On September 7, 2011, the day following the resignation of Nathalie Normandeau, Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife, the Premier shuffled his Cabinet. Line Beauchamp, Member for Bourassa-Sauvé, was appointed Deputy Premier, while continuing to hold the office of Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports. Sam Hamad, Member for Louis-Hébert, was named Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. He also remains Minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region. Clément Gignac, Member for Marguerite-Bourgeoys, was named Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Minister responsible for the Northern Plan. Pierre Moreau, Member for Châteauguay, was named Minister of Transport. The former President of the National Assembly, Yvon Vallières, Member for Richmond, was named Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and the Canadian Francophonie, and Minister responsible for the Reform of Democratic Institutions and Access to Information.
The Assembly resumed on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, as provided for in the Standing Orders. During the very first week, the President of the Assembly tabled the report from the Commission de la représentation électorale du Québec on the electoral boundaries. A debate was held on this report on September 27 and 28 as required by the Election Act.
Rulings and directives from the Chair
Several rulings and directives were given by the President, Jacques Chagnon, since the resumption of the parliamentary proceedings. First, at the sitting of September 20, the President ruled that the request for an urgent debate made by the Member for Mercier on the facts set forth in the report from the Anti-Collusion Unit was not receivable. The President stated that this request concerned a definite and important matter involving the responsibility of the Assembly. However, he noted that the subject matter of the request could be discussed otherwise. As this was the Assembly’s first sitting day of a new sessional period there would be numerous opportunities to debate this matter, particularly during end of sitting debates and interpellations.
During this same sitting, the President gave a directive on the conduct of oral question period and the allocation of control measures and speaking times to take into account the presence of six new independent Members. To facilitate the allocation of questions among these Members, a new mechanism has been put into place: a random draw procedure.
Finally on September, 28 the President gave a ruling on a request to rise on a point of privilege notified by the Member for Pointe-aux-Trembles and Chief Opposition Whip, Nicole Léger. She alleged that the Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife had acted in contempt of Parliament when she made comments regarding the dismantlement of the Shell refinery in east-end Montréal, by knowingly misleading the House and ridiculing the House. The President stated that there was nothing to suggest at first glance that the Minister acted in contempt of Parliament. Indeed, the presumption according to which a Member’s word must always be accepted was not rebutted since the former Minister did not recognize having deliberately misled the Assembly, nor did she give two contradictory versions of the same facts.
The President of the National Assembly of Québec and President of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), M. Chagnon, led the proceedings of the 37th Session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, from 6 to 8 July 2011. On this occasion, the APF heard Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of the Francophonie.
The President of the National Assembly welcomed more than 220 participants to the activities of the 11th General Assembly of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas, in Québec City, from September 6 to 9 2011. During this general assembly, participants had the opportunity to discuss the following themes: the reduction of child mortality, the increase in the number of individuals holding a high school diploma in the 25 and over age group, the elimination of the wage gap between men and women, as well as the protection of water resources. Upon the conclusion of these meetings, a Final Declaration was adopted. This will enable parliamentarians to promote their work among the national and regional parliaments, civil society organizations as well as governments.
The Annual Meeting of the Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Americas was held on the margins of the General Assembly of the COPA. Topics for discussion focussed on the political participation of women in the Americas and the commitment of women toward a better future.
On September 22, 2011, the Office of the National Assembly approved several modifications made to the Administrative Organization Plan of the Assembly. The appointments are as follows: Ariane Mignolet, Director General of the new General Directorate for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; René Chrétien, Special Advisor to the Secretary General and to the Director General of the General Directorate for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; François Arsenault and Dominique Drouin, respectively Director and Assistant Director of the new Parliamentary Proceedings Directorate; Jacques Gagnon, Director of the Library Research Service; and Martin Rochefort, Special Advisor at the Research Service.
Parliamentary Proceedings Directorate
Last August 18, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment completed the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 89, An Act to amend the Environment Quality Act in order to reinforce compliance. The purpose of this bill is to reinforce compliance with the Environment Quality Act, in particular by introducing administrative sanctions and by increasing penal sanctions. The text of the bill was adopted with 62 amendments.
On September 15, the Committee on Planning and the Public Domain concluded its public hearings within the framework of a general consultation on the draft bill entitled Sustainable Regional and Local Land Use Planning Act. The Committee received 73 briefs within the framework of this consultation.
From September 20-22 the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources began public hearings within the framework of its general consultation on the green paper for an agrifood policy entitled Donner le goût du Québec. The Committee received an impressive number of briefs – more than 190 – within the framework of this consultation.
On September 27, the Committee on Public Administration heard Jacques Duchesneau, head of the Anti-Collusion Unit of the Ministère des Transports, with regard to his report on the presence of collusion in the road construction industry that was tabled in the National Assembly on September 22, 2011. Mr. Duchesneau was questioned by the Committee members for over five hours within the framework of this order.
In recent weeks, the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources has had recourse to a procedure that is very rarely used. Indeed, within the framework of an order to examine the policy directions, activities and management of La Financière agricole du Québec, the Committee had summoned members of the board of directors to a public hearing on August 22. Since they did not come to the hearing, the Committee carried a motion to subpoena the members of the board of directors to appear before it. These hearings were held on September 12 and 19, 2011.
On September 20, 2011 the Committee on Culture and Education elected Martin Lemay, Member for Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, as its vice-chairman, and the Committee on Health and Social Services elected Marjolain Dufour, Member for René-Lévesque, as its vice-chairman.
Last August, the Committees Secretariat Directorate published its statistical report on the proceedings of the parliamentary committees for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The report indicates, among other things, that the parliamentary committees held 523 sittings in 2010-2011. This is a record number of sittings since 1984. The report also mentions the enthusiastic response to cyberdemocracy. Indeed, two on-line consultations were held during the year, for which 6,864 on-line questionnaires were filled. Of this number, it should however be noted that 6,779 concerned the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity. Furthermore, a marked increase in on-line comments has been noted: a total of 1,026 on-line comments concerning several committee orders were received.
For more information on the parliamentary committees, please visit the Internet site of the Québec National Assembly at www.assnat.qc.ca.
Parliamentary Proceedings Directorate
It was a relatively quiet summer at Queen’s Park. The Legislature was prorogued on June 1, 2011 and the fixed election date of October 6 was on the horizon. On September 7, Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley dissolved the 39th Parliament and issued the writs for the 40th provincial general election.
The election produced history-making results, giving Dalton McGuinty a third term as Premier and changing the composition of the House from a Liberal majority to a Liberal minority. The last Premier to win at least three consecutive terms was Progressive Conservative leader Bill Davis in 1977 and the last Liberal Premier to do so was Sir Oliver Mowat in the 1890s. Also, Ontario has not had a minority government since 1985, which resulted in a Liberal-New Democratic Party accord.
Out of 107 seats in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. McGuinty won 53 seats while the Progressive Conservatives of Tim Hudak took 37 seats and the New Democratic Party of Andrea Horwath took 17 seats. There will be 30 first-time MPPs taking their seats in the House.
