Alison Redford’s (Calgary–Elbow) resignation as Premier in March 2014 set the stage for a leadership race within the Progressive Conservative (PC) Association of Alberta. When the nomination period closed on May 30, 2014, three individuals had put their names forward for consideration as the next leader of the PC party: Thomas Lukaszuk (Edmonton–Castle Downs), former Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, Ric McIver (Calgary–Hays), former Minister of Infrastructure, and Jim Prentice (former Member of Parliament for Calgary North Centre). The first leadership vote will take place on September 6, 2014. If no candidate secures a majority a second vote between the top two contenders will be held on September 20, 2014.
The Alberta New Democratic Party has also started the process for a leadership contest following the announcement by Brian Mason (Edmonton–Highlands–Norwood) that he would step down as leader of the party as of October 19, 2014. Mr. Mason has indicated that he will continue to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The nomination period closed on August 5, 2014. David Eggen (Edmonton–Calder), Rachel Notley(Edmonton–Strathcona) and Rod Loyola, President of the Non-Academic Staff Association at the University of Alberta, have entered the race.
Changes to Caucus Membership
Almost one year after resigning from the PC Caucus in July 2013, Mike Allen (Fort McMurray–Wood Buffalo) was accepted back into the caucus on July 7, 2014. With this membership change the composition of the Assembly is now at 59 Progressive Conservatives, 17 Wildrose, 5 Alberta Liberals, 4 New Democrats, and 2 Independents.
Appointment of a New Ethics Commissioner
On November 15, 2013, Alberta’s third Ethics Commissioner, Neil R. Wilkinson, announced that he would not seek reappointment when his term expired. On May 7, 2014, the Select Special Ethics Commissioner Search Committee completed its mandate and unanimously recommended Marguerite Trussler be appointed the next Ethics Commissioner for the Province of Alberta. The motion to concur in the Committee’s report was passed in the House unanimously and without debate. The appointment became effective on May 26, 2014, and Ms. Trussler was officially sworn in as Alberta’s fourth Ethics Commissioner on June 4, 2014.
Ms. Trussler was born and raised in Alberta and served on the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench for 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta, a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta. In 2007 she became the Chair of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and has a history of actively supporting a variety of cultural organizations and other community groups.
On March 10, 2014, the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship tabled the final report on its study of public policy tools available to encourage broader and higher-value use of natural gas. Shortly thereafter, the Assembly referred Bill 201, Agricultural Pests (Fusarium Head Blight) Amendment Act, 2014, to the Committee. Bill 201, a Private Members’ Public Bill, sponsored by Maureen Kubinec (Barrhead–Morinville–Westlock), seeks to increase the tolerance level for Fusarium graminearum in Alberta seed and livestock feed to 0.5 per cent. The Committee received a presentation from the Bill sponsor, a briefing from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and spent two days meeting with stakeholder panels representing various agricultural interests including experts on the issue from around western Canada.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future completed its review on the feasibility of high-speed rail and tabled its report on May 23, 2014. The Committee recommended that the Government not invest in the development of high-speed rail along the Edmonton-Calgary corridor but instead focus resources on the development of light rail and regional transportation systems. However, the report also suggests that infrastructure planning consider accommodations for high-speed rail development in the future.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future is now considering Bill 9, Public Sector Pension Plans Amendment Act, 2014, and Bill 10, Employment Pension (Private Sector) Plans Amendment Act, 2014. These Bills were referred to the Committee for review after they received Second Reading. Both Bills have been the subject of strong criticism in and outside of the House. The Committee, which began its review with three days of briefings from various stakeholders and pension experts, also invited the public to participate in the review process and held public meetings in seven locations around the province. Over 900 people participated in these public meetings, with particularly high attendance in Edmonton and Calgary. In total, the Committee heard over 150 presentations. The Committee also accepted written submissions regarding Bills 9 and 10 until August 15, 2014.
On April 14, 2014, Bill 11, Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Amendment Act, 2014, sponsored by Manmeet Bhullar (Calgary–Greenway), Minister of Human Services, passed first reading. One of the more notable parts of the Bill related to removal of the existing publication ban surrounding children who die while in provincial care. Under Bill 11 a process would be developed to allow for such a ban to be requested in a court application made by specified persons, including individuals prescribed in the regulations as family members. On May 7, 2014, the Assembly agreed to an amendment to the Bill, proposed by Rachel Notley (Edmonton–Strathcona), which stipulated that no regulations could be made in this regard to this section of the legislation without “being considered by an all party committee of the Legislative Assembly.”
On July 16, 2014, two months after the Bill came into force (with exceptions including the portion relating to the publication ban), the Standing Committee on Families and Communities met to consider a request from the Minister of Human Services to review a draft version of the Publication Ban (Court Applications and Orders) Regulation, which would provide the process for interested parties to request a publication ban following the death of a child in provincial care. The Committee initiated a review of the matter and invited the Minister and department officials to provide a technical briefing at the next Committee meeting. The Committee also identified stakeholders and invited them to provide written submissions on the matter by August 22, 2014.
The spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly concluded with the adjournment of the House on May 29, 2014. The final weeks of the sitting were notable for the inauguration on May 4, 2014 of John Horgan as Leader of the New Democratic Party and Leader of the Official Opposition. In addition, on May 15, 2014, the Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a historic bipartisan motion, apologizing for over 100 laws, regulations, and policies imposed by past provincial governments between 1871 and 1947 against people of Chinese descent.
On May 26, 2014, the Legislative Assembly adopted a motion authorizing meetings of the Committee of Supply in three concurrent sections to consider the Estimates. This continued a practice initially used in 2012 and again in 2013, and facilitated the consideration of ministry estimates during the spring sitting. The Committee of Supply has typically sat in two concurrent sections, and did so for the majority of the spring sitting.
On May 27, 2014, the House adopted, on division, a government motion pursuant to Standing Order 81.1(2), providing for time allocation of the remaining stages of debate of Bill 24, Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2014, by 5:30 pm on May 29, 2014.
By the end of the spring sitting, the government had introduced 26 bills (excluding Bill 1) since the opening of the second session of the 40th Parliament on February 11, 2014. Of these bills, 25 received Royal Assent. The one bill which was not adopted was Bill 25, the Port Metro Vancouver Container Trucking Services Continuation Act, which was no longer needed when the government settled the Vancouver port strike.
