Brunswick 2017, Volume III – Special Examination, Volume IV – Financial Audit, and Volume V – Performance Audit. Volume III presented a special examination on residential property tax assessments in Service New Brunswick. Volume IV focused on matters arising from financial audits of the Province and its Crown agencies. Volume V reviewed matters arising from an audit of school district purchase cards, and provided a follow-up on recommendations from prior years’ performance audits, including foster homes, provincial bridges, procurement of goods and services, the Point Lepreau generating station refurbishment, and the collection of accounts receivable.
On December 5, the Standing Committee on Procedure, Privileges and Legislative Officers, chaired by Hédard Albert, met to consider the adoption of a statement on the roles and responsibilities of Members and a code of conduct for Members. The purposes of the statement and code are to guide Members on the standards of conduct expected of them in the discharge of their parliamentary and public duties and to provide New Brunswickers with a standard against which they can assess the performance of their elected representatives. In its report to the House on the same day, the Committee recommended the adoption of the proposed statement and code presented in the report.
Forty-one bills were introduced during the fall session, including:
Bill 14 – Exotic Animals Act – introduced by Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet, regulates the import, possession, sale, export and release of exotic species in New Brunswick.
Bill 16, Cannabis Control Act – introduced by Health Minister Benoît Bourque, regulates the retail sale of recreational cannabis and outlines restrictions on consumption and possession.
Bill 17, Cannabis Management Corporation Act – introduced by Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, creates the Cannabis Management Corporation, a Crown corporation charged with the management and control of retail sales of recreational cannabis.
Bill 27 – An Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act – introduced by Premier Brian Gallant, prohibits the provision of special payments or benefits to political government staff between the date the writs are issued for a provincial general election and the date of the appointment of a new Executive Council.
Bill 28 – Green Energy Security Act – introduced by Green Party Leader David Coon, creates Renew New Brunswick Inc., a Crown corporation to promote, invest in, and develop jobs in the renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation sectors.
Bill 29 – An Act to Amend the Assessment Act – introduced by Mr. Rousselle, freezes property tax assessments, with certain exceptions, for one year at the 2017 level.
Bill 30 – An Act to Amend the Insurance Act – introduced by Ms. Rogers, prevents insurers from using exclusionary clauses to deny innocent co-insureds coverage in situations of loss or damage to shared property caused by an intentional or criminal act by the other co-insured.
Bill 38 – An Act to Amend the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act – introduced by Mr. Rousselle, prohibits Members from lobbying or being employed by a business or organization that engages in lobbying. The Bill also prohibits lobbying in relation to matters connected to the province by former Members during the 12-month period after they ceased to be a Member.
Bill 40 – An Act to Amend the Education Act – introduced by Mr. Holder, requires the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to publish on its website a link to the provincial testing results in literacy, mathematics, science and French as a second language for the most recent year and the ten previous years.
On December 14, the House defeated a motion, moved by Mr. Higgs, which would have directed the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations to hold public hearings and question certain government employees on the results of the special examination conducted by the Auditor General regarding the residential property tax assessment system.
The New Brunswick Legislative Assembly hosted the sixth meeting of the Québec-New Brunswick Parliamentary Association from November 16 to 18. The Association was established in 2004 to strengthen the close ties that exist between the Québec and New Brunswick Legislatures and to provide a regular forum for meetings between the two Assemblies.
The New Brunswick delegation consisted of Speaker Chris Collins, Deputy Speaker Bernard LeBlanc, and Members Chuck Chiasson and Madeleine Dubé. The Quebec delegation consisted of four delegates, including three Members of the National Assembly. Throughout the three-day conference, delegates examined various topics of mutual interest to both jurisdictions, such as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the legalization of recreational cannabis.
Governor General’s Visit
The New Brunswick Legislature was honoured to welcome Governor General Julie Payette. She began her first official New Brunswick visit with an address to the Legislative Assembly on November 7.
The Governor General called on Members and citizens alike to work together to protect the planet and realize common goals of peace while recalling her experience seeing New Brunswick from space as a former astronaut. She reminded New Brunswickers that from space, political borders are indiscernible and that as citizens, we are stronger together.
The Governor General noted that New Brunswick’s unique position as a founding member of Canada and the country’s only officially bilingual province should be an example to others of working together, the importance of tolerance, and fearlessly dreaming big.
On December 1, Donald Arseneault resigned as the MLA for Campbellton-Dalhousie. First elected in the 2003 general election, Mr. Arseneault was re-elected in 2006, 2010 and 2014. During his time at the Legislature, Mr. Arseneault served as Minister of Energy and Mines; Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour; Minister of Natural Resources; Deputy House Leader and Deputy Premier.