Valerie Quioc Lim
A general election was held on October 3, 2011. All but one of the incumbents who were seeking re-election were returned to office. There was one resignation during the 16th Assembly, which occurred within six months of the general election, and three Members announced they were not seeking re-election, which resulted in five new Members (out of 19) in the 17th Legislative Assembly.
The 19 Members were sworn in on October 17, 2011; the Territorial Leadership Committee, during which the 19 Members choose their Speaker, Premier, and Cabinet Members, took place on October 26, 2011. Jackie Jacobson, MLA Nunakput, was elected Speaker; Bob McLeod, MLA Yellowknife South, was elected Premier; and Glen Abernethy, MLA Great Slave; Tom Beaulieu, MLA Tu Nedhe; Jackson Lafferty, MLA Monfwi; Robert C. McLeod, MLA Inuvik Twin Lakes; J. Michael Miltenberger, MLA Thebacha; and David Ramsay, MLA Kam Lake were elected to serve on Cabinet.
The First Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories opened on October 27, 2011, and the Members of Cabinet were sworn in the same day. The inaugural session was adjourned on October 28, 2011 and will resume on December 7, 2011.
The House sitting calendar for the 2011-2012 fiscal year has been adjusted due to the general election and transition activities that followed. Normally the Assembly considers the capital budget during a four-week fall (October) sitting; the operations budget during a six-week spring (February-March) sitting; and various other matters during a two-week summer (May-June) sitting. This year the Assembly will consider the capital budget during a two-week December sitting, the interim operations budget during a four-week February sitting, and the full-year operations budget during a four week May-June sitting.
Standing and Special Committees
Newfoundland and Labrador
A General Election was held on October 11th, the date fixed by statute for the vote. The Progressive Conservatives, led by Premier Kathy Dunderdale were elected with 37 seats, the Liberals remained the Official Opposition with 6 seats, an increase of two Members and the New Democrats won five seats, increasing their number by four Members. A judicial recount is to be carried out for the District of Burin – Placentia West where there was a 40-vote difference between the Progressive Conservative and the New Democratic candidates.
The House now has six Members who are sons of former Members: Eli Cross, the Member for Bonavista North, whose father, George, represented that District from 1975 to 1979 and 1982 to 1985; Andrew Parsons, the Member for Burgeo – LaPoile, son of Kelvin, who represented the District from 1999 to 2011; Kevin Parsons, Member for Cape St. Francis, whose father, also named Kevin, represented St. John’s East Extern from 1986 to 1993; Terry French, the Member for Conception Bay South, whose father, Bob, represented the District from 1996 to 2002; Jim Bennett, the Member for St. Barbe, whose father, Trevor, represented the same District from 1979 to 1982 and Tom Osborne, Member for St. John’s South, whose mother, Sheila, represented St. John’s West from 1999 to 2011.
The Members-elect were sworn by David Orsborn, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Trial Division, and Ross Wiseman was elected Speaker on October 27th.
Wade Verge, the Member for Lewisporte was elected Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees; Steve Kent, the Member for Mt. Pearl North, was elected Deputy Chair of Committees.
Sandy Collins, the Member for Terra Nova, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Community Services and Vaughn Granter, Member for Humber West was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier.
The sixteen-member Cabinet was appointed on October 28th. The following are the names and portfolios of the new Ministers:
- Joan Burke
Advanced Education and Skills and Minister Responsible for the Status of Persons with Disabilities and for Youth Engagement
- Charlene Johnson
Child, Youth and Family Services and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
- Clyde Jackman
- Terry French
Environment and Conservation and Minister Responsible for the Labour Relations Agency, the Multi Materials Stewardship Board and Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading
- Thomas Marshall
Finance, President of Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for the Public Service Secretariat, the Public Service Commission and the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation
- Darin King
Fisheries and Aquaculture and Deputy Government House Leader
- Susan Sullivan
Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for Aging and Seniors, and Francophone Affairs
- Nick McGrath
Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs, and the Voluntary and Non-Profit Sector
- Keith Hutchings
Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Rural Secretariat, and the Research & Development Corporation
- Felix Collins
Justice and Attorney General
- Kevin O’Brien
Municipal Affairs and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services
Newfoundland and Labrador, and Registrar General
- Jerome Kennedy
Natural Resources, Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency and Government House Leader
- Paul Davis
Service Newfoundland and Labrador and Minister Responsible for the Government Purchasing Agency, Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission
- Derrick Dalley
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
- Tom Hedderson
Transportation and Works and Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation
Of the sixteen, three Ministers are new to Cabinet: Mr. Davis, Mr. Hutchings and Mr. McGrath.
The House adjourned following the election of the Speaker and will reconvene on March 5th, pursuant to the Lieutenant Governor’s proclamation summoning the Members to assemble for the formal opening of the First Session of the Forty-Seventh General Assembly when he will deliver the Speech from the Throne.
The Chief Electoral Officer and Commissioner for Legislative Standards, Paul Reynolds, died on April 24th after a short battle with cancer. Mr. Reynolds had held the office since June 2007. Victor Powers was appointed by unanimous resolution of the House to succeed the late Mr. Reynolds.
Elizabeth Gallagher, retired on August 31 having served as Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Assembly for 14 years. Ms. Gallagher’s successor has not yet been appointed.
Clerk Assistant/Clerk of Committees
Yukoners elected their 33rd Legislative Assembly on October 11, 2011. Yukon Party candidates won a majority of the Assembly’s seats, taking 11 of 19. New Democratic Party candidates won six seats with Liberal Party candidates claiming the other two. This result marked the first time since the adoption of party politics in 1978 that a party had won a third consecutive term as the government.
The successful candidates, by electoral district, were:
- Copperbelt North – Currie Dixon (Yukon Party)
- Copperbelt South – Lois Moorcroft (NDP)
- Klondike – Sandy Silver (Liberal)
- Kluane – Wade Istchenko (Yukon Party)
- Lake Laberge – Brad Cathers (Yukon Party)
- Mayo-Tatchun – Jim Tredger (NDP)
- Mountainview – Darrell Pasloski (Yukon Party)
- Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes – Kevin Barr (NDP)
- Pelly-Nisutlin – Stacey Hassard (Yukon Party)
- Porter Creek Centre – David Laxton (Yukon Party)
- Porter Creek North – Doug Graham (Yukon Party)
- Porter Creek South – Mike Nixon (Yukon Party)
- Riverdale North – Scott Kent (Yukon Party)
- Riverdale South – Jan Stick (NDP)
- Takhini-Kopper King – Kate White (NDP)
- Vuntut Gwitchin – Darius Elias (Liberal)
- Watson Lake – Patti McLeod (Yukon Party)
- Whitehorse Centre – Elizabeth Hanson (NDP)
- Whitehorse West – Elaine Taylor (Yukon Party)
On October 15th a judicial recount was conducted regarding the results in the electoral district of Copperbelt South. The recount confirmed that Ms. Moorcroft had defeated Yukon Party candidate Valerie Boxall by three votes.
