Doherty looks for softwood shout-out

Prince George's newest MP used his first speech in the House of Commons to press for action on the softwood lumber agreement.

On Tuesday morning, Cariboo-Prince George representative Todd Doherty rose to add his response to last Friday's speech from the throne.

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In keeping with other Conservative party member critiques of the Liberal government plan as read out by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Doherty keyed on what he saw as missing from the outline – particularly mentions of softwood lumber, mining, agriculture and tourism.

"It was pretty incredible to stand up and actually be able to talk about our riding, talk about some of the great things that we have in our riding, but then also talk about how I feel – and we feel – that the Liberals' speech from the throne missed the mark for rural Canadians and, in particular, our riding," Doherty said.

On the issue of softwood lumber, Doherty said he wants to see the government commit to sitting down with its American counterparts and negotiate some sort of extension to the agreement that expired on Oct. 12, at least until the U.S. wraps up its elections next year.

There is currently a 12-month grace period in effect, which keeps the U.S. from launching any trade litigation against B.C. producers.

"It is first and foremost, front and centre with our forestry producers," Doherty said. "While there are some good things in the first speech from the throne, I would have like to have seen a little bit more on how the Liberal's mandate is going to affect rural Canadians."

On Tuesday, Doherty was also keeping an eye on the announcements coming from the government regarding the launch of an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

Though information was still scarce Tuesday morning, Doherty – who is the Opposition's deputy critic for indigenous affairs – said the government's two-phased approach that included consulting with victim's families was the "absolute right way of doing it."

"It's one of things I said all along that rather than just wasting millions of dollars on another bureaucratic report, let's make sure we're engaging our regional communities and our communities from within those agencies that are on the ground working with our First Nations," he said. "Let's work with our First Nations in trying to make sure we're building trust between our First Nations and our police forces across the country. But let's make sure that No. 1 the families are consulted."

The rookie MP isn't wasting much time on other fronts. He already has three private members' bills waiting in the wings, according to Parliament's notice paper: An Act to establish National Appreciation Day, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act (interpretation of numerical dates) and An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (high-profile offenders).

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