Stetski reacts to throne speech, MMIW inquiry

A glimpse of the legislative agenda was offered through the Liberal government's throne speech

  • Dec. 11, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Trevor Crawley

With the House of Commons in session, a glimpse of the legislative agenda was offered through the Liberal government’s throne speech, delivered by Governor General David Johnston last week.

Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski said the speech was a reflection of Liberal promises made during the election.

With that in mind, the NDP attempted to add a few amendments that were staple election planks for the party during the election, including an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors, tax relief for the middle class, a $15 per hour minimum wage for federal jobs and changes to the employment insurance program.

However, those proposed amendments were defeated by the Liberals and Conservatives, Stetski said.

“I’m not sure why they don’t want to do the right thing for Canadians who need it most in that sense,” Stetski said.

“We’re disappointed, but we’re still trying to be optimistic overall, but we’ll certainly be watching closely to make sure the promises in the end has some focus to them and actually delivers something important.”

On the issue of tax relief, Stetski clarified that the Liberal plan would give a tax break to those making between $42,000 – $200,000, whereas the NDP wants that tax break to be eligible for those with an income below $42,000 as well.

“Our concern is that the tax break that was part of the Liberal government bill starts at $42,000 of income and basically goes up to about $200,000 of income, so the people that will actually get the highest tax break are the people making $90,000 and over, which is not middle-class for many of our communities across Canada,” Stetski said.

“So our amendment proposal was to bring the tax break to include anybody making up to $42,000 dollars and to provide them with some tax relief.”

The main motion to support the throne speech hasn’t come forward yet, so Setski says the NDP caucus must have an internal debate to see if the party will support it or not.

On the topic of election promises, the government announced on Tuesday the first of two phases for an national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

The first phase will consist of consultation with families who have experienced the tragedy of missing or murdered indigenous women to sees what the design of the inquiry should be and what it hopes to achieve.

The second phase, which will begin in the spring of next year, will be the bulk of the inquiry itself, after the first phase decides the activities, participants and identifies the commissioners.

Stetski is pleased to see the inquiry move forward, as it was part of the NDP election platform as well.

“We campaigned on that promise, so we’re pleased to see the Liberal government is undertaking the inquiry. Our expectations for the inquiry—I think Canadians’ expectations for the inquiry—should be very high in terms of implementing the findings,” Stetski said.

“We are concerned, as are Canadians generally, when government undertakes a study or a report that not that much happens with the outcome, so we’re pleased that the inquiry is going to happen, but we are very much waiting to see what the report says and how the government is going to implement it.”