A record number of voters – 20, 730 – were enumerated for the election. Voter turn out in the electoral districts ranged from a low of 63.6 percent in Porter Creek North to a high of 100 percent in Vuntut Gwitchin. Overall voter turn out was 76.3 percent (15,803 votes cast). This marked a return to historic levels of voting. Since the 1980s voter turnout has been in the 77 to 79 percent range. The only exception was the 2006 general election when voter turnout dropped to 72.5 percent.
The Yukon Party polled 40.5 percent of votes cast. The NDP received 32.6 percent of votes cast while the Liberals received 25.6 percent. The remaining votes were cast for either the two Green Party candidates, two First Nations Party candidates or two independent candidates.
Only four of ten Members seeking re-election – Mr. Cathers, Mr. Elias, Ms. Hanson and Ms. Taylor – were returned for another term. Liberal Party leader Arthur Mitchell was defeated as were three cabinet ministers – Glenn Hart, Marian Horne and Steve Nordick. Ms. Horne, who represented Pelly-Nisutlin in the 32nd Legislative Assembly, sought election in Whitehorse Centre after losing the Yukon Party nomination in her former electoral district. Liberals Eric Fairclough and Don Inverarity were also defeated.
The 15 new members represent the largest influx of new MLAs in Yukon’s history. However, three of those members – Mr. Graham (1978-1982), Mr. Kent (2000-2002), and Ms. Moorcroft (1992-2000) – had previously served in the Assembly.
Sixty-two candidates stood for election, including 17 women – the same number as in 2006. In contrast to the 2006 results, however, six women were elected. Only two were elected in the previous general election. The 33rd Yukon Legislative Assembly will, therefore, feature more women than any previous Assembly, the previous high being the five women elected to the 30th Legislative Assembly (2000-2002).
On November 5, 2011 eight Yukon Party MLAs were sworn into the Executive Council by Commissioner Doug Phillips. The cabinet ministers and their responsibilities are:
- Mr. Pasloski – Premier, Minister responsible for the Executive Council Office and Minister of Finance.
- Ms. Taylor – Deputy Premier, Minister of Community Services, Minister of the Public Service Commission, Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate and Minister responsible for the French Language Services Directorate.
- Mr. Cathers – Government House Leader, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
- Mr. Graham – Minister of Health and Social Services and Minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.
- Mr. Kent – Minister of Education, Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation and Minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
- Mr. Dixon – Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Environment.
- Mr. Istchenko – Minister of Highways and Public Works.
- Mr. Nixon – Minister of Justice and Minister of Tourism and Culture.
At 26 years old, Mr. Dixon is believed to be Yukon’s youngest-ever cabinet minister.
Florence Whyard Media Gallery & Yukon First Nations Gates
On October 6th, Speaker Ted Staffen hosted a public ceremony in the Chamber to officially unveil two new features. First, the Speaker announced the naming of the media gallery in honour of Florence “Flo” Whyard, a Yukoner whose career included roles as a territorial politician and Administrator, municipal politician, and journalist. In 1974, Mrs. Whyard was elected as a member of what was then known as the Territorial Council of Yukon, representing the riding of Whitehorse West. Mrs. Whyard also served as a Minister from 1975 to 1978. Mrs. Whyard also received the Order of Canada in 1983. Mrs. Whyard, who is 94 years old, was on hand for the dedication of the Media Gallery, as was Dr. Sheila Rose, whom the Whitehorse Star credited as being “a catalyst in pushing for the naming of the gallery.”
Speaker Staffen then unveiled the other innovation, the installation in the Chamber of two First Nations gates. The gates, situated on either side of the Public Gallery, and separating the Public Gallery from the floor of the House, each feature a carved, double-sided panel, created by young Yukon sculptors from the Northern Cultural Expressions Society. The carvings on one gate, by artist Calvin Morberg, represent the Wolf Clan. The other gate represents the Crow Clan, and was carved by artist Jared Kane. The sculpted wooden panels are surrounded by ironwork created by Mike Morrow. Speaker Staffen had been the force behind this initiative, as he wished to see the installation of permanent artwork in the Chamber reflecting the cultural heritage of Yukon’s First Nations.
Subsequent to the January and February 2011 resignation announcements of Dr. David Swann, Leader of the Official Opposition, and Premier Ed Stelmach, Leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, two leadership contests were held in the fall of 2011. Six candidates ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, including four sitting MLAs, Doug Griffiths; Doug Horner; Dr. Ted Morton; and Alison Redford. The other two candidates were Gary Mar, a former Cabinet Minister in the Government of Premier Ralph Klein and more recently Alberta’s Official Representative in Washington, DC, and Rick Orman, also a former Cabinet Minister in the Progressive Conservative Government of Premier Don Getty.
The first ballot in the election of the new leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party took place on September 17, 2011. None of the six candidates was able to achieve an absolute majority in the first ballot election as required in the system of voting used by the Party to determine a new leader. Mr. Mar led after the first ballot, with 40.76 per cent of the vote, followed by Ms Redford, at 18.75 per cent of the vote, and Mr. Horner, at 14.55 per cent of the vote. The next step in determining a winner in the leadership contest was to drop the bottom three leadership contestants and hold a second ballot vote for the remaining three candidates. On October 1, 2011, in the initial vote of the second ballot, Mr. Mar received 42.51 per cent of the first-place votes cast, again not sufficient to gain an absolute majority and therefore achieve victory, while Ms. Redford and Mr. Horner gained 37.09 and 20.40 per cent of the first-place votes respectively. Mr. Horner, the third place candidate, was then dropped off the ballot. A run-off election between Mr. Mar and Ms. Redford was held in which the second-choice preferences of the dropped candidate (Mr. Horner) were counted and added to the remaining contestants’ first-place votes to determine a winner. Ms. Redford won with a count of 37,562 votes to 35,531 for Mr. Mar and was thereby elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. She was subsequently sworn-in on October 7, 2011, as Alberta’s 14th Premier.
Five candidates ran for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party, including three sitting MLAs, Laurie Blakeman; Hugh MacDonald; and Dr. Raj Sherman. The other two candidates were Bill Harvey, a former Alberta Liberal candidate for the electoral district of Calgary-East, and Bruce Payne. The Alberta Liberal Party opened their leadership contest to all Albertans, not requiring them to purchase a party membership to be eligible to vote in the leadership election. The Alberta Liberal Party’s leadership election took place on Saturday, September 10, 2011, and resulted in a majority victory for Dr. Sherman. Dr. Sherman, who was an Independent Member at the time of the leadership contest, officially joined the Liberal caucus and became the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Shortly after being sworn-in as Premier, on October 12, 2011, Premier Redford announced her new Cabinet, which involved changing a number of portfolios and reducing the number of ministries from 24 to 20. Notable changes include the creation of the Ministry of Human Services; the consolidation of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Aboriginal Relations, and Immigration (from the Ministry of Employment and Immigration) into Intergovernmental, International and Aboriginal Relations; the consolidation into the Ministry of Municipal Affairs of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (except for Homelessness, which falls under the Ministry of Human Services); the incorporation of Enterprise from the former Ministry of Finance and Enterprise into the new Treasury Board and Enterprise; and the renaming of the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Environment and Water.
