May 1st Blog

In Ottawa:  It was a very busy week on the Hill, with groups converging from all across the country to speak to Parliamentarians about their concerns.  I was able to meet with representatives of the Canadian Medical Laboratory Sciences Association, the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Firefighters Association, and participated in St. John Ambulance Day on the Hill.

It is so vitally important that we provide support for the firefighters, paramedics and police officers who keep us safe in our communities. These jobs are stressful, and extra care needs to be taken to ensure the ongoing physical and mental health of those we charge with protecting our health and property.

In Parliament:  On Monday this week, I was able to put a question to the Minister of Defense on the proposed demolition of the officers’ mess at Wolseley Barracks, suggesting that instead it could be converted for Legion use. I am encouraged by the response of the Minister, who said he would take it under advisement. This would be a great enhancement to the community, and provide functional use of the space to our London veterans.

On Tuesday, I asked a question regarding the 2015 Conservative federal budget, which does not restore funds borrowed from Employment Insurance, all the while claiming that the budget is balanced without a deficit. Leaving unemployed Canadians at risk and without the benefits they require to support themselves in between jobs not only constitutes a fiscal deficit, but a moral one as well.

A new report from HSBC shows that 60% of Canadian seniors will only semi-retire or never retire at all. The reality is that more and more Canadians cannot afford to retire. They have faced decades of income inequality and are consequently saddled with record levels of debt. On Thursday, I asked a when the Conservatives would listen to calls for a national seniors strategy, and adopt the NDP's plan so that all seniors, the people who built this country, can retire with dignity.

You can access videos of all my speeches and questions in the House online here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjfK40JADAOBs1IjG2XZEhA

Also on Thursday, the Conservatives moved time-allocation for the 94th time this session, effectively shutting down debate on their anti-terrorism act, Bill C-51. It is appalling to me, and to many of you as is apparent from the calls and correspondence I receive in my office. Matters such as our security and the potential for sacrificing basic rights and freedoms guaranteed to Canadians under the Charter are at real risk when a government that holds a majority in the House will not listen to the people, let alone allow sufficient time for such issues to be debated and examined.

We can do better.

In Committee:  In Citizenship and Immigration Committee we continued to study the Conservative Government Bill S-7 which aims to make significant changes to our immigration policy.   Witnesses testified about the bill and its impact on female immigrants and the legal system.  The Minister for Citizenship and Immigration was initially supposed to come before committee this week to give committee members an opportunity to ask questions about the budget of Citizenship and Immigration.  That meeting has been postponed to an unknown future date.   

In London:  On April 22 – Earth Day – I had the pleasure of participating in the activities that took place at Watson Street Park. Earth Day brings together people from all political stripes and backgrounds because we all understand that taking care of the environment, of Mother Earth, is vital to maintaining our own thriving community.

On Thursday morning, I appeared on Ontario Today with Wei Chen for an interview on the proposal for the Wolseley Barrack Mess to be sold to the Duchess of Kent legion rather than being demolished. If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast here: http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/ontariomorning.xml  (My interview starts at the 6:55 minute mark) You can also find full coverage of the issue, including the link to download the interview at http://irenemathyssen.ndp.ca/cbc-ontario-morning-moving-the-legion-to-wolseley-barracks

Saturday of this weekend I'll be out with ReForest London to help grow our urban forest, planting trees in Mildred Barons Park at the end of Kathleen Ave. in east London. Volunteers are needed, and the event runs from 1-4pm.

Also in London this weekend, I will be joining veterans and their families celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic at the Army Navy Air Force Club on Crumlin Rd. on Saturday evening.

I wish you a happy weekend. Enjoy the sunshine and spring weather the forecast promises!