Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to converse with many of you regarding issues of importance to our community and to our country. As we approach the first Parliamentary session of a new mandate, it is an appropriate time to reflect on future priorities.
I will soon be heading back to Ottawa and will be taking with me many of the ideas and issues you have raised as being of great significance to our community. These include:
- The need for bold climate action – North Vancouverites are very clear about a desire to see significant action to combat climate change. You have said that you want to see pathways that will ensure achievement of what scientists around the world say we must reach – net zero emissions by 2050. You also emphasized that you would like this done through the implementation of thoughtful policies that enable this achievement in ways that further long-term economic opportunity and will address the concerns of all regions of this country.
- The need for further work on local transportation infrastructure – You told me that, while progress is indeed being made on key transportation bottlenecks, more needs to be done. You were very clear that we need to build on and accelerate federal/provincial/municipal co-operative transportation planning (INSTPP) – including work presently being done to assess and evaluate the potential for bringing rapid transit to the North Shore.
- The need for more affordable housing – Many of you emphasized the lack of affordable housing in North Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland, which creates significant challenges for many households. You said that you expect your governments – federal, provincial and municipal – to work constructively, collaboratively and creatively to address these important concerns.
- The need for continued work to lay solid foundations for an economic strategy that will deliver long-term prosperity in an increasingly lower-carbon world – In conversations, many of you stated that you want your elected governments to ensure that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability move forward together.
A less partisan parliament
This is not an exhaustive list – simply the issues that were most often mentioned. However, beyond specific issues, many folks I spoke with emphasized they would also like to see greater collaboration across party lines. In this new minority Parliament, many North Vancouverites said they want to see politicians from all parties “dial down” partisan rhetoric, and look for avenues where co-operation may be possible. This is most particularly the case with respect to working on climate change – where fully two thirds of Canadians selected parties committed to aggressive climate action.
I certainly personally agree with these sentiments regarding enhanced co-operation. While all MPs are indeed elected under party banners, I believe that most of our constituents expect that we, as their elected representatives, will use good judgement in carrying out our responsibilities. Certainly there are, and should be, times we differ in perspective across party lines. There should also, however, be instances where a level of collaboration and cooperation is possible.
During the most recent Parliament, I had opportunities to work with Green Party MP Elizabeth May on elements of the new Fisheries Act. I worked with NDP MP Richard Cannings on improvements he suggested to Species at Risk policies. And I had the opportunity to work collaboratively with Conservative MP John Barlow on challenges facing Waterton National Park.
There are people of good intent in all of the parties represented in Canada’s Parliament. It should be incumbent on all of us to find opportunities to move beyond partisan lines in order to make substantive progress in key areas of concern to Canadians.
As I head back to Ottawa, I will continue to reflect on what I heard from you over these past several months. Your thoughts and comments will guide my conversations and my activities as we commence the sitting of this 43rd Parliament.