My Week in the Riding

Dear Constituents,

It’s been a very busy time in the constituency this past week as I enjoyed a break from the Ottawa bubble and reconnected with constituents. This was especially true after the events of the previous week in Parliament.

Among the many face-to-face meetings I had with constituents, I also met with representatives of Steelhead LNG, who wanted to provide me with an in-depth presentation of the LNG facility they would like to construct on Malahat First Nation territory at Bamberton in the Saanich Inlet. I appreciate the dedication of the company to this project and to the economic benefits they want to deliver to our community, but I have serious reservations about the placement of the facility in this area. Not only are the economics weighted against it (stubbornly low prices, intense competition, and decreasing demand in Asia), but it is hard to see how Canada will meet its climate change goals if we continue to invest heavily in fossil fuel extraction infrastructure instead of renewables. Yes, LNG is a cleaner alternative to the coal-fired plants it is seeking to replace, but we should keep in mind that there is now more worldwide investment in renewable energy than in fossil fuels – Canada needs to establish a strong presence in this trend if we are to be successful in the economy of the future.

On Thursday I gave a presentation on the subject of climate change and the economy at the monthly luncheon speaker series that is hosted by the Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce. I really appreciated this opportunity to address the business community in the Cowichan Valley and provide a federal perspective on jurisdictional issues related to action on climate change as well as local challenges and opportunities that exist. That evening I met with over 40 members of the St. Edward’s parish to discuss Bill C-14, the medical assistance in dying legislation that is still before the House of Commons. This is a difficult subject to talk about, but I was very impressed with not only the respectful tone of the conversation but also the quality of the comments and questions from the audience.

On Friday I was happy to officially open my Langford community office with special guests John Horgan, the MLA for the area and BCNDP leader, and Randall Garrison, who represented Langford federally before the 2015 election. Finally, on Saturday I attended the sold-out "Culinary War on the Lakeshore" at Shawnigan Lake school, which was to raise funds for the Shawnigan Residents Association’s legal fund in the fight against the contaminated soil dump on Stebbings Road.

Looking to the week ahead, the House of Commons will resume its work on C-14. The bill is at Report Stage, and there are a number of proposed amendments that MPs will have to vote on before we move to Third Reading and the final vote to send it to the Senate. I supported this legislation at Second Reading on the condition that there would be substantive amendments to the bill; unfortunately the bill in its present form does not, in my honest and considered opinion, meet the requirements of the Supreme Court’s Carter decision. Because the Liberal government has insisted on keeping language in the bill that would limit medical assistance in dying only in cases when natural death is "reasonably foreseeable," I also feel that the legislation will be the subject of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge. The onus is on Parliament to pass a bill that respects both Carter and the Charter – we owe it to Canadians who are suffering with grievous and irremediable medical conditions to pass a good bill. At the same time, there must be strong support for quality hospice and palliative care across Canada.

I am also looking forward to the introduction of my second Private Member’s bill this next week, the subject of which will be on democratic reform. Current law under the Canada Elections Act only specifies that the minimum length of an election campaign must be 36 days; there is no maximum. This is why the previous Conservative government was able to call a 78-day election, which increased the cost to tax payers by $150 million and allowed election spending limits to almost double, giving rise to endless advertising. My bill will seek to limit elections to a minimum of 36 days and a maximum of 46 days, which is a reasonable length of time and gives flexibility to accommodate holidays and special occasions.

Parliamentarians are in the home stretch of House of Commons business now before we rise for the summer and return to our ridings to spend quality time with our constituents. Let’s hope the decorum and respect is maintained until the end.