House-of-commons-empty-FullDear Editor,
On Monday night, the mission against ISIL was extended in Iraq, and expanded in to Syria through a vote in Parliament. Federal MPs voted 142-129 in favour of the motion to extend and expand the mission. Any vote which could lead to the endangering of Canadian lives, whether they be military or civilian, should be seen as an important one, and whether you do or do not support the extension and expansion of the mission, your voice, as a resident of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound (and more generally, as a Canadian citizen) was not heard in Parliament on Monday.The riding's democratically elected Member of Parliament (along with over 30 others) - whose responsibility is to represent our community in matters concerning such things as national security – neglected to do so.
In a recent new release issued by Larry Miller's office, Miller stated "After direct threats made against Canada, as well as radicalized attacks on Canadian soil, it is clear that the capabilities of ISIL must be degraded". The statement is an empty one. Although his statement in support of the operation may have been sincere, his inability act, due to his being absent, shows that it was also a token statement. In being absent during an important and impactful vote for (most) Canadians, Miller has effectively excluded the citizens of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound from the national dialogue of war, and more generally, of Canada's role on the global stage.
However, Miller was not the only absentee from the vote. Among the absentees were 19 Conservatives, 5 New Democrats, and 4 Independent MPs. Our community then, was not alone in being unheard. As it is the job of these MPs to represent their constituents' views, they are saying then, that we as a community want to take no part in determining the role Canada is to play internationally. Canada's former Chief of Defence commented on the priorities of the absent MPs by stating "[Members of Parliament] could not prioritize their lives and schedules sufficiently to be there when that most sacred trust – sending Canada's sons and daughters in harm's way, to do violent things on our behalf – was decided" And I'd have to agree with him when he concludes: "It pisses me off!" Additionally, it astounds me that in a riding which houses a military base, and where any military decision - large or small – has an impact on the community, our MP cannot properly represent that portion of the constituency in Parliament.
As one constituent in a constituency of over 100,000 individuals, I'd like to have a voice.
Best Regards,
Jeff Dean

*Editor's Notes: Jeff Dean is the Data Chair of federal Liberal candidate Kimberley Love's campaign and President of the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Provincial Liberal Association
Five Liberal MPs were also absent or abstained from Monday's vote.