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Senate.

While Senate committees continued to work on special studies, business in the Chamber was quiet during the early months of 2005. The regular flow of legislation from the House of Commons to the Senate was slowed by the dynamics of the minority government and by political issues that occupied the time and attention of the government. As a result, only legislation of a non-controversial and routine nature reached the Senate.

Royal Assent

It has become easier to have Royal Assent more often since the passage of a bill in June 2002 which provided for written declaration as an alternative to the formal ceremony in the Senate Chamber with Members of the Commons at the Bar. Royal Assent by written declaration takes less time to arrange, does not interrupt parliamentary business and eases the ceremonial burden placed on the Governor General and the justices of the Supreme Court who act as her deputies. During the spring of 2005 a total of 16 bills received Royal Assent by written declaration on five different occasions:

* C-14, the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act on February 15;

* C-7, An Act to amend the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act and to make related amendments to other Acts on February 24;

* C-4, International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act on February 24;

* C-302, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Kitchener-Wilmot-Wellesley-Woolwich on February 24;

* C-304, All Act to change the name of the electoral district off Battle River on February 24;

* C-36, An Act to change the boundaries of the Acadie-Bathurst and Miramichi electoral districts on February 24;

* C-24, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and funding to the territories) on March 10;

* S-17, Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2004 on March 23;

* C-20, First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act on March 23;

* C-6, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act on March 23;

* C-39, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to enact An Act respecting the provision of funding for diagnostic and medical equipment on March 23;

* C-41, Appropriation Act No. 4, 2004-2005 on March 23;

* C-42, Appropriation Act No. 1, 2005-2006 on March 23;

* C-18, An Act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another Act on March 23;

* C-8, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act, the Canada School of Public Service Act and the Official Languages Act on April 21; and

* C-30, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts on April 21.

Committees

A progress report on the work undertaken by the Official Languages Committee during the fall of 2004 was tabled in the Senate on February 23. The committee was given the mandate to study the 2004 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the operation of the Official Languages Act.

Speaker's Rulings

On February 15 Senator John Lynch-Staunton raised a point of order to object to proceedings that had occurred with respect to Bill C-14 which provides for a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada. The bill was adopted with leave immediately following the presentation of the committee report. Senator Lynch-Staunton disagreed with the accelerated consideration and even more with the fact that it had happened during Routine Proceedings. His real objection, however, was that asking for leave in this kind of situation was contrary to good practice. In his ruling on February 23, Speaker Dan Hays admitted the events of February 15 were out of the ordinary, but ruled that once the Senate had given leave he was powerless to prevent it from happening.

Senator Anne Cools rose on a point of order on February 23 to claim that Bill C-6 which establishes the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness required Royal Consent because it affected the prerogative powers of the Crown. At issue was the bill's attempt to abolish the position of the Solicitor General who, in the opinion of Senator Cools, was an officer of the Crown. It was her contention that such a position could not be altered in legislation without Royal Consent. The Speaker found no evidence to support her argument. In his ruling he declared Bill C-6 did not impinge on the prerogatives or interests of the Crown and for that reason there was no need for Royal Consent.

Motions

The Senate adopted a motion on February 17 condemning the act of terrorism that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and calling on the Government of Canada to continue to pursue justice and independence for the people of Lebanan.

A motion to approve the appointment of Jean T. Fournier as Senate Ethics Officer was considered by the Senate in Committee of the Whole on February 24. Although some Senators expressed concern that the appearance of Mr. Fournier was premature since the Senate had not yet adopted a code of conduct, they nevertheless supported his nomination and approved his appointment for a term of seven years.

Milestones

Tributes were paid to the memory of two former Senators, Royce Frith and Irvine Barrow. Mr. Frith, served as Deputy Leader of the Government, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Opposition during the years 1980 to 1993, died on March 17. Mr. Barrow, whose death at 92 years of age also occurred on March 17, was remembered for his leadership as chairman of the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee and the National Finance Committee.

Retired General Romeo Dallaire, who headed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda and former defence minister Art Eggleton, were appointed to the Senate. They were sworn in on April 12 along with other new Senators Elaine McCoy, Grant Mitchell and Claudette Tardif from Alberta, Robert Peterson and Lillian Dyck from Saskatchewan, Nancy Ruth from Ontario and Jim Cowan from Nova Scotia. At present, there are 98 Senators, including 37 women.

Mary Mussell

Journals Branch
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Title Annotation:Legislative Reports; Canadian Parliament
Publication:Canadian Parliamentary Review
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Words:1019
Previous Article:Assemblee nationale: Quebec.
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