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My Week in Parliament: April 26-30

Monday, April 26th

My week in Parliament started with the clause-by-clause study of Bill C-10, the new broadcasting act. I proposed three amendments before the committee today;

The first applies a seven-year maximum on conditions of service. This is the same term that currently applies to licenses under the existing act. Conditions of service should be subject to periodic mandatory review.

The second amendment was about original language presentation in both official languages.

The third amendment was about contractual practices between broadcasters and independent producers. The goal is to better support independent producers in contract negotiations.

Later that day, I presented a petition. The petitioners call on the government to halt any support for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

During a debate on the 2021 budget, I reaffirmed my support for a wealth tax. Billionaires have increased their wealth by $87 billion since the beginning of the pandemic. A wealth tax makes sense for many reasons, that's one of them.

I also asked the government if restricting foreign direct investment could help ease the housing crisis.

Later, I asked Conservative MP Pat Kelly if he agrees that government spending on TMX and fossil fuel subsidies could be better spent on a transition to a clean energy economy.

The debate ended and there was a vote to approve the budget. This budget brings forth important policies that are long overdue. A National Childcare Plan is something that the Green Party has been calling on for years and strongly supports. Unfortunately, the budget fell short in many areas. I wanted to see a stronger commitment to action on long-term care and a plan to eliminate post-secondary tuition. Canada needs universal pharmacare and a Guaranteed Livable Income to ensure no one falls through the cracks. Ultimately, the budget failed on too many fronts for me to be able to give it my support in good faith.

Tuesday, April 27th

On Tuesday morning, I voted against the government's motion for time allocation on Bill C-12, The Climate Accountability Act. The motion was to limit debate to only five hours at the second reading stage of the bill. Five hours is not enough time to debate such an important piece of legislation. It does not give opposition parties enough opportunity to voice questions and concerns. Unfortunately, with the support of NDP MPs, the motion passed.

Debate began directly after. I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the debate, and the quality of the bill itself. Canada has failed to meet nine climate targets in a row. The lack of a 2025 target is especially concerning; we need to act now, not almost 10 years from now. I asked the government how we are going to meet our targets while they continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry. I also asked how they think the bill is going to keep the government accountable now and in the future if the first target is not until 2030.

Later, I met with Peace Brigades International Canada, and human rights defenders they support in Colombia. In Columbia, companies engaged in gas fracking are violating the human rights of people in surrounding villages. Some of these companies are Canadian-owned. The Columbian activists told me that these companies are not compelled to provide evidence or testimony when there is an investigation. Cooperation is optional, and the cannot be held accountable by the government ombudsperson.

Tuesday evening was the fifth meeting of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Youth Advisory Council (YAC). We discussed Bill C-12: The Climate Accountability Act. Before the meeting, my staff shared a few articles about the bill from different perspectives. There was still plenty left to talk about, so a decision was made to keep the conversation about this bill going at the next YAC meeting.

Wednesday, April 28th

I had a meeting with ACORN Canada about Real Estate Investment Trusts. In 2007 there were changes made to the Income Tax Act, which resulted in a tax exemption for REITs. Since then, almost $1.2 billion in tax revenue has been lost due to not taxing REITs as corporations. We spoke about the need for REITs to be taxed at the corporate level before the profits pass on to the unitholders. REITs and other corporate real estate entities buy up Canada's limited affordable housing and flip it to market housing. These are some of the activities that are driving the housing affordability and homelessness crisis. Stronger regulations are required. We also need greater support for nonprofits to buy and manage affordable rental properties.

There was a vote on the 2nd reading of Bill C-29: The Port of Montreal Operations Act. I voted nay. This back-to-work legislation ignores the bargaining these workers have been doing in good faith. While there are economic implications to this situation, we cannot value profit over the rights and safety of workers.

Debate on the bill began immediately after. Ironically, this debate occurred on the annual day of mourning for workers who have been killed and injured on the job. I made the point that back-to-work legislation erodes collective bargaining and the constitutional right to strike. Striking is a fundamental tool that unionized workers have when negotiations fail. The port workers are essential workers. They have worked tirelessly to get supplies into the country throughout the pandemic. I asked the government if they could have done more to avoid this situation.

In the evening, I held a virtual town hall meeting. I gave a briefing of the work I have been doing over the past few months and answered questions from constituents. You can watch the full town hall meeting below.

Thursday, April 29th

During the debate on vaccine supply, I asked the government if Canadians would be better off if the Conservative government had not sold off Connaught Labs in 1985. Connaught was Canada's publicly-funded laboratory. We were once world leaders in vaccine development and distribution.

Friday, April 30th

On Friday morning, there was a vote on the ways and means motion for the Budget Implementation Act. I voted against it along with my caucus colleagues, and it was agreed to. A Ways and Means motion proposes that the House consider a financial measure. For a Budget, the motion seeks approval for the budgetary policy of the government. You can find more information on ways and means motions here.

During question period, I asked the government to make tuition-free education part of the pandemic recovery plan. This is something that the Green Party has been advocating for. The measures implemented for students in the 2021 budget were a step in the right direction, but they did not go far enough. Students have been greatly impacted by this pandemic. They need increased support to ensure their success. Northern European countries have shown us that tuition-free education works. It is time for Canada to follow in their footsteps.

I also presented a petition about protecting old-growth ecosystems in British Columbia. Petitioners want the government to work with the province and First Nations to immediately halt logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems.

I ended my week in a meeting with Nanaimo Port Authority (NPA) President and CEO Ian Marr and Chief Operating Officer Mike Davidson. We discussed the NPA’s operations in Nanaimo, its vision for the future, and its relationship with the Nanaimo business community.

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