Notable bills which received Royal Assent in the spring sitting included:
Bill 20, Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2014 and Bill 21, Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 – this legislation reforms campaign disclosure statements, advertising sponsorship disclosure and registration, and compliance and enforcement duties for Elections BC; the legislation also extends the terms of office for locally-elected officials from three to four years, and moves the general local elections voting day from November to October, beginning in 2018.
Bill 2, Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2014 – which provides for up to 87 electoral ridings, up from the previous 85, and divides the province into regions to ensure balanced electoral representation and preserve seats in rural and northern areas.
Bill 24, Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, 2014 – which implements changes to the framework for the protection of agricultural land in the province, following up on government’s “core review” of agricultural land provisions aimed at improving efficiency and reducing program costs.
A total of 14 private members’ bills were introduced, including bills proposing to: allow electronic petitions; move BC’s fixed election date; amend conflict of interest rules; enhance the Legislative Assembly’s parliamentary committee system; and provide for a fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly every year.
The Legislative Assembly adopted one private bill, Bill Pr 401, Armstrong-Spallumcheen Student Assistance Association (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2014, which provides for the Association’s continued operation.
On May 28, 2014, the Special Committee to Appoint an Auditor General released its report unanimously recommending the appointment of Carol Bellringer as Auditor General for an eight-year term. The Committee’s recommendation was subsequently ratified unanimously by the House. Ms. Bellringer will take up her appointment on September 15, 2014.
On May 28, 2014 the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth and the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts released reports outlining their annual summary of 2012-2013 activities.
Four Committees initiated public consultations in support of their terms of reference:
The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth launched a call for written submissions to assist with its special project examining youth mental health in BC.
The Select Standing Committee on Health began public consultations as part of its work to identify potential strategies to maintain a sustainable health care system.
The Special Committee to Review the Personal Information Protection Act opened public consultations to assist its comprehensive statutory review of the Personal Information Protection Act, which is required every six years under the terms of the Act.
The Special Committee to Review the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) started a call for written submissions to support its statutory review of the IIO’s administration and general operations.
The Third session of the 40th Legislature ended on June 12, 2014. A number of government bills received Royal Assent during this spring session, including:
Bill 52 – The Non-Smokers Health Protection Act, which prohibits the sale or supply of flavoured tobacco products, with an exemption for menthol tobacco products, snuff and chewing tobacco. The Bill also repeals the exemption allowing a parent to provide tobacco to his or her child in a non-public place.
Bill 55 – The Environment Amendment Act (Reducing Pesticides Exposure), which prohibits the use of prescribed classes or types of pesticides on lawns and on the grounds of schools, hospitals and child care centres, except in specific circumstances.
Bill 59 – The Adoption Amendment and Vital Statistics Amendment Act (Opening Birth and Adoption Records), which creates a scheme that allows for more openness with respect to adoption records and pre-adoption birth records, subject to certain privacy rights.
Bill 68 – The Child and Family Services Act, which requires employees and others who work for, or provide services to, child and family services agencies or authorities to report critical incidents that have resulted in the death or serious injury of a child
In addition, before the end of the session, the Assembly completed consideration of the main supply bills for Budget 2014. Bill 73 – The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, was passed on June 10, 2014 on a recorded vote of yeas 28, nays 15.
During the Third session of the 40th Legislature, 71 government bills received Royal Assent, including 35 introduced in the previous session and reinstated this session. In addition, five bills introduced by private members received Royal Assent on June 12, 2014.
Prior to adjourning, the House also agreed that three bills are to be sent to standing committees intersessionally for public presentations and clause by clause consideration, with these bills to be reinstated in the 4th session of the 40th Legislature. In the next session the bills are to be reported back to the House and considered for the remaining stages of the bill enactment process. The bills are:
Bill 69 – The Technical Safety Act
Bill 70 – The Real Estate Services Act
Bill 71 – The Animal Diseases Amendment Act
Opposition Day Motions
On May 29, 2014 Ralph Eichler (Lakeside) moved an opposition day motion urging that “the Legislative Assembly call on the Provincial Government to respect Manitobans as the real owners of Manitoba Hydro by immediately reconsidering the plan to at least double hydro rates for Manitoba families over the next 20 years in a risky Hydro development scheme that has already cost taxpayers $2.6 billion dollars to create power that independent experts conclude will not be required to meet domestic needs until as late as 2034, and serves only to funnel billions of dollars in additional hidden Hydro taxes and fees to the Provincial Government.” Following the debate, the motion was defeated on a vote of yeas 18, nays 30.
On June 9, 2014 Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo) moved another opposition day motion urging that “the Provincial Government immediately commission an independent report with agreed upon bi-partisan research parameters to objectively evaluate the economic impact over the next five years of the $1,600 in broken tax promises and fee hikes that have been forced on Manitobans since the imposition of the illegal PST hike on July 1, 2013.” Following the debate, the motion was defeated on a vote of yeas 17, nays 31.
Private Members’ Resolutions
The Third Session of the 40th Legislature saw a higher-than-usual number of Private Members’ Resolutions that were agreed to and adopted by the House. The 12 Private Members’ Resolutions that were agreed to this past Session are as follows:
Mr. Helwer – National Military Driver’s License
Mr. Altemeyer – JUNO Awards
Mrs. Mitchelson – Habitat for Humanity
Mr. Gaudreau – Rail Safety in Manitoba
Ms. Wight – Inclusion in Schools
Mr. Martin – 20th Anniversary of Becoming an Outdoors Woman
Mr. Marcelino – Filipino Nursing
Ms. Crothers – 70th Anniversary of D-Day
Mr. Schuler – Freedom and Dignity in Syria
Mr. Goertzen – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum
Mr. Nevakshonoff – The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba “Islendingadagurinn”
Mr. Cullen – Northern Manitoba Mining Academy
The end of Session coincided with the busiest period for Manitoba Standing Committees, with several meetings called to consider bills. Activity this quarter included the following meetings:
The Standing Committees on Justice, Human Resources, Intergovernmental Affairs and Social and Economic Development held a total of eight meetings, heard from 105 presenters and considered a total of 35 bills;
The Public Accounts Committee met on two separate occasions to consider several Chapters of the last two Auditor General’s Reports – Annual Report to the Legislature.
Under the provisions of the Sessional Order, the Public Accounts Committee is required to have 10 meetings between September 11, 2013 and September 11, 2014. Currently, this committee held its sixth and seventh meetings between the end of June and the beginning of July 2014.
