Blog Post for November 27, 2017

Dear Constituents,

I wanted to start by thanking you for the incredible and uplifting messages of support many of you sent during the difficult family ordeal we went through in September and October.  I missed the first five sitting weeks of Parliament, but on October 16th my wife and I welcomed our third child, our baby girl Isla, into this world, and she has been doing fantastic ever since.  On October 30th, I made the return to my Parliamentary duties in Ottawa, and it has been great to be back and representing your interests in the House of Commons.

As some of you may have heard, the Finance Minister has been embroiled in questions surrounding his conduct of late.  The biggest issue for me and my colleagues in the NDP was the fact that he owned shares in his previous company Morneau-Shepell when he introduced Bill C-27, a piece of government legislation that will allow federally-regulated sectors to transition their pensions from defined benefit plans to targeted benefit plans.  The conflict of interest arose when it became known that his Morneau-Shepell shares were not placed in a blind trust, but rather a numbered corporation, and that the government bill he introduced could provide a significant benefit to that company, which specializes in pension services.  This is a very worrying precedent, and it shows that we need some serious and sustained efforts to improve the Conflict of Interest Act.

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is expected to pass the House of Commons this week and be sent to the Senate for its consideration.  This will be a revolutionary change to Canada’s drug laws, but there are still some major flaws with the legislation.  The bill still relies heavily on punishments and prohibition to enforce a very strict allowance on who can consume cannabis, how much they can possess, and how they can go about obtaining it.  I am still not entirely convinced that this bill will meet its objectives of reducing the burden on our criminal justice system and eliminating the illicit market.  However, I still feel that overall the bill is a step in the right direction of reducing the criminalization of cannabis.  I will continue to voice your concerns on how the taxation structure is to be implemented and make sure that the revenue generated by taxation is fed back into health and public safety programs.

Last week the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights began its study on mental health supports for jurors.  We began last Wednesday with sobering testimony from former jurors who had each participated in gruesome trials that had involved disturbing evidence.  They were shocked when it became apparent that mental health supports were non-existent for jurors, so our committee is delving into the issue so that we may come up with some strong recommendations for the Minister of Justice.  I strongly support a federal role in this initiative; despite the provincial jurisdiction over the administration of justice, I feel it is important to have some sort of a national standard to ensure that these critical members of our criminal justice system have the supports they need after the service that is demanded of them.

As always, I am thankful for your continued engagement in federal issues and concerns.

Sincerely,

Alistair MacGregor