Greater Victoria MPs react to Harper’s first year

A year ago this week, Canadians headed to the polls to elect Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first majority government since 2004.

A year ago this week, Canadians headed to the polls to elect Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first majority government since 2004.

And while Capital Region residents don’t have any of the ruling Conservatives representing them in Ottawa, the politicians who were elected said they’ve still managed to get things done for their ridings.

“It’s obviously been challenging, with a Conservative majority, but we’ve been able to do things like get funding for the E&N (Railway) – so it proves that not everything is impossible,” said NDP MP Randall Garrison, who represents Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Garrison, serving his first term in Ottawa, said the year since election day has been “tumultuous” for his party, “with the high of the NDP becoming the official opposition, to the low of losing (leader) Jack Layton.”

Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May, who made history one year ago by becoming the first Green party member elected in Canada, said the year has been eye-opening and productive.

“I feel my team here in Sidney has been providing quite excellent levels of service for people dealing with immigration issues and tax issues, and the pension problems. We work very hard, and we have resolved a lot of issues for a lot of people,” she said. “But in some ways it’s harder emotionally than I anticipated. You get so caught up in people’s lives. Quite often they’re going through hell from some level of government and they’re coming to you in desperation.”

In Ottawa, partisan politics is the biggest obstacle to making the kind of progress Canadians expect from their elected officials. “There’s much less scope for individual action than I expected.”

Both May and Garrison have been able to introduce private members bills since being elected.

The region’s most veteran MP, the NDP’s Denise Savoie, has represented Victoria since 2006. For her, the past year hasn’t had much of a silver lining.

“I think our people have a less secure future,” she said. “The direction that (the Conservative government is) taking Canada, I’m clearly uncomfortable with. … I think this year has not been a good year to get the region’s agenda heard in Ottawa.”

Pointing to funding for light-rail transit in the Capital Region, Savoie said the discussion is “not very present in the government’s mind.”

Savoie called the current government makeup a “private-interest government,” where oil and state are “one entity” when there should be just as much separation as between church and state.

“I think what’s been lost by this government is that government represents public interest,” she said.

Garrison said the next year in government will likely be focused on the ramifications of this year’s budget.

“We’re finding out every day, more and more things that have been eliminated that effect the services which are provided to Canadians,” he said. “They said they were eliminating waste, and now the cuts are down to the barebones so much that services are disappearing.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Most Read