Thanks Elizabeth, Bill

Last night Elizabeth May came to Toronto Centre for two great events. The first was a Pride Week meet & greet at Byzantium on Church Street, where a diverse group of people gathered to enjoy a special “Green Martini” that had been prepared for the evening. Elizabeth re-affirmed our party’s commitment to LGBT equality, pointing out that the Green Party of Canada is the only federal party to have ever had an openly gay leader (Chris Lea), and was the first party to support equal marriage when we did so in 1996. The second event was an incredible meal at Jamie Kennedy’s Wine Bar (also on Church) with a packed room of about 90 people. Video of both these events to follow.

It was only upon arriving at the first event that I heard Bill Graham had announced his resignation, effective July 2nd, just hours before in the House of Commons. He finished his parting remarks with the following, which is worth reprinting here:

In closing, I want to say one thing about the civility of this place. There has been a lot in the press recently about the lack of civility in the House. It may be attributable to the minority situation we are in and it may be attributable to a lot of causes, but surely we owe it to ourselves to disagree without being disagreeable. We do not need to do that.

I believe everyone in the House carries within him or her the desire to serve our country and, whether one has that desire or not, the capacity to affect the future lives of every citizen of this great land, and to some extent others around the globe. Let us treat each other with the respect that thought brings. In what we bring to this place, let us respect one another and, in so doing, I believe our fellow countrymen will respect this institution and respect us for the work we do.

Those words informed my comments at last night’s dinner. It’s not just the lack of civility that’s worrisome, it’s the disrespect that this government is showing for Parliament itself. Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have the right to believe what they do, to advocate for their positions, to run in elections, and to implement their agenda when elected. They do not, however, have the right to sabotage our democratic systems, which is what they are guilty of doing.

I want to publicly say again that Bill has been a good MP and that I’m grateful to him for his years of service. It was fun having him as an opponent. There’s one final quote I’d like to leave you with, again taken from his comments in the House yesterday, that I found particularly interesting.

“It is important that [the people of Toronto Centre] be represented by a future voice rather than someone from the past.”

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