Goldsmith-Jones reflects on 'electrifying' week in Ottawa 

New Sea to Sky MP learns the ropes

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ADAM SCOTTI/COURTESY OF THE LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA - a new approach Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds his first caucus meeting in Ottawa after winning a Liberal majority government on October 19.
  • photo by Adam scotti/courtesy of the liberal party of canada
  • a new approach Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds his first caucus meeting in Ottawa after winning a Liberal majority government on October 19.

In the weeks following the election of a new Canadian government, the country's capital has been "electrifying," according to new Member of Parliament Pam Goldsmith-Jones.

"And I mean that in the coffee shops, when you're checking in and out of the airport — not just among the candidates or the new MPs, but throughout the town," Goldsmith-Jones said.

"Someone said they haven't seen Ottawa like this in their memory... obviously that will settle down, but generally speaking it's just a wonderful week for Canada."

Somewhere in all that excitement, 199 new MPs were learning the basic ropes of their trade.

"An MP is responsible for managing a budget and opening offices and hiring employees, and they're responsible for that like a business entity, separate from the work with the constituency, and then again separate from the work with the party," Goldsmith-Jones said.

"So you wear multiple hats, and that's quite a lot of information."

On Nov. 2 and 3, Canada's new elected officials learned how to manage their new responsibilities — everything from the basics like pay, benefits and insurance to security clearance and the aforementioned budget managing.

On Nov. 4, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new, half-female cabinet were officially sworn in.

"It's made a tremendous impact already," Goldsmith-Jones said of Trudeau's commitment to gender parity.

"Proportionally speaking, the same number of women have been elected to the House of Commons in general, but the fact that the cabinet is 50/50 feels empowering to all people. It's changed the tone, I would say, and it's very exciting."

Goldsmith-Jones arrived back in the riding on Nov. 8. If she hasn't yet responded to your email, she's getting to it.

"I'd like to apologize if there's any delay," she said.

"I spent last week and all morning today triaging all the emails, responding to all of the invitations and speaking engagements and then starting to schedule meetings that have been requested."

Next on the agenda is to set up her constituency office — hopefully by the end of the month — and get to work serving the riding.

"It's really important to lay the foundation properly," she said.

"The first order of business is to talk to the community as a whole, convey how to get in touch with us, and also meet with the councils, the regional districts, the school boards and the First Nations."

During her campaign, Goldsmith-Jones promised to form a "local labour task force" within 60 days of being elected to address labour shortages in the riding.

She said she'll be discussing the issue with Whistler council at a meeting this month, and she's also in the process of setting up a presentation to the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

But Goldsmith-Jones couldn't say what the task force will look like or who will make it up, "other than beginning with (Whistler Chamber CEO) Val Litwin."

Another key priority for Goldsmith-Jones is Canada's West Coast.

"That is an immediate concern, particularly with regard to the future of the Coast Guard. Not just re-opening the Kitsilano Coast Guard station but the status of marine communications in Comox and Tofino," she said, adding that the tragic sinking of a whale-watching vessel near Tofino two weeks ago only further highlights the issue.

Goldsmith-Jones wants to provide stability for the coast by taking "the threat of further cuts and closures off the table," she said.

"But it needs to be part of a comprehensive plan."

On the fisheries side of things, Goldsmith-Jones said she hopes to get to work implementing the findings of the Cohen Commission — a 2012 report into the state of B.C.'s sockeye salmon.

"I am hoping that we will be setting up meetings quickly with (new fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo) here on the coast," Goldsmith-Jones said.

"He is excited about that."



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