MP Report

By Denise Savoie

Victoria really comes to life in the summer, and that is particularly true in James Bay, surrounded by water and by so many harbour activities. It was a thrill to be asked to be the Official Starter for the 90K Ride in the Tour de Victoria, where I met Victoria's own cycle touring phenom Ryder Hesjedal and watched hundreds of riders set out from the harbour as part of the Victoria International Cycling Festival.

I also had the honour of attending the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Victoria Foundation, recognizing a remarkable record since 1936 of philanthropy and support for Victoria's charitable organizations.

The summer is also a time for enjoying our community's rich cultural and recreational life. I plan to drop by the James Bay Community Market, take in the Symphony Splash and catch some of the incredibly fun Victoria International Buskers Festival.

Returning to Victoria from Ottawa means I can be in the riding and be part of my community for a sustained period of time. I am already scheduled to meet with staff from several community agencies struggling with dwindling resources to assist Victorians who are homeless, underemployed or disabled. These visits allow me to hear directly about the community's concerns and advocate for those issues when I return to Ottawa in the fall.

The new session of Parliament began in June with the selection of a new Speaker of the House of Commons. I was very pleased with the support I received for my candidacy. In my speech I outlined my goal of working to improve Parliamentary civility and decorum. That speech can now be viewed on my website.

In the end, I was appointed Deputy Speaker of the House. My role in Ottawa will change somewhat with this new position. I will have to be more impartial because I am one step removed from the Speaker. But my position will allow me to have a direct impact on raising the level of debate in Parliament, while continuing to work vigorously on issues of concern to our community - working with government Ministers when possible, and opposing government policy when necessary.

Among the local issues I will be pursuing is securing increased resources for our municipal and regional governments to meet the many responsibilities that have been downloaded onto property tax payers, including next-generation transit. I am disappointed that the Government has a plan to cut $45 million in green infrastructure funding at a time when Canada is facing a $123 billion municipal infrastructure deficit.

My Vancouver Island New Democrat colleagues and I are meeting with all levels of government to examine the long-range needs of Islanders and the role of the LRT and the E & N Railway. As well, I am continuing my dialogue with residents, kayakers and the federal Minister of Transport regarding the mega-yacht marina proposed for our Inner Harbour.

On the national front, our environment critic has reintroduced our Climate Change Accountability Bill, which was defeated last fall by the non-elected Senate without any debate, and we will press the government (ideally backed up by the loud voices of Victorians and all Canadians) to realize that we cannot continue to saddle future generations with this environmental debt.

My colleagues and I have also reintroduced our bill in the House of Commons to ban oil tanker traffic off the north coast of British Columbia. There is no way to completely preclude the danger of an accident that would have devastating consequences for our fisheries and coastal environment.  Again we will need all of you to join with us in championing this cause.

Best wishes for an enjoyable summer!