As the NDP House leader, lesbian MP Libby Davies is in charge of her party's day-to-day business in the Commons. The trouble is, it's difficult to do that job when you're effectively shut out of work for two months. On Dec 30, Prime Minister Stephen Harper phoned the Governor General to request prorogation — ending the current session of Parliament — with an eye to a new throne speech on Mar 3 and a budget speech the following day.
Links to news articles written by or about Libby Davies.
OTTAWA -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is suspending Parliament until March to give his government time to "recalibrate," an aide to the prime minister said on Wednesday. The move postpones the 2010 start of Canada's legislature to March 3 from Jan. 25 -- after the winter Olympics in Vancouver -- and lets the government prepare "the next stage of Canada's economic action plan," said Dimitri Soudas, Mr. Harper's press secretary. "Clearly this is a move on their part to avoid public scrutiny, to avoid further investigation on Afghan detainees," said Libby Davies, House leader for the opposition New Democratic Party.
The Conservative government has shut down Parliament for two months, until after the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Prime Minister Stephen Harper telephoned Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean on Wednesday to ask her permission to end the parliamentary session. Jean signed the proclamation later that day, granting his request. The move triggered immediate condemnation from opposition MPs who labelled the Conservative government's move an "almost despotic" attempt to muzzle parliamentarians amid controversy over the Afghan detainees affair.....NDP House Leader Libby Davies said she was "appalled" by Harper's decision and accused the prime minister of "running from" opposition demands for a public inquiry into what and when the government knew about allegations of torture of detainees transferred into Afghan custody by Canadian soldiers in 2006. "By proroguing Parliament, he is unilaterally making a decision to stop any kind of disclosure from happening," Davies told CBC News from Vancouver.
A group pushing Ottawa to establish a national housing plan to help the homeless yesterday gathered to mark a year of weekly rotating hunger strikes by dozens of supporters. Davies, a Vancouver MP, and Vancouver city councillor Ellen Woodsworth are both expected to be among those who will go without food for a week leading up to the end of the protest in June. A small group gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to share a cake and continue their push for more affordable housing, said organizer Am Johal. “Within weeks, Parliament will be debating a private member’s bill for a national housing plan put forward by MP Libby Davies,” he said.
Canada’s Prince of Pot finds great irony in his pending extradition south of the border. “They’re going to legalize marijuana in California, in Nevada, and much of the United States very soon,” Marc Emery noted in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight. “It’s quite possible I’ll be incarcerated even though I’m one of the people who provided the wherewithal for all these legalization movements to happen. I’ll be in jail being persecuted while they’re out, Americans are actually out, celebrating.”
Rumours swirling around Ottawa suggest the Conservative government is thinking of shutting down Parliament until after the Olympics, killing some of its own bills but also ending the discussion of Afghan detainees that is nibbling away at Tory popularity. “I have heard that from some of the public servants,” Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said Monday of a potential prorogation. “The word they are getting is ‘get ready to clear the decks. Anything that needs to get done before a parliamentary session ends, get it done.' ” .....<strong>Libby Davies, the NDP House Leader</strong>, said she had not heard the rumours that the parliamentary session could be ended. “I can't imagine what reason they would have to prorogue the House,” she said, “especially when it's the Conservatives who make such a big deal of their legislation and their crime agenda and things being held up.”
Delta-Richmond East Conservative MP John Cummins supports the HST, but says Premier Gordon Campbell is using it to gouge B.C. residents. The harmonized sales tax moved closer to reality in B.C. and Ontario last week after the House of Commons voted in favour of the tax. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois backed the Conservative government's motion for an amendment to the Excise Tax Act. The NDP was in opposition....Asking why the Conservative government is trying to ram through the HST bill, NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver-East) said, "It seems like Mr. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper is pulling a page out of Mr. Campbell's playbook. Mislead, obfuscate and try limit public debate on the HST."
