This week in Ottawa, several important pieces of legislation were introduced, debated, and voted upon in the House of Commons, so it’s probably time for a legislative update of sorts.
One bill that was introduced this week was a government bill that is being sold as a bill to end gas gouging forever. In fact this bill will mean that gas pumps are inspected more often to ensure that we are in fact we are getting the amount of gas that we pay for. This is all quite well and good (who wants to pay for something we don’t actually receive) but I don’t think it will make a huge difference to families and individuals being hit by high gas prices throughout our region.
I happen to believe that if this government were really concerned about high gouging at the pump and high gas prices then it could have done three things; it would never have approached McGuinty about introducing the HST and certainly not offered him $4.3 billion of our tax dollars to enact it, it would have appointed an Oil and Gas Ombudsman to investigate and ensure that that big oil and gas companies are not colluding with one and other to manipulate gas prices at the wholesale level, and last but not least it would have brought in this gas pump monitoring bill five years ago when it was first elected. I’ll have more to say on this new government bill next week, but clearly it misses the mark.
The government also has Bill C-9, the federal budget bill, before the House of Commons for more debate. I was able to speak on the bill and pointed out many shortcomings that simply made it unsupportable – well except for the Liberals who are committed to helping it pass. Paying off McGuinty to introduce the HST, eliminating the need for environmental assessments for stimulus projects in environmentally sensitive areas, and the fire-sale of Crown assets that is starting with Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) were all examples of how this government is failing to look out for our long term economic and environmental needs.
I also want to congratulate my New Democrat colleague and electoral neighbour Bruce Hyer on the successful advancement of his Private Members’ bill C-311, The Climate Change Accountability Act this week. C-311 will commit the federal government to achieving practical science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets, and make it accountable to Canadians through regular reports on actions taken to meet the targets. In short, bill C-311 will force this government to stop blowing smoke on climate change and I’m glad it will be coming back for a final vote.
Finally, I submitted papers this week for the selection of my own Private Members’ Bill for debate. I selected bill C-501, my pension security bill, which will grant pension plans ‘secured’ status when companies like AbitibiBowater enter restructuring or bankruptcy proceedings. When the papers were signed and submitted I was informed that the bill is now headed to a procedural committee for routine examination to ensure it complies with the constitution before coming back to the House for its first hour of debate near the end of April or early May. I have been in contact with my colleagues from the other caucuses, and the initial reaction to the bill has been very positive, so there may be a chance to advance it through the House more quickly than usual.
I hope that you found this legislative update useful and that it helped explain what has been keeping my staff and I busy in Ottawa. I’ll have another update on these and other bills before the summer recess so that everyone knows where things are at on C-501 and other important bills before that are before House.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River