Editor’s note: This is a letter to John Weston, MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country. It was copied to The Chief for publication.
Thank you for coming from Ottawa to do your town hall meetings. I wasn’t able to make the June 1 meeting in Lions Bay, so I am writing this as an open letter.
You’ve done a good job of supporting us. You advocated for the Cohen Inquiry into the 2009 decline of the Fraser sockeye, and highlighted its importance as “Our Fisheries — A Legacy for Our Children” in your Spring 2010 newsletter. You’ve also taken concerns about the impacts of Bill C-38 on the fisheries to Minister Ashfield.
In addition to our fisheries, many have voiced concerns about broad-reaching adverse impacts to the environment that will result from Bill C-38 — an omnibus budget bill that includes changes to 70 laws. I share those concerns. I know the economy is government’s top priority. However, our environment — air, land and water — provides the [natural] capital we depend on for our economy. How is it possible, as with any business, to have long-term prosperity if you’re constantly drawing down on the capital of the business?
I understand that the passing of Bill C-38 is imminent. I have limited knowledge of parliamentary process and ask if you could please explain it to us in the context of Bill C-38.
Please correct me if I’m wrong. From what I understand, there is a system in parliament as to how you and other MPs vote. A “level-3 whip” vote, as I believe it is referred to, indicates a “mandatory” vote along party lines; a “level-2 whip” vote, is where the party leader (PM or opposition leader) has not taken a position, but MPs are “encouraged” to vote along party lines; and a “level-1 whip” vote is where MPs are “free” to vote as they wish.
I’m a little confused. Can you explain how such a voting system aligns with democracy?
I understand that Bill C-38, as a budget bill, will command a mandatory “level-3 whip” vote. Is this true?
What does this mean for you in voting on Bill C-38? Are you obligated to vote “yes” in favour of it passing? How, then, do you represent your constituents’ interests? A difficult position, to be sure. Will the party take priority over the people… the legacy of our children?
Please explain it to us!