BY BILL PHILLIPS
About 80 people crammed into College of New Caledonia classroom Tuesday afternoon to listen to Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty.
About half of the people were international students getting credits, and an education about Canadian politics. The rest were there for a Doherty townhall session, which he promised to do again in the fall and likely not in the middle of the day.
Doherty gave an update on his work in Ottawa and fielded questions on everything from education to Indigenous issues to the looming trade war with the U.S.
He kicked off the day, however, talking about his biggest accomplishment as an MP – passage of his Bill C-211.
“It means, for the very first time, a nation, Canada, will lead the way with a law that we will develop a national framework with respect to post traumatic stress disorder and mental health injuries that our first responders and our veterans encounter,” he said.
He was pressed by Bruce German, a survivor of the Lakeland Mills explosion and fire, as to why the bill focuses only on first responders. Doherty said the bill isn’t a framework, it mandates the ministers to work with provincial and territorial ministers and professionals to get together and develop a framework on mental health.
“I do everything in my power to ensure that we have that mental health discussion,” he said. “It is unacceptable to me that we have first responders, military, and veterans that are choosing death over life. It is unacceptable to me that we First Nations youth, some as young as four, who are choosing death over life.”
He said the country needs to have a discussion about mental health.
“It is my hope, through Bill C-211, that we can have that national discussion,” he said. “We are leading the way. No other country has done this.”
When it comes to the looming trade war with the U.S., Doherty said the strategy is to present a unified approach.
“When we’re down in Washington, they don’t see us as Conservative, Liberal or NDP, they see us as Team Canada and that’s very important,” he said. “But I will always, always stand up for jobs in my riding and I will always let Justin know if they are failing us.”
He added recently trade agreements with Europe and Asia will definitely help Canada.
“We have to do everything in our power to ensure Canadian industry can compete,” he said.