New Democrats intense, hard-fought session a success

OTTAWA – Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) alongside the Leader of the Official Opposition Tom Mulcair (Outremont) and Opposition Whip Nycole Turmel (Hull-Aylmer) summed up this Parliamentary session as one where New Democrats held Harper’s Conservatives to account.

New Democrats stood up for Canadians on many issues including protecting threats to privacy with the Internet snooping bill, speaking against changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that could force mandatory detention on refugees during their first year in Canada, and repeatedly calling for transparency and more information on the cost of F-35 fighter jets. Most recently, New Democrats fought the budget bill.

“We were a strong opposition to the omnibus budget bill” said Cullen. “Our objectives were to have Canadians understand what was in the enormous bill, which was no small feat.”

New Democrats held consultations in six cities across Canada in which they heard from over 40 experts. They also received over 5000 responses from Canadians.

“We consulted with Canadians and listened to them. Canadians said the bill should have been divided and studied properly. When the government would not negotiate, we put more that 500 amendments forward, more than any other party,” Cullen said.

There were also more than 50 self-organized events held across the country and in the Northwest, including in Fort St. James, Prince Rupert and Smithers. Cullen says people in his region are very worried about the impact of the Trojan Horse Bill.

“Seasonal workers in mining and fishing industries are going to be hit hard by reduced access to Employment Insurance. Seniors will have to work for two more years before being eligible for Old Age Security. In a region that is used to living with reduced federal services, these kinds of changes have serious impact on peoples’ everyday lives,” said Cullen.

Even more worrisome is the impact of the gutting of Environmental Assessments.

“Fighting the Enbridge pipeline is the fight of our lives in the Northwest,” said Cullen. “There was another oil spill yesterday, and if that happens to us, it will destroy some of the most beautiful land in Canada and our way of life.”

Though the Conservatives were able to push the omnibus budget bill through, Cullen says he’ll continue to stand up for Northwesterners and Canadians.

“The more the Conservatives try to tear down Parliament, the more committed New Democrats are to stopping them,” said Cullen.

Parliament will rise today for summer recess until September 17, 2012. Cullen has a busy schedule planned for the summer months and looks forward to speaking with Northwesterners about next steps following the budget bill.

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