Stetski looks forward to fall session in Ottawa

Legalizing marijuana, National Local Food Day, environmental issues on the radar for Stetski, NDP.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is heading to Ottawa for the fall session of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is heading to Ottawa for the fall session of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Members of Parliament across Canada have trudged back to Ottawa as the fall session of Parliament is set to being in the House of Commons.

Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski is one of them and he’s expecting there to be plenty of issues to address.

The federal NDP — the party Stetski belongs to — listed four priorities in a press release issued last week, which include defending public health care from privatization and cuts, the environment and more action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electoral reform and promoting human rights and peace.

The federal Liberal Party, with a governing majority, will have the luxury of setting the legislative agenda, however, the Conservatives and the NDP will be jockeying for position to hold the Liberals to account on their election promises while pushing their own party priorities.

Stetski will be splitting his time between the Kootenay-Columbia riding and the House of Commons over the next nine months as the fall session gets into swing.

Upcoming legislation will include a bill from the Liberal government on the legalization of marijuana.

“We’re going to have to wait and see how that rolls out,” Stetski said, “but I expect that we’ll be asking constituents for their input on legalizing marijuana and the many, many dimensions that initiative raises in terms of questions.”

The government will be receiving feedback from an electoral reform committee that has been touring the country to gather input from public forums on ditching first-past-the-post and moving to a form of proportional representation.

Though the committee never came to the Kootenay-Columbia riding, Stetski toured through communities in August to hear from local constituents about their thoughts and feelings on proportional representation.

He received 612 submissions as a result of that tour, which will be summarized and presented to Nathan Cullen, the NDP MP representative on the electoral reform committee.

Stetski will be pushing a bill he introduced in June — Bill C-281 — to establish a National Local Food Day that would be the Friday before Thanksgiving, which is Oct. 7 this year.

According to a survey from the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, 93 per cent of Canadians don’t know where their food comes from, however, over 60 per cent of them want to know more about it, said Stetski.

The Kootenay-Columbia MP, who also serves as the opposition critic for national parks, is also hoping to address the Navigation Protection Act — legislation introduced by the former Conservative government that replaced the Navigable Waters Protection Act — to restore federal protection of Canadian waterways.

Closer to home, Stetski is also planning to tour the riding to talk about small business.

The Kootenay-Columbia riding includes three provincial ridings — Kootenay-East, Columbia River-Revelstoke and Nelson-Creston — and Stetski is planning on holding a meeting in each of the provincial ridings within Kootenay Columbia to bring all three levels of government together with small business owners.

The first session will be in Fernie on Oct. 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Fernie Seniors Centre.

In between his Parliament Hill duties, he will also make sure to respond to constituent concerns and resolve any issues that are brought forward from the public.

“We provide service to any of our constituents who feel that the government is not providing them with the kind of service or information they need,” Stetski said.

“I would really encourage people to contact us with their concerns. We have access to phone numbers and people inside government that the general public do not have and we use every tool we can to try to resolve their issues and get help where they need it.”