On May 16, 2014, Frank Whitehead resigned as the MLA for The Pas due to health and family reasons. First elected in a by-election in March 2009, Mr. Whitehead was then re-elected in the 2011 general election. He is the former Chief of Opaskwayak Cree Nation and served in several First Nation organizations prior to being elected as MLA. In the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, Mr. Whitehead served as a government backbencher and in the current legislature he was a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Current Party Standings
The current party standings in the Manitoba Legislature are: NDP 35, Progressive Conservatives 19, Liberal 1, Independent 1, with 1 vacancy.
Clerk Assistant/Clerk of Committee
The Fourth Session of the 57th Legislative Assembly opened on November 5, 2013, and adjourned on May 21, 2014, sitting a total of 69 days. Of note during the session was the referral of the budgetary estimates of certain government departments by the House to three separate standing committees; this occurred for only the second time. The House referred the estimates of the Department of Health to the Standing Committee on Health Care and the estimates of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to the Standing Committee on Education. The Standing Committee on Estimates also considered various estimates along with the Committee of Supply, which is the usual practice. A motion was adopted to extend the hours allocated for the consideration of estimates to a total of 120 hours, 40 hours more than previous years. The extra time was allocated to the Standing Committees on Health Care and Education.
During the session, 79 bills received Royal Assent. The Government House Leader and Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud introduced Bill 84, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act. The bill makes amendments regarding Members’ expenses, creating a new reporting system for MLA and constituency office expenses. Expense reports will now be prepared by the Legislative Assembly and posted quarterly to the Assembly’s website.
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs introduced Bill 85, Teachers’ Pension Plan Act. The legislation formalized the agreement for pension reform between the provincial government and the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation. The new pension plan will no longer require special payments, and will eliminate the deficit facing the current plan. The public service and MLAs have also undergone pension reform this session, moving to a shared risk pension model.
Wayne Steeves, Member for Albert, introduced Bill 86, An Act Respecting Floor Crossing. The Private Member’s Public Bill requires a Member who ceases to belong to the caucus of a political party to either sit as an Independent Member or resign his or her seat.
Bill 87, Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act, introduced by Higgs, is intended to bring more accountability to budgeting and the costing of election promises. Governments will now be required to set out a multi-year plan to return to balanced budgets. If a deficit is recorded, it must be reduced by at least $125 million, and if a surplus is reported, a surplus is then required the following year. Failure to meet these objectives could result in cabinet ministers paying an administrative penalty of $2500. Under the legislation, each registered political party will be required to either publish the estimated costs of its election promises, or publicly state that no estimate has been prepared. The mandate of the Legislative Library will be expanded to provide support to the political parties seeking information to calculate the estimated costs of their election promises. A formal access-to-information protocol will be implemented to ensure the library is able to fulfill this mandate. A political party that does not follow the requirements of the legislation will be subject to a legal process that could result in the loss of its annual operating allowance under the Political Process Financing Act.
The 25th Annual Student Legislative Seminar was held April 25-27, 2014. A total of 48 students from various high schools participated, representing all areas of the province. The seminar is a non-partisan program open to Grade 11 and 12 students. The students were welcomed to the Legislative Assembly by Speaker Dale Graham. Throughout the weekend, the students attended various lectures which focused on the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. Premier David Alward spoke on the role of the Premier and the challenges and responsibilities of that office. The Leader of the Official Opposition, Brian Gallant, spoke on the role of the Opposition, Justice Minister Troy Lifford spoke on the role of Cabinet, and the Member for Victoria-Tobique, Wes McLean, spoke on the role of an MLA. Julian A.G. Dickson, Judge of the Provincial Court of New Brunswick, spoke on the role of the judicial branch.
Change to Caucus
On June 27, Bev Harrison, Member for Hampton-Kings, announced that he would be seeking the New Democratic Party’s nomination in the upcoming provincial election. Since his first election in 1978, Harrison has served in the Assembly for approximately 24 years as a Progressive Conservative. A former Speaker, he now sits as an Independent Member.
The upcoming provincial election is scheduled for September 22. Recent changes to the electoral boundaries reduced the number of ridings from 55 to 49.
The current House standings are 41 Progressive Conservatives, 13 Liberals and 1 Independent.
Committee Clerk-Research Assistant
The Northwest Territories
The Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly reconvened on May 28, 2014. During the seven-day sitting the House considered and adopted four pieces of legislation, including two supplementary appropriation bills dealing with both infrastructure and operations expenditures.
The Assembly also considered and adopted An Act to Amend the Elections and Plebiscites Act. The amendments contained in the bill included increased access to mobile polls and absentee ballots; changes to produce a more accurate voters’ list; expanded opportunities for vouching; and general clarification of procedures and processes.
All bills received assent from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, George L. Tuccaro, on June 5, 2014.
Four additional bills were also introduced, received first and second reading and were referred to a standing committee for consideration during the summer and fall months. Committees are expected to report back on legislation when the House reconvenes on October 16, 2014.
Michael Nadli, Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, presented the Committee’s Report on the Review of the 2014 Report of the Auditor General of Canada on Northwest Territories Child and Family Services. The Committee met with the Assistant Auditor General and senior officials from the Department of Health and Social Services in late April, 2014 to consider the Auditor General’s report, which was generally deemed to be extremely critical of current practices and procedures.
The Standing Committee’s final report contained 30 recommendations relating to the improvement of an accountability framework, the development of standards and procedures, and training of child protection workers. The report was considered in the House on June 2, 2014, with all 30 motions being adopted by the Assembly. The Department is required to respond to the Committee report within 120 days.
The Standing Committee on Government Operations also released its report titled Establishing an Office of the Ombudsman for the Northwest Territories on June 4, 2014. The report was tabled in response to an earlier motion of the Assembly which referred the matter of the establishment of an ombudsman’s office to the Standing Committee for research, review and analysis. The report is available online for public comment and review over the summer and early fall and is expected to be considered by the Assembly during the October/November sitting.
Bob Bromley, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures, presented that Committee’s report titled Report on the Review of the Auxiliary Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Issues Arising from the 2011 General Election to the Assembly on June 4, 2014. The report contained 14 additional recommendations to amend the Elections and Plebiscites Act. All motions were once again adopted by the Assembly during debate on June 5, 2014. A further set of amendments to the Elections and Plebiscites Act is expected to be introduced in the Assembly during the fall sitting.
