Political Exchange to Canada: April & May 2019 | NZ Parliament
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Political Exchange to Canada: April & May 2019 | NZ Parliament

November 29, 2019

>>We started off the trip in British Columbia. We went and visited the Parliament in Victoria,
and that was quite an interesting opportunity to see how it works at a provincial level
compared to the federal level. And we had a range of meetings there. Agriculture was probably the highlight for
me, from my background in the Waikato.>>We had many long and in-depth conversations
on topics like euthanasia and legalisation of cannabis, tourism, the state of the economy
–all sorts.>>The two meetings that really stuck in my
mind was what they’re doing in terms of their housing crisis, in terms of providing what
the state is doing to be able to deal with homelessness. And I think there’s a lot of issues that we
could learn from in that space. And secondly, their equivalent of the Office
of Treaty Settlements, in terms of the treaty process they’re going to was also fascinating,
to find out what First Nations are going through.>>We had really, really interesting meetings
around housing and how they’re responding to their housing crisis there, and that their
Crown agency was working with communities to support them to be able to provide social
housing, and really putting a lot of time and resource into that.>>After we’d been in Victoria, we went to
Vancouver and we had a day there looking at sustainable housing in particular. And it was interesting to note some of the
focus they were trying to address there, some of the similar challenges again that they have
to what we have in relation to housing people, affordability of housing.>>What was really great about the trip is
we visited a state parliament, and then also their main parliament, which is based in Ottawa. It was awesome to attend question time in
Canada. They have 350 MPs, which is about three times
the amount of MPs we’ve got here.>>And we got to see the Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau answer questions in English and French, which was very impressive. And to also see all the politics playing out.>>And it was interesting to note the differences
in their question time compared to our question time in New Zealand. Still quite enthusiastic, certainly plenty
of vocal opinions across the House, but just a slightly different take on how that operates
in a different country.>>I’m really grateful for the way in which
the New Zealand High Commissioner in Canada and his Deputy High Commissioner were so incredibly
helpful and knowledgeable for us. It’s really interesting to see the level of
respect that they have over there. So isn’t that awesome for us in New Zealand
that we get to know, sitting back here, that our reps over there are continuously selling
the New Zealand story in a really genuine manner.>>The highlight of the trip for me was meeting
the Canadian Minister of Tourism, Minister Joly. It was amazing to see just how similar the
issues they have, the issues they’re facing in Canada, which we are here in New Zealand:
how do we manage sustainably the number of people that want to visit New Zealand – and
most importantly, give them the best experience possible.>>We had a great trip north out of Ottowa
to go and look at one of the First Nations groups and looking at how they’ve operated
over there, and some of the challenges they’ve faced.>>To see the community coming together and
providing their own education system and social services – for me as a Pākehā in government,
it’s really useful and important to reflect on that commonality and self-determination
and well-being and freedom and rights of indigenous people.>>Another meeting that I felt was really
interesting was meeting with Randy Boissonnault, who was the very first special advisor appointed
to the Prime Minister on LGBT issues in Canada. He was really spearheading the conversations
around mental health and youth, and the importance of having a spokesperson in that area. The title in Canada used is LGBTQ2. And I asked, ‘What did 2 mean?’ And it was a reflection of the First Nations’
interpretation of someone being two-spirited, having two spirits within them. And it’s the first time I’d heard that.>>Another highlight was meeting the Climate
Ambassador for Canada. Fascinating to hear how they’re dealing with
their issues around climate change. Very topical at the moment here in New Zealand,
as we’re going through similar experiences.>>One of the things that we had to come across,
and was actually really sad, were massive floods in the city of Ottawa.>>Snow hadn’t long melted, and actually they
were experiencing the worst flooding that they’ve ever had. So we certainly were able to extend our thoughts
to the MPs dealing with those challenging situations over there, and of course the people
directly impacted.>>Just seeing how Canada’s dealing with the
same issues that we’ve got here. As a country, New Zealand is very similar
to Canada.>>They are going through issues that we are
going through right now: euthanasia, cannabis, just to name two. Then we’ve got CPTPP, where we’re hoping to
do some more bilateral trade with Canada. These are massive issues for our country,
for Parliament, and for our economy.>>I really enjoyed being part of a team that
was cross-party going overseas. I felt proud to represent New Zealand. And it really gave me a great understanding
of the similarities that New Zealand has with Canada.>>You know, it’s kind of a cliche – ‘think
globally, act locally’. But there’s value in that, and that was even
clearer to me after this trip.>>I don’t think you have two countries that
are so similar in the world.>>These sorts of trips are important to ensure
that we maintain strong connections with our similar countries internationally, because
those strong connections are so important when it comes to a whole range of aspects
such as trade and security, international relations, foreign affairs, and we need to
ensure that we’re doing our best to maintain those where we can.>>This delegation who has come to Canada
from very far away, who has crossed the great ocean, who has come to us to learn, to see
and to understand, and perhaps share their experiences of what they are undergoing in
New Zealand.

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