NDP pushing on issues that directly affect Canadians, say MP

Using political leverage

“Fighting for you.” It’s an expression that has made its way into some of my columns and not one I particularly like, given one of my key motivations for entering politics was to bring people together, to work together across party lines to make real changes to make lives better.

Still, the sentiment of “fighting for you” rings true in much that the NDP has accomplished. In truth, it looks more like pushing the (governing) Liberals to keep their promises, to put the interests of those who need help most before that of investors and donors.

It also looks like hours upon hours of committee meetings, negotiations, late-night debates, public pressure and often compromise too. It’s hard work. (The federal NDP) holds the balance of power in (the current) minority government situation, but instead of unproductive insults and accusations, my party has used that position to push a large body of policy specifically designed for one purpose—to help people.

Just days ago, the New Democrats used an Opposition Day motion to call on the government to take action on the devastation happening in Gaza and Israel. With help across party lines, we were able to find common ground and pass a motion for Canada to work toward a two-state solution, stop selling arms to the Israeli government, place sanctions on extremist settlers, and call on Hamas to lay down its arms and release Israeli hostages. No Conservative MPs voted in favour of the motion.

The list of what we’ve achieved through our position in parliament is long—a plan for pharmacare that includes coverage for contraceptives and diabetes medication and devices this year, a national dental care Plan, anti-“scab” (replacement worker) legislation to protect workers (during a strike or lock-out), laws that strengthen the Competition Act to boost competition and oversight of the grocery sector, a doubling of the GST credit, the Canada Disability Benefit, and major funding announcements for the Housing Accelerator Fund, which is a key part of our supply-and-confidence agreement with government.

New Democrats are not done. We’re fighting for real action on climate change, including a national firefighting force and a Youth Climate Corps, to create good, green jobs for youth across the country.

We need a national school lunch program and a fund to protect renters. We need to ensure proper investments in childcare continue until all families can enjoy $10 per day childcare. We need real investments in our health care system to ensure Canadians are getting the care they need.

In this sense, we’re still fighting, but we’re fighting for the things Canadians need, not against other Canadians. These days, I’m seeing far too many political messages that pit Canadians against each other. It’s similar to the politics we see to our south (in the U.S.) It’s dismissing credible media and attacking experts and evidence. Far too often it is deliberate misrepresentation in the name of garnering popularity.

We are facing considerable challenges on so many fronts and too many people are struggling to get by. These are the fights we need to take on, not against one another. There is much work to do and we can succeed if we continue to propose real solutions and identify the real sources of the challenges we face.

This is why I’m a New Democrat and why we’ve accomplished so much in these past months.

Richard Cannings is the NDP MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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