Greens are the Party of the Future – Hyer
THUNDER BAY – Political News – 2013 was an eventful twelve months on the Hill! I began the year recovering from a successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumour on my tongue. Fortunately, a speedy recovery allowed me to return to my duties as your Member of Parliament. I did not miss a day of work, and I feel great. At my one year checkup, doctors have found absolutely no cancer.
In March, the Conservatives introduced a new budget. It included an unnecessary, job-killing hike in payroll taxes and no end in sight to the annual 1.3 billion dollar taxpayer subsidy to oil and gas companies. Overall, the budget ignored the middle class and failed Northwestern Ontario.
I took action on democratic reform in May 2013 and introduced bills to make Parliament more open and democratic. My bills would prevent the prime minister from abusing parliamentary rules for partisan ends, and would penalize those who withhold damaging information from the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General. I have introduced more legislation to the House than all the previous Members from Thunder Bay-Superior North… combined.
I continued my battle for Canadian passenger rail as the spring sitting came to a close, releasing a report with Greg Gormick from the Transport Action Network chronicling the decline of passenger rail along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The report, A Wedding Band of Confederation: Restoring Rail Passenger Service to Ontario’s North Shore and Across Canada, encourages engagement by citizens and town governments and greater investment into VIA rail to get the region back on track (see www.BruceHyer.ca for the full report).
MPs were supposed to return to Ottawa on September 16, during Democracy Week … but I was the only MP in the House of Commons that day! I hosted the “rogue Parliament” and I called on the Governor General to refuse Harper’s attempt to avoid the Senate expense scandal by proroguing. Of course, Harper’s delaying tactics did nothing to distract from the fraudulent abuse of taxpayers by members of the government caucus and staff. Most Canadians are still outraged by this government’s continued flagrant abuse of democracy and the public trust.
On October 18, after four years of secret talks, the Canada-European Trade Agreement was rammed through Parliament. I’ve long been pushing for trade diversification and closer ties with the EU, but I’m troubled by the government’s secrecy and their refusal to release the details of the agreement. This deal could leave Canadians and municipalities (and Thunder Bay’s Bombardier) vulnerable to maneuvers by multinationals that will cost us dearly.
As the year came to a close, we saw some highs and lows for Canadian democracy. In October, Conservative MPs rammed a back-door motion through committees that limited the rights of MPs to move, speak to and vote on amendments to government bills, yet another example of a long campaign to limit MP speech and shut down dissent. In December, though, Conservative MP Michael Chong’s Reform Bill was a democratic highlight. Chong’s bill is a vital effort to reinvigorate democracy by limiting party leader control over candidate nominations. We who support robust democracy in Canada will wait to see whether Harper, Mulcair, and Trudeau whip their MPs on this crucial vote to restore representative democracy to the House, and allow them to work for their constituents again.
Finally, just over a month ago, I made the decision to join Elizabeth May as the second member of the Green Party caucus. It was controversial, but I received considerable support from many constituents who recognize that it will allow me to maintain my independence while enhancing my ability to represent northwestern Ontario. I’m looking forward to working across party lines to build a more democratic Canada and to being an even stronger voice for Thunder Bay-Superior North in 2014.
Bruce Hyer MP