The 4th sitting of the 1st Session of the 28th Legislature resumed on October 28, 2013. The first new piece of legislation introduced in the Assembly was Bill 27, Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act. Developed in the aftermath of the summer floods, which devastated communities around Alberta, particularly in the southern part of the province, this bill would amend both the Emergency Management Act and the Municipal Government Act. It proposes to ban further development in most floodways, provide funding for food mitigation, double the amount of time for which a provincial state of emergency may be in effect, and place notices on land titles for properties in flood-prone areas indicating that they had received disaster assistance following the June 2013 floods and would therefore not be eligible for future Government assistance.
Questions of Privilege
On the second day of the new sitting, October 29, 2013, Shayne Saskiw, Member for Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, raised a purported question of privilege regarding the Government's public advertising of a Bill that had not been presented to the Assembly. The Bill in question, Bill 32, the Enhancing Safety on Alberta Roads Act, was on the Order Paper but had not been introduced in the Assembly when the media articles and public signage appeared. Mr. Saskiw argued that the Government was in contempt for breaching the rights of the Members of the Legislative Assembly and tabled copies of media articles and a sign referencing Bill 32 in support of his position.
Two days later, Speaker Gene Zwozdesky addressed the purported question of privilege. Before ruling on the matter the Speaker referenced previous decisions made in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as well as rulings by former Speaker Milliken in the House of Commons. Ultimately the Speaker found that there was no prima facie question of privilege regarding the advertising of Bill 32 because there was no finding that the Bill had been provided in its final form to the media or other entity prior to its introduction in the Assembly. However, he went on to emphasize that his ruling should not be interpreted as reducing restrictions on providing detailed information on Bills not yet before the Assembly. He went on to caution that should any advertising of a Bill occur it should be undertaken with great caution so as not to give the impression that the Bill was already law. He then went on to reinforce the convention of confidentiality of...