Greenpeace T-shirts have been banned from Parliament after the organization staged an illegal demonstration on the Hill this week. The ban is due to "recent events," a security guard told a reporter from The Canadian Press who entered the Parliament buildings as a visitor Thursday wearing a Greenpeace T-shirt. The reporter put on the shirt to confirm reports that security was searching visitors for Greenpeace logos......New Democrat MP Libby Davies said she understands Monday's protest may have heightened tensions, but Parliament Hill is a place that should defend freedom of expression. "The fact is, wearing a T-shirt that says Greenpeace on it does not mean that you're going to do something out of line," she said. "I think they need to have a measured and reasonable response."
Speaking at UBC's Liu Institute on Thurs. Nov. 26, Miloon Kothari, a former UN Special Rapporteur, called for Canada to give greater legal recognition to housing rights and to undertake a national housing strategy. Mr. Kothari is the author of the 2007 UN Human Rights Council Report on Adequate Housing in Canada. Kothari cited the Montreal Charter as a positive example which requires the city and its partners to take appropriate housing measures. He noted that a private member's bill submitted by Vancouver MP Libby Davies calls for a national housing strategy and has currently passed second reading in the House of Commons.
The fallout continues after border guards flagged prints of three films destined for a gay film festival in Ottawa Nov 20. Inside Out was able to find screeners of all three movies, although they had to resort to lower-quality watermarked DVDs instead of the celluloid films tied up at the border. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wouldn’t allow the prints into the country until they watched them and greenlighted the content. The week after the festival was over, they approved the films.
A leading Palestinian activist has said that it may be time to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and “dump the occupation back at Israel’s doorstep”. Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian-American Christian and founding member of the International Solidarity Movement. She told the Straight that the disintegration of the Palestinian territories’ governing party could be the best thing for its people. “Creating the Palestinian Authority, in a way, relieved Israel of a lot of the obligations of an occupying power,” she explained in a telephone interview from New York City. “They kind of relieved themselves of the minuscule administrative tasks and, at the same time, can [now] blame the Palestinian Authority for a lot of things that are not even in its control.”
The fallout from the blocking of three gay films at the border has reverberated across Parliament Hill. Queer MPs are universally outraged by what they see as a return to the era of Little Sister's struggles. "How long does this battle have to go on?" asks NDP House Leader Libby Davies. "There's been thousands, maybe millions of dollars spent on litigation [and] court battles by Little Sister's. Why are they holding up material that is totally acceptable?"
OTTAWA — Members of Parliament are scrambling to climb aboard the Twitter bandwagon - and getting elbowed by controversial, satirical and even phoney postings. Victims of fake Twitter accounts now include Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Senator Mike Duffy, the former CTV journalist. And satirical accounts currently make fun of NDP Leader Jack Layton's moustache and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's cat. As for controversy, Liberal MP Michelle Simson recently had to apologize to Tory MP Dean Del Mastro after tweeting the following during a committee meeting: "In committee this morning. M.P. Del Mastro should grow up (not out)." That was followed by: "Gosh, I hate to see a grown M.P. pout. Smile, Dean." The incident prompted New Democrat MP Charlie Angus to complain Twitter has been turning MPs into Grade 9 cheerleaders and jocks in the school cafeteria. Despite the pitfalls and embarrassments, politicians say social networking is an effective way to connect with constituents and others.
OTTAWA — Conservatives received a slap on the wrist Thursday for misrepresenting an opponent in one of many ultra-partisan flyers the party’s MPs have been mailing — at taxpayers’ expense — across the country. The rebuke from Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons, is not the first Conservatives have received over their use of MPs’ free mailing privileges. Nor, if Liberals have their way, will it be the last. They lodged another complaint Thursday with the Speaker, alleging their privileges were breached by a Tory flyer that links the Liberals to anti-Semitism.
A recently released guidebook for new immigrants, Discover Canada, is a mixed bag of trivia and ideology. The handbook has an explicit section on gender equality, where it condemns the "barbaric cultural practices" of spousal abuse, honour killings and female genital mutilation. There is a section on diversity that gives a shout out to atheism but leaves out gays or lesbians. Queer people are relegated to a sidebar next to a photo of Mark Tewksbury, in the section devoted to sports, arts and culture. And that has MPs shaking their heads. "I always worried that it was more of a political, ideological message more than anything else," says lesbian NDP MP Libby Davies of the guide.