Term Extension Request
The Prime Minister of Canada advised the Premier of the Northwest Territories of his government’s intent to introduce amendments to the Northwest Territories Act which would allow the 17th Assembly the authority to vary its term of office.
Currently the fixed election date is scheduled for October 5, 2015. If the proposed amendment to the Northwest Territories Act is adopted by the Parliament of Canada, further discussion regarding the proposed change in the Northwest Territories election date is expected to take place during the fall sitting.
Jackie Jacobson, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, hosted the third biennial Elders’ Parliament from May 5-9, 2014. Eighteen elders from across the territory were selected to take part in the program. Elders participated in meetings and briefings, enjoyed social events and long and lively debates. During the model parliament session, motions requesting a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within the Northwest Territories and addressing the high cost of living and the establishment of community-based traditional knowledge centres were introduced, debated and adopted by the elder parliamentarians.
Principal Clerk, Corporate and Interparliamentary Affairs
On May 1, 2014, Finance Minister Charles Sousa presented Ontario’s 2014 Budget. This was the second budget presented under Premier Kathleen Wynne in the then-minority parliament. Following public statements in which both opposition leaders stated their parties would not be supporting the budget, the Premier met with the Lieutenant Governor to seek the dissolution of Parliament. Lieutenant Governor David C. Onley dissolved the 40th Parliament on May 2, 2014, and issued the writs for Ontario’s 41st general election on May 7, 2014. The anomaly of issuing the writs several days following the dissolution of Parliament was a result of Ontario’s fixed election date legislation. The Election Act states that the writs for elections must be issued on a Wednesday and that general elections must be held on a Thursday. The “early” dissolution of a parliament is not contemplated in the Act.
The Ontario general election was held on June 12, 2014. Prior to dissolution, the composition of the 107 member House was as follows: Liberals 48 seats; Progressive Conservatives 37 seats; New Democrats 21 seats; and 1 vacant seat.
The election resulted in the Liberals gaining 10 seats and changing the composition of the House to a governing majority. The composition of the 41st Parliament is as follows: Liberals 58 seats; Progressive Conservatives 28 seats; and New Democrats 21 seats.
Following the election, the Member for Niagara West-Glanbrook, Tim Hudak, announced his resignation as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, effective July 2, 2014. The Party has appointed the Member for Simcoe-Grey, Jim Wilson, as the interim leader and the Speaker has recognized him as the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Members Take Their Oath
On July 2, 2014, during a ceremony held in the Chamber, Members took their oath simultaneously with Lieutenant Governor Onley presiding. This was the first time in Ontario’s history that the Lieutenant Governor has administered the oaths this way. During the ceremony, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield led the Members in the singing of the national anthem. Members were then required to sign the roll before taking their seats later that day for the election of the Speaker.
Election of Speaker
The 1st Session of the 41st Parliament began on July 2, 2014, with the election of the Speaker. The five candidates nominated were: the Member for Parkdale-High Park, Cheri DiNovo; the Member for Brant and previous Speaker, Dave Levac; the Member for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Paul Miller; the Member for Chatham-Kent-Essex, Rick Nicholls; and the Member for Etobicoke North, Shafiq Qaadri.
On the third ballot, Levac was elected Speaker for the second time. Speaker Levac has been a Member of the Assembly since 1999.
The House also appointed its other presiding officers:
- Bas Balkissoon as Deputy Speaker and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House;
- Ted Arnott as First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House;
- Rick Nicholls as Second Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House; and
- Paul Miller as Third Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House.
On July 3, 2014, Lieutenant Governor Onley delivered his last Speech from the Throne. Prior to beginning, expressed his appreciation for the support afforded to his office over the last seven years.
New Lieutenant Governor
On June 26, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment of Elizabeth Dowdeswell as Ontario’s 29th Lieutenant Governor. Ms. Dowdeswell’s public service career includes positions at the provincial, federal and international levels. Her past roles have included: Deputy Minister of Culture and Youth in Saskatchewan, Assistant Deputy Minister at Environment Canada and an Executive Director of the United Nations’ Environment Program.
On July 14, 2014, the Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, presented Ontario’s 2014 Budget which carried by a vote of 57 to 36 two days later. The Minister of Finance also reintroduced Bill 14, Building Opportunity and Securing Our Future Act (Budget Measures), 2014.
Ontario’s nine Standing Committees were appointed on July 16, 2014. The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs met for one day of public hearings and one day of clause-by-clause consideration of the budget bill. The bill was reported to the House on July 23, 2014, without amendment, and received Third Reading and Royal Assent the following day.
The Select Committee on Developmental Services was reconstituted in order to re-adopt its final report from the previous parliament. The report, entitled Inclusion and Opportunity: A New Path for Developmental Services in Ontario, was tabled on July 22, 2014.
Before the House adjourned for the summer on July 24, 2014, the Standing Committee on Estimates received authorization to meet commencing on September 30, 2014. The rest of the Committees will next meet when the House reconvenes on October 20, 2014.
Prince Edward Island
Fourth Session of the Sixty-Fourth General Assembly
The Fourth Session of the Sixty-fourth General Assembly adjourned to the call of the Speaker on May 14, 2013, after a spring sitting of 23 days. One bill and 65 motions remain on the Order Paper. The Assembly will reconvene on November 12, 2014, according to Prince Edward Island’s parliamentary calendar.
Rotary Youth Parliament
The annual Rotary Youth Parliament took place at Province House from May 1-2, 2014. Now in its 26th year, the long-running project is a partnership among the Speaker’s and Clerk’s offices, the Department of Education, District School Boards, volunteer teacher advisors and Rotary Clubs across Prince Edward Island. While debating topics of current interest, the students had the opportunity to experience the fashions of 1864, as they dressed in the style of the Fathers (and Mothers) of Confederation.
Youth Parliament Attended by Their Royal Highnesses
On May 20, 2014, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended a Youth Parliament in the historic Legislative Chamber at Province House. Sixteen young people, from all across the province, debated the motion, “Be it resolved that today’s youth are prepared to build the Canada of their future, carrying on the work of the Fathers of Confederation.” Their Royal Highnesses also toured the Confederation Chamber where the delegates to the Charlottetown Conference met in September, 1864.
