I caught up with NDP House Leader Libby Davies after Question Period today, and asked her about how her Private Members' Bill is progressing in its Second Reading.
Q: How is the bill going? You’ve had one hour of debate so far – how did that go?
A: It went well, and I’ve spoken to a few members about the bill, and there seems to be very positive support from the Liberals that I’ve spoken to as well as the Bloc members. The Bloc were concerned about making sure that they have the ability to recognise that they have their own housing programmes, so I gave them an assurance that if the bill goes to committee, which I hope it will, that we will propose an amendment that will satisfy their concerns on the jurisdictional question. So it will now proceed to the second hour of debate.
Q: When do you expect that to be?
A: I think it’s going to be the first week of June. Obviously we’re still gathering support – the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, CHRA, just had their conference in Toronto, and they just passed a resolution supporting the bill. The mayor of Vancouver came out with a very wonderful letter supporting the bill. I’m still working on the mayor of Toronto, so if anybody’s got any connections there, please feel free to use them! [laughs] We’re trying to get the mayor of Toronto to support the bill. As well, the FCM has been very positive in its support. So I think the support for it is beginning to grow, and that’s good.
Q: Do you think that you’ll be able to get this to committee before summer, or is that still up in the air right now?
A: If the second hour of debate would be the second week of June, which is what it’s scheduled for, then the vote would be soon after. That means that it would be sent to committee, but whether or not the committee then debates it before summer – that would be beyond my control. That would be up to the committee – but of course what I will be doing is lobbying to make sure that they don’t let the bill drop.
Q: And how are those lobbying efforts going?
A: Well, I haven’t started that yet. We’re at step one, get it through the House. Step two – work on the committee.
Q: One thing at a time!
A: That’s right. We’ve got petitions out there, we’ve got a Facebook support group, Megan Leslie who is actually our housing critic, she’s been fabulous in getting out there and supporting the bill, so I feel like it’s gaining recognition, and who could not support this issue? I don’t understand why the Conservatives couldn’t support this issue, and in fact what we’ve got to do is convince them that the one-shot deal they had in the federal budget is just not good enough, that what we’re talking about here is a long-term commitment to a housing strategy and developing housing – that’s what really underlies this.
Q: I seem to recall them trying to convince the Speaker that this bill needed a royal recommendation. Did you get an answer on that yet?
A: No, the Speaker hasn’t ruled on that, but we’ve written a very good letter. When the government raised the question of royal recommendation I immediately responded to it in the House, but then we followed it up with the letter to the Speaker, giving him some very good arguments as to why a royal recommendation is not needed.