Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on May 9th, 2012.
For as much as there is often talk in Ottawa about instilling a more civil and less political atmosphere particularly in committee work, the reality is that partisan politics continue to be alive and well in our Country’s capital. This morning York West MP Judy Sgro sent a letter in to a local newspaper editor criticizing my position in voting against a motion introduced by MP Sgro at the Status of Women Committee. I don’t have any issue with MP Sgro for taking me to task in voting against her motion. Likewise to raise the question on the issue and my position on it is also fair game. Where I do take issue is the inference from MP Sgro that I do not share her concerns simply because I disagreed with her proposal on how best to resolve them.
Before I get into the particulars of why I voted against her motion to effectively drop our committee's study of the Economic Participation of Girls while we pursued her suggested course, let me say that this should be an issue referred to the Status of Women Committee and hopefully one that we can tackle in a non-partisan way. While MP Sgro's motion was not supported, I am glad to see that Parliamentary Secretary Truppe has put forward a notice of motion, supporting a study of sexual harrasment. I do plan on supporting this motion, as it will open up the opportunity for us as MP's to work together and invite a much wider range of groups and individuals on the impacts of sexual harrassment in Canada. I have included the motion for your review:
[scribd id=93018798 key=key-2csgtls3oqiz330y8ci1 mode=list]
Now in regard to the issue of MP Sgro's motion; there is currently a class action lawsuit for sexual harassment and discrimination by female members and former members of the RCMP. This is a very important issue and one that I and many other Canadians are greatly concerned about. However it is also a matter that is currently before the courts. The motion from MP Sgro that I voted against was ultimately to hear from some of the plaintiffs involved in this legal action. Why did I vote against this? Contrary to the allegations from MP Judy Sgro it is not because I am not concerned about this issue but rather I do not believe that a political panel of MP’s should interfere in a matter that is currently before the courts. If we were to hear from the plaintiffs, then in all fairness we would be obliged in balance to hear the views from some of the accused. This could potentially involve summoning various members of the RCMP who in turn would no doubt also require legal representation. Further, in many respects this work would potentially parallel various aspects of the current litigation that is under way. Ultimately I believe that although well intended, the intervention of a Parliamentary Committee of MP’s may not provide the most ideal outcome in this matter that is currently actively involved in legal proceedings. It is for these reasons that I voted against the motion from MP Sgro. I believe it is important that the litigation proceed through the court system and we rely on experienced judges to find facts based on legally admissible evidence. As Parliamentarians we have a responsibility to follow this case very closely and once those facts have been identified and a verdict has been put forward it will be of critical importance that the RCMP take action in response to the outcome. I realize that my views on this will not sit well with some citizens however I believe that following well established legal process over politicization is a more prudent course of action on such an important issue.
In addition to his weekly MP Report. the Dan in Ottawa blog is another resource for residents of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Chronicling Dan’s personal experiences as he travels to Ottawa and throughout the riding as your MP.
For more information about Dan Albas, click here.