My blog for September 22, 2016
September 23rd, 2016 - 1:43pm
After a busy and productive summer back in the riding, I have returned to Ottawa for the resumption of Parliament. The House of Commons, having been adjourned for the summer recess since June 17th, resumed on September 19th, and I am happily beginning my blog posts again to bring you my perspectives on the issues being debated in Ottawa.
The summer months can be a tough time for the Opposition; without having to face the daily questioning and debate from MPs, the government usually has free reign to make the news and set the agenda. The government is now nearly one year into its first term in office, and there are some major policy decisions that are going to have to be made in the next few months. In terms of new legislation, the Liberal government has had one of the least productive opening sessions in the last several decades, which is odd considering the mandate for change they were given on October 19th last year. When the Liberals were in Opposition, there was no end to the concern and dismay they had in response to the legislative agenda of the Harper Conservative government; it would have been nice to see more government bills introduced to reflect the change Canadians voted for.
Coupled with the lack of productivity on the legislative front were a couple of troubling decisions the government made before the House of Commons resumed this week. The first was the decision made last month to grant federal permits to allow the construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River to proceed. The dam will flood over 5,000 hectares of the Peace River valley, destroying some of the best agricultural land in BC as well as the traditional territories of local First Nations. The granting of these permits is in direct contravention of the new nation-to-nation relationship that was promised in the election. The second troubling decision was the announcement that the Liberal government was going to keep the same emission targets that were set by the previous Harper government. The Harper government had an appalling record when it came to combatting climate change, and keeping the same targets it set is in contravention to the change Canadians voted for.
It’s good to be back in the House where my colleagues and I can hold the government to account. This week the government’s Bill C-2, which lowers the middle tax bracket and gives the maximum benefit to those earning between $100,000 and $200,000, was passed at Third Reading. When the median income in Canada is only $31,000, the Liberal claims that this is a “tax break for the middle class” are clearly misleading. It was also revealed this week that the top two advisors for the prime minister were authorized over $200,000 for expenses to cover their move from Toronto to Ottawa. Yes, some of the money has been repaid, but the fact that this was authorized in the first place points to a major disconnect with how the majority of Canadians live.
In the months ahead, I’ll be paying attention to how the government moves with respect to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, amendments to the Conservative Bill C-51, electoral reform, and a plan for addressing climate change. It is now time for the government to stop basking in the glow of an extended honeymoon and bring forward progressive change that Canadians voted for.