Members returning to Cabinet with new portfolios include: Doug Horner, Deputy Premier and the President of Treasury Board and Enterprise; David Hancock, Minister of Human Services; Dr. Ted Morton, Minister of Energy; Ron Liepert, Minister of Finance; Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Education; Jonathan Denis, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security; Frank Oberle, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development; Ray Danyluk, Minister of Transportation; Jack Hayden, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation; and Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Culture and Community Services.
Two Ministers maintained their previous portfolios, Verlyn Olson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Greg Weadick, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology.
First-time Cabinet Ministers are: Fred Horne, Minister of Health and Wellness; Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Water; Cal Dallas, Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations; Evan Berger, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Jeff Johnson, Minister of Infrastructure; Doug Griffiths, Minister of Municipal Affairs; and Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Service Alberta. In addition, George VanderBurg, a former Minster, becomes Minister of Seniors.
Fall 2011 Sitting
On October 24, 2011, the Assembly resumed sitting for the fall sitting of the Fourth Session of the 27th Legislature. That afternoon, pursuant to a motion moved by the Government House Leader, the Assembly adjourned its regular business for an emergency debate on a matter of urgent public importance – Alberta’s future during the global economic recession. The Government House Leader requested and received unanimous consent to implement certain rules for the debate agreed to by the Assembly’s House Leaders, including that the Government and Official Opposition were allotted one hour each to speak on the matter, while the remaining caucuses were each given half an hour.
On the following day, October 25, 2011, the Assembly adopted a motion to amend Standing Order 52.01(1), which changed the names and mandates of the five Policy Field Committees of the Assembly. The new Policy Field Committees are: the Standing Committee on Community Development, the Standing Committee on Education, the Standing Committee on Energy, the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Standing Committee on Public Health and Safety. Under Government Motion 22, which the Assembly adopted that same day, the memberships for these new Policy Field Committees were established.
Pursuant to Government Motion 19, the Assembly resolved to stand adjourned at the conclusion of business on October 25, 2011, until November 21, 2011.
On October 25, 2011, the Assembly concurred in a report prepared by the Select Special Ombudsman Search Committee, which was struck on December 1, 2010. The search committee recommended that Peter Hourihan be appointed Alberta’s new Ombudsman.
The Select Special Information and Privacy Commissioner Search Committee, struck on May 11, 2011, met numerous times during the Assembly’s period of adjournment. The Committee is expected to make its recommendation for appointment to the Assembly when the Assembly resumes sitting in November.
The Standing Committee on Legislative Offices, which on April 20, 2011, was deemed to be the special committee of the Assembly for the purpose of reviewing the Lobbyists Act, is concluding its review of the Act. Over the summer, requests for submissions to the Committee were advertised and 18 submissions were received. On October 13, 2011, the Committee heard presentations during a public meeting held in Edmonton, Alberta. The Committee is expected to report to the Assembly in the coming weeks.
The Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund held its annual public meeting in Edmonton on October 20, 2011. To make the meeting more accessible to all Albertans, the Committee proceedings were broadcast live on television and over the Internet. In addition to taking questions from members of the live audience, for the first time in the history of the Assembly’s Committees, a live online chat was also used during the meeting to take questions from interested individuals. The meeting commenced with a presentation on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund by the Committee and members of Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), the investment company that is responsible for investing the money from Alberta’s Heritage Savings Trust Fund.
The online chat added to the already-considerable organizational and logistical challenges of holding the Committee’s annual public meeting given new testing and technical requirements and the need for staff to monitor the on-line chat to ensure that questions and comments were transmitted to the Committee during the live broadcast.
Committee Research Coordinator
Legislative Assembly Office
The 39th Legislature wrapped up its 5th session on June 16, 2011. A total of 59 Government and Private Members’ bills received Royal Assent during this session, including the following:
- Bill 28 – The Public Schools Amendment Act (Reporting Bullying and Other Harm) – which states that a school employee, or a person in charge of pupils during school-approved activities, must make a report to the principal if they think a pupil has engaged in bullying or other unacceptable conduct.
- Bill 32 – The Essential Services (Health Care) and Related Amendments Act – which establishes a new scheme to ensure that essential health services are provided in the event of a strike or lockout in the health care sector.
- Bill 41 – The Liquor Control Amendment Act – which establishes brew pubs in Manitoba which may produce beer on site to be served to customers and sold to the general public. It also permits the commission to establish and operate boutique liquor stores in grocery stores and other locations. As well, operators of dining rooms may allow customers to bring their own commercially-produced wine to drink with a meal in the dining room.
- Bill 46 – The Save Lake Winnipeg Act – which amends several Acts to reduce the excessive amounts of phosphorus and other nutrients coming into Lake Winnipeg that affect the ecological health of the lake.
- Bill 205 – The Regional Health Authorities Amendment Act (Mammography Accreditation) – which requires every regional health authority to use mammography units that are currently accredited.
- Bill 300 – The Winnipeg Foundation Amendment Act – which increases the maximum number of directors to 17 Manitoba residents.
On June 30, 2011 the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs met to consider Annual Reports of the Children’s Advocate for the fiscal years ending March 31, 2009 and 2010. Appearing before the committee to respond to MLAs’ questions were Darlene MacDonald, Children’s Advocate and Bonnie Kocsis, Deputy Children’s Advocate. This marked the first occasion when an annual report of the Children’s Advocate was considered by a Manitoba Standing Committee.
During the summer months members seeking re-election utilized their time to prepare their campaigns for Manitoba’s first ever set date general election on October 4, 2011. On September 6, 2011, the Writs were dropped marking the official start of the campaign. Manitobans voted in the province’s 40th general election on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. Recent changes to the Electoral Division Boundaries took effect for this election, where some constituency names and boundaries were changed to ensure effective representation of the population. Once the polls closed and the ballots were counted the NDP won 37 seats in the Legislature and a fourth majority government. The Progressive Conservatives won 19 seats to retain official opposition status, and the Manitoba Liberals won one seat. Two constituencies underwent automatic recounts resulting in Dave Gaudreau (NDP – St. Norbert) and Sharon Blady (NDP – Kirkfield Park) being declared as elected members on November 1 and 3 respectively.
On election night (after winning his seat) the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, Hugh McFadyen (PC – Fort Whyte), indicated that he would be stepping down as the party leader, noting that he would continue in that role until a new leader is chosen.
First Session of the 40th Legislature
The 1st session of the 40th Legislature began soon after the election on Thursday, October 20, 2011. The first item of business was the election of a new Speaker by secret ballot. After the first round of ballots, Daryl Reid (NDP – Transcona), a veteran Member with 21 years of service, was elected as Speaker. He becomes Manitoba’s second Speaker elected by secret ballot.
