Recapping the spring session

This week, I would like to offer a bit of a recap of the spring session of Parliament that’s now behind us.
New Democrats held the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to account for the weak economic growth we are experiencing in Canada, some bad policies that targeted the most vulnerable and which kept those looking for work on the sidelines, and also defended our collective right to free and fair elections.
Here are some specific points about some of the work New Democrats undertook this session in our role as the Official Opposition:
•We exposed the Conservative’s use of “Kijiji economics” to falsify job numbers, which they used to justify a massive surge in temporary foreign workers across Canada;
•We fought the Unfair Election Act every step of the way to defend Canadians’ right to vote and fair democratic process (in the end, we forced the Conservatives to back down and remove some of the worst parts of the bill);
•New Democrats stood up and opposed the massive cuts at Canada Post that are resulting in the elimination of home delivery for five million households, the cutting of rural post offices, and increases in postage rates that will hurt seniors, people with disabilities, and small business;
•the NDP fought tooth-and-nail against the latest round of cuts at the CBC, as well (we have been working in the House and by mobilizing Canadians to ensure a strong and independent public broadcaster remains in Canada); and
•we also challenged Stephen Harper for his callous cuts to Veterans’ Affairs and fought to have the government reverse its closure of nine offices (including the one in Thunder Bay) that provided core services to those who laid everything on the line for our country.
It also was an eventful spring for me. Early on, my work on the Veterans’ Affairs committee kept me quite busy as I fought against the closure of our Thunder Bay Veterans’ Affairs office and worked to fix some of the many problems with the New Veterans Charter.
I also hosted a series of town-hall meetings dealing with cost of living and small business issues, and veterans’ related issues.
And finally, in the second-to-last week of the parliamentary sitting, I tabled a motion that would have the federal government collect more scientific data, and work with our North American partners, to better protect the Monarch butterfly, which has seen its population collapse from nearly 350 million insects a few years ago to just 30 million or so this year.
So the spring session is now over but my work is not. This summer, I will be out and about across our great riding, so I hope we have a chance to meet and talk before I head back to Ottawa in the fall.
For now, though, I hope you and yours have a great week.
• • •
A quick note to say our Atikokan constituency office is closed for two weeks while we relocate to another address in town.
The new owner of the property where our office previously was located is undertaking significant renovations that required us to vacate the premises for several months.
Rather than pay two moving charges, once to the new office and once back, we decided to simply stay put at the new office since it would be the more cost-effective choice.
So my new Atikokan office will be re-opening at noon on July 15 at 218-A O’Brien St. However, we’re keeping our P.O. Box 40 for all mail and billing.
And should you require assistance while this office is closed, you can contact my Thunder Bay office toll-free at 1-800-667-6186.
• • •
I should have mentioned at the start that this also is our Canada Day version of my column, so Happy Canada Day!
I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday.

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