Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday. (Screenshot from CPAC broadcast)

VIDEO: Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP files ‘historic appeal’ to save proposed legislation

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson filed a “historic appeal” on Thursday to have all members of the House of Commons decide by secret ballot whether her private member’s bill will be debated and voted on next month.

A House of Commons procedural committee recently deemed Malcolmson’s Bill C-352 “non-votable” after it was found to be too similar to legislation tabled by the Liberal government in late October.

“Our last avenue of recourse is to ask the Speaker to turn to all 338 members of the House and ask them in a historic secret ballot vote to unblock my legislation and to allow Bill C-352 to debated and deemed votable,” she said at a press conference in Ottawa earlier today.

Malcolmson called the Liberal government’s attempt to dismiss her private member’s bill, which was introduced on April 13, as an “unprecedented interference.”

“This almost never happens,” she said. “Bills come to the House, there’s debate, there’s a vote. Often the Liberals vote New Democrat bills down. In this case they’ve used their Liberal majority on committee to block the bill from even being heard at all.”

A Transport Canada spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The criteria for the appeal was met and included signatures from two Conservative caucus members, Scott Reid and Marilyn Gladu as well as her own colleagues, NDP House Leader Peter Julien, Nathan Cullen and Anne Minh-Thu Quach.

The paperwork then delivered to Speaker of the House Geoff Regan in Ottawa this afternoon.

“If the speaker agrees to our request then we’re recommending to him that the vote be conducted over the days of parliament that we have the most members here,” Malcolmson said, suggesting the two day vote could come as early as Tuesday and Wednesday.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau introduced Bill C64 last month, which also deals with the issue of abandoned vessels, but has several notable differences.

“Mine deals with the backlog, deals with the recycling, fixes registration,” Malcolmson said, while adding that both are compatible.

The NDP has raised the issue of abandoned vessels over 80 times in the House of Commons.

Malcolmson’s bill has been endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities, BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union as well as over 50 organizations stretching across the country.

Bill C-352 is scheduled to be debated in the House starting on Dec. 6.

“This is a historic moment in a private member being able to advance legislation that reflects community interest,” Malcolmson said.

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