“I’m having the time of my life,” said Ken Hardie, Fleetwood-Port Kells MP. “One of the coolest things is to have a critical mass of MPs in BC that sit on the government side. As the Pacific Caucus we actually split off from the western and northern caucus to become the Pacific Caucus, so we’re bringing a very BC-specific view to the government. When the national caucus comes along each Wednesday morning, Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), on behalf of the rest of us stand up and tells the Prime Minister what’s important to us and the things that we should be doing.”
Recently, Ken Hardie met with Ray Hudson of the Asian Journal to talk about the life of a back-bencher and what is engaging him in this role.
Ken Hardie: The experience allows you to get an appreciation for the machinery of government. If there was any downside it’s the frustration that you simply don’t have the time to do it all.
I’m on two committees;
- Infrastructure, Transportation and Communities which is good because of my years of experience with Translink and ICBC. I work with Transport Canada with Marc Garneau and Infrastructure and Communities with Amarjeet Sohi. The committee meets with the ministers from time to time and we take on studies that either come from the house by way of legislation that has passed second reading and has come to the committee for further study, and to make recommendations including possible amendments. The other committee I’m on is, Fisheries and Oceans. There are huge issues out there. The Fisheries Act was one of the first that Canada created after confederation, and many of the provisions really haven’t changed that much in 150 years.
If there has been friction between the Liberal and NDP sides, and the Conservatives, it’s over undoing some of the things that the Conservatives did under Mr. Harper, that left our fisheries vulnerable by losing the automatic protection against habitat destruction. “Changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act” was another committee that I sit on. We have studied different aspects of the changes to the fisheries that the Conservatives have made without full consultation. They consulted the business interests but the environmental interests, the people who use the outdoors and First Nations were totally left out. The government then jammed the whole thing through in a 400-page omnibus bill attached to the budget. We need to understand why they made the changes (some reasons for it were actually quite valid), so we can preserve the good stuff and restore the things that need to be there to protect our ecosystems and fish stocks.
Other issues we’re looking at include:
- Aquaculture: a hot button out here and it’s not resolved in our view.
- Owner-Operator fishers. There are people who own fish quotas that never set foot on a boat and function as “renteers” where you get situations like a halibut fisherman who catches halibut worth nine dollars and change, per pound, while paying seven dollars in rent to the owner.
• Drones. In the future, you can use a drone capable of lifting a sizable payload and operating beyond line-of-sight, delivering emergency medicine to a remote community otherwise inaccessible. At the same time the technology allows you to do nasty things. What we found when talking to various witnesses, was that the people who developed drones have positive things in mind and don’t think about the dark stuff that can happen.
You don’t want to stifle a really neat industry that’s going places in a big way which can do all sorts of really cool stuff. You need them to be onside with you as they develop their technology to avoid problems like flying in restricted air space, operator competency and so on. These are areas the committee came up with recommendations for. Let’s face it. If a drone is capable of delivering a package to a remote community it can deliver a bomb into a stadium. The government is working on it. The question is ‘what is the industry’ doing about it?
Ray Hudson: Let’s look at the constituency in terms of issues. What are the folks of Fleetwood Port Kells taking about?
Ken Hardie: Generally speaking we don’t seem to get the same interest on wide issues. I’ve had very few people wanting to talk to me about the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, even though it runs through part of the riding. They’re twinning along an existing corridor so it’s not like their digging a new route.
Recently I started using a very innovative social media platform called PlaySpeak, to keep in touch and dialogue with the public. People subscribe to it and give enough information so we can locate them, not down to the address, but so we know the area they live in. Then we can carve up the map of our riding so we can tell what issues are hot in every corner. For instance, housing costs are a pretty big issue in Fraser Heights.
One of the things we heard a lot about, was M103, the motion concerning Islamaphobia. This was something of great interest here as we have three mosques in the riding. In fact all the faiths, Christian, Jew and Sikh all came together in solidarity because all the hate crimes have been going down, but those against the Muslim community had doubled. It’s really a red herring because it wasn’t a law anyway. It was merely a motion.
Back at the office, the most important issues our office has to deal with are regarding immigration and visas. The vast majority of the people we are dealing with are those who want to bring a family member here for permanent residency status or even to get them here for a wedding. There have been a lot of difficulties doing that. I‘m very fortunate to have Kuldeep Bangu in my office who came with no experience in the political realm, but who was an excellent business operator here. She is really good at developing a rapport with people but equally good at figuring out how things work, and she has developed a very good relationship with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada that is getting some interesting results.
I need to hear what people in the riding are thinking, so I will put an issue out for comment and feedback, thinking so I can better represent them to the caucus and the house.
Contact the member of Parliament for Fleetwood-Port Kells can be contacted at Ken.Hardie@parl.gc.ca or https://www.facebook.com/ken.hardie.16