Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns and North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney are changing roles within the NDP party.
Johns has been appointed as the critic for fisheries and oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, along with his responsibility as critic for small business and tourism. Blaney will be taking over as the NDP’s critic for veterans affairs. She is also the critic for seniors’ issues and vice-chair of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee.
“I am honoured to take on this new responsibility,” said Johns. “A major part of my decision to stand for Parliament was my concern for our aquatic ecosystems and the need to reflect the values of local fishers and coastal and Indigenous communities in decisions related to their sustainability.”
Since his election in 2015, MP Johns has spoken hundreds of times in Parliament on issues related to Fisheries and Oceans and moved a parliamentary motion for an oceans plastics strategy, which was approved unanimously by all parties. He also successfully fought to reverse the government’s cancellation of the in-school Stream-To-Sea program on salmon and for the designation of salmon habitat restoration and enhancement in the Oceans Protection Plan.
Most recently, Johns called on the government to suspend the Salish Sea herring fishery.
“This is the only herring fishery remaining on the Pacific Coast from Oregon to Alaska and in an abundance of caution it should have been suspended,” he said.
MP Johns follows former critic MP Fin Donnelly who will not be running in the next federal election. MP Donnelly will serve as Deputy Critic.
As the former veterans affairs critic, Johns sponsored a motion to protect funding for veterans that is unused at the end of the fiscal year through unanimous approval in the House of Commons in 2019.
Blaney is looking forward to stepping into the roll of critic for veterans affairs and engaging with the brave individuals who have served the country.
“As the MP for Comox and 19 Wing, I’ve worked closely with many from our armed forces communities and I am deeply concerned about how our current and past governments have treated service members when their duty has ended,” said Blaney.
Recalling the oath made by Prime Minister Robert Borden just over 100 years ago, “That you need not fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country,” Blaney is concerned that veterans feel this oath has been broken.
“How we care for our veterans, our seniors and our elders, those who have built this country, says a lot about who we are as a nation,” she said. “Canadians are compassionate and respectful people. We deserve a government that reflects that.”