Being elected as the Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is a humbling and inspiring honour.
Becoming MP leads to a whirlwind of activity. First is finding and setting up a new constituency office, and hiring and training staff.
The office must be sort of central for people — but the riding stretches from Esquimalt to Port Renfrew including Saanich west of the Pat Bay Highway — so “central” is a challenge to accomplish.
I now have my constituency office open and running in View Royal. Also, I have been meeting with local mayors and others to enhance my knowledge of local issues and hear concerns that mayors may want me to pursue on their behalf in Ottawa.
And, in Ottawa, I now have another office staffed, open and running to help me get work done in the House of Commons on behalf of constituents.
Now that the session has started, there is the steep learning curve of getting to know and use the procedures and functions of Parliament in order to do my job as critic and member.
All in all, it’s been a hectic and very rewarding summer for me getting ready for this legislative session that has now started.
As a political science and justice instructor in my previous career and as a former staffer in Ottawa way back in my early days, I appreciate and am humbled even more by the fact that I am now working here on your behalf as a sitting Member of Parliament. And there’s lots of work to do.
The government has indicated it has a substantial set of legislation it wishes to bring forward before the Christmas break. I and my colleagues on the official opposition benches will be working hard to examine and critique the government’s legislation.
Where we think things can be done differently and in a better way for all Canadians — we will make pragmatic suggestions for improvement.
New Democrats believe job creation, which should be the number one priority right now, can be enhanced by giving small businesses tax credits and other incentives for hiring new employees. We believe pensions for Canadians need to be strengthened for all. And we believe that public services benefit all Canadians and should be protected — not severely diminished. Those are some of the principles that will guide mine and my colleagues’ actions in the House of Commons this fall.
New Democrats will be presenting different perspectives and options than the government on many of the common priorities: the economy, jobs, public safety, the military and foreign affairs to name just a few.
There are also local issues of great importance. Now that the Capital Regional District has voted to halt the application to develop some of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail lands, I remain committed to working with MLA John Horgan, Juan de Fuca area director Mike Hicks and other interested parties to see if we can come to some sort of solution that will ensure there are no future development proposals on that land.
Finally, I want to encourage people to become involved in, participate in, and have an interest in the Nov. 19 school board and municipal elections.
Locally elected people have such important jobs in determining the look and direction of our communities and school systems. Please take some time and energy to find out about the candidates, their positions and their records. Please vote on Nov. 19.
—Randall Garrison (NDP) is the MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.