After a year of working hard to deliver results for Canadians, New Democrats are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Liberal government’s growing list of broken promises. In Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, we have been especially disappointed with the Liberal’s broken promises on electoral reform, health care, and a new nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations.
I have also recently heard from record numbers of constituents who want the Canadian government to do more to help bring peace to Iraq and Syria and to provide adequate support for refugees. Add to this the ongoing cash-for-access scandal where the Liberals are breaking their own guidelines, and many Canadians are beginning to lose trust for the Trudeau government. The Liberals seemed to promise everything to everyone in the election campaign, and a year later, it is clear that they have failed to deliver.
In another about-turn from an election promise, the Liberals recently approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline under the same industry-dominated process that the Conservatives used. This pipeline would have its terminus in Burnaby and trigger a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through our local waters.
These tankers would put the integrity of our coastal environment and the tourism, fishing and other marine harvest industries at risk of being decimated by an oil spill. This is especially troubling given that current standards for oil spill cleanups see only 10 per cent of the oil removed, and there is no reliable data on bitumen cleanups.
It should be noted that bitumen more closely resembles asphalt than oil and sinks in water. Another concern that the people of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke have is the imminent risk to our iconic and endangered southern resident killer whales. The increase in tanker traffic would interfere with these orcas’ ability to use their sonar system to hunt for fish, without even considering the impacts of a spill.
This past year, I was also busy in the House of Commons. Among other things, I reintroduced my transgender rights bill, and I subsequently was able to get the Liberal government to put it forward as a government bill and have it pass quickly through the House of Commons. This exact same bill had been passed by the House twice before, and once again, we are waiting for the unelected Senate to act.
I also continued to press the Liberals to take immediate action to protect our endangered southern resident killer whales, instead of making deferred promises for future action. I continued my work raising concerns about human rights in Tibet as co-chair of the Canada-Tibet parliamentary Friendship Association, and I again called on the Liberals to act on their promises to raise human rights issues with China.
As defence critic for the NDP, I recently attended a NATO conference in Washington D.C. and I continue to work hard, advocating for our armed forces. This year, upgrades to the Esquimalt Naval Base have provided many local jobs and will provide both much-needed infrastructure improvements for our navy and a cleanup of Esquimalt Harbour. I have also been closely watching the national shipbuilding strategy to make sure that it doesn’t get cut back or further degraded, and I continue to advocate for funding that provides needed upgrades and local jobs.
In 2017, I will continue the work of advocating for those who signed up to serve Canada, by supporting proper recruitment, training and equipment updates for the Canadian Armed Forces, and proper funding for services for veterans.
I look forward to another year working for the people of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.
Randall Garrison is the MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.