Serving as your Member of Parliament for almost four years has been the greatest honour of my life.
Like so many men and women who enter public life, I did so to make a difference - to my community and my country. That statement still generates some eye-rolling, given the cynicism of our times, but the last four years has only strengthened my conviction that individual politicians can make an impact in our system of democracy.
I am now even more optimistic about our ability as Canadians to have a say in the kind of country in which we live. It requires persistence, diligence, an ability to look beyond partisan lines to the common good, and a capacity to understand the concerns of those with whom you may disagree. The ability to listen deeply is the most useful skill a politician can possess.
I am grateful that those insights have served me well and enabled me to work with others to make a difference in public policy areas that drove me to enter politics: the urgency of the climate change crisis, the decline of natural biodiversity, income inequality, the need for Canada to adopt a more forward-thinking economic strategy embracing economic development and environmental protection, and the opportunity for Canada to play a constructive role on the international stage on important issues such as climate change.
As the current Parliamentary session comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect, assess and review the past four years with an eye to the future. I have been fortunate to have a number of platforms from which to make a contribution - MP for North Vancouver, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and, for the past year, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. As I look back, I believe that progress has been made in many areas.
As MP for North Vancouver
$20M in additional federal funding to address the Lynn Creek Bridge bottleneck and Highway #1 improvements to reduce traffic congestion;
Funding for an additional Seabus and upgrades to the terminal, to reduce times between sailings;
Funding to improve Lonsdale Quay and Phibbs Exchange bus terminals;
Funding for the “B-line” as part of the overall North Shore Transportation plan;
Core participant in the Integrated North Shore Transportation Project focused on short, medium and long-term transportation issues and options, including a possible rapid transit link to Vancouver.
· Significant role in acquiring federal investment of $212 million for the Lion’s Gate Wastewater Treatment plant - the largest single capital investment of Budget 2016;
· Key role in ongoing discussions with Metro Vancouver to shift the North Van treatment facility to more environmentally-friendly tertiary treatment.
Funding for revitalization of Kirkstone and Fen Burnett turf soccer fields;
Investment in the new North Vancouver Museum & Archives.
Discussions leading to the National Housing Strategy, the first federal government interventions toward more affordable housing for several decades. This Strategy provides $40B towards additional rental housing for lower income Canadians, and rental subsidies towards ensuring accessible rental housing in North Van and throughout the Lower Mainland;
Discussions regarding housing affordability, and significant investments in the Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Border Services Agency and the RCMP, ensuring that foreign capital flows comply with Canada’s legal frameworks – including taxation issues impacting residential real estate, money laundering laws and transparency regarding beneficial ownership.
North Vancouver’s economy:
Secured new contracts valued at nearly $16B for Seaspan’s North Vancouver shipyards to build 16 additional Coast Guard vessels, creating significant, long-term jobs and economic opportunity for many North Shore businesses;
Significant role in development of a future-oriented economic strategy for Canada – particularly clean/green technology. In North Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, key significant investments have been made in high-potential, clean tech firms such as Ecoation, Carbon Engineering, Nano One and General Fusion.
Accessible and responsive constituency office:
· A formal policy that my Lonsdale constituency staff and I work to respond in a timely way to every constituent who writes or calls us, and to meet with any constituent who expresses a desire to discuss an issue or concern with me.
· Sheer volume poses significant challenges; the dedicated staff in my office is among the very best at these endeavours of any constituency office in this country.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Actively involved in developing the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change - Canada’s Climate Plan to meet our Paris targets, with over 50 measures to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions – including phasing out coal-fired power generation;
Deeply involved in developing a future-oriented clean tech strategy for Canada;
Significant involvement in work to address biodiversity declines and to protect species at risk – including boreal and south mountain caribou here in BC.
As Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Catalyzed an historic investment in habitat restoration to ensure the survival of Pacific salmon stocks, with the establishment of a $142 M BC Salmon Restoration Innovation Fund;
Led legislative process to restore lost protections for fish and fish habitat (gutted by the Harper Government in 2012), and add modern safeguards to the new Fisheries Act;
Put into place protections for key marine species at risk, including South Resident Killer whales, North Atlantic Right whales, Fraser Chinook salmon and BC Steelhead trout, and secured a ban on shark finning;
Bold action taken on plastics pollution – including banning key single-use plastics by as early as 2021.
Overall, I am proud of the impact I believe I have made in Ottawa on your behalf. As this Parliament draws to close, I consider it my great honour to have served you, the residents of North Vancouver. I thank you very much for having trusted me with this work.