The approaching end of the spring session of Parliament also means that there are few few chances to hold the government to account – something Liberal International Trade critic Scott Brison is focused on. I caught up with him after Question Period today.
Q: We’re in the last stretch before the summer starts – what are you looking to accomplish in the last few weeks?
A: It’s been the Liberal-led opposition that has forced the government, over the last several months, to stop ignoring the economic crisis, to finally introduce a budget with some measures of stimulus. It’s been the Liberal-led opposition that has held the government accountable for its failure to deliver stimulus fast enough and effectively to the people, communities and families who need it the most. We’ve been holding the government accountable in the House, we’ve been holding them accountable through onprobation.ca, and we are defending the interests of Canadians. Michael Ignatieff’s leadership has provided Canadians with a strong opposition and a party and a team that is ready to govern. I think what you are seeing now is a growing sense among Canadians that they have a strong alternative. Right now the economy is dominating the agenda. The economy, EI, trade issues, growing US protectionism – the government is not doing its job in protecting Canadian interests either here or aboard, and I believe the Canadians are getting an opportunity to see a Prime Minister who will defend their interests in Michael Ignatieff.
Q: Any pet pieces of legislation or committee business that you’re particularly looking forward to dealing with before summer?
A: I’ve been focused largely on trade issues, Canada-US issues and a growing US protectionism, and a thickening of the Canada-US border is of paramount to Canadian manufacturers and exporters and to Canadian workers. Any thickening of that border will cost both Canadian and American jobs, so I’ve been in Washington a number of times in recent weeks, making that case to US legislators at both the state and national level, so I will continue to do that.
Q: Are you going to meet with Janet Napolitano while she’s here?
A: I’ve met with Homeland Security people in Washington. I was down just a few weeks ago, and again when they were here, [I met with] the director for all of the border areas – and we’re going to be back there again in the next little while. The fact is the government has done nothing – has failed to change Secretary Napolitano’s misconceptions about the Canada-US border. Her view of borders is shaped by being a former governor of Arizona – she thinks of borders as the southern border. We need to make a clear case to her that the security issues around the Canada-US border are absolutely different than those around the Mexico-US border, and it is nonsensical and destructive economically to treat them the same.