Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May shakes hands with a constituent during her recent town hall meeting in Sidney. (Spencer Pickles/Black Press)

Elizabeth May reaches out to Sidney through town hall

Marijuana cultivation in Central Saanich crops up during meeting

SIDNEY – The Saanich-Gulf Islands MP detailed her time in parliament and planned legislation for the new year.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May held a town hall meeting Jan. 18 at the Mary Winspear Centre to update her riding on goings-on in parliament and to take questions from constituents.

“The purpose of this meeting is for me to report to my employers because I work for all the constituents of Saanich-Gulf Islands,” said May.

This was one of eight town halls held by May in the region leading up to when parliament resumes on Jan. 29. The meeting opened with a summation of her work in parliament since her previous town halls in September.

May said that the legislative calendar is much lighter under Trudeau than the previous government and she’s still waiting on the promised reform of environmental and fisheries legislation.

“I’m very afraid that the Environmental Assessment Act won’t be properly repaired and the Navigable Waters Protection Act won’t be repaired. But I expect this spring to see legislation from Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and I have hopes for that.”

As the head of the federal Green Party, May is focused on climate change. She has concerns about Poland hosting the United Nations climate talks next December.

“The government of Poland has a cultural commitment to coal,” said May, who has reached out to Bulgaria in hopes that they will host the talks in the future.

May touched on U.S. President Donald Trump, specifically about fears that he will pull the U.S. out of NAFTA.

“I raise a different issue: can he?” said May. “No [U.S.] government has ever withdrawn from a treaty they entered into.”

The forthcoming marijuana legislation came up several times. Ken Mary and the newly-formed Citizens Protecting Agriculture Land Committee voiced concerns about the recent purchase of a portion of Stanhope Farm in Central Saanich for the purpose of building 21 greenhouses to cultivate marijuana.

“They have to pave over 30 acres of number one grade farmland that’s so precious to us and will never again be able to grow food,” said Mary, adding the expected 1500 workers at the facility could overwhelm the Lochside Trail.

May said while the sale is a municipal issue, she will continue to fight against regulations that prevent outdoor growth of marijuana.

“We should take the same approach to growing cannabis as we do growing tobacco: not in a bunker, not on top of agricultural land,” she said, noting that although she was not able to get any amendments on Bill C-45, she said she’ll continue to work on it via regulation.

Veteran Charles Goodman asked May if any progress had been made on removing the so-called gold digger clause. The piece of legislation, which dates back to the Boer War, will prevent his wife from receiving his military pension after his death because they married when he was over the age of 60.

“I have a commitment in writing from Minister Bill Morneau that the Liberal Party will get rid of these superannuation act exclusions,” said May and she promised to keep working on it.

Other issues raised included the future of Internet neutrality in Canada, how a proposed new license of occupation will require a fee from those moored in Brentwood Bay and concerns around the loopholes in Bill C-59 that could potentially allow torture.

May has four more town halls planned in the riding leading up to the resumption of parliament at the end of the month. Dates and times can be found on her website: http://elizabethmaymp.ca/town-halls

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