Bill C-311 The Ottawa Update: part four
As you will know from the previous segment, after being thoroughly lambasted by Canadian wine lovers and the wine industry, late Tuesday evening the NDP contacted me and admitted to having made a mistake in staging the filibuster of Bill C311 and suggested they would try to identify one of their spots to use in order to bring C-311 back before the House for Commons for the second hour of debate prior to House adjournment at the end of June. While I welcomed this news, at this point I received no formal offer from the NDP and more importantly no specific date identifying when the NDP could bring the Bill back before the House of Commons.
By Wednesday morning a media frenzy had ensured. The NDP were now publicly admitting they had made a mistake in staging the filibuster and that they were going to find a way to “fix” the problem. What happened next was all rather educational to me, as a first time MP. At roughly 2 PM on Wednesday (Ottawa time of course), a couple of CBC reporters were tweeting that the NDP had and I will quote the tweet directly: “NDP say they’ve offered one of their private members’ business slots so they can pass the wine bill before summer” The timing was very interesting as Members statements and question period starts at 2pm and generally as a result all members are in the House. Why I say this was interesting timing was because at that point I had not formerly been offered any spot from the NDP however as I was in the House I could not directly respond to the CBC reporters to point out that I had not been formerly offered a specific spot and more importantly a date. Fortunately Twitter came to the rescue and I was able to tweet the following message back to the CBC reporters “Can the CBC please tell me what spot the NDP has offered up?”
Immediately at the conclusion of question period, which was roughly 15 minutes past 3pm here in Ottawa, I was then formally approached by the NDP and was offered the spot for MP Olivia Chow on June 13th. Somehow the same CBC reporters on Twitter also knew this as well – those CBC reporters seem to know everything! Here is where this issue becomes fascinating, literally seconds after being approached by the NDP with the formal offer for the June 13th date, NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen had risen in the House on a point of order to condemn me for not accepting the June 13th date that I had literally only been offered mere moments prior. Naturally the CBC reporters already knew this as well and were soon tweeting “Cullen notes that his party has, in fact, offered slots to get the bill passed before summer, and wonders why they won’t agree” and a follow up Tweet, one of my favourites…. “Why, Cullen wonders, will Albas not accept? Why is he trying to destroy “the hopes and dreams” of BC winemakers ?”
According to the NDP and Nathan Cullen, now it was my fault the NDP has engaged in a filibuster and my Bill was delayed. Of course the reason why I did not accept the kind offer from Olivia Chow, (and I say kind because MP Chow was offering to greatly delay her own private member’s Bill C-305 calling for a National Transit Strategy, something that I know MP Chow believes very strongly in), was due to the fact that I had received another very generous offer from Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison from the Liberal Party. I will credit Scott Brison who has been a champion in promoting this Bill on behalf of his constituents and was also very helpful to moving the bill forward during the committee stage review as well.
The good news is that by working together in a cross partisan effort and thanks again to MP Scott Brison Bill C-311 will come back before the House on June 6th and thus we have potentially lost only one very valuable week at the Canadian Senate, again assuming the Bills passage. The NDP has also confirmed with me that they will only put up one speaker who will speak briefly and they will fully support moving the Bill on to the Senate. For that I am grateful to the NDP and remain positively optimistic that we will have good news on June 6th. In other words, I am again feeling hopeful, exactly as I was, one week ago.