Related ArticlesForcing homeless into shelters for Olympics Mayor promises to protect free speech during Olympics Vancouver Pride House planned for 2010 Games Queers should be concerned about Olympic censorship More National Headlines Toronto woman becomes first trans Body Worlds donor Xtra shuffles editorial deck Ontario MPP reintroduces trans rights bill Precious opens Fri, Nov 20 in Toronto East Vancouver's queer member of Parliament, Libby Davies, is calling for a code of conduct for security forces during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. A spokesperson for the Games' Integrated Security Unit (ISU) says Davies will need to provide a letter detailing what form of code she would like to see. "We would provide a response," promises ISU spokesperson Cpl Jen Allan. Davies says such a code should be printed and circulated. She says it could be a popular tool for holding the more than 14,000 police, military and private security officers accountable for their behaviour during the Games.
Facing a second tour in Iraq, U.S. army corporal Rodney Watson fled to Canada and now lives in the First United Church on East Hastings while his government presses for his return. Watson was eventually ordered to leave the country Sept. 11, 2009, after two deportation stays during the summer.....On Aug. 12, seven B.C. NDP members of Parliament wrote the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Jason Kenney, asking him to intervene in Watson's case. Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East, was one of the signatories and says she will continue to support Watson in his fight to stay. "I believe he has a legal reason to seek refugee status in Canada," says Davies, noting that Watson's situation is more difficult than it appears. "He's taking on this whole system. It's obviously a very hard decision to make." Many people support his decision, Davies says. She points to an Angus Reid poll conducted in June 2008 with 64 per cent of Canadians supporting permanent residence for fugitive soldiers. "Canada has a history of welcoming war resisters," Davies says. A fugitive in Canada and the U.S., Watson sought refuge at the First United Church on East Hastings after meeting Rev. Ric Matthews at a press conference. Matthews says taking Watson in is part of church tradition.
(For the complete story please click on the headline) ...as the Conservative government continues this fall to roll out its long series of tough-on-crime initiatives built around mandatory minimum penalties for a raft of offences—from gun crime to big-time fraud—it would be reasonable to expect a thick stack of Justice studies explaining why dictating longer prison terms is the way to go. But Justice Minister Rob Nicholson doesn’t offer up any departmental research at all to support the Tories’ major law-and-order thrust. Instead, in response to requests from Maclean’s for any analysis or data justifying the new minimum sentences, his office produced a 1,000-word memo explaining the policy. It candidly admits that research doesn’t offer persuasive evidence that mandatory minimum penalties, called MMPs for short, reduce crime...Some NDP MPs, including Libby Davies and Megan Leslie, have been more willing to challenge Nicholson. When he appeared before the House justice committee last spring, Davies repeatedly pressed him for evidence that MMPs work. He didn’t offer any. “We have the mandate of the Canadian people,” Nicholson answered, “and they have told us that this is what they want to see us move on.”
The NDP wants the federal government to be able to recoup the security costs when ex-presidents visit Canada for private business. NDP MP Libby Davies introduced a motion into the House of Commons calling for the measure after a series of high-profile private visits to Canada by former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. (To read Libby's Motion please follow this link: http://www.libbydavies.ca/parliament/statement/2009/10/27/libbys-motion-security-costs-visiting-dignitaries)
The NDP is filibustering the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement legislation and obstructing the work of the House, says Government House Leader Jay Hill, but NDP MPs say it's their right to oppose "bad" legislation. The debate could go on indefinitely unless there is a motion to limit the time for debate on the amendment. The motion would have to be supported by a majority of MPs, however, and Mr. Hill (Prince George-Peace River, B.C.)said he could not get support from any of the opposition parties to do this. ...NDP House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East, B.C.) said, however, that her party has always opposed the bill and will continue to do so. The NDP is not making Parliament dysfunctional, she said, they're simply doing their jobs. "The record will show that from day one, the NDP was always clear that we opposed that bill and that's our right to do so. It's not like all of a sudden we said, we're not going to support this bill and this is about making Parliament dysfunctional," she said. "We oppose that bill because we think it's bad legislation and that's legitimate. It's part of our democratic process in Parliament, representing Canadian people."