Terrace residents got an opportunity to pitch NDP MP Nathan Cullen their ideas for a Private Member’s Bill during a town hall discussion last Wednesday.
A new contest proposed by the Skeena-Bulkley Valley representative called ‘Create Your Canada’ could see ideas tapped directly from northwest residents converted into Canadian law. All that’s required to be submitted is the bare bones of a proposal.
“Then a volunteer committee picks a winner, and that winner we then take and transform it into a law, using the drafters in Parliament,” said Cullen at the town hall meeting at the Best Western Terrace Inn on May 16. “Then I fly the winner to Ottawa to watch their idea, now as a law, be introduced for debate in Parliament.”
This is the second time the contest was held. During its first run in 2009, the contest took submissions from high school students in an effort to get them more involved in the legislative process. Now, after close to a decade, the contest is open to all members of the public to submit.
“Three young women out of Smithers ended up banning asbestos exports out of Canada, which was amazing,” Cullen said of the announced winners in 2009. “They really shifted federal policy that has been in place for a hundred years.”
There are some restrictions on what can be submitted, however. The idea must fall under federal jurisdiction, be constitutional, and cannot cost money to implement.
“You have to figure out what you can effect through federal law. Sidewalks and dogs barking at night? Not so much. But fisheries, First Nations, climate change, the economy… big, important questions, you can.”
Around 20 people crowded into the room with Cullen and presented their ideas, which varied from banning bankruptcy bonuses for executives of failing companies, to streamlining the immigration process so experienced doctors can begin their practice in Terrace without having to go back to school.
“The voices of Canadians come with such sincerity and no partisanship,” Cullen explained. “They aren’t trying to win elections, they just have ideas about how their country works and how to make it better.”
With the deadline falling on June 29, there is limited time to submit for the private bill presentation in the fall.
To enter the Create Your Canada competition, you can email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also mail your submission to Cullen’s Smithers constituency office at PO Box 4919, Smithers BC V0J 2N0.