Good Sunday Morning!
So much has happened in the last seven days, I do not know where to start.
Let me start at the end. Tune in to CBC Radio Victoria on Tuesday morning at 6 am (BC time – live) to hear Gregor Craigie interview me about the election of the next Speaker. And then shift over to either CPAC or the website “parlvu” to stay tuned for the 7 am Pacific start of the election of the next Speaker. I will be standing as a candidate. Spoiler Alert – no, I do not want to win.
So why would I run if I do not want to win? And why do I not want to win?
As many of you may know, I love the idea of being Speaker of the House. I think I could make a real difference in contributing to a better functioning democracy. So why would I not want to win the secret ballot vote on Tuesday? If I were to win, I would have to immediately step down as leader of the Green Party of Canada. I would have to withdraw from anything controversial – including working on climate. That I cannot do.
So why run?
Strangely enough, it is because I had a stroke. Because of the stroke I am not allowed to fly and I cannot get to Ottawa by train in time for the election of the Speaker. The House of Commons system – although we have planned and approved full participation rights for members participating virtually (on Zoom,) no one planned for how an MP could participate remotely in the in-person secret ballot voting for Speaker. No one thought that would happen until after the next election in 2025. But as you all know, Speaker Anthony Rota resigned this week. In my view it took him too long to realize that was the minimum of what he had to do. Because I am not able to be in Ottawa, I cannot vote for the next Speaker, but I am very concerned about the next Speaker and the challenges ahead. I am allowed to run for Speaker and address Parliament from BC, I just cannot vote from here.
The only good thing about having a stroke is that I was not part of the standing ovation for a Nazi. I am just sick about it. If you had asked me before September 22 if there was any chance in the world that the Speaker of the House of Commons would recognize a Nazi in the gallery and describe him as a hero, I would have said it was not possible.
And I would not have said so in any hypothetical fashion. I would have said so as a fact. I have tried and failed to get the Speaker to agree to recognize people whom I thought deserved the honour – only to be told, “no, we have rules.” Speaker Rota has refused my request for recognition of people I thought were deserving.
Here are the rules as sent to all MPs:
Recognition of individuals in the Speaker’s Gallery
Ottawa, Ontario – April 17, 2023
I would like to remind Members of our practice and procedure for recognizing individuals in the Speaker’s Gallery. As outlined in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Third Edition, in accordance with the role of representative of the House, the Speaker is the only Member who may acknowledge the presence of distinguished visitors in the gallery. Such recognition usually takes place after Question Period, but sometimes follows Statements by Members.
Individuals in the following categories may be recognized, once per Parliament, upon request:
- Heads of state or government;
- Speakers of foreign national parliaments;
- Ministers of foreign national governments;
- Speakers of Canadian legislative assemblies;
- Premiers and ministers of Canadian provincial governments;
- Commissioners of Canadian territories and government leaders;
- Parliamentary delegations visiting on the official invitation of the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Commons, or a recognized parliamentary association of the Parliament of Canada;
- Presidents or secretaries general of major international organizations;
- Leaders of national Indigenous organizations;
- Distinguished Canadians whose exceptional achievements have been recognized (e.g. Nobel Prize winners).
Hon. Anthony Rota, M.P.
I had tried to get approval to recognize the elected leadership of the Tibetan government in exile when they were visiting Ottawa- no dice. I pushed back “you mean we can recognize Xi Jinping, but not the leadership of the occupied people of Tibet?” Rota was resolute that those were our rules as approved by the Board of Internal Economy – made up of representatives of the recognized parties in parliament. I asked if the interim leader of the Green Party could be recognized. I was not really surprised the answer was no to that, but I could not believe that Dr. David Suzuki was not considered sufficiently distinguished and exceptional for the Speaker to agree. I asked because Suzuki was going to be in Ottawa on his farewell tour. I tried to persuade the Speaker with evidence of David’s multiple honours. Not a chance. So I would have bet any money that any random Canadian veteran of the Second World War would never qualify – but a veteran of fighting with the Nazis? How on earth? I still do not know. I am so deeply shocked and mortified. It is a vile stain on Canada in the world and it is not scape-goating to say it was all Rota’s fault, and by our rules and process, it could be no one else’s.
Greens issued a press release supporting the call from a number of Jewish Groups to re-open the questions of our historic willingness to welcome Nazis. I was honoured to know Canadian historian Irving Abella who said, “In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, it was easier to get into Canada if you were a Nazi than if you were a Jew.” That horrible reality has now been confirmed. There are no apologies equal to the need to atone. A real reckoning with our history is required.
So too was yesterday – the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation an attempt to face the Truth and move forward to justice. Performative measures are not enough. The searing violence of the residential school system has visited intergenerational pain on tens of thousands of Indigenous families. I was honoured to be invited to the tenth anniversary of Orange Shirt Day events in Williams Lake by Phyllis Webstad, founder of the Orange Shirt movement that led to the legislation making September 30 an annual day and a statutory holiday across Canada.
Declarations that settler culture colonial governments are repentant, that we have changed, are belied by reality.
This week the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) made the decision on the issue I wrote about in the September 17th Sunday missive. The Stkemlupsemc-te-Secwepemc Nation through whose territory near Kamloops the pipeline will cross vehemently opposed modification of the pipeline route. In order to obtain the permission of the Stkemlupsemc-te-Secwepemc Nation, it was essential the construction activity avoid the most sensitive, culturally significant and sacred part of the territory known as “the Pipsell.” It is integral to the Creation Story of the people. Keeping that promise became inconvenient and expensive for the publicly owned pipeline. TMX claims it had not realized the geology was not suited to the micro tunnelling it had promised. Keeping its promise would be far more expensive and delay completion of the pipeline – and we cannot have that in our prized publicly owned abomination. No surprise, the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) ruled that TMX gets its request and the First Nation’s sacred territory will be dredged and violated. The lawyer for the First Nation asked that at least CER give its reasons promptly to provide the legal foundation for the First Nation to pursue its right of appeal. That was my question in Question Period on Friday. With construction of the next phase of construction through the Pipsell due to begin October 2, could the government pledge to stop construction until the CER provided adequate time for the First Nation to pursue its legal remedies? I did not get a good reply!
Here is our press release on this latest outrage.
This week also, the independent investigation by Deloitte of the Alberta Energy Regulator was issued. It dealt with the Imperial Oil Kearl mine tailings pond failure and the extensive contamination of Cree territory in northern Alberta with toxic chemicals – with no notice to Indigenous governments over nine months. No surprise the independent investigation found the AER had followed the rules. The review suggested it could do a better job keeping Indigenous people informed. I told the National Observer that if the CEOs of Big Oil are criminals (and I think they are) then the regulators are the get-away drivers.
With tomorrow a statutory holiday, we move through the week until Thanksgiving. One last piece of news – Many of you know my wonderful constituency coordinator Alexa Lewis. The sad news is that she and her husband are moving away from SGI and back closer to where they were able to buy a home in Lake Country. She will be missed. The good news is that she will stick around remotely to help train her replacement, whom many of you will know! Former member of Saanich Council Ned Taylor has taken the reins of running my non-partisan constituency office in Sidney! He is also the nominated candidate for the BC Greens in Saanich South. Welcome Ned!
Until next Sunday,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greenshttps://www.sgigreenparty.ca/