Adjournment and Standings
The Legislature adjourned on December 21, 2017, and was scheduled to resume sitting on January 30, 2018. The current House standings are 25 Liberals, 22 Progressive Conservatives, one Green and one vacancy.
Alicia R. Del Frate
Parliamentary Support Officer
Third Session of the 29th Legislature
The Fall sitting of the 3rd Session of the 29thLegislature commenced on October 30, 2017. Two Bills related to the upcoming legalization of cannabis, received a significant amount of attention. Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, creates a framework for the regulation, distribution, and consumption of cannabis in the province. Bill 29, An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol Impaired Driving, amends the Traffic Safety Act, to create more tools to address drug-impaired driving. Both Bills received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017 and, with some exceptions, will come into force on Proclamation.
Bill 32, An Act to Strengthen and Protect Democracy in Alberta, which amends the Election Act and the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017. It sets new limits on spending by third parties and prohibits political parties, contestants and candidates from working with third parties to circumvent spending and contribution limits.
The Bill also sets restrictions on government advertising during the time period following the issuance of a writ through to the end of polling day. It endeavours to encourage voter participation by reducing voter residency requirements and expanding polling options including an increase in the use of advance and mobile polls and voter assist terminals and special ballots.
In addition, the Bill creates the new position of Election Commissioner which, unlike similar positions in other Canadian jurisdictions, is an independent Officer of the Legislature. The Bill specifically tasks the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices with conducting a search for qualified individuals to fill the new position and recommending to the Assembly the candidate the Committee considers to be most suitable. The Committee met on December 20, 2017, to begin the search process. The application deadline was set for January 19, 2018.
Private Members’ Public Bills
During the Fall session three private members’ public bills received third reading and Royal Assent. Bill 206, Child, Youth and Family Enhancement (Adoption Advertising) Amendment Act, 2017, sponsored by Leela Aheer, MLA (Chestermere-Rocky View), removes restrictions preventing potential adoptive parents from posting online profiles. Bill 209, Radon Awareness and Testing Act, sponsored by Robyn Luff, MLA (Calgary-East), requires the Government to develop educational materials and a public awareness campaign regarding the danger of radon gas, and could lead to childcare program locations being tested for radon before licences are issued or renewed. Finally, Bill 210, Missing Persons (Silver Alert) Amendment Act 2017, sponsored by Mark Smith, MLA (Drayton Valley-Devon), enables authorities to activate a “silver alert,” much like an “amber alert,” for missing children, in cases when adults with reduced mental capacity go missing.
On October 17, Premier Rachel Notley announced that Sandra Jansen, MLA (Calgary-North West) would join Cabinet as the Minister of Infrastructure. Brian Mason, MLA (Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood), previously the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, maintains the Transportation portfolio.
While not part of Cabinet, two parliamentary secretary positions were also created at this time. Jessica Littlewood, MLA (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville) serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade for Small Business, and Annie McKitrick, MLA (Sherwood Park) is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education.
Caucus Composition and By-Election
Karen McPherson, MLA (Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill), who left the New Democrat (NDP) caucus on October 4, 2017, to sit as an Independent, later announced that she was joining the Alberta Party (AP) caucus on October 30, 2017. Dave Rodney, the MLA for Calgary-Lougheed, resigned his seat effective November 1, 2017. In the resulting by-election held on December 14, 2017, Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP), was elected as the Member for Calgary-Lougheed. Mr. Kenney will have his first opportunity to take his seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta when session resumes in the spring.
The current composition of the Assembly is 54 seats for the NDP, 27 seats for the UCP, two seats for the AP, and one seat each for the Alberta Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives. There are also two Independent Members.
Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC)
The EBC presented its final report to the Speaker on October 19, 2017. Although the final recommendations differed from those initially proposed in its interim report, the EBC continued to recommend that three new urban constituencies be created through a corresponding reduction in the number of rural constituencies.
On November 28, 2017, the Assembly concurred in the recommendations of the final report of the EBC with a few exceptions with respect to names of electoral divisions. Subsequently, on December 4, 2017, Bill 33, Electoral Divisions Act, which reflected the recommendations of the EBC report and the concurrence motion, received First Reading in the Assembly. Ultimately the Bill passed without amendment and will come into force on the day the writ for the next general election is issued.
Auditor General Search Committee
On December 21, 2017, the Select Special Auditor General Search Committee completed its mandate and released its report recommending that Doug Wylie, be appointed as the next Auditor General of Alberta. Mr. Wylie has been with the Office of the Auditor General Since 1989 and has served as an Assistant Auditor General for the last 14 years.