Provincial and Territorial Update – October 13, 2023
An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of October 9 - 13, 2023.
Some — but not all — PC MLAs gather as election speculation continues. 6 Tory members who broke ranks with the premier aren’t invited to the Fredericton meeting. Progressive Conservative ministers and backbenchers were called to a meeting with Premier Blaine Higgs on Tuesday afternoon as New Brunswickers waited to see if the premier would call a snap election.
New Brunswickers didn’t get any answers Tuesday on whether they will be heading to the polls in the near future, and political watchers say the window to call a snap election is closing. “You’re kind of running out of time,” said J.P. Lewis, a UNB political scientist. “There could be legislative reasons for the timing, you don’t want to wait too long if you want to get a legislative session in in the fall,” Lewis said.
New Brunswick’s first-ever carbon tax rebate is on the way. Here’s how it works. 4 years after New Brunswickers started paying a price on carbon, Ottawa’s sending the money back. The New Brunswick government scrapped its own carbon tax earlier this year — one that did not include a rebate — in favour of the Trudeau government’s federal system.
The City of Saint John, the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners and CUPE Local 486, the union representing the city’s inside workers, have all ratified a working agreement, immediately ending the strike, which has been ongoing since Sept. 12. A tentative agreement was reached on Friday between negotiators. The union local ratified the agreement Monday, while the common council and the board of police commissioners voted on Tuesday.
Provincial politicians will once again take their seats at Province House on Thursday for a sitting in which the rising cost of living and the ongoing shortage of affordable homes could supersede health care as the main topic of debate. Although problems with the health system remain a major preoccupation for both the public and Premier Tim Houston’s PC government, opposition parties believe housing and affordability need more immediate attention.
The only Independent member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, is asking the Speaker to rule a motion threatening her with expulsion from the chamber is out of order. The motion was put forward last spring by the woman who has just become the province’s first female Speaker, Karla MacFarlane. Smith-McCrossin raised the point of order not long after MacFarlane ceded the chair to a deputy Speaker in order to avoid a conflict of interest.
Housing Minister John Lohr says he can no longer commit to his government releasing a provincial housing strategy. “We’re committed to action right now,” he told reporters at Province House in Halifax on Thursday. “When we’ve got all the things done we want to have done we’ll look at that, but right now our staff are working flat out on getting things done.” The housing strategy was supposed to be released last spring. Lohr said it was almost ready when the province was struck with historic wildfires and floods.
The Houston government is giving itself even more power to control development in the Halifax Regional Municipality, in a bill introduced Thursday on the first day of the fall sitting. According to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr, the changes are needed in order to further speed up the construction of new homes in the capital city. The bill further amends the city’s charter, as well as brings changes to the Housing in the Halifax Regional Municipality Act, which was proclaimed just a year ago and was roundly criticized at the time by city council members as “disrespectful” and “disappointing.”
Prince Edward Island
Hundreds of patients of Harbourside Health Centre in Summerside will be without a primary health-care provider for the next few months as Health P.E.I. searches for more doctors and nurse practitioners. Health P.E.I. says it has lost three of the four doctors at the Summerside clinic and has an ongoing shortage of physicians and nurse practitioners.
The mayor of Charlottetown says everyone has the responsibility to “lower the temperature” as the rhetoric over the province’s Community Outreach Centre heats up. Philip Brown told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier on Thursday that the issue has become very emotional as the city struggles with a mental health, drug addiction and socioeconomic “crisis.” The centre’s location on Euston Street has been controversial, with residents complaining about drug use, drinking and altercations in an area with two schools nearby.
The son of former P.E.I. Premier Jim Lee says the week following his father’s passing has been filled with learning, as Islanders reach out to share their condolences. “Conversations we’ve had over the last few days have been with people who have told us stories about how Dad impacted their lives,” Jason Lee said in an interview Thursday. “These were often stories we had never heard before.” Almost to a fault, his father “never put a lot of energy into taking credit for the things he helped P.E.I. achieve,” Jason Lee said. Jim Lee was elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 1975 and took over as premier in 1981.
