Electoral reform, gender equity key for MP

NANAIMO – Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, is looking back on the past year and looking ahead to the next three years.

One year has passed since the federal election, and it’s got Nanaimo’s MP thinking about what the year has brought and what the next three years will bring.

Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, reflected last week on the past year, her first in the House of Commons.

“I’ve been so encouraged about the work that I’ve been able to do with community organizations and for the riding,” she said.

One of her most memorable achievements from the past year was seeing her pay-equity motion pass in the House of Commons. Parliament agreed in February to make pay equity a right for public-sector employees, though further action isn’t anticipated until 2018.

More recently, Malcolmson said she was happy to personally see the abandoned ship Viki Lyne II removed from Ladysmith harbour. She believes the Liberal government is close to bringing forward its own legislation on derelict vessels with many of the same ideals as the private member’s bill she introduced in February, including recycling provisions, improvements to vessel registration and more resources for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The year has also brought disappointments. Malcolmson is the NDP’s status of women critic and has seen “a series of bad-news announcements on the gender file.” Last week the House voted down the Gender Equity Act which offered incentives to political parties to run more female candidates. Malcolmson said the percentage of woman MPs has “stalled out at 25 per cent” and noted that last week’s vote wasn’t even to pass the act, but rather just to study it.

“We are confused about the government’s messaging and at a bit of a loss as to explain why they would want to shut the conversation down on this,” she said.

The vote comes after the delay on pay equity, she said, and a similar delay to ‘gender-lens’ analysis of government spending projects and policies.

“A year in, there has been nothing concrete that changes life on the ground for women, unless they’re inside the Liberal cabinet,” Malcolmson said.

Another concern for her party at the moment is the electoral reform process. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent comments on the subject and ensuing discussion in the House seem to suddenly put electoral reform “in doubt,” Malcolmson said.

“I hope Canadians will push very hard to let the prime minister know that he got a strong mandate from the voters to implement his promise and we will be holding the government to account,” she said.

While her first year as MP has brought those sorts of challenges and others, Malcolmson called them “positive challenges,” and just part of her fast-paced, full days of activity and opportunity.

“I’m so excited to see, if we can carry on with these successes, how much we’ll be able to achieve over the next three years,” she said.