By Jordan Halkyard
Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa on Sept. 17 for the fall sitting of the House – and what kind of mood they’re in depends on who you talk to.
“It is pretty upbeat (around Ottawa) right now. We have all returned from doing work in our home ridings …We are back and ready to roll,” said Ray Boughen, Conservative MP for Palliser.
Boughen does not believe there will be one key issue to work on during this session, but a variety of issues will be brought up. These include “continuing to grow the economy and the government continuing to support quality jobs.”
Boughen’s optimism about the new session was contrasted by Wascana MP Ralph Goodale. The province’s only Liberal representative in Ottawa said the mood on Parliament Hill “has not improved” since the House last meet.
“The government is still proceeding on with the same plan as before,” the veteran parliamentarian said.
Part of the government’s plan is another omnibus budget bill. This bill is similar to Bill C-38, the budget bill introduced by the Conservatives in June, which had over 400 pages. Goodale said the current bill is “ludicrous” and demonstrates the government’s “anti-democratic nature.”
“We have to vote on things that have nothing to do with each other, all in the same document. There are times when one minute we are talking about tree farms and the next we are discussing MP pensions,” Goodale explained.
Conservative House Leader Peter Von Loan told the Globe and Mail the bill was necessary because “all (the) pieces (of the budget) go together in a comprehensive plan for short and long-term prosperity.”
The Regina-area MPs have to balance large national issues, like the omnibus budget bill, with the concerns of constituents in Saskatchewan. Goodale said he was asked the most over the summer about old-age security and Regina’s tough housing market.
“People I spoke with were worried about the cutbacks in old-age security. (The cutbacks) may be fine for younger people in good health, but for older people these cutbacks will be significant. Also, the housing situation across Regina was brought up a lot. The vacancy rate in the city is the lowest in the country and the ability to find a place to live is very difficult right now,” Goodale said.
Boughen said Palliser residents spoke to him about immigration and employment insurance.
“People would come to me and talk about immigration into the area and how new people are going to fit into the community. Also, there was a lot of talk about employment insurance and how people will be to access it in the new system,” Boughen said.