Legislative Assembly Mace Legislative Assembly of Alberta


1999 Annual Report

Legal Services

Organizational Chart for House Services

Robert Reynolds, Senior Parliamentary Counsel / Shannon Dean, Parliamentary Counsel

Function Statement

  • Provides legal and procedural advice to the Speaker, members of the Assembly, committees of the Assembly, caucuses, and staff of the Legislative Assembly Office
  • Drafts private members' public bills, amendments, and written questions
  • Provides legal services to the Chief Electoral Officer

Although the House sat one less day in 1999 than the previous year, the demand for Parliamentary Counsel's services rose significantly. Outside the House, Counsel provided ongoing procedural and legal advice to members and staff and supported several LAO events and initiatives. As well, both Counsel presented papers at parliamentary conferences.

In terms of House business Parliamentary Counsel reviewed and approved an unusually large number of amendments to bills during the spring and fall sittings. As well, Counsel and the Clerk Assistant reviewed more than 250 written questions and motions for returns, more than double the number submitted in 1998.

Since reforms to Standing Orders in 1993, private members' public bills had been debated for up to an hour on Tuesdays and the entire afternoon on Wednesdays. In 1999, however, when consideration of Written Questions and Motions for Returns occasionally took up the entire afternoon on Wednesdays, time for private members' public bills was significantly less. However, three private members' public bills did receive Royal Assent in 1999: Bill 202, Farming Practices Protection Statutes Amendment Act, 1999; Bill 208, Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use Act; and Bill 210, Charitable Donation of Food Act.

Parliamentary Counsel provided support to the Standing Committee on Private Bills by working with petitioners, coordinating the process for bringing these bills to the committee, and providing legal advice. This year three private bills were referred to the committee. The committee recommended two of these, which eventually received Royal Assent; the petitioners withdrew the other bill in the fall.

There were no personnel changes in the office this year. The administrative assistant to Parliamentary Counsel supported the Standing Committee on Private Bills and assisted not only with the day-to-day operations of the office and the Private Bills Committee but also responded to many inquiries. A first year University of Alberta law student assisted in the office during the summer.

Counsel updated the document How to Petition the Alberta Legislature to Pass a Private Bill in order to provide further information to petitioners. They also prepared Guidelines for Submitting Petitions to the Legislative Assembly. Both documents were made available on the Assembly's web site.

Counsel lent their support to several Assembly events and ceremonies held throughout the year. They were pleased to assist the youth caucuses during the first annual Mr. Speaker's Alberta Youth Parliament in April and to take part in the seminar for constituency offices held in December. Counsel also supported the Speaker at ceremonies commemorating Remembrance Day, the Islam ceremony Eid Al-Adha, and the unveiling of the Famous Five portraits in the Legislature.

The branch's continued collaboration with other managers and staff of the Legislative Assembly Office (LAO) ensured that members, their staff, and caucuses received reliable and timely advice. Counsel worked with other divisions of the LAO on leases, contracts, and other legal agreements. And, continuing a trend of recent years, Counsel devoted considerable attention to issues arising from inquiries by officers of the Legislature, particularly those relating to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Both Counsel also continued to respond to numerous requests from individuals on matters concerning parliamentary procedure and law.

To foster professional development and communication with other Commonwealth jurisdictions, the branch participated in three conferences in August. Both Counsel attended the Association of Parliamentary Counsel of Canada's annual conference in Toronto and made a presentation concerning amendments at committee stage. At that conference Rob Reynolds was elected president of the association. Shannon Dean attended the Clerks-at-the-Table conference in Saskatchewan, where she presented a paper examining the impact of freedom of information legislation on legislative assemblies.

A delegation of East African lawyers visited the Legislative Assembly as part of the Canadian Bar Association national conference in Edmonton, which the Senior Counsel attended. Counsel organized a seminar for their East African counterparts with the Clerk and Legislative Counsel to discuss parliamentary procedure, law, and the drafting of legislation.


The electronic copy of the Legislative Assembly Office Annual Report is UNOFFICIAL and is provided for information purposes only. The printed version is the OFFICIAL Annual Report.

Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Copyright (c) 2000 Legislative Assembly of Alberta