Crowds gathered at parliament while the representatives debated the U.S.’s travel and immigration ban on Jan. 31 and MP Rachel Blaney said the amount of public interest goes to show how important the issue is.
“We stayed till midnight having a debate about this issue and what the impacts will be on not only on our country but on our relationship with the US,” Blaney said.
Blaney continued that the reality is both Canada and the U.S. have strong screening systems to make sure that refugees that come here are going to be safe additions to the country.
“What we wanted to talk about is what is Canada’s response and how are we going to stand up against this chill of intolerance that we are seeing,” she said.
The last minute debate saw hundreds of people fill the galleries and stay until the end.
“Even at midnight when we closed up there was still some people sitting there waiting with us because this is a discussion that is so important,” Blaney said.
The proposal that they discussed had to do with pausing the third safe country clause.
“What that means is right now we have identified the US as a safe country,” she said. “If someone comes to the US with refugee status they can’t come to Canada and then apply to be a refugee if they have already been accepted in the US.”
For Blaney the entire travel ban is very concerning. But she said that holding the emergency debate sent a strong message to Canadians that their representatives don’t think this travel ban is okay, that Canada is an inclusive community and we won’t make decisions about people based on race, religion or country of birth.
“We just wanted to make sure that we could at least see some of those doors opened so that we could have discussions on whether or not we can help when people are being deported in the US,” she said.
Another topic of discussion in the first sitting in 2017 was renegotiating NAFTA.
“There is a lot at stake for Canadian workers,” Blaney said.
And with President Trump in the mix she doesn’t know what is going to happen. For our riding she is especially concerned because the softwood lumber agreement has not been done yet, despite pressure from the NDP on the Liberals to make it happen.
Blaney said through they negotiations they want to protect good paying Canadian jobs, promote exports and boost wages in order to narrow the income and wealth inequality gap while protecting the environment and labour standards.
Blaney said they are also hoping to take a close look at Chapter 11 of the agreement, which is the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
Since NAFTA was signed, Canada has been the most sued country, and with this renegotiation, Blaney hopes that can be resolved.
“There is a lot of concerns there because the relationship between Canada and the US is so prosperous,” she said.
Over the weekend Blaney is going to Brussels to participate in the annual NATO joint committee meeting.
“I’m really looking forward to that trip,” she said.