Good Sunday Morning!
I am very happy to report that I was able to fly to Ottawa and back home this week in time for yesterday’s moving Ceremony of Remembrance at the Sidney Town Hall cenotaph. The prayers offered by the chaplain allowed us to embrace the hope for peace right now – in Ukraine and in the Middles East. The death toll of innocent civilians in Gaza should shock the conscience of all humanity. I do sense an increased international call for a cease fire, but still our government is wedded to language of “humanitarian pause.”
Sharing some nice news this morning. The annual survey of people who work in and around Parliament Hill, The Hill Times’ 28th annual Politically Savvy Survey 2023 announced, “This year, the hardest-working MP was voted to be Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, B.C.) followed by a three-way tie for second place between Poilievre, Fraser, and Conservative MP Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.).”
This is not the first time I have received the “hardest working MP” award, it but it is always nice to be appreciated by peers. This survey includes MPs, their staff, and media. I won in 2013 and 2014 and now 2023. (The Macleans magazine awards are called “Parliamentarian of the Year” and only MPs get to vote on that one.)
Even nicer was the warm welcome I received on the floor of the House. When I rose to ask my question in Question Period on Thursday, Speaker Greg Fergus acknowledged me and offered kind words that it was so good to see me back in the Chamber in person, to which, very surprisingly, there was a round of applause from all parties that turned into a standing ovation.
Earlier that day, I had attended the testimony of Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development Jerry deMarco on his office’s most recent audits focusing on the 2030 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions plan to meet the Trudeau Liberals’ target to reduce emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. I framed my question around his clear conclusion that the current plan is insufficient to meet the target. Almost none of the information was new to me. In fact, I have said many of the same things repeatedly in debate in the House. One thing that was news to me was that the Commissioner’s office had been denied access to the background papers and modeling for the allocation in the plan for a 31% decrease in GHG from oil and gas by 2030, for which Environment Canada officials, also at committee, claimed cabinet confidentiality applied. The report confirmed that the “plan” was a list of 115 announced measures. Most of them not implemented but almost none of them presented as one would in a plan, e.g. measure X will cut GHG by X megatons by 2030. I described them in a press release as like throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks. Some parts of the plan are costly and will not reduce emissions at all – like subsidies to the industry for Carbon Capture and Storage. DeMarco confirmed that Canada has the worst record in the G7 and in the G7 we are the only country to have failed to reduce emissions below 1990 levels.
In response to questions, he confirmed that the oil and gas sector is responsible for most of this failure with an 88% increase in emissions since 1990, contrasted with the electricity sector with a 45% decrease since 1990, mostly thanks to Ontario shutting down coal plants under Kathleen Wynne. But any reductions in one sector are overwhelmed with increases in fossil fuel production and use elsewhere. Another sector that has increased pollution is transportation with pollution continuing to grow from light duty vehicles and SUVs. BC and Quebec lead the country in EV ownership but even the federal government procurement pledge to move to EVs is failing with only one percent of federal government vehicles being zero-emission.
On Monday we voted on the Conservative motion to further carve out all home heating from the carbon tax. Fortunately, despite the NDP voting with the Conservatives, the opposition to Poilievre’s motion – Liberals, plus Greens plus Bloc Quebecois defeated it. The NDP tried to patch this stain on their record with a motion the next day to take GST off home heating and then used the language from Mike Morrice’s motion 92 to apply an excess profits tax on the oil and gas industry. I am not a fan of the GST approach, but since the NDP motion included the excess profits tax, Mike and I supported it. No one else did so it was roundly defeated.
Other issues I tackled this week include a new one – my petition on the threat to human health of asbestos fibres in our drinking water. Incredibly millions of Canadians receive their drinking water through old cement pipes, contaminated with asbestos. This received some media notice.
And lastly, on issues I had a debate at adjournment (known as “late show”) with the government’s designated parliamentary secretary on our lack of preparedness in the climate emergency: Debate on emergency preparedness in a climate crisis.
Capping off my first week back in person, I welcomed the Claremont high schools annual “Rails to Relevance” trip to Parliament. The Institute for Global Solutions within Claremont is fantastic, largely thanks to Global Studies teacher Mark Neufeld. A group of roughly forty grade 11 students have been making the cross-country trip, mostly by rail, since 2013. I had suggested it while speaking to the Claremont students back in 2012. “Why not take the train across Canada and then I will give you a tour of Parliament Hill!” The school district supported the idea, and Mark Neufeld made it happen. So, on Friday, with the House closed for the beginning of Remembrance Week, local students sat in the chairs of the MPs and had a presentation and Q and A from Speaker Greg Fergus and then from me.
I always find it inspiring to meet with such bright and intellectually curious young people. I headed straight from Parliament Friday afternoon and back to the airport to get home leaving the Claremont group to experience Remembrance Day at the War Monument in Ottawa. I am already sick of flying after being grounded for the last five months!
This week I get to stay home and will be doing quite a few Green events starting Monday night for Ned Taylor’s campaign launch.
The night of the 14th I will be at UVic with Young Greens there, and then November 15, a meet-and-greet in Nanaimo with Paul Manly.
Finally, on November 17, I will be flying to Ontario to campaign in Kitchener Centre to elect GPO candidate Aislinn Clancy as the party’s second MPP in Queens Park. Her provincial boundaries overlap with the federal district represented by Mike Morrice, and the enthusiasm for her campaign is mounting. They have 1900 lawn signs proudly displayed on local lawns with E-Day November 30!
Last but not least, I wanted to share this powerful interview published in the Toronto Star with Jonathan Pedneault.
Thanks to all for kind wishes and prayers. Please keep up the political pressure for climate action and an end to bombing – for peace and sanity.