Later that same day, the NDP government presented its 14th Speech from the Throne. Delivered by Lieutenant-Governor Phillip Lee, the address identified a range of government commitments and proposals, including:
- Providing Manitobans the fastest access in Canada to world-class cancer screening, testing and treatment;
- Hiring 2,000 new nurses and nurse practitioners, 200 more doctors and 50 more physician assistants;
- Creating more opportunities for companies to hire apprentices and expanding access to skilled-trades training in rural Manitoba;
- Launching the Journeyperson Business Start program to help rural and northern Manitobans start their own businesses;
- Hiring 100 additional police officers and 50 cadets to serve throughout Manitoba including 50 officers on Winnipeg streets;
- Working with the federal government to strengthen the Criminal Code by making gang recruitment an explicit crime and cracking down on knife crimes, arson, home invasions and carjackings;
- Helping more Manitobans renovate their homes to make them more energy efficient;
- Investing in universities, freeze tuition to the rate of inflation, reducing student loan interest rates to prime and amending student aid rules;
- Building Bipole III down the west side of Lake Manitoba;
- Working with local governments and the agriculture industry to protect water quality.
Official Opposition Leader McFadyen’s non-confidence amendment to the Address in Reply motion included a number of observations and commentaries on the government’s plans, including:
- Failing to lay out an economic strategy for the Province of Manitoba or to eliminate wasteful spending;
- Failing to mention what steps the Provincial Government will take to shed Manitoba’s title as the violent crime capital of Canada;
- Failing to acknowledge the ongoing socioeconomic hardship and disruption caused by the 2011 flood and failing to commit to undertake a comprehensive independent review of provincial actions and resources in the 2011 flood, as well as a review of provincial flood compensation to ensure all Manitobans are being fairly compensated;
- That the Throne Speech reinforces the Provincial Government’s ongoing indifference to the needs of Manitoba’s farm families and rural communities whose economic well being is so important to the health of the provincial economy;
- Failing to outline a plan to reverse the inter-provincial loss of more than 1,800 doctors over the last decade, meaning thousands of Manitobans will remain without a family doctor;
- Failing to provide a plan for improving access to Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions, nor did it lay out a plan to tackle truancy or improve grade school students’ test scores which has dropped to among the lowest in Canada.
Following the defeat of Mr. McFadyen’s amendment on October 31, 2010 by a vote of yeas 18, nays 33; on November 1 the main motion carried on a vote of yeas 32, nays 20. No legislation was considered during this fall sitting.
Cabinet vacancies created by the retirement of two cabinet ministers have been filled by existing ministers. In addition to holding their current portfolios, Stan Struthers was appointed as Minister of Finance while Dave Chomiak was appointed as Minister of Conservation. To date, there have been no other new appointments to cabinet.
In late October and early November, Orientation sessions for the new MLAs took place at the Assembly. The 14 new Members attended a series of briefing sessions with the Table Officers, Legislative Assembly Administration, a Media panel, a panel of former MLAs, as well as the Independent Officers of the Assembly.
Under the terms of a Sessional Order adopted on October 20, 2011, the first session of the 40th Legislature adjourned on November 1st and will resume at the call of the Speaker.
Clerk of Committees
House of Commons
The First Session of the Forty-First Parliament, which opened on June 2, 2011, and adjourned for the summer on June 23, resumed on September 19, 2011. Speaker Andrew Scheer informed the House that a vacancy had occurred in the riding of Toronto—Danforth, by reason of the passing of Jack Layton, former Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Leader of the Official Opposition. (Mr. Layton had stepped down from these roles on July 25, 2011, citing health reasons).
Nycole Turmel (Leader of the Opposition), Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Acting Liberal Leader Bob Rae rose to speak in honour of Mr. Layton. Though not members of officially recognized parties within the House, Louis Plamondon and Elizabeth May also offered tributes. Olivia Chow, Mr. Layton’s widow, expressed her gratitude for support she had received in this difficult time. Following the Speaker’s concluding remarks, the House observed a moment of silence.
Reasoned amendments – among the few types of amendment that may be moved to the motion for second reading of a bill – were moved to the motions for second reading of the following four bills: Bill C-10, Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act; Bill C-11, Copyright Modernization Act; Bill C-18, Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act; and Bill C-19, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act. Each of these was negatived.
The House adopted motions to allocate time at the second reading stage of several bills: Bill C-10 (two further sitting days); Bill-13, Keeping Canada’s Economy and Jobs Growing Act (three further sitting days); Bill C-18 (two further sitting days); and Bill C-19 (three further days).
During debate on the motion for second reading of Bill C-10, on September 27 and 28, NDP Members David Christopherson, Joe Comartin, Paul Dewar and Jasbir Sandhu sought unanimous consent to move motions to divide the Bill according to certain themes, each section to be debated and voted on separately. Consent was denied in each case.
During Routine Proceedings on October 26, 2011, Jack Harris moved a motion of instruction to empower the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to divide Bill C-10. Debate on the motion was superseded by the adoption of a motion for the House to proceed to Orders of the Day and was subsequently dropped from the Order Paper.
Questions of Privilege and Points of Order
Wayne Easter raised a question of privilege on September 19, 2011, arising from a notice of proposed procurement on the MERX Web site for a contract for conducting an audit related to the possible financial impact of the repeal of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) Act and the dissolution of the CWB. He argued that it constituted contempt of Parliament as it presumed the repeal of the CWB Act while no such Act had yet been introduced or passed. On September 28, the Speaker ruled that the scenario described in the notice of proposed procurement was hypothetical and did not presuppose a judgment of the House. He consequently concluded that the matter did not constitute contempt of the House and therefore that there was no prima facie case of privilege.
Following the introduction of Bill C-18 on October 18, Mr. Easter raised another question of privilege, arguing that the Bill exceeded the authority of the Government on the basis that the consultation with grain producers, as required by current legislation as a precursor to the introduction of new legislation, had not taken place. On October 24, 2011, the Speaker ruled that pronouncing on the legal aspect of legislation was not within his purview, and that he did not find that the introduction of Bill C-18 had undermined Members’ ability to do their work. Consequently he did not find that a prima facie question of privilege existed.
On October 26, 2011, Ralph Goodale raised a point of order objecting to the fact that, during Question Period, a Minister had replied to a question posed to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. In his ruling of November 2, 2011, the Speaker noted that Members asking questions expect, at a minimum, a response and, in this instance, neither the Committee Chair nor Vice-Chair rose to respond. He also stated that, in recognising Members, it was not for the Chair to judge who possessed what information.
On September 30, 2011, the Speaker tabled a House of Commons calendar for the year 2012, pursuant to Standing Order 28(2)(b). On October 5, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, tabled a revised calendar, and, by unanimous consent, it was adopted.
Following a number of recent instances of Members recognizing individuals or groups in the galleries, the Speaker reminded Members on September 30, 2011 that the recognition of visitors in the galleries is a prerogative of the Chair.
On October 7, 2011, by unanimous consent, the House extended until the end of 2011 provisions for 30-minute bells, instead of the usual 15-minute bells, for votes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in order to allow Members more travel time from some of the new off-site committee facilities to the Chamber.
Private Members’ Business
On October 20, the House took up Private Member’s Business for the first time in the Forty-First Parliament. On the previous day, following what has become the usual practice, the Speaker made a statement about the procedures governing Private Members’ Business.
