This will be my last column for the Ladysmith Chronicle as your Member of Parliament.
After four terms and eleven years as MP and almost 30 years of public service, it is time for me to call it a day.
I won’t be seeking re-election in the upcoming federal election in October.
It has been the most extraordinary experience of my life to represent the people of Nanaimo-Cowichan.
From Departure Bay Road in Nanaimo to the top of the Malahat, out to Nitnat and over to the Islands, I have been inspired by the activism and community spirit that abounds in our diverse communities.
I thank you for your support and encouragement in my work as your Member of Parliament. Over the past eleven years, there were so many issues I have been proud to stand up for on your behalf. In this short space, I can only mention a few of them.
In 2007, my private members’ motion, Jordan’s Principle unanimously passed, which calls on the federal government to adopt a child first principle and resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of First Nations children.
In 2009, my motion was unanimously passed naming June as National Aboriginal History Month. This provides an opportunity to honour the heritage, contributions and cultures of First Nation, Inuit and Metis across Canada.
Although my private members’ bill, C-638, An Act to Amend the Canada Shipping Act, was voted down, it raised the profile on the significant concerns derelict and abandoned vessels create for coastal communities.
Had it passed, this bill would have obligated the Government of Canada to deal with these vessels and the environmental and economic threat they pose. There are more than 200 identified (and many more unidentified) vessels strewn around the B.C. Coast.
I am confident that my successor will continue the fight to pass this legislation after the next election.
I also introduced three other private members’ bills. Bill C-233, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada, would ensure that the Government of Canada establish a strategy to eliminate poverty, promote social inclusion and establish an independent Office of the Poverty Elimination Commissioner.
Bill C-495, An Act to Amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA)(Cowichan River) and Bill C-694, An Act to Amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Nanaimo and Koksilah Rivers), would add the Cowichan, Nanaimo and Koksilah Rivers to the NWPA, restoring navigation regulations and establishing strict environmental protections for these rivers.
I have also had the good fortune to work with many wonderful staff in both my Community Offices and in Ottawa.
These staff served our community with dedication and commitment and I send them my heartfelt thanks for their hard work.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the editor and staff of the Ladysmith Chronicle who provided me this monthly column to share information and ideas with my constituents.
Wishing you all “Love, Hope and Optimism”!