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My Week in Parliament: May 10-14

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Monday, May 10th

My week started off with a vote on a Time allocation for Bill C-19, an Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response). I voted against this motion, and it passed. Time allocations limit debate and infringe on our ability as MPs to ask questions and voice concerns on behalf of our constituents.

During question period, I asked the government if they will start measuring Canada's success by well-being instead of GDP.

Shortly after, there was a debate on Enbridge’s Line 5 expansion. I asked the government if they agree that we should be doing a better job holding Enbridge to account. In a 15 year period, Enbridge has had more than a thousand spills with 7.4 million gallons of oil spilled into the environment. This company's incompetence is coming at the direct cost of the environment.

I also brought up the destruction that this pipeline brought to the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. 840,000 litres spilled into this river and no action was taken by the Harper Conservative government. I asked the government if we should have stronger regulations to make sure companies don't violate environmental standards.

In the afternoon, I presented a petition before the House of Commons. It called on the government to include long-term care under the Canada Health Act, and develop national standards of care.

The day ended with a debate on Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Canadian election act. I expressed my disinterest in a pandemic election and asserted the need for electoral reform in Canada. I asked the government if they feel first past the post is a fair representation of democracy, and if we should have a fair voting system.

Tuesday, May 11th

My day started with a vote on the first report from the Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the US. I voted against this motion, and it was agreed to.

There was also a vote on Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response) I voted “yea” and it was agreed to. This bill will now be read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

My day ended with the bi-weekly Youth Advisory Council meeting. At a previous meeting the participants chose to look into Bill C-12: the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act - an Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. At this meeting, we continued the discussion about the bill.

Wednesday, May 12th

Elizabeth May and I had a meeting with Her Excellency Hala Abou-Hassira the Palestinian Ambassador to Canada. The ambassador requested the meeting to discuss the violence that had flared up between Israel and the Gaza Strip and to ask for advocacy on Palestinian Human Rights.

The House voted on five items today;

  • Bill C-208, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation) I voted “yea”, and it was agreed to. The bill will now move onto a first reading in the senate.

  • Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave). I voted for this bill and it was agreed to. It will also move onto a first reading in the senate. This enactment would extend bereavement leave by five unpaid days. Employees who are on compassionate care leave, or leave related to critical illness would also be included in this extension of bereavement leave.

  • Bill C-210, An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency Act (organ and tissue donors). This bill would create an opt-in for organ and tissue donation on tax returns to make it easier for people to become organ donors. I voted yea, and it was agreed to. The bill will now move onto a first reading before the Senate.

  • Fifth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The report made a number of recommendations as to how Canada can avoid foreign investment into a variety of our domestic industries. I voted in favor of this motion and it was agreed to.

  • Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (pension plans and group insurance plans). The bill would make it so that when a company goes bankrupt, workers’ pensions must be honored before paying off creditors or dealing with any other financial matter. I voted for this bill and it was agreed to. It will now be referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology.

Later that day, I presented a petition that called on to halt the logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems and fund their long-term protection as a priority for Canada’s climate action plan and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

In the evening, I took part in a community conversation with Julie Chadwick from the Discourse. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the causes of, and solutions to, the housing affordability crisis that is impacting communities on Vancouver Island, and across Canada.

In the afternoon, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. The committee is studying the pathway to permanent residency for essential temporary workers and international students. Experts from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration appeared before the committee. I asked about the process for family reunification in Canada for seasonal foreign workers.

I also asked if the department has considered offering amnesty for undocumented workers already in Canada.

I later brought up concerns I’ve heard from constituents about the slow process of receiving refugee status in Canada. I asked if there is a way to expedite the process for skilled workers seeking refugee status in Canada.

Thursday, May 13th

In the morning, the Bloc Quebecois presented a motion before the House stating that holding an election during a pandemic would be irresponsible and that it is the responsibility of the government to make every effort to ensure that voters are not called to the polls as long as this pandemic continues. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Vaccines are rolling out across the country, but we know that it will still be some time before most Canadians will be fully vaccinated. While COVID-19 persists, calling an election is irresponsible and against the best interest of Canadians.

During debate on the Elections Act, I asked the government if they agree that we should change this act to lower the voting age to 16, and implement proportional representation so that every vote counts.

Friday, May 14th

On Friday morning there was a vote for a time allocation for Bill C-15, UNDRIP. It was moved that there would be just one more day allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. I voted against this time allocation, but it was agreed to. Bill C-15 is an extremely important piece of legislation that needs to have the opportunity for a fulsome debate.

I am a member of a number of Parliamentary Friendship groups including the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, of which I am the vice-chair. We held a meeting today to discuss the escalating violence in Jerusalem, the raid on the Al Aqsa Mosque (Temple Mount), the missiles fired by Hamas towards and into Israel, and the bombing of Gaza by Israel. We heard from the Palestinian Chief Representative to Canada, Ambassador Hala Abou-Hassira, as well as from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, Michael Lynk. They reported on human rights abuses, violations of international law, and escalating violence. We then wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging the government to act in accordance with the values, principles, and obligations that are the cornerstone of our country and the global community. Twenty-four MP’s and two Senators signed the letter.

In the evening, I made a speech on behalf of the Green Party caucus on Bill S-223, An Act Respecting Kindness Week. This bill was inspired by the work of Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who has been a strong advocate since 2007 to designate the third week of February as kindness week. It is important to encourage acts of kindness, volunteerism, and charitable giving to the benefit of all Canadians. We need to encourage a culture of kindness in Canada, and extend this kindness to all people and living things on our planet.

The kindness of discomfort can be one of the most difficult forms of kindness to embody in our lives. Confronting injustice requires difficult conversations about privilege. It requires us to acknowledge how we benefit from systemic oppression. It requires us to examine how we consciously or unconsciously perpetuate it. The kindness of discomfort means not being afraid to take responsibility for our own uncomfortable feelings. It means continuing to show up and do the work of creating a more just society.

This is an especially important idea to talk about right now. Here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, there have been recent high-profile incidents of anti-Indigenous racism toward the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Canada is also experiencing a surge of anti-Asian racism. Racism is part of our history and our present. We do not like to see ourselves this way, but it is essential to take the blinders off and sit in the discomfort of that reality. When it comes to breaking down the structural and systemic barriers of racism, bias, and discrimination, the kindness of discomfort is the greatest form of kindness we can practice on a personal level.

In the evening, I met with Joy Bremner, the president of the Mid Island Metis Nation (MIMN), James Lemmon, the principal of Tsawalk Learning Centre, and Ian Kalina, the interim Executive Director of the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre (NAC). They wanted to update me on the upcoming closure of the two urban Indigenous learning centers in Nanaimo, and their efforts to raise funds for a new independent urban indigenous learning center.

Parliament breaks today after sitting for 5 consecutive weeks. It will resume on May 25th, 2021.

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