On October 28, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented a report to the House concurring in the report of the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business advising that Bill C-292, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (victims’ restitution and monetary awards for offenders), should be designated non-votable. Pursuant to the Standing Orders, the sponsor of the Bill, Guy Lauzon gave notice of his intention to substitute another item.
On September 29, the Standing Committee on Finance adopted a motion of Randy Hoback calling for the Parliamentary Budget Office to automatically provide the Committee, within 45 calendar days of a Private Members’ Business item’s appearance on the Order of Precedence, a detailed and comprehensive costing analysis of all such items.
On October 26, 2011, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented a report establishing the memberships for the legislative committees on Bills C-11 and C-18. Pursuant to the rules of the House, the report was deemed concurred in.
On Thursday, September 22, 2011 Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom delivered a joint address to Parliament. As is usual practice, the address and introductory and related remarks were printed as an appendix to the Debates for that day.
The New Democratic Party will hold a leadership convention to select its next leader on March 24, 2012. Under their rules, candidates for the leadership must resign, where applicable, from certain parliamentary roles, including critic posts, the caucus executive, and roles as chairs or vice-chairs of committees. As a result, several changes have occurred, including: Mr. Comartin replaced Thomas Mulcair as Opposition House Leader; Mr. Comartin’s role as Deputy House Leader and Mr. Dewar’s role as foreign affairs critic were both filled by Hélène Laverdière and Nathan Cullen was succeeded as Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics by Jean Crowder.
Two take-note debates have taken place since the return of Parliament in September: one on Tuesday, October 18, 2011, regarding the “ongoing erosion of democracy in Ukraine” ; and another on Thursday, October 27, 2011, regarding“ ongoing violence and vicious attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt and their institutions”.
Members from parties with fewer than twelve members in the House are designated as independents. There are currently five independents in the House of Commons, four from the Bloc Québécois and one from the Green Party. During this First Session, certain practices normally associated with party status have been granted to the independents, such as identification en bloc of a party’s collective voting intentions for the application of votes.
Table Research Branch
Prince Edward Island
The Sixty-third General Assembly was dissolved on September 6, 2011. The provincial general election, held on October 3, 2011, was the first fixed date election for Prince Edward Island. By statute, general elections are now held on the first Monday of October every four years. At dissolution, the Liberal Party held 24 seats; the Progressive Conservatives, two seats; with one seat vacant. The Liberal Party, under the leadership of Robert Ghiz, was re-elected to a second majority government with 22 seats. The Progressive Conservatives, led by Olive Crane, retained their status as Official Opposition, winning five seats. Three other parties fielding candidates–the New Democrats, the Green Party and the Island Party–did not win a seat. Ron MacKinley, the “Dean of the House,” was returned to the Legislative Assembly for the ninth time. He was first elected in a by-election in December 1985.
Voter turnout at nearly 77%, was significantly lower than in previous years, with an estimated 7,000 fewer voters casting ballots as compared with the 2007 general election. The Liberals received 51.4% popular vote; and the Progressive Conservatives, 40.2%. The Green Party captured 4.4%, an increase from its showing in the 2007 general election. The New Democrats also increased their percentage from 2007, taking 3.2% of the popular vote. The newly formed Island Party received nearly a full percentage point.
Several seats were won by slim margins, but no race was closer than the one in the electoral district of Belfast-Murray River where only eight votes separated the Liberal and Progressive Conservative candidates. A petition for judicial recount and the affidavit of the petitioner was filed with the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, John Douglas, on October 13, 2011, requesting a recount of all the ballots cast in that district.
The recount did not result in any change: Charles McGeoghegan, the Liberal candidate, was declared elected with 1,135 votes; Darlene Compton of the Progressive Conservatives received 1,127 votes.
First Session of the Sixty-Fourth General Assembly
The First Session of the Sixty-fourth General Assembly opened on November 1, 2011. Carolyn Bertram was elected Speaker by acclamation. After six sitting days the session adjourned to the call of the Speaker. The Members are expected to return to the House during the first week of April 2012.
On October 18, 2011 H. Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island swore in Mr. Ghiz as Premier of the Province, President of the Executive Council, Minister Responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister Responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs. The other members of Cabinet are:
- George T. Webster,
Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Premier
- Ron W. MacKinley,
Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development
- Doug W. Currie,
Minister of Health and Wellness and Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs
- Wes J. Sheridan,
Minister of Finance and Municipal Affairs
- Valerie E. Docherty,
Minister of Community Services, Seniors and Labour and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women
- Janice A. Sherry,
Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry
- Robert S. Vessey,
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
- Robert L. Henderson,
Minister of Tourism and Culture
- J. Alan McIsaac,
Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development and Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General
- Allen F. Roach,
Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning
Legislative Page Reunion
For more than forty years, high school students from across Prince Edward Island have participated in the legislative page program at the province’s Legislative Assembly. A reunion of former legislative pages was held at Province House on August 18, 2011, as part of the ongoing celebrations to mark the 160th anniversary of the achievement of Responsible Government in Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island’s first legislative pages were appointed in 1964 and included William Richard, Michael Brown, Anthony Morley and Kent Martin. Eight years later, in 1972, Janice Clarkson and Brenda MacQuarrie, then students at Montague Regional High School, became the first two females appointed. Since its inception, a total of 277 high school students have participated in the program, selected by their respective schools on the basis of high academic standards and extracurricular achievements.
Over the years, the uniforms have changed, but the duties of the legislative pages are largely the same as when the program began. Pages are instrumental in supporting the Legislative Assembly’s proceedings by distributing documents, delivering messages and notes, making photocopies, and providing other assistance as needed to the Members of the Legislative Assembly and the Table Officers. For nearly five decades, they have witnessed firsthand the unfolding of the province’s history, listening to the proceedings of question period, debates on proposed legislation and the scrutiny of the government’s budgetary plans.
The reunion on August 18 was an opportunity to thank all former pages for their contributions to the legislative process and provided a chance for them to reconnect with one another and to reminisce about their experiences.
Celebrate 160 Continues
The public was invited to hear Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino speaking on “Governing ‘The Island’: An International Perspective” at Province House on September 30, 2011. Dr. Baldacchino’s talk waspart of a series of events taking place at Province House throughout 2011 in celebration of 160 years of Responsible Government.
Dr. Baldacchino’s lecture focused on how island territories within largely continental, federal countries, such as the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Hawaii (USA), Tasmania (Australia), and Okinawa (Japan) to name but a few examples, interact with their respective federal governments. The lecture addressed some of the key issues facing island provinces/states in the twenty-first century and discussed how they deal with emerging concerns, as well as other challenges that arise between the governing bodies of the island jurisdictions and their federal counterparts.
Dr. Baldacchino is Professor of Sociology and Canada Research Chair (Island Studies) at the University of Prince Edward Island. He is also the author and editor of dozens of books, including Pulling Strings – Policy Insights for Prince Edward Island from other Subnational Island Jurisdictions (2008, edited with Kathleen Stuart, published by Island Studies Press).
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
On the morning of October 3, 2011, the third session prorogued, and that afternoon the Speech from the Throne opened the fourth session of the 39th Parliament.
