Egmont MP serves notice to government
Bobby Morrissey isn’t about to concede the limelight to Prince Edward Island’s three other Liberal MPs – grizzled parliamentary veterans when compared to the rookie federal member from Egmont.
In his maiden speech last month, Mr. Morrissey told the House of Commons he intends to pursue reforms to the employment insurance system, plus other campaign promises made by the Liberals and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the federal election campaign.
He didn’t hesitate about putting his government on notice during that speech or in public comments afterwards. While P.E.I.’s three veteran MPs have all been rewarded for their loyalty to party and province by Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Morrissey will have to carve out a niche on his own.
In his response to the speech from the throne, Mr. Morrissey vowed to work for better childcare benefits but quickly moved to EI reforms – a topic of longtime personal interest.
Because of pressure from Mr. Morrissey and other Liberal MPs in Atlantic Canada, EI made a rare appearance in the speech from the throne. It was a speech marked by brevity and to earn a mention was an accomplishment in itself.
Mr. Morrissey said the speech recognizes that in parts of the country – especially Atlantic Canada - seasonal industries take centre stage. Taking his cue from the throne speech, Mr. Morrissey told the Commons that seasonal economies require a very dedicated, highly skilled and motivated workforce to allow those industries to thrive.
It’s a frustrating issue. Some federal bureaucrats can’t seem to understand problems affecting seasonal industries and still support unfair rule changes made by the previous government. The Egmont MP said changes were promised and changes will be made.
Regional premiers, MPs and provincial MLAs have made the same arguments for several years but have yet to overcome the mindset in Ottawa that Atlantic Canadians prefer collecting EI over looking for a job. Distorted EI stats are also being used to keep temporary foreign workers from this region.
If bureaucrats want to debate Mr. Morrissey, good luck to them. He’s made a career on the issue and can easily rebut Ottawa’s simplistic and erroneous arguments.
The upcoming 2016 fish processing season needs immediate attention. Mr. Morrissey warns that trouble is inevitable without reforms. The status quo will have a negative economic impact unless more temporary foreign workers are allowed back to staff seafood plants.
The Egmont MP said he didn’t get elected to defend Stephen Harper’s Conservative policies which were roundly attacked by the Liberals and soundly rejected by voters.
It’s a warning that bureaucrats and members of his own government had better heed.