THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – It has been a tremendous honour to have been elected to serve as your Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River for the past six years, and I am hopeful that you will see fit to provide with another opportunity to return to Ottawa and to continue to work on your behalf.
When I first arrived in Ottawa I was happy to be part of a small, but growing NDP caucus. Jack Layton, as he did for many Canadians, inspired us to work hard and never lose hope. He also taught us to never forget where we came from and who we serve. Through the years I have opposed bad legislation and supported good legislation. I have worked on committees, met with local and national leaders, and tabled a number of bills and motions to show the government what is possible, to ensure that people understood our priorities, and to create change. There have been ups and downs to be sure, and progress has been made, but my work is not finished.
In my time in Ottawa I have done everything I could to put and keep our priorities on the national agenda. I have tabled bills and motions designed to; support and revitalize our forestry sector, to establish a permanent infrastructure fund for small rural communities, to help our Royal Canadian Legions adapt to new realities, to combat Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, to protect our transit operators from violence, and to improve our retirement security by restoring the retirement age to 65 years and assisting pension plans recover what is owed to them when an employer like Buchanan Forest Products or AbitibiBowater enters bankruptcy. You have told me that these were your priorities, and I have been happy and proud to show up and work on those issues each and every day.
During the last minority parliament I tabled Bill C-501 to better secure pension plans by elevating their creditor status during bankruptcy proceedings. This bill received wide support from New Democrats, Liberals, and even a dozen Conservatives. In the end, this bill did not pass because of an early election call. It was disappointing to see it expire, but that experience showed me that change is possible. This spring I was appointed by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to be our Critic for Pensions, and given the task of working to improve the pension and retirement and security of all Canadians. In this role, I have been able to ramp up my work on pension reform and tabled a motion (M-611) which, if passed, would demonstrate this parliament’s support for improving pension plan security, again by elevating their creditor status during bankruptcy proceedings. I intend to bring this motion forward for a vote in June and to pressure other MPs show their support for this idea in principle.
By announcing my candidacy this week I am asking you to allow me another mandate to build on the work that I began in my first term and carried forward in my second so that I can finish it in a third. This is a tired Conservative government that for too long has turned its back on hardworking Canadians, and there is new hope that Canadians will elect our first federal NDP government in October. With an NDP government led by Tom Mulcair we can finally realize the change we all desire; better healthcare, affordable childcare, fairer taxes for families and small business, a more sustainable economy and environment, and yes – pension reform and greater retirement security for all Canadians. As the recent election of an NDP majority in Alberta has shown; anything is possible, so don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
It has been humbling experience having been elected twice to serve you. Real change is just one election away and I am hopeful that you will have judged me to have been a good Member of Parliament who has always put your interests first, and that you will see fit to provide me with another opportunity to continue this work after October.
John Rafferty MP