Health ministers from across the country wrapped up two days of meetings in Charlottetown Thursday and their federal counterpart says he is taking five “concrete” priorities home to Ottawa as a result of it. Federal Health Minister Mark Holland listed those items in a communique after groups representing doctors and nurses demanded the ministers leave the gathering “with a clear commitment to urgent action.”
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey is set to deliver an apology to Nunatsiavut residential school survivors in November in Hopedale, according to a social media post by the Nunatsiavut government’s Department of Health and Social Development. But in response to questions from CBC News, the Nunatsiavut government says nothing has been confirmed, including the dates of the apology or details of any potential apologies in other Inuit communities. In the post, the department said Furey was considering the first few days of November for the apology.
Joan Marie Aylward, a former nurses’ union president and a former Liberal cabinet minister in Newfoundland and Labrador, was named Thursday as the province’s next lieutenant governor. “Joan Marie Aylward has spent her career caring for and serving her community and Canadians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Thursday morning. “I am confident that she will continue to serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in her new role with characteristic selflessness, dedication and enthusiasm.”
Wednesday marked the deadline for people to have their say on a controversial wind-hydrogen megaproject on the Port au Port Peninsula, but an environmental advocate who made her opinion known is pessimistic about how much impact public comments will have on the project’s future. Tara Manuel, co-chair of a group called Enviro Watch N.L., a citizen-led provincial non-profit organization, says there wasn’t nearly enough time for people to examine World Energy GH2’s environmental assessment — a 4,000-page document that was submitted 51 days ago, on Aug. 22.
The Canadian government was warned internally to hold off on signing an Indigenous reconciliation agreement with a self-proclaimed Inuit group in Labrador but did so anyway despite concerns about the unproven nature of the group’s rights, documents obtained by CBC Indigenous reveal. In the fall of 2019, after Carolyn Bennett signed the memorandum of understanding with the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC), the former minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations hailed it as “a huge step forward” on their shared journey of reconciliation.
Quebec Premier François Legault inaugurated the la Romaine hydroelectric complex on the province’s North Shore Thursday morning. The newly inaugurated Romaine hydroelectric complex could serve as a model for future projects that are sorely needed in the province, Legault said. “It brings me a lot of pride. It is truly the symbol of Quebec ingenuity,” he said as he opened the vast power plant. Legault was accompanied at today’s event by Jean Charest, who was Quebec premier when construction began in 2009, as well as Hydro-Québec president and CEO Michael Sabia.
Premier François Legault says Quebecers stand with Montreal’s Jewish community and the people of Israel in the wake of event she described as “tragic.” And he has strongly condemned last weekend’s pro-Palestine rallies, which took place in Montreal and other cities in Canada. Legault said they were “shameful.” “Nothing, absolutely nothing can justify the attacks by Hamas terrorists on civilians,” Legault said in Montreal in his first appearance since the attacks, following an early tweet Sunday.
The Quebec government is proposing an increase in tuition fees for international and out-of-province students attending English-language universities as a way to protect the French language. The measure is part of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government’s action plan to stop the decline of the use of the French language in the province. Minister of Higher Education Pascale Déry is scheduled to make a formal announcement Friday morning in Montreal.
The RCMP announced Tuesday it has launched a criminal investigation into Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to open up Greenbelt land for development. “Following a referral from the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP O Division’s Sensitive and International Investigations (SII) unit has now launched an investigation into allegations associated to the decision from the Province of Ontario to open parts of the Greenbelt for development,” RCMP Cpl. Christy Veenstra said in a statement Tuesday.
Hamilton Centre NDP MPP Sarah Jama is apologizing after making a statement about the conflict between Hamas and Israel in which she voiced her support for the people of Gaza. Her apology comes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford called for Jama’s resignation and Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles called for her to retract the remarks. “I heard many voices yesterday raising concern about my post,” she wrote in a statement shared by the Ontario NDP on Wednesday. “I hear them – and above all, I understand the pain that many Jewish and Israeli Canadians, including my own constituents, must be feeling. I apologize.”
