With just a few weeks left of Parliament sititng before the summer break, there's a lot of things to get through. I caught up with NDP MP Bill Siksay after Question Period today to talk about what's up on his plate.
Q: We’ve got five weeks left – what do you have on your agenda before we break for the summer?
A: My committee – the Standing Committee on Ethics – is very involved in a study on political interference in access to information, and we’ll be continuing on that work. It’s one of the hotspots of Parliament now because the government announced a policy today where political staff are no longer allowed to appear before committees, and my committee will be challenging that decision. That puts me in the centre of the latest dispute over the rights of Parliament over the rights of government. Also the trans bill – it will be back for second reading before the House breaks for the summer, and hopefully the vote as well, so we need to be following up on that.
Q: How are your efforts going on that bill?
A: I’m still very optimistic. The Conservatives are the only party that raised concerns in the first hour of debate – I think the issues they raised can be addressed, and hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to do that.
Q: Do you think that the sitting will be extended past the 23rd because of prorogation, or that they’ll break early?
A: We gave up break weeks because of prorogation, so who knows. I’m always amazed at the way the schedule of the House deteriorates as June progresses, so we’ll see what happens.
Q: You’ve got an event going on tomorrow, so tell me about that.
A: I’m co-sponsoring with Senator [Mobina] Jaffer an event in support of the Department of Peace initiative. I have a Private Members’ Bill that would establish a Department of Peace in Canada with a full department and a cabinet-level decision. That’s to ensure that the peace-making process, that the efforts for peace and restorative justice have a full-time advocate at the cabinet table, and that those issues aren’t at the corner of some other cabinet minister’s desk. We’ve already had 21 MPs second that bill from the NDP and the Liberal parties – a Liberal member seconded it when it was introduced in the House, so there is already broad interest, so I’m hoping more MPs and Senators will come out tomorrow night to hear about the bill.