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My Week in Parliament: November 23-27

Monday, November 23rd

My week started off with a debate on Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act. This act implements the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94. This recommendation is to amend the Oath of Citizenship with language that acknowledges Indigenous rights and treaties in Canada.

I gave a speech calling for more action to protect Indigenous rights and treaties in Canada. It is important for newcomers to Canada to understand the Indigenous rights that are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. All Canadians should understand the territory or treaty that they live in and the history of the people on that land.

The bill would complete number 94 of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That does not mean that Parliament has finally gotten to the end of the list and implemented the previous 93 calls to actionfar from it. We have a very poor record of implementing these calls to action. Out of the 52 broader reconciliation recommendations, only seven have been completed.

Bill C-8 is an acknowledgment of the responsibilities of all Canadians, including new Canadians. It is an important piece of legislation. However, we have a long way to go toward true reconciliation with Indigenous people in this country.

In the same Bill C-8 debate, I asked several important questions that still need to be answered. I asked when the government was going to move onto the rest of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. I asked when the government was going to deal with the recommendations from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and when they were going to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Finally, I asked when we are going to move Indigenous people out of poverty, implement a guaranteed livable income and a rapid housing initiative, and deal with our child welfare system.

In the afternoon, there was a vote on Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code. This bill would require federally appointed judges to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law. I voted ‘yea’ and the bill passed. It will now be studied in the Senate.

I ended my day in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights during their clause-by-clause study of Bill C-7 on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). Bill C-7 would expand access to MAiD to individuals whose death is not imminent, but who are in an advanced state of decline from an irreversible medical condition and experiencing unbearable suffering. One safeguard written into the bill would be to offer patients consultations with professionals to ensure they are informed of all the means available to relieve their suffering.

At committee, I proposed an amendment that would have actually required those consultations to occur, rather than just offering them. This amendment was adapted from a request made by Inclusion Canada, and supported by the Nanaimo Association for Community Living. I personally believe there are adequate safeguards built into Bill C-7, but this amendment would have increased confidence in the bill and made it clearer.

Tuesday, November 24th

On Tuesday morning, I asked the government if they will learn from past mistakes and prioritize environmental, democratic, and human rights standards in our trade relations. Liberal and Conservative governments have negotiated trade deals that failed to uphold Canadian values. They have also deepened our trade relations with anti-democratic regimes. Canada needs to take a much more principled stance against these practices when it comes to our trade relationships.

Debate on Tuesday focused on Bill C-11, which would overhaul Canada’s federal privacy laws. This bill would modernize Canada’s data protection laws and make important changes to how businesses store and use data they have collected in Canada. There are concepts in this bill that I support, such as the ‘right to erasure’, which would allow Canadian consumers to demand that organizations delete information about them. However, I believe the legislation should be expanded to cover political parties, and I asked the member for Vaughan-Woodbridge whether he agrees.

In the evening, I participated in a panel event called “Zoom to Free Meng Wanzhou”. This event had an unfortunate name that does not reflect the complexity of the situation or my position on it. I did not call for the release of Meng Wanzhou. However, I agreed to participate to speak out about putting an end to hostage diplomacy. My main concern is with the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were arbitrarily detained in China after Canada detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for extradition to the US. For more information about my stance on this issue, you can read the blog post I wrote, My position on Meng Wanzhou.

Wednesday, November 25th

Today was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Raising awareness about gender based violence in our community is always important, but it’s become even more crucial in light of COVID-19. I wore a purple tie today to show solidarity.

On Wednesday, the government began debate on Bill C-12, the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Unfortunately, as it stands, this bill fails on multiple fronts and lacks urgency.

Bill C-12 does not actually set specific interim targets and continues to delay much-needed updates needed to our 2030 targets. It also offers no repercussions if the goals set out are not achieved. This makes Bill C-12 a blueprint for more inaction and shifts responsibility to future governments. Instead of more delay tactics, the government needs to create a plan for a 60% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, with clear enforceable targets and timelines starting in 2025.

Addressing the climate crisis demands that Canada strengthen our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, transition away from fossil fuels, and invest in a green economy that respects our climate obligations and aligns with science. This won’t happen with the current state of Bill C-12.

Thursday, November 26th

Debate on Bill C-12 continued on Thursday. I had the opportunity to pose some of the many questions and concerns I had about the bill.

First, I asked about the government's failure to implement the Copenhagen targets to reduce carbon emissions from 2009. While the majority of Canada hit their targets, two provinces - Alberta and Saskatchewan - actually increased their emissions over this span, wiping out the successes from the rest of the country. The lack of accountability in Bill C-12 for these failures is a pressing issue.

Later, I asked when the government was going to get real with our climate change goals. We know what the solutions are. It’s time for the federal government to step up to the plate and take the actions we need to fight the climate crisis.

I also brought up that the IPCC has specifically found that there is no economic or technological barrier to holding to 1.5 degrees of warming. We have the technology. What we lack is political will.

With Black Friday coming up, I spoke in the House of Commons about the need to support small businesses, especially during the pandemic. Some people call Black Friday “Buy Nothing Day”. I encouraged people to buy nothing from Amazon this holiday season, given the company’s track record. It does not pay fair wages or its fair share of taxes. I encouraged people to focus on Giving Tuesday instead.

In the evening, I had the chance to follow up on my question from last week about Canada’s vaccine rollout and shortages.

Our federal government has spent billions to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines. For 70 years Canada had a government-owned medical laboratory, Connaught Labs, that developed life-saving vaccines and medicines without profit as a motivation. The privatization of Connaught Labs ended up putting us farther behind in our fight against COVID-19. I asked the Innovation Minister if it was time to return to the Connaught Labs model, which placed the health of Canadians, and the world, ahead of corporate profits.

In a follow-up question directly after my speech, I focused on the importance of a universal pharmacare system in Canada. Canada is the only country in the world with universal healthcare that doesn’t have universal pharmacare. A publicly-owned model of medicine, development, and production would make it affordable.

Friday, November 27th

On Friday afternoon, I spoke with Sean McCue from the Nanaimo News Bulletin about Bill C-10 and the importance of Canadian Print Media. We discussed some of the struggles this industry faces in the age of Google and Facebook. These Internet giants suck up local revenues and get to use local media products without contributing, and this needs to change.

I ended my week with a meeting with the Chicken Farmers of Canada. We talked about the impacts of trade agreements on chicken farmers, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the potential Canada-Mercosur trade agreement that is currently being negotiated. I recently wrote a blog post explaining my opposition to the Mercosur agreement. We also discussed the impact of the pandemic on food processing in Canada.

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