OPINION: Randall Garrison looks back at 2012

The list of Conservative decisions that are contrary to our Canadian values continues.

The column Jan. 2 was incorrectly attributed. Here it is again, the year that was, by MP Randall Garrison.

In politics, 2012 was a busy year.

In Ottawa, Thomas Mulcair continued to show Canadians that the NDP is ready to replace the Conservatives with a progressive government that respects democracy, promotes our economy, protects our environment and much needed federal services and restores our standing internationally. The Conservatives continue to ram through legislation that cuts services and puts Canadians at risk: cuts to EI recipients, forcing people to work until age 67, reduced health transfers, destruction of habitat and navigable waters protection. The list goes on and on.

And the list of Conservative decisions that are contrary to our Canadian values continues.

Recently the Conservatives defeated private members Bill C-398 – the so called Grandmother’s Bill that would have allowed significantly more drugs to be sent to developing countries to combat disease and help prevent deaths. C-398 was widely supported by international health agencies, and even in the pharmaceutical research industry, but the Conservatives, in a mean-spirited, ideological decision, defeated it anyway.

Another example: a private members motion to institute a national anti-bullying campaign that was also defeated by the Conservatives, thereby missing an opportunity to really reduce bullying.

As the NDP’s Public Safety critic, I continued to show how the Conservative’s supposed “tough on crime” agenda actually damages public safety while imposing high costs on taxpayers.

In the area of Corrections the situation is becoming a crisis with over crowding and inadequate services for prisoners with mental illness leading to increasingly unsafe institutions for corrections workers and inmates alike.  Ultimately this makes all of us less safe as an increasing number of offenders are completing their sentences without getting access to the rehabilitation programs that would help keep them from re-offending.

Conservatives have also put national security at risk with cutbacks to the budget for border security.

In my other critic portfolio on LGBTQ issues, I have continued to work to make sure all Canadians enjoy the same rights. My private members bill that would give transgendered Canadians equal protection under the law continues to make its way through the House of Commons.

During the past year I was proud to award 30 Diamond Jubilee Awards to deserving constituents in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca who each helped make our community a better place.

Locally, though unemployment remains too high and full-time, family-supporting jobs too rare, there has been some good news on the job front in this riding. I am pleased that the jetties at Esquimalt Naval Base will undergo extensive upgrades and that the federal government has adopted a shipbuilding strategy that will result in long term skilled jobs at Dockyards.

Looking forward to 2013, I know my constituency office staff will continue to provide top notch service for the residents of Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca and my Ottawa staff will continue to support our efforts to oppose the Conservatives’ destructive agenda in the House of Commons.

I will continue to fight for E&N railway funding for southern Vancouver Island and continue to fight to preserve our precious West Coast environment. In particular, I will work to block increased tanker traffic and to reverse the dismantling of federal fish habitat protection and enhancement.

Randall Garrison is the MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

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