Monday, November 30th
In the morning, I presented e-petition 2837. This petition is about the use of the waters surrounding the Southern Gulf Islands as a free parking lot for freighters. As outlined in the petition, these freighters cause many problems for local communities and the environment. The petitioners are calling on the government to eliminate the 33 commercial anchorages in these waters, and implement better shipping efficiency such as ‘just in time' shipping.
On Monday, the government gave its 2020 Fall Economic Statement. During debate on this economic statement, I questioned the leader of the opposition on his plans to combat climate change in this country. I asked him if he supports the proposal the Liberals have, straight out of Green Party policy, to create a national energy grid that would tie the provinces together.
I also asked the NDP member for New Westminster-Burnaby a question about government subsidies for resource extraction projects across Canada. My question to him was about funding from the federal and BC NDP governments towards the Coastal GasLink LNG project. I asked if he agrees with me that we need to ban fracking and put an end to this climate-destroying process of energy extraction.
I had an interview with Ian Young for an article in the South China Morning Post about how the new Biden administration in the US could affect Canada-China relations and the Meng Wanzhou case. I told him that Canada has been placed in the middle of Trump and China’s tit-for-tat and that the main priority of Canadians is to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Last week I wrote a blog post about my position on Meng Wanzhou.
Afterward, I met with Jesse Woodward, the Executive Director of CHLY FM. We discussed the Local Journalism Initiative. The Local Journalism Initiative is a federal program that supports the creation of original civic journalism in underserved communities. We discussed the benefits of this program for improving news coverage of stories that otherwise wouldn’t be covered in our community. I committed to raising the importance of this program in our community with the Minister of Canadian Heritage later this week.
Tuesday, December 1st
In honour of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, I asked the government if they will develop a national disability strategy so people with disabilities can live in dignity.
On Tuesday the House debated a Bloc Quebecois opposition motion regarding health transfers. This motion calls on the House to acknowledge the courage and sacrifices required of healthcare workers throughout the pandemic. It also calls on the government to significantly increase Canada’s health transfers to support the efforts of governments, healthcare workers, and the general public.
Healthcare workers have been doing extraordinary work under the circumstances of the pandemic and it is about time the government got back to providing proper transfers for healthcare. Something that was missing from this motion, however, was infrastructure. We have many old healthcare buildings that no longer meet modern requirements. I asked the government if they agree that they should put money back into infrastructure for our healthcare system and hospitals.
Wednesday, December 2nd
On Wednesday afternoon, there was a vote on yesterday’s Bloc Quebecois opposition motion. I voted for this motion and it was agreed to.
In the evening I had a “late show” to follow up on a question I asked earlier this year about international trade. I brought up Canada’s trade relationships with democratic countries that have standards and regulations that exceed our own. Yet we also have trade relationships with undemocratic countries that have terrible track records on human rights, labour standards, and environmental protections. For example, Canada is currently negotiating the Mercosur trade agreement with Brazil, a country with an administration that continues to destroy the Amazon rainforest and infringe on Indigenous rights and sovereignty. I recently wrote a blog post explaining my opposition to the Mercosur agreement.
Canadian corporations, mostly mining and fossil-fuel companies, are currently challenging laws and policies in other countries, such as Romania, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Kazakhstan. These corporations currently have over $10 billion in investor-state dispute settlement cases against low-income countries. We also sell weapons to a long list of countries, including Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, India, and Israel, which are involved in regional conflicts in some capacity.
We have a mythology about ourselves as Canadians, and I wish it were actually true. We need to take a clear-eyed look in the mirror and examine our historical and current trade practices. We must take a firm stance in support of international human rights and hold ourselves accountable to a much higher standard.
Later that evening, there was debate on Bill C-7, on medical assistance in dying (MAiD). I spoke about an amendment I put forward on this bill in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. This amendment would help ensure that people are not in a state of decline due to deprivation, social disadvantage, lack of support, or discrimination. It is vital to give people the support they need while they are still alive, to not make them feel as though MAiD is their only option. Providing these supports is something that the Conservatives have voted against time and time again. I asked the Conservatives why they do not support life-saving policies such as a guaranteed livable income, or universal pharmacare, so we can take care of people while they are living.
I spoke about some of the experiences I have had working with the diverse ability community here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. What I have heard far too often from members of this community is that they live with a form of legislated poverty. I asked the Conservatives if they would stand with me and ask that we tax the billionaires to spread out their wealth so that people can live with dignity in this country.
I also brought up the fact that we are the only country in the world with universal healthcare that does not have universal pharmacare. Accessing life-saving medications should not be something that is out of reach for Canadians.
In my final intervention in the C-7 debate for the day, I quoted an important saying from the diverse ability community: “Nothing about us without us.” It is crucial that we listen to the lived experiences of people with disabilities when deciding upon this extremely important piece of legislation. I had some of my own meetings with disability organizations in my riding. What they told me was that poverty is a social determinant of health, and there are far too many people in the diverse ability community living in legislated poverty. I have been championing a guaranteed livable income in parliament since I was elected in 2019. This would solve a number of the financial issues that people with disabilities face in this country. I asked Conservatives what kind of programs they would put forward to eliminate poverty in Canada.
Thursday, December 3th
I met with Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to share with him several proposed amendments to improve Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act. These amendments were brought forward by the cultural sector. I also asked the Minister to tax corporate web giants to level the playing field for local news media, to improve local CBC radio coverage in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and to provide more funding to the Local Journalism Initiative.
That afternoon there were two votes on Bill C-7 regarding MAiD. Bill C-7 removes a 10-day reflection period that used to be required between when a person made an agreement to receive MAiD and when MAiD could actually be provided. Removing this requirement would avoid an extra 10 days of pain and suffering for patients. The bill replaces it with a new safeguard to make sure patients can understand and communicate their decision reliably. The first vote was on a Conservative amendment that would have reinstated the 10-day wait period and removed the safeguard for reliable communication. I voted “nay”, and the amendment was not agreed to. The second vote was to agree with the bill at its report stage. I voted “yea” and it was agreed to.
Later that day, there was a debate on a Conservative motion on vaccine distribution. I spoke about how Canada was a world leader in vaccine production for 70 years with Connaught Labs. Connaught Labs was a publicly funded centre that developed and produced vaccines in Canada, but it was privatized in the ’80s. I asked the government about returning to this public ownership model to take vaccine production out of the hands of big pharmaceutical companies.
Friday, December 4th
On Friday morning, the House sat to debate Bill C-7 again. During Private Members’ Hour we also debated Bill C-232, An Act respecting a Climate Emergency Action Framework. This bill recognizes the right of all Canadians to a safe, clean and healthy environment. It calls for the government to take all measures necessary to ensure that we respect our Paris commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in full compliance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In parliament, climate denialism and talk about purchasing pipelines are far too common. The introduction of this bill was a breath of fresh air. This is a bill that has my full support.
My colleague Elizabeth May and I had a meeting with Environmental Defence, NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council), and Nature Canada to discuss forestry and carbon. We spoke about greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry industry, Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, and Bill C-12.