THUNDER BAY – LEADERS LEDGER – Even though parliament wasn’t sitting it was quite an eventful week in Ottawa with two new appointments for this Member of Parliament and a Shadow Cabinet announcement by New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair.
It was a great honour to learn that Tom Mulcair, the Leader of the New Democratic Party and the Official Opposition, has appointed me to be our caucus Critic for the Northern Ontario Economic Development Initiative (FedNor). Tom realizes that economic development in our region is the key to raising our standard of living, and I am excited about assuming this new responsibility for our region and our party. My first priority as the Critic for FedNor will be to find out how the $5 million cut in economic development grants, $1.5 million cut in day to day operations, and 15-20 job cuts will affect the development of our region in what the Conservatives admit is a “fragile” economic recovery.
In addition to my new responsibilities as the Critic for FedNor I have also been asked to sit on the Public Safety Committee. Each committee in parliament examines federal government operations and legislation pertaining to specific Ministries, departments, and agencies. The Public Safety Committee is no different and oversees work carried out by; Public Safety Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), Correctional Service Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) among others. With three border crossings in our riding and a higher than average rate of violent crime in Thunder Bay compared to other jurisdictions you can be sure that I will have no shortage of issues to raise and questions to ask of this government during our committee meetings.
Aside from my specific responsibilities I think Tom and his team have put together a very solid Shadow Cabinet that will hold the Harper Conservatives to account and show Canadians that we are ready to take this country forward. Of particular note, Tom decided to elevate several of his leadership rivals to prominent positions, which was great to see.
Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) charmed New Democrats and Canadians across the country during his leadership campaign. I’ve known Nathan since 2008 and can tell you that he is a principled, honest, and hard-working family man. Nathan has assumed the House Leader duties in this parliament which means that he will represent Tom and the New Democratic Party caucus in negotiations with the other parties pertaining to the tabling of legislation, debates, budgets and other procedural matters. It is an important job, but Nathan is more than up to the task.
Paul Dewar (Ottawa-Centre), Peggy Nash (Parkdale High Park) and Niki Ashton (Churchill) were also given prominent roles in the Shadow Cabinet; Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Women respectively. If you watched our leadership debates or other campaign events, then you will know that this trio of New Democrats is a force to be reckoned with. Each brings great intelligence, passion, and creativity to their new positions and I think they were excellent choices to fill these important positions.
All in all it was a great week for our riding and New Democrats. Tom, my colleagues, and I are ready to get back down to work and prove , day in and day out, that New Democrats are ready and can be trusted to govern Canada in 2015.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River