The Throne Speech was delivered by Lieutenant Governor Steven Point and made reference to the government’s job creation plan and its commitment to restore a balanced budget in the 2013/14 fiscal year. Other initiatives include: a new provincial statutory holiday (Family Day) on the third Monday of every February, commencing in 2013; a new position of municipal auditor general; a review of the operations of all Crown corporations (to begin in January 2012); and a proposal to permit television cameras and radio recording devices in future trials of those accused of participating in the Vancouver riot in June.
The opposition countered that the Throne Speech failed to address issues such as child poverty, unemployment, access to post-secondary education, and the skills shortage. Opposition leader Adrian Dix also claimed that a sense of optimism for the province was absent in the Throne Speech.
In the fall sitting, several noteworthy government bills had passed second reading by the end of the reporting period:
- Bill 2 – Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act: Restricts mining and oil and gas activity in the Flathead watershed area; prohibits the disposition of Crown land in the area; designates coal land in the area as a coal land reserve; and establishes a mineral reserve on the area.
- Bill 3 – Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2011: Promotes the routine proactive disclosure of government information, and allows for the collection and sharing of personal information, based on consent, among government ministries.
- Bill 4 – Offence Amendment Act, 2011: Provides additional punishment options that can be used when a defendant who is subject to a probation order is convicted of another offence.
- Bill 6 – Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2011: Provides the minister with the discretion to add or remove private lands from a woodlot licence area and extend the maximum term of a licence-to-cut to 10 years.
- Bill 11 – Greater Vancouver Transit Enhancement Act, 2011: Allows the Greater Vancouver Regional District to raise the fuel tax by 2 cents per litre with funds earmarked for transit initiatives.
- Bill 12 – Teachers Act: Establishes new certification and discipline processes for public school and independent school teachers by replacing the BC College of Teachers with a new council that will have 8 seats for teachers (3 appointed by the BC Teachers’ Federation and 5 elected teachers) and 7 seats for other provincial education stakeholders.
On October 14, 2011, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services completed its annual budget consultations. The Committee heard 220 presentations at 15 public hearings in September and October, received 118 written submissions and 411 online survey responses. For the first time, this committee also provided routine activity updates on Facebook as part of a social media pilot project to be evaluated at year-end.
The Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides also made use of social media when it launched its public consultation process on October 17, 2011. The Committee is mandated to “examine, inquire into and make recommendations with respect to the elimination of the unnecessary use of pesticides in British Columbia.” At the time of writing, the Committee had already received over 1,200 responses to its e-questionnaire.
In addition to its oversight work, the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth began a review of the Representative for Children and Youth Act, as required by that statute. The Act provides the Representative for Children and Youth with independent powers to review, investigate and monitor cases related to the child-serving system in British Columbia.
Over the summer recess, two Members announced their resignations. On August 18, 2011, Attorney General Barry Penner resigned from cabinet and announced that he would not run in the next provincial election. Solicitor General Shirley Bond assumed this portfolio. Iain Black, MLA, vacated his seat, effective October 3, to become president and CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade.
In a minor cabinet shuffle on September 26, 2011, Stephanie Cadieux became Minister of Social Development; Margaret MacDiarmid replaced Ms. Cadieux as Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government; and Harry Bloy took on the responsibility of Minister of State for Multiculturalism.
Three territorial by-elections took place on September 12, 2011. Monica Ell was elected to represent the constituency of Iqaluit West, Hezakiah Oshutapik was elected to represent the constituency of Pangnirtung and Joe Enook was elected to represent the constituency of Tununiq. All three newly-elected Members were sworn into office by Commissioner Edna Elias on the morning of September 22, 2011.
Following the swearing into office of the three new Members, the Legislative Assembly held a special sitting on September 28, 2011, to confirm the selection of a new member of the Executive Council of Nunavut. Fred Schell, Member for South Baffin, had been selected to serve on Cabinet at a meeting of the Nunavut Leadership Forum held earlier that morning.
Minister of Finance Keith Peterson delivered his fiscal update when the Legislative Assembly convened on October 18, 2011, for its fall sitting. The proceedings of the Committee of the Whole during the fall sitting of the House were dominated by the scrutiny of the Government of Nunavut’s proposed 2012-2013 capital estimates. During this process, one proposed item of capital spending in the budget of the Department of Community and Government Services was deleted from the estimates following a motion moved by Nanulik MLA Johnny Ningeongan.
On October 25, 2011, the Legislative Assembly’s Full Caucus, which consists of all nineteen Members of the Legislative Assembly, held a special meeting with representatives from the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board concerning the new Nutrition North Canada Program. The meeting, which was held in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly, was televised live across Nunavut.
On October 19, 2011, the Speaker tabled a report of the Integrity Commissioner of Nunavut concerning the Member for South Baffin. The report was submitted to the Legislative Assembly following the Integrity Commissioner’s review of allegations concerning the Member’s conduct in relation to a private business owned by the Member. The report concluded that the Member was in breach of the legislation in relation to one of the four allegations that had been made. The specific allegation concerned an email sent by the Member to a departmental official in the Government of Nunavut.
Section 48 of the territorial Integrity Act requires that the Legislative Assembly consider such reports within ten sitting days of their being tabled. The Legislative Assembly must accept all of the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendations or reject all of the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendations. On October 31, 2011, the Legislative Assembly adopted two motions in relation to the report. The first motion, which expressed the Assembly’s appreciation for the work of the Integrity Commissioner, formally rejected the report on the grounds that his investigation of allegations concerning questions posed in the House by the Member constituted an inadvertent breach of parliamentary privilege. The second motion, which cited the Assembly’s prerogative to discipline its own Members, formally censured the Member for South Baffin for his conduct.
The 3rd Session of the 3rd Legislative Assembly will reconvene on February 21, 2012. It is anticipated that the proceedings of the winter sitting will be dominated by the scrutiny of the Government of Nunavut’s proposed 2012-2013 main estimates and departmental business plans.
Nine bills received Assent during the Legislative Assembly’s fall sitting:
- Bill 13, Supplementary Appropriation (Operations and Maintenance) Act, No. 2, 2011-2012
- Bill 14, Supplementary Appropriation (Capital) Act, No. 2, 2011-2012
- Bill 15, Appropriation (Capital) Act, 2012-2013
- Bill 16, Annual Reporting Validation (Liquor Licensing Board) Act
- Bill 17, Write-Off of Debts Act, 2011-2012
- Bill 18, An Act to Amend Several Acts for Constitutional Validity (Spousal Benefits and Obligations)
- Bill 20, An Act to Amend the Judicature Act
- Bill 22, An Act Respecting the Constituencies of Nunavut; and
- Bill 23, An Act to Amend the Public Colleges Act
Bill 22 implemented the recommendations of the Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission, which had been established on October 25, 2010. The Commission, which held public hearings across the territory during early 2011, released its report on June 6, 2011.
The bill established 22 constituencies in Nunavut. At present, there are 19 constituencies in the territory. The new constituencies will take effect at the next general election, following the dissolution of the 3rd Legislative Assembly. Speaker Hunter Tootoo appeared before the Committee of the Whole on the occasion of its clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.
