May 31st Blog

In Ottawa:  In addition to my duties in the House, I had two speaking engagements this week. On Tuesday I addressed the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on the role of Parliamentary Caucuses, and on Thursday I spoke to a delegation of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers gathered in Ottawa about the restoration of home delivery services.

On Wednesday I participated in the TELUS Days of Giving event, packing school kits for children in London-Fanshawe that will be delivered the first week of September. I was happy to support this worthy initiative that helps to ensure all children have equal access to education with the tools they need to succeed.

Also on Wednesday, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrived in Ottawa for a state visit. I had the honour of attending a standing reception on the Hill, as well as the Governor General’s state dinner at Rideau Hall that evening to welcome them.

Meeting Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

(MPs Peter Stoffer and Irene Mathyssen greet Dutch Queen)

Then on Thursday there was great news for Canadian women as the Conservatives , after previously indicating it would have to wait for a “future budget”, agreed to respect the vote in the House of Commons earlier this month on my motion to remove the federal tax from feminine hygiene products, that tax break for women will take effect JULY 1st, 2015!

I’m grateful to the tens of thousands of Canadians from every province and territory in the country who signed the petitions and contacted their MPs to support my efforts. Finally an unfair gender tax will be ended!

In Committee: This week in Citizenship and Immigration Committee both the Minister and department officials answered questions on  the government estimates for spending for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  We also heard from department witnesses on clauses of Bill C-59, the government’s budget implementation act, that impact Citizenship and Immigration.  Amendments cannot be made at committee to either the government estimates or to Bill C-59 so both meetings this week were an opportunity for members to seek additional information. 

In the House:  I had the opportunity to ask Questions in the House four days in a row this week. On Monday, I asked about Senate reform. This relic is used for partisan fundraising and to kill legislation that was passed by democratically elected Members of Parliament. It should be abolished.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I asked about the cuts to home delivery by Canada Post. Canadians are angry about this change and have not been consulted. I, along with my NDP caucus colleagues, will continue to raise this question in the House until home delivery is restored.

And on Thursday I asked two questions in the House about retirement security. The Conservatives’ half-hearted promise of a voluntary expansion to the CPP comes a day late and a dollar short. Even if they were to enact this legislation it would not achieve the goal of retirement security for Canadian seniors. What we need is to roll back the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 65 and to expand the current CPP program as it exists now. That is what New Democrats will do in government.

The videos of my questions in the House this week are available at:

In London: Returning home on Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Centre for Product Validation, an important economic addition for London which I raised in parliament earlier this year:

CCPV groundbreaking with MPP Peggy Sattler

(at the Centre for Product Validation groundbreaking with MPP Peggy Sattler)

I then had the pleasure and privilege to join Mayor Matt Brown and the Consul-General of France, Jean Francois Casabonne Masonnave, along with members of the Canadian Forces and veterans from London’s Royal Canadian Legion Branches, in the presentation of the National Order of the Legion of Honour medal to my constituent Michael Sydorko. I nominated Michael for this honour in the fall of 2014, when we learned that the French government would be accepting nominations to honour veterans who participated in the liberation of France from Nazi occupation in WWII. Fewer than 40 Canadians have ever received this award, the highest honour that France bestows. It is remarkable to have had this opportunity to honour one of the veterans who calls London home.

Sydorko Medal Ceremony

(CWO Klausnitzer, LCol Joe Robinson, MP Irene Mathyssen, veteran Michael Sydorko, District Commander Royal Canadian Legion Brian Harris, French Consul-General Jean Francois Casabonne Masonnave, Mayor Matt Brown at Legion of Honour Medal Ceremony)

On Saturday I participated in the “Go Green, Go Bike, Go Dutch” annual event that has Londoners ride from the Dutch Club, by bicycle, to Victoria Park. There we honoured those veterans who helped liberate the Netherlands.