Good Sunday Morning!
And let me start with the REALLY good news!!
Thanks to the actions of thousands of concerned citizens, grassroots protests in Ontario and across Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has backed down! Ford announced on Thursday that he is reversing his earlier moves to take precious farmland out of the legislated Greenbelt to benefit his developer friends. He said he had made a “mistake.” It was a great way for Ontario Greens to kick off their annual convention held in Kitchener over this weekend! Green momentum is growing with our first Ontario federal seat – for Mike Morrice MP in Kitchener Centre – soon to be joined by a second Green MPP heading to Queens Park-Aislinn Clancy in the upcoming Kitchener Centre by-election!
On Monday parliament resumed after adjourning on June 21. Those first five days back in the House felt like five weeks. Thankfully I could participate fully from home in Sidney. Greens launched the session with a press conference featuring Mike Morrice and Jonathan Pedneault. Watch the whole press conference here!
And we set out our priorities in this press release:
As we waded into House business it did not take long to see how nasty and petty this session may be. On two different issues, when typically other parties would grant me the right to speak, Conservatives blocked me.
The first time was to reply to the stunning statement made by the prime minister: “Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Niggar.”
The second time the Conservatives refused to allow a normal procedure for me to speak, was to pay tribute to the late Hon Monique Begin, former Canadian Minister of Health who brought in the Canada Health Act and died on September 8–Here are the moments when Conservatives yelled NO–denying my right to speak.
The issue of foreign interference has been pressing for months. On September 7, at long last, the government gave in to opposition party demands and established a public inquiry to be led by Justice Marie Josee Hogue.
But the shocking allegation of involvement of the government of India in the killing of British Columbian Sikh leader created seismic waves around the globe. And it certainly dominated the first week back in Parliament. On Tuesday evening we held a late night debate on Trudeau’s statement. Strangely the Conservative MPs were absent from the debate. There was only one Conservative MP who spoke and then no CPC MPs spoke again until the debate ended hours later. All of the other parties were represented in debate with a great sense of shared concerns – including me. By then we knew more about why the prime minister had chosen those careful words and about why he had made a public statement while the investigation was ongoing. Just as in the spring, the allegations of foreign interference came through media leaks. Cabinet ministers confirmed the statement in Parliament was prompted by knowledge the allegations would be made public in the news media soon.
This should be deeply troubling. We cannot have members of the RCMP or CSIS feeling justified in leaking sensitive intelligence information to the media. In his May 23 report the Rt Hon David Johnston made this point very forcefully: “leaking secret intelligence is unlawful and a breach of duty by the leaker. It is a matter of urgency that all efforts be made to identify the leaker(s) responsible. Malice cannot be ruled out.” Events of this week make it even more urgent that leakers be found and sanctioned.
The challenge for Mme Justice Hogue is daunting. Her interim report is due by the end of February; her final report by the end of 2024. It strikes me as wasteful and unnecessary to completely reject all of what the Special Rapporteur recommended. That work could serve as a foundation for her next steps.
I have written Mme Justice Hogue to recommend she complete the work to confirm or reject findings of the special rapporteur. The Rt Hon David Johnston had offered opposition party leaders access to review top secret memos of the security agencies to provide an independent verification of those interim findings. Despite having obtained Top Secret Security clearance I have been denied access to the documents referenced in the confidential annex. I have asked Justice Hogue to allow access to these documents to opposition leaders with security clearance. Doing so should expedite her work. Greens hate waste and jettisoning all of what our former Governor General and his team had concluded seems pointless
But the action-packed week did not end there–the week was capped by the unexpected visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday. I was sad to miss Zelensky’s speech in person but joined parliament, once again on zoom.
Best wishes to you all for the coming week. Love and thanks for kind well wishes, I do wish for less interesting times! While Trump fans wear MAGA hats I wonder if MCBA hats would sell- “Make Canada Boring Again.” – Peace Order and Good Government. Those were the days!
Love and thanks,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens