As most of you know I spend nearly six months of the year in Ottawa representing you and all of the 107,500+ residents of Kootenay-Columbia in the House of Commons. One of my primary roles as MP is to debate legislation that is put forward to become Canadian law. It is a complex process, and we debate many proposals to deal with the challenges of our huge and diverse nation. This is important work, and I am proud to do it, but I realize it can be hard for citizens to connect with what happens in Parliament, even though it is so fundamental to our identity as Canadians.
That is why, when I have had the opportunity to put forward legislation in the form of private members bills (PMBs), I wanted to keep it simple. To date I have put forward two PMBs, one relating to food and one relating to water. In a four-year session of Parliament I am only able to ask for support from other Members of Parliament and the Senate for one bill or motion.
Water: Last November I introduced Bill C-385 that would have put all Kootenay-Columbia’s lakes and rivers that lost protections under the Conservative government, back into the Navigable Waters Protection Act. In March I decided not to proceed with this bill for a good reason. The reason my bill is being removed from the order paper is because it is too similar to legislation that the Liberal government put forward this February. The government’s proposal, Bill C-69, is a long way from perfect, but it is definitely a move in the right direction. I am pleased that they are heeding my call and other calls from across the country to better protect our most precious resource.
Food: I know far too many PMBs that would benefit all Canadians are defeated for no other reason than partisan politics. I wanted to put forward a bill that brings people, including Members of Parliament, together. I tabled (pun intended) a bill to create a National Local Food Day. Bill C-281 would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving as National Local Food Day to recognize and celebrate the importance of sustainable local food systems. Whether you are a Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat, Green or simply a Canadian, we all eat, we all benefit from a strong local food economy and from increasing our food security. Parliament will debate and vote on my bill for the first time in early May. After partisan antics in the house these past weeks, I am hopeful C-281 will be a welcoming opportunity to reflect on, and celebrate one of those simple, yet very important, things that make our country great – local food.
I look forward to your support for my National Local Food Day Bill!
Wayne Stetski is the MP for Kootenay-Columbia