NDP MP Libby Davies' Bill C-304 on a national housing strategy was supposed to be debated in the House at Report Stage on Wednesday night, but the debate didn't happen. I spoke with Davies last night about just what went down.
Q: What happened?
A: If the mover – me – doesn’t show up, it doesn’t happen. I couldn’t be there, and I was very concerned that if it went to Report Stage, I realised that they could have forced a vote of the bill on Report Stage, and with the Bloc now apparently offside, that would a vote on the bill when it’s still growing in support. I wasn’t there, I wasn’t able to be there [Wednesday] night, so that means we haven’t yet gotten to report stage, and what I want to do is make sure that the efforts that are underway, to go to Bloc MPs and Conservative MPs particularly, is still happening, so that when it does come to the vote, hopefully we’ll have enough votes to get it through.
Q: When do you think it’ll be coming back to the House then?
A: I’m not exactly sure at this point, but my main concern is not to allow a situation to happen where it gets forced into an early vote, which is what could have happened [Wednesday] night, and therefore the bill’s gone. I’m trying to ensure that we’ve still got opportunity to get people on board with the bill, and the groups that have been working on it are very in favour of that. They’re very supportive of that, because the momentum and the support for the bill is still growing in leaps and bounds, so it would have been not a good thing if the bill had been suddenly caught short because in effect, one of the two parties – the Conservatives or the Bloc – had forced a vote on it at Report Stage, which we realise that they could have done, so we’ve forestalled that for the time being.
Q: Because the Bloc is now offside because the amendment was overruled, is that your main focus now, to try and get them back onside?
A: Not totally – we’re also really focussing on trying to get Conservatives onside. I’m very disappointed that the Bloc has removed their support – at least officially – but nevertheless there are a lot of folks and groups in Quebec who are still calling on them to support the bill. In fact, they held a press conference [on Wednesday], and there were a whole lot of groups, fantastic groups who came to Parliament Hill. They all called for the bill to go ahead, to be supported, even though they know that the Bloc has said that they cannot support it anymore, so certainly there’s attention on those Bloc members, and we hope to see growing support in civil society in Quebec to put pressure on the Bloc to go ahead with the bill anyway. But I think we also need to focus on Conservative members, and that is happening. There are emails now, from groups, from individuals across the country, going to Conservative members – I’ve actually seen a few of them – and that’s what we’ve got to focus on as well, particularly the Conservatives in the urban environment, and challenge them as to why they’re not supporting this bill, and to try and convince them to do that. It’s basically both parties, not just the Bloc.