During the Committee of the Whole’s deliberations, Amittuq MLA Louis Tapardjuk moved motions to change the proposed names of the two constituencies encompassing the communities of Igloolik and Hall Beach. The motions were carried without opposition. Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott moved a motion to change the coming into force provisions of the bill so that the new constituencies would take effect following the dissolution of the 4th Legislative Assembly. The motion was defeated.
Two Bills are currently before the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Legislation, which is chaired by Nanulik MLA Johnny Ningeongan:
- Bill 19, Family Support Orders Enforcement Act; and
- Bill 21, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2011, No. 3
The Standing Committee on Oversight of Government Operations and Public Accounts is anticipated to hold hearings in November 2011 on the most recent annual reports to the Legislative Assembly of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Nunavut. Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott is the new Chair of the Committee.
Office of the Legislative Assembly
Legislative Committees remained active following the adjournment of the House on June 10. The Standing Committee on Health Care, chaired by the Minister of Health, Madeleine Dubé, held public hearings throughout the province to receive comment on a legislative discussion paper that seeks to establish parameters governing the election of regional health authority board members. The Committee has been tasked with considering three issues: Regional Health Authority Boundaries, Regional Health Electoral Boundaries and Election Rules. The issues must be addressed prior to the election of new board members, beginning with the 2012 municipal election. The Committee received significant input from the public and is expected to table a report by the end of November.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Rick Doucet, held a number of meetings to complete its review of departmental activities and spending for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 fiscal years. The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, chaired by Jack Carr, continued its review of various provincial Crown corporations and agencies.
Review of Legislative Officers
Former Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate Bernard Richard is leading a review of the functions and operations of New Brunswick’s eight legislative officers. The review is being carried out at the request of the Legislative Administration Committee, in keeping with the Government Renewal Initiative. The review is intended to find ways in which the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of legislative officers can be enhanced without impairing their independence. In addition, the review is to consider the most appropriate disposition of a Registrar of Lobbyists, a position proposed in Bill 43, Lobbyists’ Registration Act, introduced by Government House Leader Paul Robichaud, on June 1, 2011. The review is also tasked with giving advice on whether the Human Rights Commission would be better placed under the purview of the Legislative Assembly or left within the purview of the executive branch. This is the first time that a comprehensive review of the legislative officers is being carried out. Mr. Richard is expected to file a report later this fall.
Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada
The Professional Development Seminar of the Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada took place in Fredericton from August 2-6. Participants included table officers from the federal, provincial and territorial Parliaments, the United Kingdom Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Parliament of New South Wales. There was also representation from the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. Topics discussed included: ethics for table officers; the law and limits of privilege; power to send for persons; presentations of petitions; and the concept of convention in a parliamentary context.
Conflict of Interest Commissioner
On November 10, Conflict of Interest Commissioner Patrick A. A. Ryan, submitted the first five year report under the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act. The Quinquennium Report contains a number of changes ranging from important to modernization to housekeeping. Among the important changes are recommendations concerning Deputy Ministers and an expansion of the meaning of what constitutes a conflict of interest. The Commissioner also recommended consideration of a Code of Conduct for Members of the Legislative Assembly as a useful tool in avoiding conflicts and evidencing transparency.
The ongoing historic restoration of the Legislative Assembly Building and grounds continued during the summer and fall months. As recommended in the comprehensive Building Master Plan commissioned in 2005, restoration work during the first five years focussed on the building envelope, including historic masonry restoration, new copper roofing and restoration of the dome of the Legislative Building. Late in 2011, the Assembly is on target in terms of capital project priorities, including re-pointing the stone below ground level, the commencing of landscape work and lighting on the front grounds, courtyard improvements, copper cladding of the Legislative Library’s roof and a new southeast atrium entrance. The final phase of the restoration will see the completion of current projects and will focus primarily on issues of life, safety and security for MLAs, staff and the visiting public.
The First Session of the 57th Legislative Assembly will reconvene on the morning of Wednesday, November 23 for the purpose of proroguing. Pursuant to a proclamation of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Second Session will formally open at 2 p.m. the same day with a Speech from the Throne, the second for the government of Premier David Alward.
The current standings in the House are 42 Progressive Conservatives and 13 Liberals.
Donald J. Forestell
Clerk Assistant and
Clerk of Committees
On September 22, 2011, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, addressed a Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Commons, a week before the Senate was scheduled to return from the summer adjournment. His speech was the first by a British Prime Minister since Tony Blair addressed Parliament in 2001.
Committees began hearings on various orders of reference and a number of committee reports were presented or tabled in the Chamber. The committees’ budget process got underway and several committees had budgets approved by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and by the Chamber.
During the months of September and October, there were a number of retirements in the Senate, including Senator Lowell Murray, Senator Vim Kochhar and Senator Sharon Carstairs.
Senator Murray was appointed in 1979 by Prime Minister Joe Clark. At the Senator’s request, there were no formal tributes to him in the Chamber but on October 26, 2011, Senator James Cowan called the attention of the Senate to “the remarkable record of public service of our former colleague, the Honourable Lowell Murray who served with us in this chamber for 32 years before his retirement.”
The first Canadian of Indian origin named to the Senate, Senator Kochhar was appointed in January of 2010 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Tributes were paid to Senator Kochhar on September 27, 2011. In October, tributes were also paid to William Rompkey who had retired in May, 2011. Before being appointed to the Senate in September of 1995 by Jean Chrétien, Senator Rompkey, had been a Member of Parliament since 1972.
Senator Carstairs announced her retirement in the Chamber on October 6th, 2011. She was appointed to the Senate in September of 1994 by Mr. Chrétien and was Deputy Leader of the Government from 1997 to 1999 and Leader of the Government from 2001 to 2003.
After the last general election in 2007, the government introduced and passed legislation that set fixed election dates. The next general election was set for November 7, 2011. With the election date known, the Board of Internal Economy approved funding for the Chief Electoral Office to conduct voter enumeration outside of the election writ period. The advantages of enumerating outside of the writ period include, more voters enumerated, more accurate enumeration, less delays and confusion for voters at polling stations and voters’ lists would be available to candidates and registered political parties upon the issue of the Writ rather than 13 to 19 days after the issue of the Writ.
On October 10, 2011, Premier Brad Wall asked the Lieutenant-Governor, Gordon Barnhart, to dissolve the 26th Legislature. This gave candidates a 28-day period between the issuing of the writ and polling day for campaigning. On November 7, 2011, citizens of Saskatchewan elected a majority Saskatchewan Party government with 49 MLAs – 11 more than it had at dissolution. Conversely, 9 NDP candidates were elected – 11 fewer than they had at dissolution. No third party members were elected in Saskatchewan. Later that week, Premier Wall announced that he would not be changing Cabinet until after the Spring session.
At the time of this writing, the Opening of the 27th Legislature had not been determined. As per the Rules of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, on the first day of the new Legislature, an election for the Speaker will take place followed by the Throne Speech.