Tens of thousands of Ontario workers were compensated last year after getting sick from exposure to toxins on the job, yet a new report commissioned by Premier Doug Ford’s government says many cases of workplace-related illness are being missed. The report, to be released on Tuesday, is an independent review of Ontario’s system for preventing and responding to occupational diseases, such as cancers, lung conditions or neurological disorders that are linked to the working environment.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is speaking out against a series of events being held that celebrate attacks against Israel that have left more than 700 people dead and thousands more injured. In a post on social media Sunday, the premier called these events “hate rallies” that celebrate “the kidnapping and slaughtering of innocent Israeli people by terrorists.” “They have no place in Ontario,” he said, adding that these rallies are “reprehensible and disgusting”.
Palestinian-run businesses in Winnipeg report threats, abuse as deadly war continues. Business owner Ramsey Zeid, who is Palestinian, has been getting disturbing threats and hateful comments after Hamas, a militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, launched a surprise attack on Israel, which retaliated with airstrikes and declared war.
Heather Stefanson has the backing of her Progressive Conservative caucus to stay on as leader until a replacement is chosen, caucus chair Ron Schuler said, despite a recent electoral defeat. Schuler said the premier’s decision to remain as party leader for 12-18 months is the stability the Tories need while they transition from government to serving as the Official Opposition. “Caucus is behind her, she is our leader, we support our leader and she is there until a new leader is chosen,” Schuler told reporters Wednesday.
Manitoba’s incoming premier and Winnipeg’s mayor met for an hour at city hall in a meeting whose length signified the continuation of close relations between Broadway and Main Street. Premier-designate Wab Kinew and Mayor Scott Gillingham met in the mayor’s office for about 20 minutes on their own and in a larger meeting with members of their respective staff on Monday. Afterward, the two leaders said they share some common priorities, including the need to address homelessness, combat drug trafficking and complete upgrades underway at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, the largest of Winnipeg’s three sewage-treatment plants.
Newly elected NDP MLAs hope their diverse backgrounds will bring new perspectives to the legislature. A 23-year-old woman, a Chinese-Canadian woman and a transgender man are among MLAs joining the government. Jelynn Dela Cruz is believed to be the youngest woman ever elected as an MLA in Manitoba. The 23-year-old will be representing Radisson at the Manitoba Legislature.
A new poll is out on the Saskatchewan government’s school pronoun policy. It suggests Saskatchewan respondents are divided on the issue of mandatory parental notification if a child wants to change their gender or pronoun at school. While 45 percent support mandatory notification, 55 percent say it should be left to teachers’ discretion. Nationally, the ratio was 49 percent support for mandatory notification and 51 percent against.
Parent calls Sask. government’s new bill a ‘smokescreen’ over mental health, addictions crisis. Hailey ‘Bee’ Mackenzie Lawson is being remembered by loved ones as someone who lived life fully, making people laugh and causing a little mayhem along the way. The 14-year-old from Yorkton, Sask., died by suicide in May. Their mother, Sarah Mackenzie, was invited to the Saskatchewan Legislature by the Opposition NDP on Thursday — the day the Saskatchewan government introduced Bill 137, the Parental Bill of Rights, moving ahead with its plan to invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect a controversial new policy dictating how schools deal with gender-diverse students.
Saskatoon-based members of both the Jewish and Palestinian communities say they want an end to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group in control of the Gaza Strip after the latest in more than 70 years of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has left thousands of civilians injured or dead.
The people of Richmound are tense and anxious about members of a cult who are living at a former school in the village, according to the Saskatchewan RCMP. But police say that despite issuing threats of public execution, the group does not pose an “imminent threat.” The group is led by Romana Didulo, who is known as a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist but has dubbed herself the “Queen of Canada,” among other titles, including the national Indigenous leader.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s scheduled appearance before a House of Commons environment committee next week has been cancelled. Smith had said she would speak before the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee on Tuesday. But Smith’s office says the committee won’t be able to meet that day because some of its members can’t attend. Her spokesman says the premier would be happy to rebook her appearance for a later date.
