From the House – John Rafferty MP


John Rafferty MPOTTAWA – Leader’s Ledger – This week was a busy one in Canada and around the world with many events having long term implications at home and abroad. Here is a recap of some of the events and my opinion on how this is likely to affect things moving forward.

The first really big development, and I do mean big, was the announcement of Canada’s largest ever capital expenditure; the awarding of the $33 billion worth of shipbuilding contracts over the next 30 years.

I would congratulate Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and his New Democrat government on securing $25 billion worth of those contracts for their economy. Mr. Dexter made securing these contracts a focus of much of his work over the past year as he worked very closely with Irving Shipyards on their bid. He lobbied hard on behalf of their bid in Ottawa to make something happen and it did. Hard work does pay off and will do so for 30 years, and I congratulate the people of Halifax for their great win.

Also on the home front this week, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest blossomed into somewhat of a global movement with new sit-ins being organized in several thousand cities around the world. With other protests and similar events occurring in the middle-east, Greece, and earlier this year in Britain it is safe to say that ‘the people’ now have the ear of the elites around the world. Even the Governor of the Bank of Canada called the ‘Occupy’ protests “entirely constructive” this past week. Something positive is happening to be sure.

Some may wonder what exactly the “Occupy” protests, including the ‘Occupy Thunder Bay’ version, are asking for. It’s a valid question. I am not affiliated with any of these protests or groups, but I have been following the events closely. The narrative I have heard emerging from the leaders of these events essentially boils down to; ‘Our governments have failed us. The gap between the rich and the poor has reached a tipping point where the richest 1 percent own 20 percent of the wealth while the poorest 20 percent owns 1 percent. We are determined to change this.’ People around the world are waking up to this new reality, and it would seem that they are emphatically, but peacefully, demanding action from their governments.

I will be keeping an eye on these ‘Occupy’ protests and hope that anyone who has thoughts on the issue will get in touch, one way or way or another, to share them with me.

Finally, the ‘Arab Spring’ movement also gathered momentum this week with the toppling of the Libyan government and the death of leader Muammar Gaddafi. There was something strikingly ironic about Libyan rebels finding their billionaire despot leader hiding in a sewer pipe armed with a solid gold gun. Gaddafi’s life, from start to finish, will no doubt make for a compelling movie.

While the outcome was forgone, I am still somewhat disturbed about the way it played out in the end. Footage has come to light that shows what appears to be Gaddafi’s execution, or at least near execution at the hands of the rebels. Gaddafi was wounded in the fight, but once the rebels took him into custody he appeared to be abused. Gun fire was heard all around, and he may have been shot once or more while in custody. He died a short time later of a wound suffered to the intestines according to the doctor who examined his body. Thankfully, I have never been in the position of his captors, but I think a far more just conclusion would have been his transfer to the International Criminal Court at The Hague for a fair trial. Nonetheless, I am very happy that better days are ahead for all Libyans and I congratulate them on their victory over the despot.

This week may never be remembered in history books as a week that changed the world, but it was a week that changed the course of millions of lives and for the better in my opinion.

John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River

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John Rafferty is the current Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River and a member of the New Democratic Party caucus in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario. John was first elected to serve as MP in the 2008 federal election and was subsequently re-elected on May 2, 2011 with 48.1% of the vote.