Linda Duncan unimpressive?

Daveberta generated some discussion after posting confirmation that “Landslide Rahim” will be seeking the Conservative Party nomination for Edmonton-Strathcona once again for the next election. Of course, being as studious as he is, Rahim would prefer that no nomination process take place until the fall when he’ll be finished his MBA.

Anyways, the “Anonymous” commenters love to pick apart sitting NDP MP Linda Duncan for being “arguably been more or less unimpressive in the House” or pick on her for the questionable “National Hockey Day” fiasco.

So how does her novice record stand out? Luckily, being a democracy in the digital age means we can quickly search the Hansard for the past few years of House of Commons debates to see who’s been saying what that’s likely gone on unreported (like about 95% of what happens in government).

The current session of Parliament has been sitting since January 26, and already Linda Duncan has spoken 73 times!

Meanwhile, in his last sitting as an MP, before Harper broke his fixed election date law, which ran from October 16, 2007 to September 7, 2008, Rahim Jaffer rose to speak a mere 15 times!

In about 3 months of Parliament, Duncan has outspoke Jaffer’s last term by almost 5 times!

So Edmonton-Strathcona now has a voice in Parliament, but what is it saying these days?

Here’s Rahim Jaffer’s last statement:

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Competition Bureau announced that criminal charges have been laid against 13 individuals and 11 companies accused of fixing the price of gasoline at the pump in various cities in Quebec. Some are questioning whether the Competition Bureau will look into other retail markets across the country.

This government will not tolerate price fixing by companies that jack up the price of gasoline. We will also not go the way of the Liberal leader, who wants to put a carbon tax on everything, which would raise the prices at the pump, the cost of heating oil and everything else we buy.

This tax trick would severely impact seniors, rural Canadians, and those living on fixed incomes. It would hurt the trucker, the taxi driver and the small business owner. In fact, every single Canadian would have to pay more in tax.

While the Liberal leader wants to hit all Canadians with his massive tax increase, our Conservative government is making sure Canadians keep more of their hard-earned tax dollars. We are cracking down on price fixers who want Canadians to pay more for gas.

That’s good that an Edmonton MP is standing up for Quebec consumers and attacking Dion at the same time. Not a bad statement overall though.

How about Duncan’s first words and exchange?

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I will be sharing my allotted time today with the member for Sault Ste. Marie.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin by congratulating you on your reappointment, and the Speaker on his re-election to the chair. I am confident that all members share my goal of supporting the Speaker in making this, the 40th Parliament, a far more dignified and productive one than experienced in recent years. I wish to join my fellow New Democrats in offering my congratulations to the Prime Minister, the leader of the official opposition and the leader of the Bloc québécois. I extend particular congratulations and good wishes to fellow new members as we tackle the myriad challenges we face in handling our responsibilities effectively on behalf of our constituents. I wish to thank those members who have extended a hand of welcome to me, despite our different party affiliations.

It is with a considerable sense of honour and gratitude that I rise in the House today to deliver my inaugural speech in this 40th Parliament. I share the honour of several others in this House of continuing a family tradition. In my case, it represents a somewhat longer time gap. My family roots can be traced back to William Steeves, Father of Confederation. I know little detail of his motivations to join those founding this Confederation, except that he supported this historic union in the hope of providing good governance. That same goal was my singular reason for seeking election.

I am deeply honoured to have been elected as the member of Parliament for the constituents of Edmonton–Strathcona. I am grateful to the countless enthusiastic Edmontonians, from ages 8 to 80 years, who came from every corner of my constituency and across the city to join my team in getting out the vote on election day. I am awed by the time and energy Canadian communities volunteer to our democratic process. It should be honoured.

I encourage all members of this House to not lose sight of the privilege we share in living in a nation where we can freely participate in the electoral process without threat of violence or corruption. It is no lesser a privilege that our affairs are dictated by the rule of law. We do well to recall that the very definition of a democracy is a nation governed by rules, made and enforced by those we elect, a government that remains open and transparent, where laws enacted by the majority are effectively implemented and enforced, including laws for the protection of our health and our environment.

It behooves this House to be diligent in ensuring that the needs and interests of all Canadians are placed at the forefront of our minds when making decisions affecting their lives, their families, their children, their communities and their futures. My constituents did not just elect a new representative to speak on their behalf. More important, I have promised to doggedly pursue a more participatory democracy. I will pursue reforms to bring Canadians proportional representation to this House. I will also champion more constructive and inclusive means to ensure their direct engagement in the decisions affecting them.

Nowhere is this more critical than in the hinterland. I have long advocated for the right and opportunity of members of the affected communities–farmers, trappers, fishers, first nations, Métis, immigrants and women–to have a seat at the table. This is the real democratic reform Canadians have called for.

