As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I hope you and your loved ones remain safe and well.
Our Remembrance Day ceremonies and collective acknowledgments may have looked different this year because of the pandemic, but our observation of the sacrifice of our Canadian service members remains as steadfast as ever. Thank you to all who served past or present, for protecting our incredible country. I want to thank the many locations in our community for their Remembrance Day commemorations, and for allowing myself and others to pay our respects in a physically-distant fashion. It is so important to remember the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform.
On the Hill, legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID) is being considered. The proposed changes go further than requested by the Quebec Court, and the government failed to do the five-year review of MAID in Canada, to determine if the current law is being followed. A bill on conversion therapy is under discussion as well. While everyone is opposed to someone being forced into therapy against their will, concerns about free speech and freedom of religion need to be addressed in the wording of the bill. Changes to the citizenship oath to recognize rights of Indigenous people are proposed, as well as an additional statutory holiday for Orange Shirt Day, coming out of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation report.
The Standing Committee for the Status of Women is continuing our study of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, hearing last week from witnesses in the economic sector, as well as more experts in long-term care. The resounding take-away from almost all witnesses the Committee has heard is that women require more support for childcare and after-school programs, to allow them to participate in the workforce. This coincides with evidence observed during the pandemic, when we say women’s participation rate in the workforce fall to its lowest level in 30 years. An Ontario Chamber of Commerce study found women between the ages of 25 and 54 lost more than twice as many jobs as men in Ontario, and since March, women have seen slower re-employment than men. Especially as we are observing a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic now, the need for more support for women so they may participate in the workforce remains. I look forward to the completion of our study, so we may see some resulting action to mitigate these negative circumstances for women.
Another study currently being conducted by the Procedure and House Affairs Committee is on best practices for conducting an election in a pandemic, should it be required. As we are currently in a minority Parliament, the potential for an election at any time persists, and we need to be ready. I am advising the Conservative members on the Committee as part of my Shadow Cabinet position as Privy Council Critic. We are currently exploring regulations around mail-in voting, voting at long-term care homes, and expanding the writ period to allow for multiple voting days. This process will be open and transparent, unlike what is currently happening with the numerous ethical scandals within the Liberal government. Another Liberal MP was removed from caucus to sit as an independent for breaching ethics rules. Documents requested by the ethics committee related to the WE charity scandal have been destroyed, despite being legally requested.
With the holidays approaching, many are wondering if they will be able to see their families across the border. If you have American extended family who are able to visit and quarantine for two weeks, encourage them to make use of the IRCC extended family visitor application soon, to allow for processing time. I am still advocating for implementation of rapid testing at the Blue Water Bridge, to allow families to be reunited more easily, without the need to quarantine.
Finally, I have some exciting news: I have written a book, which will be released on Nov. 30. I was able to use some of my time in ‘lockdown’ in the spring to write down the stories of my travels throughout the years, both professional and personal. My book, titled Tales of the Globe Trot, has been published by Friesen Press. It will be available for purchase online through Amazon, and in-person at the Book Keeper bookstore in Sarnia, and will make a great holiday gift. I look forward to sharing my adventures with you.