Play and Lecture at Province House
A number of special events are happening this year to mark the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference. To date, one of the most popular has been a dramatized lecture held in the Legislative Chamber in mid-June. While the “Fathers of Confederation” were meeting in Charlottetown in 1864, life in the countryside was going on much as it had been for decades, and the concerns of rural Islanders were very much focused issues to do with the land. The rural Islander mindset from 150 years ago was evoked in a special lecture/performance featuring Ed MacDonald from the University of Prince Edward Island. He spoke on a “Land of One’s Own. Prince Edward Island in the Confederation Era.” The talk was illustrated with vignettes – words and music – from the theatrical production of Andrew Macphail’s classic memoir The Master’s Wife, scheduled to be performed this summer at the Orwell Corner Village Hall. The performance played to a capacity crowd.
40th Annual Statistical Review
This year marks the 40th time the Annual Statistical Review has collected key data about Prince Edward Island’s economy, population and social makeup. Released in early July, the review indicates the province’s population is 145,237, an increase of 0.05 per cent and the only Atlantic province to show population growth in 2013. Economic growth was recorded at 1.3 per cent and 74,100 persons were employed.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
End of Session
The spring sitting, which concluded on May 14, 2014, saw Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield give Royal Assent to 30 bills including an appropriation bill to defray the expenses of the public service. Throughout the sitting, the Assembly and committees spent almost 47 hours considering bills and just over 75 hours considering estimates.
Premier Brad Wall re-organized government and introduced a new provincial cabinet on June 5, 2014. Eight ministers retained their portfolios, six ministers changed portfolios and three members entered cabinet for the first time.
The eight ministers that remain in their current portfolios are:
- Ken Krawetz remains as Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance;
- Bill Boyd remains as Minister of the Economy, and Minister responsible for SaskPower and the Global Transportation Hub and adds responsibility for Energy and Resources;
- Dustin Duncan remains as Minister of Health;
- Don Morgan remains as Minister of Education, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety and Minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Board;
- Jim Reiter remains as Minister of Government Relations and Minister responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs and adds responsibility for SaskEnergy;
- Lyle Stewart remains as Minister of Agriculture and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation;
- Christine Tell remains as Minister responsible for Corrections and Policing; and
- Gordon Wyant remains as Minister of Justice and Attorney General and adds responsibility for SaskBuilds.
The following six ministers have changed portfolios:
- Kevin Doherty becomes Minister of Advanced Education and Minister responsible for SaskTel;
- Donna Harpauer becomes Minister of Social Services and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation and the Status of Women;
- Jeremy Harrison becomes the Associate Minister of the Economy responsible for trade, tourism, innovation and immigration;
- Nancy Heppner becomes Minister for Highways and Infrastructure and Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation;
- Tim McMillan becomes Minister responsible for Rural and Remote Health; and
- Don McMorris becomes Minister responsible for Crown Investments Corporation, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), Saskatchewan Government Insurance, the Public Service Commission and the government’s Lean Initiative.
The three MLAs that enter cabinet for the first time are:
- Jennifer Campeau becomes Minister of Central Services and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation;
- Mark Docherty becomes Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport and Minister responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission; and
- Scott Moe becomes Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for SaskWater and the Water Security Agency.
Ken Cheveldayoff has become the Government House Leader while Corey Tochor becomes Deputy House Leader. Nadine Wilson has been named Provincial Secretary and Legislative Secretary to the Premier. Greg Brkich, Larry Doke, Wayne Elhard, Victoria Jurgens, Warren Michelson and Roger Parent have all been designated Legislative Secretaries.
Changes to the Board of Internal Economy
Membership on the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) was changed on June 5, 2014. June Draude was removed as the Executive Council nominee and Mr. Harrison was appointed in her place. Mr. Cheveldayoff was appointed as the Government Caucus nominee.
Changes to Committee membership
Changes were made on June 13, 2014 to the composition of the standing committees of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. The Standing Committee on House Services met on June 13, 2014 and adopted a number of motions to change the membership on the standing committees. Each of the four policy field committees met subsequently and elected new Chairs of their committees:
- Herb Cox – The Standing Committee on Crown and Central Agencies;
- Gene Makowsky – The Standing Committee on the Economy;
- Greg Lawrence – The Standing Committee on Human Services;
- Laura Ross – The Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice.
The Lobbyists Act received Royal Assent on May 14, 2014. This legislation creates a new Officer of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan (LAS). The Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Ron Barclay, has been tasked with the new role as the Registrar for Lobbyists. The LAS is currently assisting in the recruitment process for two permanent positions in the Registrar of Lobbyists office.
New Officer of the Assembly
On May 13, 2014, the Assembly adopted a motion for a Humble address calling on the Lieutenant Governor to appoint Ronald J. Kruzeniski as the new Information and Privacy Commissioner of Saskatchewan. Mr. Kruzeniski began his five year term on July 1, 2014.
Portrait of Lieutenant Governor Displayed
The official portrait of Gordon L. Barnhart was unveiled on May 5, 2014. Mr. Barnhart served as the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan from 2006 to 2012. He also served as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan from 1968 to 1989 and the Clerk of the Senate from 1989 to 1994. The portrait, by artist Cyril Leeper, will be displayed permanently in the Legislative Building’s Qu’Appelle Gallery which contains the portraits of all the province’s past Lieutenant Governors.
The Saskatchewan Legislative Library will host The Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada/ L’Association des bibliothèques parlementaires au Canada (APLIC-ABPAC) and Parliamentary Researchers Conference from September 8-12, 2014 in Regina, Saskatchewan.
On May 15, the 2014 Spring Sitting of the First Session of the 33rd Legislative Assembly adjourned. The 30-day sitting, which had convened on March 25, concluded with Assent being given in the Chamber by the Commissioner of Yukon, Doug Phillips.