Calgary’s lone Liberal MP is accusing Alberta Premier Danielle Smith of making “false” and “baseless” claims via a countrywide attack on the federal government’s plans for a clean electricity grid, calling for the province to end a campaign against the regulations and lift a moratorium on renewable energy projects.
Alberta is to begin telephone town-hall consultations with the public starting next week on whether to quit the Canada Pension Plan. But the Opposition NDP says if Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party government is going to meddle with every Albertan’s retirement nest egg, it should do it face to face. An engagement panel led by former provincial finance minister Jim Dinning announced Thursday there will be five 90-minute town-hall discussions over six weeks, each session focused on getting feedback from a different region.
Canada’s top court has delivered a highly anticipated judgment, writing in a majority opinion that Ottawa’s Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is largely unconstitutional. The IAA, previously known as Bill C-69, allows federal regulators to consider the potential environmental and social impacts of various resource and infrastructure projects. It was enacted in 2019. The IAA has long been controversial among conservative politicians in Alberta, including former premier Jason Kenney, who frequently referred to it as the “No More Pipelines Act.”
The Supreme Court of Canada says it will not hear an appeal from the Hells Angels over properties the province of British Columbia seized from the motorcycle gang in Kelowna, Nanaimo and Vancouver. On Thursday, the country’s highest court dismissed a leave to appeal from Angel Acres Recreation and Festival Property Ltd. that sought to challenge a decision by a lower court in B.C., which said the clubhouses would likely be used for criminal activity in the future.
As people struggle to make ends meet in one of the most expensive places to live in Canada, the B.C. government says it doesn’t have any money to hand out, at least not right now. CityNews spoke one-on-one with Premier David Eby. He acknowledges things are tight for many people, which is especially challenging ahead of the holidays, but he was non-committal to cutting cheques.
The province pledges to begin rolling out new rules this month to make it easier for foreign-trained professionals to get credentialed in B.C. It’s not just healthcare jobs that are the focus of the plan, it’s all fields including teachers and social workers — an ambitious goal, given there are 235 occupations governed by 50 regulatory bodies in the province.
A new poll shows BC United behind the Conservative Party of B.C., but Leader Kevin Falcon said his party is not “very concerned”. While speaking from Kamloops Tuesday (Oct. 10), Falcon also used the opportunity to accuse Premier David Eby’s NDP government of being too focused on the urban parts of B.C.
Not expecting compensation but unable to abandon the call of duty, municipal volunteer firefighters were on the ground in Hay River, N.W.T., for over five weeks this summer, protecting the community as wildfires rapidly approached. Now the town is planning to review the way it compensates these volunteers. The late-summer evacuation was Hay River’s third mass evacuation in as little as 16 months. In May of this year, it was another wildfire threatening the community. Last year in May, there was mass flooding.
The Government of the Northwest Territories says it’s finished deliveries to resupply northern communities for the year, but low water levels and wildfire evacuations forced some cancellations that could be costly — for businesses and customers. The N.W.T.’s Marine Transportation Services (MTS) delivered 22.7 million litres of fuel and 3,442 tons of cargo to eleven communities this season, from Sachs Harbour to Ulukhaktok, according to an MTS news release Wednesday.
It would be one for the political science textbooks: a minority government collapsing because it closed four rural dumps. Yukon NDP Leader Kate White said Wednesday the Liberal government is risking precisely that if it doesn’t back down from its plan to consolidate rural solid waste transfer stations. “We’re in a minority government situation. And if I put forward a motion that says ‘Do not close these facilities,’ I imagine that the Yukon Party would vote with me and then the Liberals would have to deal with that, right? Am I prepared to? Absolutely,” White told reporters Wednesday.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has warned Inuit leaders that foreign adversaries could gain a foothold in Canada by offering to fill infrastructure gaps in the North. But Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) — the nonprofit organization that represents more than 65,000 Inuit across Inuit Nunangat and the rest of Canada — said the spy agency’s inability to share classified intelligence with the region’s decision-makers leaves them in the dark about the risks.