Electoral reform top-of-mind for Nanaimo MP as Parliament resumes

NANAIMO – There is a lot of other work to do in the House of Commons this fall, says Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson.

Electoral reform is a top-of-mind subject, and there is a lot of other work to do in the House of Commons this fall, says Nanaimo’s MP.

Sheila Malcolmson, NDP member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, returns to Ottawa next week for the fall sitting of the house.

She’s already got a time slot on the first day back today (Sept. 19) to talk about abandoned vessels, one of a number of federal issues she hopes will be discussed this fall.

Electoral reform, she said, is at the top of the list, “because the timeline is really tight on making changes in time for the next election.”

Regardless of NDP’s past policy on the voting system, Malcolmson said she will reflect in Ottawa what she hears in her riding.

“We are absolutely open minded … but equality and proportionality are very important principles,” she said.

She’s anticipating a lot of debate in the house this fall on subjects that have implications for the environment and climate change. Malcolmson hopes for discussion about Site C dam, and there are also decisions to make on pipeline projects. The next United Nations climate change conference is in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November, and Malcolmson criticized the Liberals for being slow to strengthen Canada’s existing climate targets. She plans to hold a town hall on climate change in her riding in the next month or so.

“We’ll be taking back to Ottawa, what are some of the solutions that are good for local economy, good for local jobs, but also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give the government some concrete solutions that they can incorporate into setting their federal reduction targets,” she said.

Malcolmson hopes to see movement on certain issues affecting First Nations people. She doesn’t think the government needs to wait to implement certain recommendations that are likely to come out of the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, for example, funding to combat domestic violence, initiatives to create affordable housing and expand public transit, and improvements to relationships with police.

Last week, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued a second compliance order to the Liberal government regarding child welfare on reserves, and that’s concerning to Malcolmson.

“You have to put money in on an equivalent basis that our country funds non-native kids,” she said. “It’s just absolutely pure and unequivocal discrimination that’s been long-standing.”

Other subjects Malcolmson anticipates discussing during the fall sitting include the Trans-Pacific Partnership and legalization of marijuana.

The MP said there’s a lot of work to do after a decade of Conservative leadership, so her party will be committed to working with the Liberal government.

“And trying to hit that balance of giving the government the opportunity to say what they are doing, because we want these things to succeed,” she said. “We’re not in a combative place that we were with the previous Conservative government where we didn’t share the same values.”

An undercurrent to the fall sitting will be the leadership situation of opposition parties. Malcolmson said outgoing NDP leader Tom Mulcair will be “a strong advocate” in holding the government to account, and she doesn’t think the party’s upcoming change in leadership will be any kind of distraction with the decision still a year away.

“As New Democrats declare for leadership, then they will bring a particular focus to some of the policy ideas and the positive visions for the country,” she said. “But honestly, I hope that doesn’t get going until the spring … because we’ve just got so much to do right now.”

Nanaimo News Bulletin