Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP talks about priorities after Parliament’s upcoming fall prorogation
Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson will likely have to wait a few extra weeks before returning to Ottawa for the start of the new parliamentary session, but he already knows what the government’s new focus will be.
The House of Commons is scheduled to resume Sept. 16, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until October.
Harper made the announcement Aug. 19 during his annual week-long tour through Canada’s Far North. The new parliamentary session will start with a speech from the throne to set out the government’s fresh priorities.
“Certainly we’re going to continue to focus on the economy,” Anderson said. “We’ve done a good job of protecting the Canadian economy over the last few years and want to make sure that we protect Canadian jobs while creating more prosperity in the long-term. Western Canada has been a great beneficiary of that in the past, so we’ll continue to do that.”
He described the summer recess as quiet and he did not hear any major concerns from people in the riding.
“There have been a lot of centennial events that I’ve been able to go out and take part in,” he said. “The centennial ceremonies, the parades and those kinds of things are always great events to go to.”
He did hear from agricultural producers who are concerned the federal government’s transfer of irrigation districts to local control is taking too long.
“We’ve been working with local irrigation groups to see that come about,” he said. “I think there’s been some sense of frustration that perhaps we could be moving a little bit more quickly on that and I share that frustration with them.”
Anderson will also focus on a few other issues when the House of Commons reconvenes after prorogation. Eliminating the federal deficit and achieving balanced budgets remain key priorities.
“I’ve been an advocate of that right from day one when we were starting to run a deficit,” he said. “So I would like to see our government get this budget balanced and match our revenues with our spending. I think that’s important and I think also people in our constituency think that as well.”
He has been working on some religious freedom issues with one of his staff members and that remains a matter of concern to him.
“We continue to look towards that and certainly with some of the situations in places like Egypt there certainly needs to be an awareness of those issues as well,” he said.
He already had contact with the office of Dr. Andrew Bennett, who is Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom.
The Harper government opened the Office of Religious Freedom in February 2013 as a new component within Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
“We’ve been able to work with Dr. Bennett,” he said. “He seems like a good choice for that position and there’s no shortage of places for him to get involved, particularly with some of the things that we see happen in places like Egypt and even in China again where people often have to struggle to have their religious freedom rights protected.”
Anderson has always been clear on his pro-life stance and he will continue to support any political initiatives on that issue.
“I would love to see our government move on some of those issues as well,” he said.
He supported efforts by Mark Warawa, the Conservative MP for Langley, B.C., to introduce a motion on female gendercide in the House of Commons.
“I certainly would have liked to see that motion go forward as well, so we’ll keep working on those issues,” Anderson said.
Prime Minister Harper’s position has been that he does not want to reopen the abortion debate, but Anderson believes there is a need to clarify the legal situation in Canada.
“A lot of people don’t understand that Canada doesn’t have an abortion law at all,” he said. “So there is no law either restricting or setting out directions for abortion. The Supreme Court has told us years ago, it’s almost 25 years ago now, that Parliament should deal with that issue and so certainly there are a number of us that would like to see that issue dealt with in some fashion.”
Despite the official position within the Conservative Party against reopening the abortion debate, he is confident there is still opportunity for MPs to work on pro-life matters.
“I think there’s good space for us to work on the issues,” he said. “Certainly, we’ve got a strong group of pro-life folks in our caucus and I think people will continue to be focused on those kinds of things.”
The Senate expense scandal, in which Harper appointed senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin have featured prominently, has been a dominant point of political discussion in recent months. But Anderson felt it will not be damaging to the Conservative Party specifically.
“I actually think rather than hurting our party it is probably hurting in terms of people’s perception of how government is run generally,” he said. “Certainly, there’s a strong sentiment in the west and in this riding as well that we should either get some serious reform in the Senate or it’s time to abolish it.”
He has favoured a “Triple-E” Senate that is equal, elected and effective, but he is unsure if that will ever be achieved. At the same time, various constitutional issues might make it difficult to abolish the Senate.
“We saw at the premiers’ meeting that a lot of people either didn’t have any interest in it or wasn’t willing to go into that direction,” he said.
The Harper government asked the Supreme Court in February for clarification on federal powers to reform or abolish the Senate. Anderson said it would be futile for the government to do anything before receiving a court ruling.
“Hopefully, they’ll get back to us fairly quickly and then we can begin to move on it,” he mentioned. “It looks like things aren’t happening, but the important thing is that we get their opinion before we move ahead here so we know what we can do and what we can’t.”
via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post http://www.prairiepost.com/news/sw-sask/item/4807-cypress-hills-grasslands-mp-talks-about-priorities-after-parliament-s-upcoming-fall-prorogation.html