Over the course of the Spring Sitting, the following 11 bills (all Government bills) received Assent:
Bill No. 12, Third Appropriation Act, 2013-14
Bill No. 13, Interim Supply Appropriation Act, 2014-15
Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2014-15 (Premier and Finance Minister Darrell Pasloski’s territorial budget, in excess of 1.3 billion dollars)
Bill No. 67, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act(reduces the small-business corporate income tax rate, and mirrors a federal amendment in the Act’s administrative rules)
Bill No. 68, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (expands leave-without-pay provisions for employees with children who are either critically ill or who have, as a result of crime, died or disappeared)
Bill No. 69, Act to Amend the Fatal Accidents Act (expands provisions for awarding damages to family members of the deceased)
Bill No. 70, Act to Amend the Public Utilities Act (amends the meaning of “public utility” in the Act)
Bill No. 71, Act to Amend the Summary Convictions Act (improves/clarifies processing and court procedure re: tickets)
Bill No. 72, Act to Amend the Government Organisation Act (modernizes/consolidates provisions re: appointment of Executive Council, and makes the provisions congruent with the federal Yukon Act)
Bill No. 73, Act to Amend the Environment Act (gives certain powers to the Minister, provides for a regulatory framework for the remediation of a contaminated site, gives power to enforcement officers re: inspection)
Bill No. 74, Act to Amend the Vital Statistics Act (modernizes the Act in respect of recognizing the rights of same-sex parents in registering the birth of a child)
Private Members’ Bills
During the Spring Sitting, three private members’ bills were introduced (all by members of the Official Opposition):
Bill No. 103, An Act to Respect Voters and Stop Floor Crossing (would require any MLA seeking to switch parties to either “sit as an independent, or run in a by-election”)
Bill No. 104, Paid Lobbying Act (would establish a registry for paid lobbyists, and require members of Executive Council to file returns with the registrar)
Bill No. 105, Act to Amend the Vital Statistics Act (No. 2)
During Opposition Private Members’ Business on May 14, Bill No. 105, standing in the name of Lois Moorcroft, received second reading, and some consideration in Committee of the Whole (progress was reported). The bill’s intent is to facilitate the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by providing exemptions to the moratorium on accessing death records.
Auditor General’s Report
On June 10, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (chaired by Leader of the Official Opposition Liz Hanson) held a public hearing in the Chamber, to consider a report released in February by the Auditor General of Canada, Michael Ferguson. Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada to the Yukon Legislative Assembly – 2014: Yukon Family and Children’s Services – Department of Health and Social Services assessed the manner in which the Department carries out its responsibilities “for the protection and well-being of at-risk children, youth and their families.” Before the hearing, the Committee was advised by officials from the Auditor General’s Office. During the hearing, the Committee questioned witnesses from the Department of Health and Social Services, and also addressed questions to Mr. Ferguson. The Committee will prepare a report on the hearing which will be tabled in the House at a future date.
Hydraulic Fracturing Committee
The Select Committee Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing (RBHF), tasked with reporting its findings and recommendations on a policy approach to hydraulic fracturing to Yukon’s Legislative Assembly, continues to be quite active. Established in the 2013 Spring Sitting, with its membership amended that fall, the Committee was initially scheduled to report by the end of the 2014 Spring Sitting; its reporting deadline has been extended to the 2014 Fall Sitting.
On June 19, the RBHF Committee issued a news release, as well as a progress report. The latter noted: the Committee had spent “over 70 hours in meetings, learning about the process of hydraulic fracturing and the context of the legislative and regulatory regime for oil and gas in Yukon”; the Committee had received briefings from numerous individuals and groups; and in January, it had travelled to Alberta to tour an active hydraulic fracturing site, and meet with industry representatives, regulators, and community organizations. The progress report also noted the Committee had held public proceedings in the Legislative Assembly Chamber on January 31, February 1, and May 27-28, 2014, to facilitate an informed public dialogue on the Committee’s eponymous subject matter.
In order to gather input from the Yukon public, First Nations, and stakeholders, the Committee had scheduled public hearings in a number of Yukon communities on a request-driven basis in addition to the two communities expressly stipulated in the Committee’s mandate (Old Crow and Watson Lake). The first four of a total of 12 hearings were held in late June in Watson Lake, Teslin, Old Crow, and Dawson City. In July, public hearings were held in Ross River, Faro, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and Mayo. In September, public hearings will be held in Haines Junction, Carcross and Tagish (jointly), and Whitehorse.
Information concerning the committee and its work can be found at: http://www.legassembly.gov.yk.ca/rbhf.html
Speaker’s Yukoners Cancer Care Fund Reception
On April 23, Speaker David Laxton hosted the second annual Speaker’s Reception in Support of the Yukoners Cancer Care Fund. Open to all Yukoners, the reception was held in the lobby of the Yukon Government administration building which houses the Legislative Assembly Chamber. The evening raised over $18,000 for the fund, which “provides financial support to Yukoners fighting cancer and their families that are caring for them.” The establishment of the fund in 2013, following the closure of the territory’s Canadian Cancer Society office, had been championed by former Commissioner Geraldine Van Bibber.
The House of Commons
The Second Session of the Forty-First Parliament continued and the House adjourned for the summer break on June 20, 2014. This report covers the period from May 1 to July 31, 2014.
On May 27, 2014, the House adopted a motion which, amongst other provisions, temporarily set the ordinary hour of daily adjournment until the summer adjournment to midnight, Monday to Thursday (with some exceptions). Accordingly, the Government succeeded in accomplishing a substantial portion of its legislative agenda. Noteworthy among the bills which received Royal Assent were Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, better known by its short title, the Fair Elections Act and Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster) rose on a point of order on May 30, 2014, with respect to the notice of time allocation given on May 29, 2014 by Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, in relation to Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. Mr. Julian alleged that the Government had failed to consult with the opposition parties in the manner required before the moving of a motion pursuant to Standing Order 78(3). In a ruling delivered on June 12, 2014, the Speaker concluded that, since it was not the role of the Speaker to determine whether consultations had taken place or not, the notice of time allocation for Bill C-17 was valid when it was given.
All votes related to the ministries of Transport and Finance in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, were considered in a Committee of the Whole, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), on May 7 and 14, 2014, respectively. Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, were concurred in on June 10, 2014.
During consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills C-38 and C-39, based on the Main and Supplementary Estimates for the year ending March 31, 2015, Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac) asked the Chair the customary question as to whether the bills were in their usual form. Mr. Van Loan then advised the Chair that the form of the Bills had been changed to present organizations in alphabetical order, as shown in the Estimates.
Points of Order
On May 6, 2014, Elizabeth May(Saanich—Gulf Islands) rose on a point of order pertaining to her ability as an independent Member to put forth amendments with respect to Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act. Ms. May maintained that the mechanism (suggested in an earlier ruling from the Chair) permitting independent Members to submit and speak briefly to amendments in committee had failed to function appropriately in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and that she was left with no alternative but to ask that the Speaker permit her to submit her amendments for consideration at report stage. The Speaker ruled, on May 7, 2014, that the imposition of a deadline for the end of the debate in committee did not constitute a justifiable argument for the selection of amendments at report stage that were already presented and defeated in committee, and accordingly, he declined Ms. May’s request.
