Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Legislative Reports

Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review

Legislative Reports

Article excerpt



The fall session ended on 20 December 1996 with the Assembly having passed 47 Public Bills and 12 Private Bills. Among the more noteworthy were the following:

* a bill respecting pay equity, which is designed to eliminate the salary gap due to the systemic gender discrimination suffered by persons occupying positions in predominantly female job classes;

* a bill to amend the Quebec Highway Safety Code, in order to introduce new rules with respect to, among other things, driving without a licence or while disqualified and driving while impaired;

* a bill instituting the Administrative Tribunal of Quebec, charged with making determinations in respect of proceedings of full jurisdiction brought by citizens against the administration, and the Conseil de la justice administrative, to ensure the ethical conduct of the members of the Tribunal and to examine complaints lodged against any of its members. Consideration of this bill was not completed at the committee stage due to the Government House Leader having tabled a closure motion to end the said proceedings;

* a bill providing for the elimination of the budgetary deficit of the Government by the year 2000 and for the maintenance of a balanced budget thereafter;

* a bill to establish a disaster assistance fund in order to help the populations from the recognized disaster-stricken regions following the torrential rains that occurred in Quebec in July 1996;

* finally, a bill establishing the Regie de l'energie, a board whose function is to fix the rates and distribution and transmission conditions of Hydro-Quebec and natural gas distributors. It is to be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the new board to examine complaints from consumers who are dissatisfied with a decision made by an electric power or natural gas distributor concerning rates or service conditions.

Amidst a number of procedural questions raised during this period, the Chair was asked to rule on the receivability of a motion moved by the Prime Minister, which reads as follows:

THAT the National Assembly reiterate that the office of Lieutenant-Governor is fundamentally symbolic and is a heritage of the colonial past of Quebec and of Canada;

THAT the National Assembly take into account the fact that the events surrounding the recent appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec have proven that the appointment process employed until this day is of a nature to bring about controversy and to interfere with the proper functioning of institutions;

THAT the National Assembly reiterate its role as the guardian of democracy as expressed by the people of Quebec;

THAT the National Assembly express the wish that the office of Lieutenant-Governor be abolished; nevertheless, given that the provisions of the Constitutional Act imposed upon Quebec render impossible the abolition of this office at the current time, the National Assembly requests that the Federal Government henceforth appoint as titular of the office of Lieutenant-Governor the public figure democratically designated by the Assembly.

Several colleagues from the various Parliaments of the Commonwealth were consulted regarding this question and would no doubt be interested in being informed of the decision rendered.

This motion was ruled in order on the grounds that, if it were carried, it would modify neither the Canadian Constitution nor the Act respecting the National Assembly, since it merely expresses a wish or desire, which is not prohibited by any rule. Furthermore, it questions neither the conduct nor the character of the current titular of the office of Lieutenant-Governor nor those of his predecessors but rather expresses an opinion of a general nature on the role and the functions of this office.

Moreover, despite the fact that an analysis of the motion reveals that it contains motives and arguments, which is contrary to Standing Order 191, several precedents indicate that the Chair has been quite tolerant regarding this matter. …

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