The election is finally over. While it wasn’t the cliff hanger I thought it would be, it did produce a minority government. The good news in all of this is that there’s still hope for a “National Cycling Strategy”.
With a minority government, it is becoming rather obvious that the Liberals are going to have to rely on the NDP for support to move ahead with much of their legislative agenda. This is where things can get interesting.
Although the NDP didn’t say much about it in their platform or during the election campaign, in the past, they have made some fairly strong statements in favour of a National Cycling Strategy. Moreover, Jagmeet Singh seems to be personally committed to cycling. In fact, one of the photos on his Wikipedia page shows him on his bike when he attended a bicycle rally on Parliament Hill as part of the 2018 National Bike Summit. More importantly, Gord Johns, a re-elected NDP Member of Parliament from Vancouver Island, is a very strong cycling advocate. In the last Parliament, he tabled a private member’s bill to implement a National Cycling Strategy.
The Liberal’s reaction to this private member’s bill could be the focal point for what has to happen with the new minority government. Back then, the Liberals basically said that cycling is a nice local activity, but not a national issue. This was exemplified by statements issued on behalf of four senior ministers in response to a petition that was submitted to the House of Commons in support of Gord John’s private member’s bill. In other words, the Liberal government had made a decision to play dumb about cycling being an extremely important tool for dealing with climate change and health care needs (both of which are clearly national issues).
It would seem to me that this is where the NDP could take a stand, and insist that the minority Liberal Government demonstrate its seriousness about climate change by acknowledging that cycling is an indispensable tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This means demanding that the Liberals move ahead with a beefed-up version of Gord John’s private member’s bill. (Private members’ bills have to play it safe if they are to have any chance of succeeding, and are usually not as strong as government sponsored legislation.)
It may be hoping for a lot, but perhaps there could be some sort of mention about cycling and a National Cycling Strategy in the Speech from the Throne that will open the next session of Parliament. If you have a Liberal or NDP Member of Parliament, you may want to remind them that it’s time for Canada to get serious about a National Cycling Strategy.