On May 8, 2014, Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier) rose on a point of order with respect to the fact that a document distributed to all Members in the Chamber by Peter Goldring (Edmonton East) had been in English only. The Speaker replied that, while Members were at liberty to distribute documents and to ignore material so distributed, it was desirable that Members follow the usual protocol with respect to the distribution of documents. Chief Government Whip John Duncan suggested that the party whips remind their caucuses of the accepted practice in this regard.
A dispute arose on May 16, 2014, with regard to the Government’s use of Standing Order 56.1, which specifies that “in relation to any routine motion for the presentation of which unanimous consent is required and has been denied, a Minister of the Crown may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker propose the said question to the House.” The motion is adopted unless 25 or more Members rise to object to it. The dispute, initiated by Mr. Julian, centered on the question of what constituted a “routine motion” for the purposes of the Standing Order. It is important to note that the motion in question was a motion of instruction to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs directing it to investigate allegations of the inappropriate use of House of Commons resources by the New Democratic Party and ordering Leader of the Official Opposition Thomas Mulcair to appear in a televised meeting of the Committee; this was a motion that it would be difficult to classify as “routine” no matter what criteria were used in this regard. Also at issue were the potential difficulties of the current requirements of the Standing Order for smaller parties. The point of order was raised after Mr. Mulcair had already appeared in front of the Committee. In his ruling, delivered on June 12, 2014, the Speaker noted that the understanding of what constitutes a routine motion had been allowed to expand over the years, a development that had caused concern to successive Speakers. He observed that the motion in question was an attempt to direct the internal affairs of a Committee, thus stepping beyond what the House had come to accept as being within the confines of Standing Order 56.1. He said that he would have been inclined to rule the motion out of order had the matter been raised within a reasonable delay. He encouraged Mr. Julian to take up the matter of fairness for smaller parties of a Standing Order that requires a minimum of 25 Members to stand in order for it to be withdrawn with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
On June 11, 2014, during Routine Proceedings, Mr. Julian moved a motion of instruction, granting the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights the power to divide Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, into two bills: the first related to cyberbullying; and the second bill containing all the other provisions of Bill C-13 related to other online activity. Mr. Van Loan rose on a point of order, arguing that the motion was out of order as an almost identical motion had been debated and was already on the Order Paper. Mr. Julian countered that the rule of anticipation was ancient and no longer strictly observed. The Speaker ruled that upon examination of the two motions, it was clear to him that they were substantially the same and, accordingly, ruled against proceeding with the motion before the House.
Amendments adopted in committee were challenged on a number of occasions. In a ruling delivered on May 1, 2014, on a point of order raised on April 10, 2014, by Brent Rathgeber (Edmonton—St. Albert), regarding the admissibility of an amendment adopted by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Canada Grain Act and the Canada Transportation Act and to provide for other measures, the Speaker ruled that, in the case of a bill referred to a committee after second reading, an amendment is inadmissible if it proposes to amend a statute that is not before the Committee or a section of the parent act, unless the latter is specifically amended by a clause of the bill. Accordingly, he declared null and void one new clause and the amendments to several other clauses in the bill, and ordered that they be struck from the bill as reported and that it be reprinted.
On May 2, 2014, the Speaker ruled on a point of order raised by Wayne Easter (Malpeque) on April 9, 2014, concerning amendments contained in the Third Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Bill C-483, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (escorted temporary absence), presented in the House on April 2, 2014. Mr. Easter alleged the amendments had caused the bill to move significantly away from its original intent and principle. The Speaker, in his ruling, stated that he could see nothing in the Bill as amended by the Committee which would alter its aims and intent, namely the limiting of the power of institutional heads to grant escorted temporary absences and providing a role for the National Parole Board in the granting of such absences. He therefore found that the amendments adopted by the Committee were indeed in keeping with the scope and principle of the bill as adopted at second reading and were admissible.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights continued to sit during the month of July in order to complete its consideration of Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This bill is the Government’s response to the Supreme Court’s invalidating of the existing Criminal Code provisions with respect to prostitution. On July 15, 2014, the Committee completed clause-by-clause consideration of the bill and ordered that the Chair report the bill, as amended, to the House.
At the time of the summer adjournment, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was conducting a study on the use of House of Commons resources by the Official Opposition. In a televised meeting of the Committee on May 15, 2014, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr. Mulcair, appeared before the Committee and mounted a spirited defense of his party’s conduct. In a subsequent meeting held on June 18, 2014, the Committee heard evidence from Marc Bosc, Deputy Clerk of the House of Commons; Richard Denis, Deputy Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel; and Mark Watters, Chief Financial Officer on the same subject.
Private Members’ Business
Numerous private members’ bills have been passed by the House since the last election — one of the most prolific periods for such bills ever. Since last October only, five private Members’ bills have received Royal Assent. One of the private Members’ bills passed by the House during the period covered by this report — C-442, An Act respecting a Federal Framework on Lyme Disease — was sponsored by an independent Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands).
By-elections were held on June 30, 2014, in four federal ridings. John Barlow (CPC) and David Yurdiga (CPC) were respectively elected in Macleod and Fort McMurray—Athabasca (Alberta), while Adam Vaughan (LPC) and Arnold Chan (LPC) were elected in Trinity—Spadina and Scarborough—Agincourt (Ontario), respectively.
Statements, Resolutions, Special Debates
An emergency debate was held on May 12, 2014, on the subject of the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria.
The House adopted a resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jan Karski, on May 15, and the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square events on June 4.
Motions ratifying the proposed appointment of Daniel Therrien to the position of Privacy Commissioner and reappointment of Mary Elizabeth Dawson to the position of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner were adopted on June 5 and 12, 2014.
On June 4, 2014, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole in order to welcome Olympic and Paralympic athletes, with the Speaker presiding over the Committee of the Whole.
Table Research Branch
During the late spring session, the Senate was busy examining legislation with the passage of 13 government bills (two of which were introduced in the Senate), four Commons Public Bills and two Senate Public Bills. The government bills included the budget implementation bill, supply bills and also Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which had been sent to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for pre-study prior to it coming before the Senate. C-24 changed legislative provisions relating to Canadian citizenship in the areas of eligibility requirements, security and fraud, as well as application processing and review of decisions. During these three months, 16 bills received Royal Assent which included both written declarations and one traditional ceremony.
Just before the summer adjournment, the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators presented a report amending the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators. The amendments related to the duty of a Senator and the performance of his or her parliamentary duties and functions. The amendments also renamed the Code to the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators. The report was adopted prior to the summer adjournment.
