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My Week in Parliament: June 7-11

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

Monday, June 7th

On Monday morning, there was a time allocation vote for Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act. Time allocations often limit the opportunity for fulsome debate and can infringe on the democratic process. This is especially true in the case of Bill C-10. This is an extremely nuanced bill and is not something that we should rush through. I voted “nay”. Unfortunately, the time allocation motion passed, limiting the committee study of the bill to only five more hours.

Later that day, there was a vote on an NDP opposition motion for action towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This motion could not be more pressing in light of the discovery of the burial sites of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. This week I wrote a separate blog post about this discovery and I encourage you to read it. It is the government’s duty to do everything in its power to advance truth and reconciliation. I voted in favour of the opposition motion and it passed unanimously.

That afternoon, I tabled two petitions concerning the protection of BC’s last remaining old-growth ecosystems from clear-cut logging. Petitioners called on the government to immediately halt the logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems and fund their long-term protection as a priority for Canada’s climate action plan.

That evening, I had a meeting with Dana Whacker, the president of the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club. We talked about the dangers posed by the proximity of the Department of National Defence (DND) firing range to mountain biking trail networks in that area. The DND uses large caliber automatic weapons at the range. Nearby parks contain significant recreational trail networks, and these trail networks connect to a series of trails that crisscross the DND lands. Safety is our number one concern. The DND has been making increased efforts to prevent recreational users from entering the firing range “template” (the safety zone). But recreational users are still occasionally entering the template, at times without even being aware that they have done so.

Dana and I also discussed a petition that I sponsored on this issue. This petition calls on the government to conduct a social and environmental impact assessment of the range, and consult the community about future DND land use.

Tuesday, June 8th

On Tuesday morning, the House debated a Conservative opposition motion on housing. The motion recognizes that the cost of housing continues to rise out of reach for Canadians and that current government policy has failed to provide sufficient housing supply. The motion, as well as the debate that followed, were both heavily focused on first-time homeowners. This left out renters and Indigenous communities, as well as those facing homelessness and housing insecurity. It also failed to recognize that the privatization, financialization, and foreign ownership of our housing market are significant driving forces that have led to the dire housing crisis we face today. The motion is not perfect, but it did bring forth important conversations in the House about what the government can do to work towards solving this crisis.

That evening, due to last-minute changes in the schedule of the House of Commons, I could not participate in my bi-weekly meeting with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Youth Advisory Council. My chief of staff Ilan met the youth without me. The topic of discussion was the Indian Residential Schools and the terrible news from Kamloops. Ilan showed the participants the short film, The Awakening of Elizabeth Shaw, featuring a whistleblower letter that was written in 1898 about the terrible conditions in the Port Simpson Residential School. Released in 1996, the film was directed by my mother, Eva Manly, and co-produced by Eva and me.

Wednesday, June 9th

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a meeting with the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) to discuss their proposed amendments to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act. We discussed how online distribution platforms, such as Amazon Prime Video or Disney’s Hulu, are rapidly gaining traction in Canada and around the world. Bill C-10, as it stands, does not permit the CRTC (the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) to make regulations about these online distribution platforms. Without regulation, there is no way to ensure Canadian services and programs are offered in these online environments, and there is no way to prevent these services from giving undue preference to their own apps and services over independent ones. This will result in even further concentration of an already concentrated industry. Together we discussed ways forward to solving this gap in Bill C-10.

Previously, in April, I successfully passed a different amendment to Bill C-10 that APTN had recommended. This amendment changed Canada’s broadcasting policy to ensure it protects Indigenous-specific programming online, and not just in traditional broadcasting like TV and radio.

The House voted on 5 items today:

  • C-262: An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (capture and utilization or storage of greenhouse gases). This bill is a poorly disguised subsidy for oil and gas that would not be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I voted against this bill, and it did not pass.

  • C-234: An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (home security measures). This bill proposes a $5000 tax credit per year for homeowners to implement security systems in their homes, garages, and barns. This money could be better spent on addressing security at its roots, by investing in social programs that have been proven to deter crime and avoid situations that require security systems from happening in the first place. I voted “nay”, and the bill did not pass.

  • C-226: An Act to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (non-application in Quebec). This bill would make it so that the Canadian Multicultural Act would not apply in Quebec. I agree that it is important to protect French-language rights in Quebec, however, this does not have to happen at the cost of multiculturalism. These two things can and should co-exist. I voted against this bill, and it did not pass.

  • Opposition Motion (Housing Policy). This is the same Conservative motion that was debated in the House yesterday. I voted in favour of the motion, and it passed.

  • Opposition Motion (Combating Tax Evasion). This motion calls for stricter regulations to combat tax evasion and avoidance by Canadian and multinational corporations. It also calls for more transparency from banks and financial institutions. The pandemic has been putting pressure on public finances and has heightened the need to end the use of tax havens. I voted in favour of this motion and it was agreed to. I had previously also jointly seconded this motion back in March to show my support.

Thursday, June 10th

In June, the House of Commons often extends its sitting hours later into the evenings to finish important business before the summer recess. On Thursday morning, we were expecting to debate this year's motion to extend sitting hours for the rest of the month. Unfortunately, the Conservatives chose to employ procedural tactics to delay the House from having this debate. This resulted in 2 procedural votes, one to shut down debate for the day, and the other to move onto other business. In both cases, I voted to continue debate about extending sitting hours, along with my Green, Liberal, Bloc, and NDP colleagues. Eventually, we were able to resume debate on extending our sitting hours.

On Thursday, I attended two meetings of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to continue studying Bill C-10 on broadcasting. Because of Monday’s time allocation vote, the committee was under a time limit to complete its work. Two of my 29 proposed amendments were voted upon, and unfortunately, these two did not pass. These amendments would have helped Canadian producers access support through the Canada Media Fund. They would have also helped independent producers get fairer deals with the big broadcasters.

Friday, June 11th

I tabled two petitions in the House today. The first petition noted that the climate crisis and destruction of our ecosystems, also known as ecocide, is the result of many years of harmful industrial practices permitted by law. It called on the government to declare support for the adoption of an international ecocide law.

The second petition was concerned with the clear-cut logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems. Petitioners called on the government to ban the export of raw logs, as well as the use of whole trees for wood pellet biofuel production.

On Sunday, June 6th, a driver in London, Ontario rammed his pickup truck into the Afzaal family of five who were out for an evening walk in traditional Muslim clothes. The two parents, Salman and Madiha Afzaal, their daughter Yumna, and the grandmother Talat were all killed in the attack. Their 9-year-old son, Fayez, was sent to hospital with serious injuries. Following that horrific hate crime, on Friday I visited the Islamic Centre in Nanaimo in order to pay my respects and offer my sympathies. They invited me to come back next week and address the congregation.

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