Now more than ever, as we face dire threats to our environment and mounting economic distress, it is incumbent upon us as members of Parliament to open the doors to our decision-making processes. If we are truly committed to seeking answers to climate change, to safe food and drinking water, to clean air and liveable communities, it behooves us to hear directly from and respond to those who bear the brunt of impacts downwind and downstream.

It is my hope during this Parliament that we can move away from basing decisions on polls and hand-selected advisory groups. Our federal laws and policies will be strengthened when they are grounded in the voices of the communities most directly affected, when we engage Canadian communities in exploring solutions that speak to their special needs and circumstances.

Canadians want their federal government to assert federal jurisdiction and powers. They have called for bold measures to protect our environment for the benefit of this and future generations. Strong federal laws are in place. Federal agencies and tribunals are mandated. As an advocate for federal engagement in these areas for over 30 years, both inside and outside government, I decry the announcement by the government of its intent to claw back the powers of these agencies and tribunals, to label the valid assertion of federal measures and powers as mere red tape.

Contrary to the assertions made in the throne speech, less regulation cannot be equated with more effective government nor certainty for investment. Empirical evidence shows that industry looks to regulation as the key determinant for shifting investments toward cleaner production.

For those reasons, I register my vote opposing the Speech from the Throne.

Now is the time to set aside petty partisan debates and work together to expedite the necessary economic and regulatory reforms, to convert our fossil fuel dependent economy to a more equitable, secure and greener future.

Parliament has already wisely passed laws prescribing specific targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Stricter pollution control standards are, hopefully, imminent for release. The next step is to direct the federal spending power, our fiscal measures and our regulatory arm toward incenting conversion to a greener economy.

We must deploy these powers at our disposal, revamp the outdated national building code to prescribe energy efficient buildings, reconsider these fast-tracked approvals for export of coal-fired and nuclear power and raw bitumen. We must considered stalled investments in tar sands expansion as a welcome window of opportunity to redress the cumulative health and environmental impacts.

Let us expand partnerships with provincial, territorial, municipal and aboriginal governments by significantly increasing our share of the cost to expedite on a much larger scale initiatives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The throne speech wisely lends support to such an initiative. Let us make it monumental. The result will bring all Canadians a triple bottom line benefit: energy savings to struggling families, farms, businesses and governments; reduced environmental and health impacts; job creation and job choice. This is what can be deemed a sensible policy for our time.

For many, the retired, those on fixed incomes and struggling students, reducing energy costs is a necessity, not a frill. Many in the House may be shocked to learn of the extent of poverty suffered in Alberta. These sad truths were revealed to us just this past week in reports by the food banks and the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

We must join forces to right these wrongs, to close the growing prosperity gap, to accord the equal right to a better qualify of life for every Canadian.

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I welcome the opportunity of working with all members in the House to achieve this reality.

Mr. Ron Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to meet with the new member and I welcome her to the House. I originally came from that part of town, the south side of Edmonton, which is a great area where I spent many years. I welcome her to the nation’s capital and look forward to working with her.

In one breath she said that we should set aside petty party politics and work together and then in the next breath she said that she would be voting against the throne speech. I think, in the spirit of cooperation, we need to find solutions to deal with the economic crisis that we are facing not only in Canada but around the world.

During the campaign the leader of her party kept talking about the kitchen table, not the boardroom table, and about standing up for working individuals but he did not provide any tax incentives to help the profitable companies and encourage them to continue on in good business practices. He only reinforced the negative bad business practices of the big three auto sectors and bailing them out.

Could the member try to explain how if we reward negative behaviour and penalize companies that are positive that is standing up for the working people? if there are no businesses making money and employing people there will be no one working, no kitchen tables and no boardroom tables.

Could you please inform me of your ideology and how that will help our economic situation?

Ms. Linda Duncan:
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to respond to the question put to me by the member opposite and I thank him for his greetings from Alberta.

Contrary to what the member asserts, the New Democratic Party is fully in favour of giving full support to the alternative economy. It is not only through dirty jobs that we can employ Canadians. Our goal is to provide a choice in employment.

However, we need to stand back and look at the kinds of businesses and jobs that we want to incent and create for the future of our children. It does not behoove us to continue to beef up and buoy up those industries that are destroying our environment and causing health harms.

At this point in our economy, where there is slowdown in areas such as the tar sands, it gives us a genuine opportunity to stand back and identify and redress those harms that may be created and perhaps avoiding them.

I welcome the opportunity to work with the other members in pursuing a strong economy but through targeted measures and targeted incentives for the kind of economy that will create good jobs for the future for a clean and healthy liveable community.

