Protecting the Gatineau Park and bringing transparency to NCC
Gatineau Park is the largest federal park without any legislated protection. Roads and new subdivisions can be built within the park’s boundaries without the knowledge or approval of the Parliament.
People in our community love Gatineau Park and have been calling for legislated protection of the park for future generations. Paul took the community’s voice to parliament by introducing a bill that would protect the park.
Now the government has adopted some of Paul’s ideas for in that legislation. The bill preserves the boundaries of the park. Although this is a great victory for our community, the bill needs improvements and Paul will work through parliament to ensure the bill provides sufficient protection for our park.
In the same bill, the government adopted some of the proposals Paul put forward in making the National Capital Commission more representative of our community.
The government has finally accepted to declare the Ottawa River a “Heritage River”. The much-deserved designation is the first step in ensuring that the federal government takes an active role in coordinating efforts in protecting the river.
The Ottawa River is the source of drinking water for over one million people. Yet it has been affected by numerous sources of pollution. Running between two provinces and hosting some 90 communities on its shores, protection of the river is a jurisdictional nightmare. That’s why Paul has produced a motion in the House of Commons and a comprehensive action plan that brings federal leadership to the protection of the river.
Paul continues to work with local community groups, particularly the Ottawa Riverkeeper, to advocate for the preservation of our river.
Adoption of C-393: "Medicine for All"
On March 9, 2011 Paul Dewar celebrated a major victory in Parliament: the passage of New Democrats’ “Medicine for All” bill, C-393. The legislation removes the red tape on the way of exporting Canadian generic drugs to the developing world. It will make life-saving medicine accessible to the world’s poorest countries.
The final push for in the campaign for C-393 was bolstered by K’naan, Stephen Lewis, James Orbinski and Fanta Ongoiba. In less than a week, 42,000 Canadians signed petitions in support of the bill. And in the end, despite all the negative lobbying by big pharma, the bill was adopted with the support of MPs from all parties in the House.
Ban Bisphenol A:
In summer 2010 Health Canada added Bisphenol A to the list of banned toxins, as prescribed in Paul’s Private Members Bill C-299. BPA is a chemical compound known to mimic the female hormone estrogens and could lead to hormonal disruptions such as early puberty. Recent studies have indicated that BPA exposure during development can produce precursors of breast cancer. In men, exposure to BPA causes lowered sperm count and infertile sperms.
Standing up for integrity:
Since his election in 2006, Paul has been standing up for integrity in politics.
When the Harper Conservatives prorogued our parliament, Paul gave voice to people's outrage at this insult to our democracy. When the Harper Conservatives attacked our public service employees, people like Richard Colvin and Rémy Beauregard, Paul was front and centre in defending their rights. When the Harper Conservatives brought the Liberals along with their plan to extend the war in Afghanistan by three more years and cut Canadian aid to the Afghan people – without even a vote in the House – Paul was our voice for an end to the war. When the Harper Conservatives attacked reputable Canadian organizations like Kairos and Rights & Democracy, Paul led the Foreign Affairs committee in holding the government to account. And when the Harper Conservatives did everything they could to keep our fellow citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik out of Canada, Paul took on the file in Parliament and helped secure his return to Canada.
Paul supported the establishment of an independent Parliamentary Budget Officer to ensure transparency in government fiscal policy. His private member bill to strengthen the PBO with added independence and authorities was debated at second reading in the House of Commons with majority of MPs expressing support for Paul’s initiative.
Hearings for former Nortel employees
When Nortel Networks filed for bankruptcy, it forfeited on its commitments to its employees. It refused to pay the promised severance packages to terminated employees who left their jobs so that the company could cut costs. It stopped making pension payments. And employees on long-term disability (LTD) were hit twice as they lost both their LTD payments and the pension they were counting on for their retirement.
Paul brought the Ottawa-area Nortel employees together at a town-hall meeting and took their demand for parliamentary hearings to the House of Commons. He worked with his New Democrat colleagues on the Finance committee and secured hearings for the representatives of the employees.
The hearings must be followed up with action – and the government has failed to do so. Paul will continue to pursue proposals for government action to save Canadian jobs and knowledge and protect pensions.
