An interview with the representative for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
The members of parliament (MP) in the 43 editions of Canadian Parliament have found themselves in what may be one of the greatest health and economic crises the country has faced in a long time. With coronavirus striking at the heart of Canada’s health care, businesses, and everyday socialization, the current class of MP’s have Canada’s future in their hands more than most assemblies.
To talk about the government’s response to COVID-19, his political career, and his Liberal government’s view on tuition fees is Ron McKinnon. McKinnon is the sitting MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam and has been representing the riding since 2015.
As for how his team and family are dealing with the fallout from coronavirus, McKinnon said they are “settling in” to this new normal, and that his daughters are housebound in the downtown area—but he is keeping in contact with everyone through phone, email, and other means. He also believes that a crisis like this can really bring out the true humanity of people in the best way.
McKinnon discussed how the next day (March 24) he was going to be recalled to parliament interactively from his office to vote on the $82 billion emergency bill to bailout Canadians who have lost work during the COVID-19 shut down. While he does believe the bailout bill is needed, he does not believe the Emergency Act needs to be activated on a federal level. “We’re hoping to not have to do that until we find out if social distancing works.”
While McKinnon has been elected twice, his winning margin was slim. He won in 2015 by almost 2000 votes and in 2019 by 387 votes—according to Elections Canada. When asked if he still feels he needs to prove himself he said “I’m not in this to prove myself. I’m here to do good work and get things done.”
One of the bills McKinnon is most proud of is the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act which secured safety for any person calling the ambulance to report a drug overdose to not get arrested for possession. “Last summer I had a lady in my office say that her son was alive today because of that bill.” He wants to continue to improve the lives of Canadians through other actions like supporting the bill banning homosexual conversion therapy and finding a way to reduce stress on juries.
One of the issues close to many Douglas College students are student loans. I asked him why the government is still charging interest on student loans. He points out that the government has increased the number of grants offered, and the Liberal government has also increased the number of options Canadians have to pay down the debt—including a clause that states that people don’t have to begin to payback the loans until they reach an income of $25,000 a year. He also states that the government is introducing new measures to solve the problem of student debt.
McKinnon, like many MP’s, must deal with the issue of coronavirus as it comes. This virus will be unpredictable, and its effects will be long lasting, but hopefully the $82 billion relief bill will ease the pain on Canadians. McKinnon is looking at a tough road ahead, but as he stated, he is not doing this job to prove anything. He is here to make things better for Canadians, and for the people of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.