On Tuesday, December 10th, the Parliament voted on Bill C-2, a supplementary funding bill designed to make sure the government has the funds it needs to keep things going until it brings forward a budget in March.
Funding bills are confidence bills and I voted “no” on this bill.
I voted no-confidence knowing that there was no chance that the government would lose that vote. In the House of Commons votes are declared and counted by order of the parties, from the largest to the smallest. First the Liberal votes are counted, followed by the Conservatives, the Bloc, the NDP, the Green Party, and independent MP Jody Wilson Raybould votes last. By the time I rose to vote “no”, all the Liberal, Bloc and NDP MPs had voted “yes”, and there was absolutely no danger that my vote would bring down the government.
So why did I vote “no”? I voted “no” on principle.
During the election I told voters that I would fight for real action on climate change, and that I would not support the use of tax dollars to fund the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. To put it more succinctly, I will not vote for business as usual.
I have yet to see the government signaling that it is committed to real climate action. I have heard some nice words, but very little in the way of substance. That may sound contrary given that the government pledged net zero GHG emissions by 2050 in the Speech from the Throne. The reality is that until the government turns that promise into legislation with hard targets and timelines attached to it, we’re in a business as usual situation, because our current legislated targets were set by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
There’s another reason I’m very concerned about commitments to GHG emissions targets. Our government is about to make a decision on whether or not to approve one of the largest open pit oil sands mega-mines in Canada, the Teck Frontier mine.
This proposed mine, only 25km south of Wood Buffalo National Park, will destroy nearly 3,000 hectares of old growth forests, and 14,000 hectares of wetlands. It will further threaten the endangered Woodland Caribou, and would destroy a large portion of the range of the Ronald Lake Bison herd. A joint provincial-federal review panel looking at the impacts of this proposed mine found that it would have irreversible negative impacts on the environment and significant adverse effects on First Nations, but recommended to approve it anyway because of its economic benefits. This mine would have a 40 year lifespan, and the dilbit (diluted bitumen) output would take up 50% of the increased capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Approval of such a project would be completely unacceptable. We need to begin the inevitable process of ramping down oil sands production, while transitioning the workers to renewable energy projects and to the green economy. Approving and investing in new mega fossil fuel projects and infrastructure is business as usual, and we are out of time for that.
I pledged to work across party lines to get things done for our riding, and I am fully committed to working with the government on the urgent issues impacting our communities: the housing crisis, the crisis in mental health care and opioid overdoses, our need for a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo to serve our rapidly growing population and attract more doctors to our area, the implementation of UNDRIP at the federal level, and developing our green tech sector to create career opportunities in our riding. I also promised to do everything I can to push the government for stronger climate action.
When I voted no confidence in the government on Tuesday, I was not voting “with” the Conservatives. I was voting against business as usual, and for a secure, livable future for our children and grandchildren.