Four Senators either resigned or reached the mandatory age of retirement during the late spring sitting. The two who resigned were Senators Hugh Segal and Roméo Dallaire. Senators Andrée Champagne and Catherine Callbeck reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
The first to depart was Ontario Senator Segal, an Order of Canada Recipient and former Chief of Staff to Brian Mulroney. Senator Segal was named to the Senate in 2005 by Prime Minister Paul Martin and served on many committees, including as Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism and the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Senator Segal resigned effective June 15 to become Master of Massey College in Toronto.
Quebec Senator Dallaire resigned his seat in the Senate effective June 17. Also an Order of Canada recipient named to the Senate by Prime Minister Martin, Senator Dallaire, a retired General, had served as Major-General of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda. He served on several Senate committees, most notably on National Security and Defence, where he was Vice-Chair and the Chair of its subcommittee on Veterans’ Affairs.
A third Prime Minister Martin appointee, Quebec Senator Champagne retired on July 17. An actress and Pianist, Senator Champagne had previously been elected twice to the House of Commons where she was the first woman appointed its Deputy Speaker. Senator Champagne was most recently the Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages.
Prince Edward Island Senator Callbeck retired from the Senate on July 25. Before becoming a Senator in 1997 on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Senator Callbeck had served as Premier of Prince Edward Island. She was the first woman ever to be elected as Premier in Canada. Senator Callbeck served on numerous committees and was a particularly active member of the Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology and its subcommittee on Population Health.
General election and composition of the Assembly
The composition of the National Assembly has been as follows since the general election of April 7, 2014: Québec Liberal Party, 70 seats; Parti québécois, 30 seats; Coalition avenir Québec, 22 seats; 3 independent Members were elected under the banner of Québec solidaire.
The first session of the 41st legislature began on May 20, 2014. The sole candidate for the office of President, Jacques Chagnon, Member for Westmount–Saint-Louis, was declared elected for a third term of office.
Passage of bills and debate on the budget speech
During the short sessional period which ended on June 13, 2014, the Assembly passed five bills:
Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, which was carried over almost in its entirety from the previous legislature;
Bill 1, An Act respecting the inspector general of Ville de Montréal;
Bill 4, An Act to amend the Act authorizing the making of collective agreements with a term of more than three years in the public and parapublic sectors;
Bill 5, An Act to amend the Act to limit oil and gas activities and other legislative provisions; and
Bill 7, An Act to ratify the agreement relating to the conduct of proceedings in the National Assembly and in parliamentary committees as well as to parliamentary offices and budgetary aspects for the duration of the 41st Legislature.
The debate on the budget speech concluded at the last sitting and, following a recorded division, the motion by the Minister of Finance for the Assembly to approve the Government’s budgetary policy was carried.
Directive and rulings by the President
On May 26, 2014, the President gave a directive on the management of oral question period and the distribution of control measures and speaking times for statements by Members, debates upon adjournment, business standing in the name of Members in opposition and interpellations, as well as on the distribution of speaking times for adjournment debates.
On June 13, 2014, the President gave a ruling on a complaint of breach of privilege or contempt raised by the Member for Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques. In her notice, the Member alleged that the Member for Jean–Lesage had addressed her using an inappropriate tone of voice while making an intimidating gesture at her. The President recalled that, as established by jurisprudence, he must accept a Member’s word even though the situation calls into question certain elements that he himself did not witness. However, the rules governing the Assembly require Members to act with kindness and rectitude to ensure respect for parliamentary privilege, thus allowing them to perform their duties freely, without interference. Though the question of privilege was declared admissible, there were no further consequences, since the Member for Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques did not state an intention to present a motion regarding the conduct of the Member for Jean–Lesage. The Member sent a letter to the President in which he explained his version of the facts and apologized to the Member for Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques.
During the same sitting, the President gave another ruling on a complaint of breach of privilege or contempt raised by the Official Opposition House Leader, who put forward that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy had allegedly been in contempt of Parliament by releasing the content of Bill 3, An Act to foster the financial health and sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans, before it was introduced in the Assembly. She argued that there were similarities between certain provisions contained in this bill and an article published in a newspaper. In the President’s opinion, although certain specific elements of the bill were included in the article, it was impossible to say that the final version of the text of the bill was disclosed before its introduction. In light of the facts and parliamentary law, the Chair could not conclude that the minister was in contempt of parliament. The President recalled that Members are the only ones who have the legitimacy to assess whether the content of a bill is in the public interest and that it is a matter of respect for the fundamental role of Members in our parliamentary democracy.
Following the general election of April 7, 2014, the parliamentary groups came to an agreement relating to the conduct of proceedings in the Assembly and in parliamentary committees. New Standing Order provisions pertaining to committees were adopted for the duration of the 41st Legislature. In this regard, three elements are worthy of mention.
First, the composition of committees was changed, increasinging from 10 to 13 members distributed as follows: seven Members from the parliamentary group forming the Government, four Members from the Official Opposition and two Members from the Second Opposition Group, including one without the right to vote. When an independent Member becomes a committee member, the Government party is allowed an additional Member. The total number of members then increases to 15.
Second, a Member from a parliamentary group who is not a committee member cannot take part in a committee’s proceedings unless it is examining the estimates of expenditure. Previously, a Member who was not a committee member was allowed to take part in the proceedings of any committee regardless of mandate.
Third, a special distribution of speaking times was established for mandates in which each parliamentary group disposes of a limited time period. Total time is shared equally between the parliamentary group forming the Government and the groups in opposition. Of the 50 per cent allocated to the latter groups, 60 per cent is allocated to the Official Opposition and 40 per cent to the Second Opposition Group.
On June 2, each committee elected its chair and vice-chair. Exceptionally, the Committee on Public Finance (CPF) and the Committee on Public Administration each elected two vice-chairs. This special feature formed part of the agreement reached between parties.
Following the 2014-2015 budget speech on June 4, and within the framework of the ensuing debate, the CPF continued the debate for a 10-hour period. After the adoption of the Government’s budgetary policy, the examination of the 2014-2015 expenditure estimates by the respective parliamentary committees was carried out after the Assembly had adjourned for the summer, on June 13, which is unusual. The last time the expenditure estimates were examined during the summer holidays dates back to July 2003.
Nicole Bolduc and Cédric Drouin
Parliamentary Proceedings Directorate