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My Week in Parliament: May 25-28

Tuesday, May 25th

After a busy week of constituency work, Parliament resumed today for a stretch of five sitting weeks before breaking for the summer.

My day started off with votes on two items:

  1. An opposition motion on elections during a pandemic. This motion stated that holding an election during a pandemic would be irresponsible and that the government should make every effort to ensure that voters are not called to the polls as long as this pandemic continues. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Parliament is working and we need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Canadians and get to COVID-zero. A pandemic election would go against these goals. I voted “yea” with my caucus colleagues, and the motion was agreed to.

  2. Bill C-15: An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UNDRIP). I voted in favor of this bill at its report stage, and it passed onto the final third reading stage in the House.

That evening, I gave a speech on the need for a well-being economy. How we measure the value of things says a lot about who we are as a people and as a society. Currently, we measure the performance of our economy by gross domestic product. GDP measures the market value of all goods produced and services provided in a given period of time.

When the consumption of goods and services goes up, so does the GDP. This happens regardless of whether the effects on people and society are positive or negative. This has resulted in an endless drive to turn everything into money because unexploited nature has no value on a balance sheet. When one is only measuring using GDP, an old-growth forest ecosystem has no value until it has been clear cut and turned into lumber. It is a flawed measurement of progress.

The crash in biodiversity is the inevitable result of an economy and society that only values economic growth. It fails to capture the impact of climate change, inequality, and digital services on modern societies. It is vital that we start tying GDP into other indicators of well-being, such as the United Nations human development index, or the genuine progress indicator, which incorporates environmental and social factors that are not measured by GDP. It is time to adopt measurements of well-being that support healthy and happy humans, societies, and environments.

Wednesday, May 26th

On Wednesday morning, my caucus colleagues and I had a meeting with MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq to discuss the Baffinland Iron Mines and the Nuluujaat Land Guardians who have been opposing the mine.

The House then voted on three items;

  • C-265: An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act on illness, injury, or quarantine. This bill pushed for the extension of special employment insurance sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50 weeks. I voted in favor of this bill, and it passed second reading and will now be studied at committee.

  • M-61: Support of oil and gas sector. This Conservative motion called on the government to remove taxes and regulations on Canada’s oil and gas industry. We are in the midst of a climate crisis. We can’t reach our climate targets by expanding the same sectors that heavily contributed to this crisis in the first place. I voted against this motion, and it did not pass.

  • M-38: Amendments to the Standing Orders. This motion urges the House to affirm its commitment to science, research, and evidence-informed decision-making. I voted “yea” and it passed unanimously.

In the afternoon, I presented a petition that called on the government to work with the province of British Columbia and First Nations to immediately halt the logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems. These forests are home to endangered Western Screech-owls. Petitioners called on the government to ban the export of raw logs and the use of whole trees for wood pellet biofuel production to ensure the long-term protection of these forests.

Later that day, I gave a speech on Bill C-30: An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget. My caucus colleagues and I applaud the creation of a national child care system. For decades this is something that the Green Party has been calling for. We also welcome the investment in Canada’s Nature Legacy, especially the funding directed to Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). Bill C-30 takes some positive steps towards addressing the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada, but it is unfortunately not enough to make up for decades of neglect by the federal government.

While there are a number of things that are positive in this budget, it falls short of dealing with the challenges of our time. Canada needs universal pharmacare, dental care, and mental health services. Canada also needs better support for our seniors, small businesses, and students, a guaranteed livable income, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. These could have all been key measures to transform Canada into a more just and resilient society, yet they were not adequately included in the budget. We are in a climate emergency and we have growing inequality. Canada can and must do better for people and the planet

Thursday, May 27th

My day started off with the presentation of another petition that called for the protection of old-growth forests on Vancouver Island. As of today, 128 people have gotten arrested protecting these forests in Fairy Creek, Caycause, upper Walbran, and Edinburgh Mountain.

Later in the day, there was a vote on Bill C-30, the budget implementation act. I voted in favor of this bill, and it passed. It has now been referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for further study.

I had a meeting with Domenico Iannidinardo and Karen Brandt from Mosaic Forest Management. We talked about the price of lumber vs. raw logs for both domestic mills and exports. We discussed carbon offsets, Canada’s Nature Legacy, Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, and the lack of protected and conserved areas in the Nanaimo watershed compared to other areas like the Cowichan River. People are concerned about losing access to some areas along the Nanaimo River. Finally, we talked about the use of glyphosate in managed forests on Vancouver Island.

In the evening, I had an interview with the National Observer about the Western Screech-owls that live in the proposed logging areas in Fairy Creek. We spoke about the work I have been doing in the House of Commons to pressure the federal government to step in and stop the logging. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change should enact his authority under the Species at Risk Act to suspend logging activities.

Friday, May 28th

On Friday morning, I presented another petition urging the government to protect old-growth forests. By now, there had been over 130 arrests of land defenders on Southern Vancouver Island, including Pacheedaht First Nation youth, whose territory these forests lie within. This petition alone received over 15,000 signatures.

In the afternoon, the House sat to discuss Bill C-5: An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act, and the Canada Labour Code. This bill calls for the creation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and recognition of the devastating impacts residential schools had and still are having on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Dedicating one day of the year to these tragedies will never be enough, but I do welcome this as a step in the right direction towards reconciliation. With this being said, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means nothing without meaningful action on the calls for justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report, and a fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

Parliament breaks today and will resume on Monday, May 31st.

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