Tuesday, February 16th
Monday was the Family Day holiday, so my Parliamentary duties for this week resumed on Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, the House of Commons debated a report by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women about human trafficking. The report recommends that the House recognize February 22nd as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and encourage Canadians to raise awareness about modern day slavery. The House unanimously voted to agree with this report.
During Question Period, I called on the government to work with the provinces and territories to create an intergovernmental COVID-19 task force. We need to coordinate a national pandemic response because we have seen that uncoordinated provincial and territorial responses have failed to stop the spread of the virus.
Later in the day, the Green caucus voted against last week’s Conservative motion calling for the creation of a special committee to study Canada’s economic relationship with the United States. Greens were the only MPs to vote against this motion. Why was there no call for this type of special committee when Trump was president? Creating this committee now sends the wrong signal to the Biden administration. Our caucus is concerned that this committee will focus on the interests of the oil and gas sectors in both countries. We already have a Foreign Affairs Committee and an International Trade committee that deal with Canada-U.S. relations, which is why we voted against the creation of this committee.
The final vote tally on the motion to create this new committee was 3 nay and 326 yea.
Wednesday, February 17th
In the morning, I took part in a media event with Green Party leader Annamie Paul and harm reduction and recovery advocate Guy Felicella about the importance of drug decriminalization and safe supply. As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, another epidemic continues to devastate our country - the opioid crisis.
2020 was a record-breaking year of 1700 opioid deaths in Canada and we are already seeing similar record-breaking numbers in 2021. These deaths are real people, not just numbers. They were someone’s family members and friends. This is a health crisis, not a criminal crisis. These deaths are preventable, we must act now to save lives.
The House voted on three private Members’ bills on Wednesday:
C-220: An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, to extend compassionate care leave. I was happy to see that this bill passed unanimously. During a pandemic, compassionate care leave is crucial.
C-218: An Act to amend the Criminal Code, to allow safe and regulated single-event sports betting. I voted yes and the bill passed.
C-222: An Act to amend the Expropriation Act, which would waive certain public hearing requirements in private property expropriation cases. I voted against this bill, and the bill did not pass.
After the votes, I requested an emergency debate on the growing housing affordability crisis across Canada. An estimated 2.4 million Canadian households experienced core housing need in 2020. Hundreds of thousands are on the verge of becoming homeless and risk joining the hundreds of thousands who are already experiencing homelessness.
Holding an emergency debate would allow MPs to discuss the ongoing crisis in their respective communities and assist in identifying options for lasting solutions. The housing policy of the Government of Canada recognizes that housing is a fundamental human right, but this Parliament needs to be doing more to protect these rights. I was disappointed to see my request be denied and I will continue to advocate for urgent measures to address the housing and homelessness crises.
After, I tabled a petition initiated and signed by constituents in Nanaimo-Ladysmith regarding holistic health. Natural time-tested immune system essentials and holistic health practices do not receive enough attention for their role in preventative health care. The petition calls on the Government to cover practices for health sustainability and wellness care under the Canada Health Act.
Thursday, February 18th
The House sat to debate a Conservative motion to declare China’s human rights abuses against Uighur and other Turkic Muslim minorities a genocide. I support this motion because China needs to be held accountable for its actions. Under international law, if a state is aware of a serious risk that a genocide is occurring or might occur, it must do everything within its power to prevent the genocide from taking place. Canada has a legal and moral responsibility to act against this genocide.
I also brought up concerns about Canada-China trade integration and asked the government how we are going to deal with China in terms of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), the integration of our supply chain, as well as our overall dependence on China.
I took part in an online press conference on the housing affordability crisis in Canada with Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson, and Green MP for Frediriction Jenica Atwin. We spoke about the similarities between the homelessness and housing crises in our communities. We also discussed the intersections between the housing and homelessness crisis and the ways in which they often impact Indigenous people disproportionately.
Across Canada, we are seeing predatory foreign investment, renovictions, and a drastic increase in rental prices that are leaving the housing and rental markets inaccessible to more people than ever before. I spoke about the need to remove the tax exemptions for real estate investment trusts (REITs), create national standards for rent and vacancy controls, and implement empty-home taxes on buildings and units left vacant by foreign and corporate residential property owners. We must protect existing affordable renting stock and invest in both non-profit and co-op housing to begin working towards solutions. This is why I tabled Motion 66 earlier this month, calling on the government to act on this crisis.
Friday, February 19th
On Friday, the House resumed debate on Bill C-14 to implement parts of the government's Fall Economic Statement.
We also debated and voted on a Conservative motion to formally agree with the Ethics Commissioner's Maloney report. Last fall, the Ethics Commissioner found that MP James Maloney did not file a disclosure statement within a reasonable timeline and recommended that Mr. Maloney apologize.
The Conservatives already made a big deal about this report in the House of Commons back in December. Mr. Maloney apologized and explained that he did not try to hide information or deceive the Ethics Commissioner; it was a deadline issue. I watched this exchange in the House. The Conservatives were attacking Mr. Maloney’s personal character for political points.
I do not support any attacks on personal character. More than two months after Mr. Maloney already apologized, a vote to agree with this report now would be a moot point. I voted against the motion along with the majority of the House.