Todd Doherty was sworn in for his second term as Cariboo-Prince George MP Tuesday, Nov. 12, and he is eager to get to work to help local families who are feeling the effects of the forestry downturn.
“It’s honestly the biggest honour that I’ve ever had,” he said, phoning from Ottawa. “I’m proud to be from the Cariboo. I’m proud to call it home, and I’m proud to be leading the charge federally and nationally in fighting for our families. It really is an honour, and I’m humbled that our region put their trust in me once again.”
Doherty says he could sum up his feelings about this fall’s election campaign in two big words: Thank. You.
“I want to say thanks to the riding of Cariboo-Prince George, thank you to all the residents throughout, the hard-working families throughout our region, for putting their trust in me,” he said. “The responsibility is not lost on me.”
Doherty says this election campaign was probably the toughest 40 days of his whole four years in federal office, in terms of hearing first-hand from families and individuals affected by mill closures and curtailments and job losses.
“Our region is facing some hard times due to the forestry downturn and the closures we’re facing in our communities, and I heard loud and clear that our riding and our families want us to focus on the issues that matter most to them, and that’s making sure our families can stay at home and have all the opportunities, whether it’s economic opportunities, jobs, employment, as well as education,” he said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure we are speaking loud and delivering their message loud and clear here in Ottawa.”
Now that he has been officially sworn in, Doherty is eager to get working. Parliament is set to resume Dec. 5.
“I just want to get back to work,” he said. “We have some very serious issues that we need to get focused on working on. This is one of the longest waits to resume Parliament. I think it’s unconscionable that it’s taking this long to get going; as an incumbent government, Justin Trudeau should be ready to go, and to have us sit for maybe five days before the end of the year, while that’s better than maybe not sitting until the new year, it’s still five days where we’re literally going to get the speech from the throne, and you can’t really get into anything. Meanwhile, we have job losses that are mounting within our region; we have major issues that we don’t get an opportunity to bring forward further and to have that discussion”
Doherty is also eager for elected leaders to get to work bringing the country together.
“Our country is fractured right now, and we have a lot of folks who are disenchanted and feel disenfranchised from our national capital, and there’s a lot of talk about separation in the west,” he said. “It’s incumbent on all of us as leaders to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to bring our country together. This election wasn’t even so much about the prime minister. The prime minister waged war, really, on provinces, and that’s being seen in a lot of this talk about Wexit. I think as leaders we have to do everything in our power to bring people together, and that’s what I’m focused on.”
In this vein, Doherty says he and his team have built a lot of relationships across all party lines in the last four years with Bill C-211, the PTSD private member’s bill he managed to get passed last year.
“We have those relationships — it’s having those honest conversations, letting them know that we have to work better together,” he said. “Our job as Opposition is obviously to hold their feet to the fire, but they brought forward policies in the last session that really are geared at and are having the unintended consequences of driving our country further and further apart. They have to be open to actually listening to the feedback, and that feedback, it’s loud, it’s clear that some of the policies they brought forward are seriously going to harm western provinces’ economic opportunities. It’s going to be an interesting session. As we bring every policy that we’re talking about moving forward, it all has to be geared as to bringing our country together, not dividing it further.”
Doherty, who will be back in Quesnel this Saturday and back in Prince George Sunday before returning to Ottawa, says his first priorities once Parliament is convened are securing a new softwood lumber agreement and working with the provincial government on any ways they can mitigate the losses and hardship families in our area are feeling due to the downturn in the forestry sector.
“We need to, first and foremost, secure that softwood lumber agreement,” he said. “That has to be one of the main priorities of this government. We have now dithered away four years, and the consequences of the lost four years, coupled with the policies, the carbon tax … has shaken the confidence of investors and industry to the point where we’re seeing that investment, we’re seeing those companies that have been stalwarts in our province and in our communities relocate south of the border. Everything we do moving forward in terms of our forestry and our softwood issue that we have, we have to right some of the wrongs. There are some things that are obviously provincial mandates, but, again, we can work collaboratively with the provinces to try to find a way.”