As we continue to catch up with our gay and lesbian MPs this week, I spoke to NDP House Leader Libby Davies who has very definite plans for the Olympic period – but she won't be watching the games.
Q: What did you get up to over the winter break?
A: Over the actual holiday part, I was very quiet. I stayed home and had my family over. Sometimes in other Christmases I’ve gone away, but this time I stayed home and I had my family over, I made a turkey dinner and all of that, so that was good. I’ve been in the riding, and I did my hunger strike relay – like a fast for homelessness. I don’t know if you’re aware of that.
Q: No, I wasn’t.
A: It’s been an ongoing thing in Vancouver. I did a whole bunch of blogs on it. Instead of the Olympic torch, they’ve had this hunger strike relay, and you pass the wooden spoon. I received the wooden spoon – I did week 55, so it’s been going on for more than a year – and I did it for a week, and basically you go on a fast, it’s liquid only. Every day I went down to the Carnegie Centre at Main and Hastings, which is in my riding, it’s sort of the core of the Downtown East Side, and I stood in front of the Carnegie Centre, and I had a flip-chart with me, and I have the most amazing things that people wrote on that flip-chart. Really powerful messages, some of them really angry, some of them very philosophical, quite a few of them from aboriginal people – just the way people feel about their existence and being on the street, and what it’s like, and the need for housing. That was a very powerful experience. We got a fair amount of media for it, and in fact, one funny thing was I was holding this big wooden spoon, and it was weirdly empowering, and when I accepted the spoon, I started tapping it against my hand and said something to the effect that I’m really tempted to go up to Mr. Harper and Mr. Campbell with this spoon and give them a good spanking. And of course, everyone started laughing and that’s what made it in the media. But it was weirdly empowering holding this spoon everyday and being out on the street and listening to people, so I did that for seven days, and it was very intense. It’s helped get the word out about my housing bill of course.
I’ve been working in the riding, and then we came back to Ottawa for our caucus meetings, and then I went back to the riding, and then I’ve been back here again, and I’m here until tomorrow, actually. This weekend I’m going to London, Ontario. I was in Toronto, did a big public meeting on my trip to Gaza and the Middle East, and that’s why I’m going to London, Ontario, to the London Islamic Centre, I think it’s called, on Saturday. And then I’ll be heading back to my riding and basically while everyone is getting wound up about the Olympics, I’m going to be there in Vancouver. I’m not going to the Olympics, but I feel like my role is monitoring what’s going on because there’s a lot of unease and concern about what’s going to happen to people who are on the street, and people’s civil liberties and around security issues. There’s going to be sixteen thousand security forces in Vancouver, nine hundred security cameras, there’s various actions being planned. I’m going to be working with people, watching what’s going on, and being ready to speak out if people start getting harassed or things like that.
Q: The plan for your caucus is to go around the country and consult with Canadians. What are you planning to do for that?
A: At this point, I don’t have anything planned myself personally because I’ll be in the riding, particularly over the Olympic period. I may need to come back and forth to Ottawa – I have been working as the House Leader on some of the issues around prorogation. We had a discussion with the Liberals yesterday, and they put out some proposals, and we’ve had some ideas as well, and certainly as the House Leader, with a couple of other of our MPs, we’re working on that, so I may need to keep some tabs on that. At this point, I’m going to some NDP riding events on Vancouver Island, but my main focus – I feel like I need to be close to what’s going on in Vancouver around the Olympics, leading up to it and when the Olympics are on, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
Q: Has there been any word from the Conservative House Leader in terms of negotiating what bills they want to get back?
A: No. They may not do that until we actually get back. We may not hear anything formally until we are back on March the 3rd, or a couple of days after that.
Q: Any bills in particular you don’t want back, or is everything up for negotiation?
A: This is a general thing – we’re taking a look at all the bill that are there and where they’re at, but I do think that there’s an issue here, and that is Mr. Harper, he made a decision to prorogue, and that was his decision, and I do think there are consequences that he is aware of – he knows that making means that his bills go back to the beginning, and I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen. We’ll see at that time, but surely he must be aware that’s one of the consequences that he to live with. He’s eliminated his own bills – we didn’t do that. He did that.