Mr. Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, and welcome her to the NDP mountain time caucus. In the mountain time caucus we are geographically the largest group in Parliament but numerically we are not in the same position. It is great to have a voice from Alberta speaking in Parliament, in opposition and in our caucus. It gives Parliament the opportunity to hear the differing points of view that do exist in that wonderful province to the south of my riding.

Again, I welcome my colleague and I trust that her role as environment critic will be an excellent one in this Parliament. I have worked with her for some 30 years on environmental issues and I know that her breadth of understanding and commitment to them are very large.

She touched on the issue of the regulatory process. In the throne speech we heard the government talk about reducing the regulatory burden. In its pronouncements in the past year it talked about reducing the regulatory–

Ms. Linda Duncan:
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments and encouragement by the member from the Northwest Territories. I will repeat that we have had a very co-operative, wonderful working relationship for more than 30 years in pursuing common pursuits for the communities that cross the borders between the province of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

I welcome the opportunity of working with the member from the Northwest Territories, as well as other members of the House, in pursuing policies that will protect the fragile Arctic and the fragile areas of northern Alberta while at the same time creating jobs. However, we must quickly put in place an energy security policy and strategy for Canada similar to what our neighbours to the south have done to ensure that the way we develop our resources is to our citizens’ benefit.

Mr. Tony Martin (Sault Ste. Marie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your re-appointment to the Speaker’s chair. I thought you did a good job in the last Parliament and I am looking forward to working under your guidance in this Parliament.

I want to thank my colleague, the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, for sharing her time with me this morning. It is a real honour to do that. I am really excited by the fact that she is with us in this place and will bring her wealth of knowledge and experience to the debates that we will have and contribute in a very positive and exciting way to the development of this new economy that I know we have the potential to put in place in Canada.

She reflects, in very wonderful ways, the great wealth of talent that we as New Democrats have welcomed to our caucus after the last election. There are 11 new members from across the country with experience and knowledge that will only benefit this place and the country in some important ways.

I would like to mention a couple of items. I googled the member for Edmonton—Strathcona before I came to deliver my speech this morning and she is a powerhouse. She has an unbelievable background of experience in her own province of Alberta, nationally and internationally. I will share with the House a couple of things she has done.

She held a senior portfolio as the chief of enforcement for Environment Canada. She founded Alberta’s Environmental Law Centre. She served at the international level as head of law and enforcement for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She spent four years working with Canadian, American and Mexican officials. She served as a senior legal advisor to Indonesia, Bangladesh and Jamaica in instituting programs for effective environmental enforcement for CIDA, Asian Development Bank and World Bank funded projects. This is just the tip of the iceberg to indicate the contribution that the member will make in this place as she fulfills her role as environment critic for the NDP caucus and on behalf of our leader…

And here’s an early exchange she had with Environment Minister Jim Prentice:

Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, as an Albertan, I was horrified to learn yesterday of the government’s plans to destroy the very foundation of federal environmental protection. At the same time it is fast-tracking the extraction of fossil fuels, including in our fragile Arctic.

The government has been given no mandate to abandon the careful work to protect our environment. I ask the minister to explain to this House why he is embarking on this dangerous course.

Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of the Environment, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to the House as an Albertan and as an Albertan I feel it is our responsibility in government to balance the environment and the economy.

In the time ahead there is the dynamic of a new president elected in the United States, one who has spoken with clarity and determination about environmental policies. In addition, in the coming year at Copenhagen, the world community will deal with an international protocol to supersede the Kyoto protocol.

I invite my hon. friend to work with us. If she has constructive ideas about this, I welcome them.

While cordial, it’s unfortunate that Prentice didn’t answer her question (which is what happens 90% of the time in these debates).

Read through more to decide for yourselves how her “performance” rates, but let’s just run through one more measure of accountability: attendance.

According to “How’d they Vote,” Linda Duncan has missed one vote this term. Jaffer, meanwhile, had 12 absences in his last term.

Of course, both are doing better than Ignatieff’s Liberals who are showing up even less than Dion’s! Talk about your lack of opposition.

So overall it looks like Linda’s doing a bit better than Rahim. It’s nice to be represented (of course under a new electoral system we could almost all be better represented…)

5 thoughts on “Linda Duncan unimpressive?”

  1. While being heard in the House of Commons is important, from a purely electoral standpoint, it will be the work done on the ground in Edmonton-Strathcona between the last October and the next election that will likely determine whether Duncan will be re-elected.

    Former Edmonton MP David Kilgour is a good example of how focusing on constituency work and ‘being seen’ around the constituency can get a non-Conservative MP re-elected in Alberta.

  2. I’d like to see Linda’s constituency office share this information through a mail-out. So far I’ve only received mail from the Conservatives asking me how much I love (blech) Stephen Harper.

    1. I know one is in the works that will come shortly. I think her office was on a pro-save trees/tax payer money by not sending out useless forms/propaganda.

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