Nearly four years ago, I had the honour of being elected as the Member of Parliament to represent our beautiful riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the things we’ve accomplished together.
In May of 2016, I introduced Bill C-279 to amend the Canada Elections Act, which would have imposed a limit on the length of federal election campaigns, such as the 78-day marathon in 2015. Longer campaign periods allow for money to have a greater influence on elections. I was pleased to see the Liberal government embrace my bill’s idea when they decided to limit the length of writ periods to 50 days, through the passage of their Bill C-76.
While serving as the NDP’s Justice Critic in 2017, and as Vice-Chair of the committee, I proposed a study to review the impact of especially heinous trials on the mental health and well being of ordinary Canadians called to serve as jurors. I was proud to support Bill C-417, introduced following recommendations resulting from my study, which would have allowed jurors to discuss aspects of trials with a licensed mental health professional. Although the bill was passed unanimously by the House of Commons, it shamefully died in the Senate.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to introduce Bill C-431 to amend the way our Canada Pension Plan funds are invested. Our CPP currently has billions of dollars invested in corporations that are some of the biggest polluters on the planet. We need to make sure we aren’t using our public pension funds to promote or support unethical corporate behavior that is causing human misery around the world by infringing on human, labour, or environmental rights.
Since the beginning of my mandate, I’ve been pushing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to see the urgency in the need for designing and building a new weir at Lake Cowichan to ensure adequate environmental flows in the years ahead, especially in the context of what climate change will bring to our region. After years of waiting, we finally had the announcement in early July about funding through the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, which will ultimately lead us to the rebuilding of the weir. I look forward to continuing in my federal role to see this important project through to completion to protect our Cowichan River watershed.
Residents in coastal communities will be all too familiar with our nearby anchorages, whereby the Salish Sea has been used as an overflow parking lot for freighters – something I have been pursuing for several years with the federal Minister of Transport. My fellow NDP colleagues from Vancouver Island and I forced the federal government to respond. In February 2018, the Interim Anchorages Protocol was launched to reduce the impacts of large vessels at anchor outside port authorities in southern British Columbia. Unfortunately, the extension of the interim protocol for southern B.C. anchorages has been an abject failure, and we will continue to press forward for a solution that involves far more efficient use of our port facilities and respects our coastal environment.
I look forward to continuing this fight and many others in the next Parliament, with the same resolve that Vancouver Island’s coastal communities have demonstrated throughout my first term.