Photo by Whitehorse Star
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell had a busy first sitting day in Ottawa following last Thursday’s Speech from the Throne.
Bagnell told the Star that afternoon he was pleased with the contents of the speech, which set out the priorities for the new minority government.
“I was very happy that (the speech) put in the things I passionately spoke about during the election,” Bagnell said.
He was sworn in as the MP early last week for the sixth time in his career. He has served in the House of Commons since the 2000 election, with the exception of the 2011-2016 term, served by Conservative Ryan Leef.
Bagnell said climate change and affordable housing were two key components of the throne speech, and the first big move from government will be to reduce taxes “for everyone except the very wealthy.”
“I think people will be happy with that,” Bagnell said. (Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Monday the basic annual personal income tax exemption will rise to $15,000 by 2023, a measure the Bloc Québécois has said it will support when it’s voted on in the House of Commons.)
Bagnell said the speech outlined priorities important to each of the four main parties in Parliament and he was hopeful that would help to bridge the partisan divide in the minority government.
“There was basically something in there for every party,” Bagnell said.
He noted several priorities highlighted by the throne speech that were important to the Conservatives’ election campaign. Bagnell beat the Yukon’s Conservative candidate in October’s election by fewer than 200 votes.
These priorities included cutting red tape, lowering taxes, the first time home buyers’ incentive, working with other countries and getting Canadian resources to the international market.
The throne speech also promised a ban on “military-style” firearms, exploring changes to pharmacare and dental care and increasing general affordability.
While promising action on climate change, the speech also committed to continuing the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline project as a method of delivering Alberta oil to international markets.
He also said he was pleased to see a large section in the speech on First Nations, an issue he said is important to Yukoners.
The speech promised to continue implementing the calls for action in the Missing and Murdered Women and Girls report and to generally further reconciliation.
He said the Liberal government has committed to removing all of the long-term drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities by 2021.
Looking ahead, Bagnell said he is eager to work with the new Minister of Northern Affairs, Dan Vandal. This is the first time the Canadian government has appointed a minister focused singularly on the North.
“That shows the emphasis of this government on the North,” Bagnell said. “Of course, climate change, as I’ve been saying for over a decade, is hurting us in the North three times more than anywhere else in the world.”
Bagnell said he is cautiously optimistic that the parties in the House of Commons will be able to work together to move Canada forward.
“Hopefully, we can co-operate together. It’s a whole new scenario being a minority government,” he said. “It could end any day, but I think there is some common ground where we can work together.”
By the first afternoon of Parliament, Bagnell had already delivered a letter to the new Heritage minister and been in contact with the minister for Economic Development, he said.
He also began working on action to address fetal alcohol syndrome and said he is working closely with a Conservative member in early efforts to collaborate across the floor.
Bagnell said he is committed to maintaining healthy co-operation in the House.
“I think that’s what Canadians have asked us to do – they gave a lot of parties a number of representatives across the House.
“Canadians are suggesting they want us to work together to get things done for them, so hopefully there will be that collaboration across the board.”
The vote on the throne speech will be the first confidence vote slated to make or break this government.
It will require a full six days of debate before a vote can be held, which means the vote likely won’t happen until January, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez in an interview with media last Saturday.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has already agreed to support the speech, which means the vote is likely to pass.
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