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Saying goodbye to federal politics

Whistler's MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones gives farewell speech at House of Commons, highlighting milestones and challenges of her term

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On June 5, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones spoke at the House of Commons. While not unusual for a sitting member of parliament, Goldsmith-Jones was saying a goodbye of sorts.

In May, Goldsmith-Jones announced she would not be seeking re-election, saying she wishes to be closer to family.

One of the first surprises Goldsmith-Jones faced after being elected to office to represent West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country, was how little time she had at her desk.

She'd previously served as the mayor of West Vancouver and once elected MP was also asked to be the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"What I didn't expect that I found challenging and I still find challenging is that the way things are structured in Ottawa between committee meetings and normal meetings and voting in the House and House duty is to get a body of work done in the context of really small fragmented little pieces of time was a real challenge," she told The Chief. "I've learned how to do it, but I had sort of a romantic notion of sitting at my desk and really being able to absorb big bodies of work and then write and it's not like that. You're always flying, and yet we get a lot done. It was a new way of working for me, for sure."

In Goldsmith-Jones' June 5 speech at the House of Commons, she touched on her belief that the House does not need to sit for a full Friday. Sparing that time would allow members of parliament to operate in their communities more.

"It's a lost opportunity," she told The Chief. Instead, she'd like to see members working in Ottawa for four days, with three days in their communities.

Being present in each community is a challenge, but should be a priority for the next Sea to Sky MP, she said.

"It's a big amount of territory to cover and it's not just for the election, it's for four years. Make that effort, because the community will support the presence and the access," she said. "It's a constant, constant effort to ensure you're treating various parts of the riding equally."

Choosing how — and where — to spend Canada Day is an annual nightmare in such a large riding.

The to-be-elected member of parliament will also have to keep up with a lot of correspondence from constituents, she added.

As for election issues, Goldsmith-Jones said, "I certainly know what our community's going to be interested in: seniors' issues and pharmacare, I think, need to be a priority and I expect that they will be. I think that, obviously, the Trans Mountain Pipeline is going to be a challenge. I've knocked on a lot of doors and I've listened to, obviously, lots of support, lots of opposition. Both sides though talk about what does Canada's energy future look like? How do we transition away from the status quo?"

The conversation has to move beyond being in favour of or against pipelines and to what can be done for clean energy, she said. Other topics her constituents pay plenty of attention to include environmental issues, particularly when it comes to industry. While she says some are still opposed to Woodfibre LNG in Squamish, she said the concerned voices helped ensure positive measures and standards were set for the proposed project.

Goldsmith-Jones also said people are also going to be concerned about fake news and electoral tampering.

"To me, the antidote to all of that is to be engaged. To actually get to know candidates, get to know priorities of the community, articulate them to politicians, because you can't be fooled by fake news if you know what the reality actually is."

She pointed out that the last election in B.C. had the highest voter turn out in the country since 1958 — before she was born — and she hopes the trend continues.

Goldsmith-Jones has four months left to her term. In that time, she'll continue to work on infrastructure funds as she spends her last summer working on behalf of the riding. And after that? She said she prefers to give her undivided attention to her remaining time as a member of parliament before making any other plans.

This article originally appeared here.

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