3 min

Philip Toone recaps his fall session

Finishing off my roundup of queer MPs, I caught
up with NDP MP Philip Toone after QP on Tuesday.

Q: What was your high point of the fall?

A: Working with people back home – they’re
not used to an MP that’s attending events; they’re not used to an MP sending
out their literature in the mail; they’re not used to sending back the response
coupons – they’re just not used to it. That’s actually been a real change for
them, and they actually get an opportunity to get their voices heard. The
problem is that once they get here, good grief – these guys are challenging. We
can work some things – we’re still working on the trans bill, and I think
there’s some openings there. There’s certain things that we can probably get
some support, but when it comes to issues, when it comes to Criminal Code
issues, when it comes to cutbacks, they don’t want to hear it. Extending civil
rights to people
I think they’re okay with that as long as it doesn’t cost
them anything, so that’s the challenge. People back home, mostly what they’re
worried about is just the cutbacks – the cutbacks are hurting us bad, and I’m
shocked that we’re going to be walking out of here at the end of this term,
knowing that cuts are going to be coming down the pipe, and the safety of
people back home is going to be put in question. I’m thrilled – absolutely
thrilled that the government of Quebec is going to taking these guys to court.
Go get ‘em!

Q: And your low point?

A: My goodness this government is just a
steamroller. They just don’t know when to stop – or more to they point, they
always want to stop. They never want to talk. It’s frightening. If this is
democracy in action, then frankly we need to trade up. We’ve got a problem –
they don’t want to talk about issues that are very important to Quebeckers and
Canadians; they don’t want to talk about the gun registry – they want to
steamroll that out of existence. They’re letting us talk about the Copyright
Act – at least that’s about the only thing they do want to talk about, and even
then they’d want it to go away, so I’m assuming they’re going to want to shut
this place down any day now – any minute now.

Q: What have you been up to in terms of
committee work?

A: The Conservatives have a majority there,
too, so it can be challenging. Right now, when it comes to the committees, I’m
on Fisheries, and right now we’re talking about closed containment of salmon
back in the East and West Coast – mostly the West Coast. I think it’s an
important issue, but I’d rather be talking about things that affect people back
home, and we’re not right now. So once we’re back into the thick of it for East
Coast issues, I’m going to be much happier. On industry committee – it’s funny,
I met Bernard Lord the other day, the former premier and now a lobbyist for the
telecommunications industry. It’s funny because I used to work for Elizabeth
Weir back when he was premier, and she was the leader of the NDP, so we met him
back then, and it was kind of funny to see him in this very strange new
relationship where he’s lobbying me instead of me pressuring him. That I didn’t
expect to happen. But he’s a nice guy – he’s a Conservative, but we’ll let that go.
He’s a nice Conservative.

Q: In terms of the holidays, any plans for
the month away?

A: It’s going to be a little bit low-key as
far as personal stuff. I’m going to go as far south as Toronto – very exciting,
but I’m looking forward to it and seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while. But
the month of January I’m mostly going to be back in the riding, just shaking
hands and kissing babies. I’m really looking forward to being back home – it’s
a big riding and it’s kind of tough. My spouse is going to be moving to Ottawa,
so Martin’s going to be moving here part time, and I’m looking forward to that,
because we never see each other. Even when I’m back home, the riding’s so big
that out of a week I might be home two days, and the rest of the time I’m
travelling, staying in hotels. So him coming here half-time is actually going
to be really nice. I don’t know how he’s going to get accustomed to Ottawa,
but we’ll see.

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