Improving cycling in Ottawa
Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Ottawa Centre. Paul Dewar’s consultations with the community indicate that we want to improve cycling infrastructure in our city.
Paul has presented the ideas proposed by the community in a report that will guide future action on this important file. He has already met with NCC officials to advocate for improvements and seconded a bill put forward by British Columbia New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen which would see the federal government take an active role in funding municipal plans for cycling infrastructure.
Protecting Canadians abroad
Paul Dewar’s efforts on the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik were successful in repatriating this Canadian citizen from Sudan after six years of being stranded by Canada. Serious questions about the way the government treated this case remain to be answered.
At the same time, other Canadian citizens, including Omar Khadr, Bashir Makhtal and Maziar Bahari are waiting for government to take action.
The government has learned nothing from Maher Arar’s case. Paul will continue his efforts to seek justice for these Canadians abroad, and ensure that this never happens to another Canadian citizen by introducing legislation that will enshrine the responsibility of the government to protect Canadians abroad.
Helping resolve the Ottawa transit strike
Winter 2009 was a tough time for Ottawa residents who endured 51 days of transit strike.
Throughout the strike, Paul worked to bring the two sides closer to a resolution. He criticized Labour Minister’s intervention which undermined attempts for returning to the negotiation table and dragged on the strike. He gave voice to the community’s demand for an end to the crisis. And on the last days of January he worked with others in parliament, city and the union to help resolve the strike.
Phasing out inefficient light-bulbs
In 2007 Paul introduced a motion in parliament that called for phasing out inefficient light-bulbs. Lawmakers in Australia and California had just introduced similar legislation in order to replace incandescent bulbs in households and businesses with efficient bulbs which consume up to 75 per cent less power and last up to 10 times longer.
Although the Conservative government originally rejected Paul’s idea, his persistent advocacy and the community’s increased support for the idea led to the government’s introduction of similar measures.
Halting government’s plan to move the Portrait Gallery out of the Nation’s Capital
Through Access to Information research, Paul learned of a secret plan to move the Portrait Gallery of Canada from the Nation’s Capital to Prime Minister Harper’s hometown. He released the information and mounted a successful community campaign to keep the gallery in the capital.
The government has bungled the file on the Portrait Gallery. Its decision to cancel the original plans for the gallery to be located at the former American embassy building across the street from Parliament Hill cost taxpayers millions of dollars. After years of misspending and mismanagement, Canadians lost millions of dollars and have yet to see a Portrait Gallery. However, Paul is continuing his work to ensure the building of this cultural institution in the Nation’s Capital.
Uncovering the cost of war in Afghanistan
As the New Democrat Foreign Affairs critic, Paul has opposed the counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan and instead advocated for Canadian leadership in peace building in the region.
He has always insisted that decisions regarding Canada’s role in Afghanistan should be made with public’s full access to information and its meaningful engagement in deciding our role. On numerous occasions the government had failed to provide a thorough estimate of the cost of war in Afghanistan. Paul took his question to the Parliamentary Budget Officer who released his findings in October 2008.
The $18 billion price tag uncovered by this report has played a significant role in informing Canadians about our current participation in Afghanistan.
Blocking the sale of a Canadian-made remote sensing satellite to a US weapons manufacturer
The proposed sale of Canada's largest space company, MacDonald Dettwiler, and the Canadian RADARSAT-2 satellite would have given unprecedented control of Canadian technology, bought and paid for by Canadians, to an American firm. Canada had spent $524 million in the development of RADARSAT-2 for the promise of “priority access” to the satellite in cases of emergency, including oil spills and suspect vessels entering Canada's north.
Paul and his New Democrat colleagues argued that the sale of RADARSAT-2 would have been against national security and the defence of Canada. Paul led the Foreign Affairs Committee in demanding that the government block the sale of the company – and following public and political pressure the government accepted the demand to keep RADARSAT-2 Canadian.
Bringing accountability to government appointments
Partisan patronage has been an ongoing concern for Canadians. As one of his first efforts after election to Parliament, Paul advocated for the creation of an Appointments Commissioner who would be accountable to parliament – not just the Prime Minister’s Office.
Although the idea was adopted through the Accountability Act, it has yet to be implemented by the Prime Minister who has shown an increasing appetite for partisan patronage. This is one of the issues on which Paul will continue to fight.
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