Politics
2 min

Bill Siksay on what the Ethics Committee has been up to

NDP MP Bill Siksay is not only his party's GLBT critic, but he's also the critic for Acess to Information, Privacy and Ethics. Last year, the Ethics Committee was a hotbed of activity with the Mulroney inquiry, but that has since died down.

Q: We haven’t heard a lot out of the Ethics Committee this fall – it’s been unusually quiet, so I’m wondering what’s going there?
A: The Ethics Committee has been working on trying to force the government to update the privacy legislation and the Access to Information legislation. Canada was a pioneer in both back in the early 1980s, but there haven’t been significant changes to that legislation in that time, and we really need that. We did a major report on the recommendations of both the Privacy Commissioner and the Access [to Information] Commissioner about what quick fixes could be possible, and have been working to try to get the government to budge on bringing in those changes. It’s ironic because the Conservatives in opposition had a terrific Access to Information platform. When they ran in 2006, everybody liked it. They were well applauded, and rightly so. And they’ve done part of it – they did the Accountability Act changes, expanding the coverage of that information, but they haven’t done the rest of their own platform, and they really need to move on that, so that’s really been the primary focus of the committee this fall.

Q: Your Private Members’ Bill – do you have a date yet on when that’s coming up?
A: No specific date yet, but it should be coming up in February or March, so we’re going to start rolling out our specific lobby on it when we return in January.

Q: Being as Parliament looks like it’s a little more stable right now, do you think we’ll actually have a chance to see this through all the way?
A: I’m always hopeful of that. I won’t make predictions about how long Parliament will last. I still don’t it’s much more stable than it was. I still think there are possibilities for a spring election, but we need to go ahead. If we get to the point of the debate, it’ll be the first time that there’s been a specific debate on trans human rights issues in the Canadian Parliament, and I think that will be an important step. We’ll also get clarity about where the other parties, where the government stands on the issue, so that will be helpful to us, no matter how far the bill actually gets. That’ll give us more information, and I think will further the cause. Hopefully, if we’re really lucky, we might get it all the way through.

Q: What are your plans for the winter break?
A: I’m going home to British Columbia. [laughs] Sort of family Christmas stuff, and spending some time in the riding, which will be nice to do consistently for a few weeks. Nothing dramatic.
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