2007 Annual Report – Legislation
2007 Annual Report of
National Chairperson of Legislation
- Lidwina Critch
- Mary Ryan
- Irene Wojec Gabon
Provincial chairpersons endeavoured to keep members informed about government issues and share concerns about current legislation and how it affects people at home and abroad. Much of the focus was on how legislation dovetailed with League resolutions which form policy. Monitoring legislation whether locally, provincially or nationally could be time consuming and daunting at times, but chairpersons were up to the challenge, though they often had to choose what they were able to best work on.
The preferred methods of influencing various levels of government were letter writing or, in the electronic age, e-mailing, personal contact and telephone calls. Some provincial councils reported on meetings held with provincial governments while others relied on written communication of resolutions approved at provincial and national levels. To facilitate communication, chairpersons provided lists of members of parliament (MPs) and members of the legislative assembly and encouraged members to get to know or at least become pen pals with them and city or town councillors. It was gratifying to note that most provincial councils reported studying issues or at least passing on information from communiqués.
Monitor and study legislation at all levels of government.
Because parliament was prorogued in the early fall and resumed sitting a few months later, the national chairperson and her provincial counterparts had an opportunity to educate members about what happened to bills when parliament is prorogued, using the example of Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
When it came to issues, there was a wide variety of focus across the country with some councils focusing on federal government issues, others on provincial issues and others being highly involved in local issues.
Much attention was directed to the age of consent (protection) issue. Bill C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records was introduced before parliament prorogued in the fall and became part of Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts when parliament resumed sitting. Councils studied the issue, lobbied and wrote letters to MPs, federal ministers, and even the prime minister. The definition of marriage issue continued with members asking for legal protection for all who objected to the solemnization of civil marriage for same sex partners. Other issues raised with federal government members were: water rights under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); uranium mining and the tar sands; urgent need for a Canadian energy policy; Kyoto Accord; renewable energy; right to life (funding of abortion) and end of life issues; food safety, especially imported foods and genetically modified foods and seeds; change to theYoung Offenders Act; children’s fitness tax credit; trafficking of women and children; increasing the old age security; holding Canadian registered mining companies accountable for their actions in foreign countries; deficiencies in the Canadian Elections Act; housing for those with mental disability; refugee status for families in sanctuary; violence against women; Goods and Services Tax exemption on funerals; Bill C-414 An Act to amend the Competition Act and the Food and Drugs Act(child protection against advertising exploitation); war in Afghanistan; labelling of pest control products; free police checks for volunteers; stem cell research; treatment of seniors in long-term care; and, religious themed Christmas stamps.
• Alberta: expansion of separate schools in Yellowknife, Bill 31 Mental Health Amendment Act
• Manitoba : firearms amnesty (one month), payday loans interest rate, cost of living allowance for retired teachers
• Nova Scotia: religious instruction in schools, the Amendment to the Incompetent Persons’ Actpassed in the provincial legislature and received Royal Assent in April
• Prince Edward Island: drug facilitated sexual assault, smoking in cars transporting children
• Ontario: initiative to have parish councils pray for provincial politicians at council meetings and the provincial executive was given a tour of Queen’s Park, Ontario’s provincial legislative buildings
• Saskatchewan: the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code was amended abolishing mandatory retirement and legislation was proclaimed allowing delivery of regulated midwifery services
Other issues addressed by provincial councils were: child poverty, the environment, bullying, human trafficking (especially with the upcoming Olympics in China in the summer of 2008 and in Canada 2010) and health care issues such as cutbacks, waiting lists, lack of palliative care, and mental health.
Issues included seeking abolishment of the cohabitation policy where males and females shared the same room in hospitals; support for smoke free vehicles bylaw; banning the use of pesticides; encouraging the use of fair trade coffee, tea and cocoa; recycling and composting; combating drug problems among youth; suicide prevention; and, elimination of child poverty.
Provincial councils reported working on current and past resolutions. Specifically mentioned were the following:
• the number of councils that did not have a legislation chairperson
• the need to constantly monitor government websites and media
At the national level, legislation is a committee with no lack of subject matter. Checking government websites for information, bills being introduced, and the progress of bills takes time. In addition to monitoring federal legislation, the national chairperson attended meetings; sent communiqués; answered questions from national office, sister national executive members, provincial chairpersons, and members; brought greetings to meetings; spoke at the annual convention of Saskatchewan Provincial Council and three parish council meetings; wrote letters, memos and articles for The Canadian League; made a presentation on tax law with the national chairperson of resolutions; and, served on the national resolutions committee.
To paraphrase some comments from legislation chairpersons: on the legislation standing committee, faith is lived through actions and concern for others. What better way to Love One Another than through diligent monitoring of legislation to ensure the passage of laws designed to better local communities, provinces, country, and the beautiful world of which God has made members stewards.