By Parry-Sound Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison
It has been several weeks since Parliament resumed following the 2021 General Election. During this time, the Liberal government selected members of the Federal Cabinet. While Parliament is where legislation is debated, spending is approved and the government is held accountable, the day-to-day functions of the government is run by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. One of the most crucial parts of our system of government is the role of the Official Opposition, sent to Parliament to hold the government to account.
The Official Opposition carries out that responsibility by monitoring decisions of the Cabinet, asking the government questions in Question Period as well as critically reviewing government legislation to either amend and improve or oppose and defeat. The Official Opposition organizes itself in the same fashion that the government does and so the Leader of the Official Opposition selects members of caucus to serve in critic roles—also known as the Shadow Cabinet.
The Shadow Cabinet mirrors the Cabinet and Shadow Ministers focus on the portfolios they are assigned to by attending committees, stakeholder sessions and reviewing legislation that pertains to their area of focus. As the government-in-waiting, it is critically important for the Shadow Cabinet to be putting forward ideas that are good for Canadians while holding the government in line.
Earlier in November, I was honoured to be asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition to serve in his Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Minister for Labour. In my new role, I am excited by the opportunity to champion the hard-working men and women who build Canada up every single day. My new role will give me the opportunity to travel across the country, connecting with labour groups and workplaces, while sharing our hardworking entrepreneurial spirit in Parry Sound-Muskoka with the rest of the country.
Working with the labour community is not new for me. When I served as Mayor of Hunstville, we sold the facility now known as the De Novo Treatment Center to the Building Trades Unions in what is a true model for the rest of Canada for addictions treatment of unionized construction workers. The centre is a reminder for me of the importance of my work advancing safer and healthier workplaces and giving workers real voices at the table in their place of employment.
The Shadow Cabinet meets regularly to discuss our strategy in Parliament and review pieces of legislation. Recently, I was the Shadow Minister assigned to Bill C-3 which, among other things, gives workers in the federally regulated private sector ten days of paid sick leave. Conservatives believe in ensuring no worker has to choose between going to work sick and losing a pay cheque. Through the Shadow Cabinet process which includes meeting with key stakeholders, preparing legislative analysis, and consulting caucus colleagues, we were able to present innovative ideas to improve the bill which is now headed for further debate in the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights before being presented a final time in front of the entire House of Commons.
Though we disagree on much, I believe it is incumbent on all Parliamentarians of all political stripes to find ways to work in collaboration so that we create better policy for everyone.
As I have the opportunity to expand in my role as Shadow Minister for Labour, I continue to work hard every day for our communities in Parliament. My new responsibilities provide me new opportunities to speak up for Parry Sound-Muskoka. From addressing the housing crisis, ensuring everyone has access to high-speed internet, lowering taxes and protecting the environment, there’s a lot of issues for Parliament to tackle. Let’s get to work.
(Photo of Parliament Hill by festivio on Pixabay. Photo of Scott Aitchison courtesy of Scott Aitchison.)
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