2010 was fulfilling year

Last week in Ottawa went by with a flurry as the fall session of Parliament wrapped up.
2010 has been a busy year and I was quite pleased with some of the work I was able to undertake. Here is a quick review of some of that work:
On March 24, I introduced Bill C-501, which would protect and secure the money to the pension plans of workers when a company enters restructuring, bankruptcy, or liquidation proceedings.
The idea for this bill came from the many constituents who participated in a series of town hall meetings I held across the riding in late 2009. Many of those participants worked at the AbitibiBowater mills in our riding and were concerned that some—or all—of their hard-earned pensions could be wiped out because their employer had filed for bankruptcy protection and was reorganizing its debts.
Bill C-501 was the product of those meetings, and would secure more than six million pensions in Canada during such proceedings if it passes its final vote in the spring.
On May 5, I was proud to vote in favour of my NDP colleague Bruce Hyer’s Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. His bill passed at third reading in the House of Commons and became the only climate change legislation in Canadian history to do so.
Sadly, the Conservative majority in the unelected and unaccountable Senate voted to kill C-311 without even debating it. In fact, it was the first time since 1939 that a Senate dared to do this.
Regardless of what you think of the issue of climate change in general, or C-311 in particular, you probably share my disappointment that less than 50 failed Conservative candidates and party fundraisers appointed to the Senate for life by Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulroney killed a bill that passed by a majority in the duly-elected House of Commons.
The killing of C-311 only has strengthened my resolve to see the Senate abolished.
Later on in May, on the 26th, C-501 passed a vote at second reading with support from members of all parties in the House of Commons, including 12 Conservatives. It passed by a convincing margin of 144-111 and then was sent to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology for study and debate.
In June, I was happy to introduce the first of two bills touching on the issue of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). On June 10, I introduced Bill C-532, which would require labels on alcohol bottles warning Canadians of the dangers of drinking while pregnant.
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is the sole cause of FASD and is completely preventable.
Then on Sept. 30, I introduced my second FASD bill, C-569, which would require the federal government to establish a national strategy for the prevention and treatment of FASD.
Both C-532 and C-569 were the result of meetings and ongoing discussions I’ve had with the Fetal Alcohol Support and Information Network of Thunder Bay and great constituents like Dave and Margie Fulton and Marilyn Leiterman.
On Sept. 22, after much deliberation, a full riding wide survey, and many meetings with individuals and groups from across the riding, I voted in favour of Bill C-391 to repeal the long gun registry. The issue was difficult one for many and continues to be today, but I thank everyone who contacted my offices to share their thoughts and opinions on that bill.
I also appreciated the feedback and views were shared in such a respectful manner.
Finally, on Nov. 16, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology started their study of Bill C-501. The committee met over three weeks and heard from witnesses—some of whom supported the bill and others who opposed it.
There is one committee hearing left on the bill, at which time amendments can be made to the bill.
I’ve been in discussions with pension groups and members from all of the other parties to find out how the bill can be improved, and I will be tabling some amendments in the New Year which I hope will give the bill a better chance of passing the final vote in the House of Commons now scheduled for early March.
I found 2010 to be a personally fulfilling and productive year of work in Ottawa, and I am looking forward to more of the same in 2011.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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