Monday Feb. 3rd
Monday morning was the start of International Development Week in Canada. I met with Jonah Kanter, the Senior Manager of Canada Policy and Government Affairs at Global Citizen. Global Citizen is a global movement of citizens using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030. We spoke about the need to completely eradicate polio as well as this year’s upcoming Global Goal Live benefit concerts.
Afterwards, I met with a group of advocates on Canada’s foreign policy in Palestine and Israel. The people in the meeting were Bekah Sears, Policy Analyst for the Mennonite Central Committee, Kirsten Van Houten, Global Partnerships Coordinator at Kairos Canada, Nadia Abu-Zahra, Associate Professor and Joint Chair in Women’s Studies, Carleton University and University of Ottawa, and Corey Balsam, National Coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
We discussed international human rights and Canada’s role in the Israel-Palestine conflict. We also spoke about the need to support grassroots peace-building efforts in the Middle East and the need for peaceful negotiations across all parties.
In the afternoon, I gave a speech in the House of Commons concerning my views on CUSMA - otherwise known as the new NAFTA. The new free trade agreement isn’t perfect but it has several improvements from the original NAFTA, including the removal of Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions and the energy proportionality clause. I also spoke in the House about the importance of open, transparent, and democratic international trade negotiations and the need to remove investor-state provisions from all trade agreements.
Later I presented a petition to the House about marine protected areas:
In the evening, I attended Video Games on the Hill, a reception hosted by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. I tested out Canadian-made video games and a virtual reality system!
Tuesday Feb. 4th
In the morning, I met with Mickey Aylard, Dave Taylor, and Holger Schwichtenberg of the BC Dairy Association. We discussed dairy import enforcement at the Canadian border and the effects of the CUSMA trade agreement on the dairy sector. With CUSMA, our supply management system will remain intact but there is real concern that new imports from the US will undermine the economic viability of Canadian farms. This is a situation that needs to be closely monitored.
After our meeting, I presented a petition in the House of Commons calling on the government to support a made-in-Canada Green New Deal. The petition calls for bold and rapid action to adopt social and equitable climate action.
The House proceeded with debate on an opposition motion about the tragic killing of Marylène Lévesque on January 22nd. Lévesque was killed by a convicted murderer who had been granted a parole pass by the Parole Board of Canada. I spoke about violence against women in our society, and the need to depoliticize appointments to the Parole Board of Canada. The following day, I voted in line with the majority of the House to condemn the Parole Board’s decision to grant parole in this case, and to conduct hearings to prevent another tragedy like this from ever occurring again.
In the afternoon, I attended the Rising Youth Community Project Showcase. The Rising Youth Community Service Grants program was a two year program offered through Canada Service Corps - Canada's national youth service initiative. The program highlights the importance of having youth at the table at all levels. I was proud to see local grantee Celia White featured in their publication.
I attended three receptions in the evening, respectively hosted by the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the Tourism Industry Association, and the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Wednesday Feb. 5th
My first meeting on Wednesday was with representatives fro the Canadian Association for Long Term Care. I met with Aly Devji, Director of Human Resources at Delta View, Mike Klassen, VP Public Affairs with the BC Care Providers Association, and Robert (Bob) Breen, Executive Director at the Denominational Health Association They raised key issues facing long term care in BC, including staffing shortages and declining infrastructure. With BC’s aging population, we are in critical need of retaining more workers and maintaining long term care infrastructure.
I then had a meeting with representatives from arts training schools across Canada, including: Howard R. Jang, VP Arts & Leadership at the Banff Centre, John Dalrymple, Executive Director of Canada’s National Ballet School, and Kate Fennell, Director of School Operations for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
The Canada Arts Training Fund has been frozen for more than 10 years and is no longer adequate to keep Canadian arts competitive in today’s world. The Green Caucus has submitted several recommendations to the Minister of Finance for the upcoming budget. Among our recommendations, we have included a request to increase funding to the Canada Arts Training Fund by $10M. The image below is linked to a PDF of the Green caucus budget recommendations.
In the afternoon, I met with Shannon Joseph and Alex Surca of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. CAPP represents upstream oil producers in four Canadian provinces, including BC.
We discussed several aspects of the oil and gas industry in Canada, including the oil and gas economy, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel taxes and subsidies. We had a friendly debate about LNG, where I emphasized that LNG should not be a transition fuel to replace coal considering that end-to-end it is just as emissions intensive as coal.
I will continue to speak up in meetings as well as the House of Commons about the importance of addressing the climate emergency. Instead of investing more in fossil fuel development, we must re-direct money into the Green economy and ensure a just transition for workers.
Later, I attended two parliamentary committee meetings related to my role as the Green Party critic for International Trade and Foreign Affairs. First up was the Standing Committee on International Trade, which began its pre-considerations of CUSMA (Bill C-4).
I then attended the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations and witnessed the testimony of Dominic Barton, Canada’s Ambassador to China. Barton is the former president of Tech Resources, a company with big investment by the state owned the Chinese Investment Corporation. He also used to run McKinsey & Company, a corporation which had close ties with 22 of China's top 100 state-owned corporations and some major military projects. There are very legitimate concerns that these previous roles place Mr. Barton in a conflict of interest, and in the committee meeting I raised these issues for the record and also asked about position Canada is in between the United States and China with regards to Huawei and 5G.
Thursday Feb. 6th
On Thursday morning I had another meeting relating to International Development Week. I met with Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Arianna Laboccetta, a Policy Research Assistant with the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. Their immediate goal is to double Canada’s Official Development Assistance to 0.56% of our Gross National Income by 2025. We also discussed the importance of focusing on the livelihoods of women and girls in the Global South.
In the House of Commons I presented another petition asking the government to support a made-in-Canada Green New Deal. In this video you can see I was followed by MP Elizabeth May who presented a petition calling on the government to engage in nation to nation negotiations with the Wet'suwet'en.
As the debate on CUSMA resumed, I spoke up again about the transparency of trade negotiations as well as the socio-economic impacts of these agreements. I voted to officially refer Bill C-4 to the Standing Committee on International Trade, where I will continue to follow developments.
During Question Period, I asked the government why it has abandoned its duty and allowed the constitutional and legal rights of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to be violated. Earlier in the day, armed RCMP officers enforced an injunction in Wet'suwet'en territory and arrested dozens of Indigenous land defenders. I have been calling for the governments of BC and Canada to commit to a peaceful resolution of this situation.
Finally, I spoke in the debate on Bill C-3. Bill C-3 proposes a new public complaints and review commission to oversee the Canada Border Services Agency.
Friday Feb. 7th
On Friday I attended a Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Rally in front of Parliament Hill. The rally was co-hosted by nine organizations and the speakers voiced support for Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and land defenders.
I then gave a speech in the House of Commons about Bill C-3. I would like to see two specific changes to the bill to ensure adequate oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). First, current and former members of the CBSA should not be eligible to sit on a public complaints and review commission in order to ensure the independence of complaints processes. Second, I would also like to see some level of notification for people who are about to be deported.
After speaking in the House, I met with Christina Ilnitchi, a representative from Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities. UCRU is an informal coalition of student associations from Canada's U15 universities. We spoke about UCRU's proposed policy changes, including reforming tuition tax credits, fast-tracking international students into the Canadian workforce, increasing support to Indigenous students, and expanding undergraduate research funding.
After two very busy and productive weeks in Ottawa it was great to head home to Nanaimo on Friday evening!