OTTAWA – This week saw C-19 head to committee, some advancement of my work on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and the launch of the recruitment campaigns for the Parliamentary Page and Parliamentary Guide programs. Let me fill you in on these developments.
Bill C-19, the bill to abolish the Long Gun Registry, was taken up at the Public Safety Committee this week where it was examined in closer detail by a panel of MPs and some invited guests. The first hour of testimony fell to the Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews, and other guests included; the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Canadian Labour Congress, The Coalition for Gun Control, The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and several individual police officers, lawyers, and advocates on both sides of the debate. I appreciated these organizations and their representatives taking the time to share their views, but little new information was gleaned from their polished presentations.
Without diminishing the value of the testimony of the witness or arguing for an undemocratic legislative shortcut, I think it is safe to say that we all know the arguments for and against the registry by now. The one questionable clause in C-19 which separates it from its predecessor bills is that it calls for the immediate disposal of all of the data that has been collected. It’s questionable because other laws would ensure that the records are purged in about 3 years anyhow, and some provinces (ie: Quebec) would like to inherit some of the data to create their own registry system. Personally, I don’t care what the other provinces do, so I see no harm in allowing them accessing the data that has been collected on their own citizens. Nonetheless, the transfer of data is a non-starter for the majority Conservatives so let’s move and start to focus on the real issues facing our country. The final vote on bill C-19 is likely to occur near the end of November or early December if the current parliamentary schedule holds.
When I say I am eager to move onto other more pressing issues it is quite true. My staff have been working behind the scenes on a campaign to raise awareness about the occurrence and danger of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I have one bill that calls for a national strategy on the issue (C-227), and another that is drafted and ready to go that would require warning labels to be applied on the packaging of alcoholic beverages. What is encouraging is that we are finding widespread support for these initiatives from various interest groups, other MPs, and to my surprise and their credit the alcoholic beverages industry. We will have much more to report on this issue in 2012, but I wanted to let everyone know that our work on this issue is ongoing if not always visible.
I’d also like to take a moment to make people aware of the start of the 2012 recruitment process for Parliamentary Pages (assisting the Speaker inside of the House of Commons), and Parliamentary Guides (for tours of parliament). These programs are excellent opportunities for youth who want to experience life in the National Capital Region and gain some valuable life and career experience. Both opportunities come with good pay and look great on a resume. The deadline for applying to the Page program is December 22, 2011, and January 13, 2012 for the Guide program. For more information on both programs including requirements and the interview process please visit www.parl.gc.ca/hocpage for the Page program and www.parl.gc.ca/guides for the Guide program. Good luck to everyone who applies, and please be sure to let my office know if you are accepted into either program!
So that is but a quick recap of the past week which saw us get one week closer to a final vote on C-19, the continuation of our work on FASD, and the start of the recruitment campaign for the Parliamentary Page and Parliamentary Guide programs. All the best until next week!
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River