Double The Green Caucus for 2014

As 2013 winds to a close, I have good news to share of a doubled caucus!  Independent MP Bruce Hyer (MP for Thunder Bay-Superior north) has taken out a membership in the Green Party of Canada and will now sit with me in Parliament as the second Green MP.

I am so very honoured that Bruce chose to join the Greens. He is a dedicated conservationist, a small business man with a clear understanding of the difference between rapacious globalization and healthy job-creation through sensible and sustainable economic success.  We both hope for the Green Party to be increasingly recognized as the party for small business.

Many of you will remember him as the sponsor of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act.  Bruce managed to get in passed in the minority parliament of Stephen Harper, when the majority of votes were NDP and Liberal.  It was a hard struggle and Salt Spring Island residents Michelle Mech, Dorothy Cutting and Jan Slakov worked particularly hard to bring it to a successful vote. Then the unelected, Conservative majority in the Senate committed an offence to democracy of unprecedented proportions in killing the bill in the Senate – without even referring it to study in a committee.

Bruce is also well-known to another Salt Spring resident, Robert Bateman as Bruce engaged him in the conservation battle to set aside a huge chunk of boreal wilderness at Wabakimi National Park.  Valdy and Arthur Black are also old friends, so when Bruce visits Saanich-Gulf Islands he feels right at home.  But I also feel at home in his riding after many fascinating experiences in conferences at Lakehead University.  In fact, Bruce and I first worked together in the 1980s against the use of toxic chemicals in Ontario’s forests.

Another update relates my failed attempts, along with the other Opposition Parties in trying to remove the anti-labour provisions of the latest omnibus budget bill, C-4, efforts to remove measures so offensive to First Nations that I believe them to be unconstitutional in Bill  C-9 (the First Nations Elections Act), to amend the new copyright act to make it harder to get wiretaps on people who may have illegally photocopied material (which can easily happen by mistake), and so on. The one bill where we actually achieved a minor improvement was in Bill C-6 to implement the Cluster Munitions Convention.  It was riddled with loopholes to allow Canadian forces to participate with the US in military operations. The US is not a party to the convention, so the bill would have allowed Canadian soldiers to violate the convention and actually use cluster munitions in joint operations with the US. We (NDP, Liberal and Green amendments at committee) were able to get the word ‘using’ removed from the act, although being part of operations where the US uses the weapons remains within the act. Thanks particularly to NDP MP Paul Dewar who worked tirelessly on the issue.

I look forward to seeing as many constituents as possible over the January break at the Town Hall meetings.  Watch for the details in the next Island Tides, as well as on flyers reaching you through the mail.  (And I will be fighting for better solutions to generate revenue within Canada Post in order to have an affordable postal service!)