Outgoing MP Jamie Nicholls reflects on four years of politics in the region
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
After serving as Vaudreuil-Soulanges NDP Member of Parliament for the past four years, Hudson resident Jamie Nicholls is looking forward to new professional challenges but hasn’t ruled out an eventual return to politics.
Following over four years of living in, and working with the residents of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, former NDP Member of Parliament Jamie Nicholls says he is most proud of the strong opposition his party put up against the Conservative Government. “We made positive propositions of how we could change things for the better. The fact that Stephen Harper’s government is gone is part of the work that I did with that opposition in showing Canadians just how wrong-headed most of the decisions they were making were.”
Nicholls said he also takes pride in the work he did in the region with community organizations, including the Centre développement communautaire (CDC) by raising their public profile.
“We also helped lots of people with family reunification and immigration cases,” he said. “I stand by the work I did during those four and a half years.”
When asked if he had regrets, Nicholls laments that he was unable to engage more democratic involvement from the citizens, specifically over the omnibus budget bill that was passed in 2012 and its changes on environmental legislation but turnout from the public during an event to discuss the bill was lower than expected. Nicholls also acknowledged that some requests from citizens went unanswered, or unsatisfied with an answer, and said there’s always room to improve communications with constituents regardless of level of government.
Nicholls divides his time between Gatineau and Hudson and as a resident, is paying close attention to developments in the pipeline projects that affect the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region.
“We (NDP) said we would consider the pipeline if we had a proper environmental evaluation,” he said. “That’s what was gotten rid of in 2012 (by the Conservatives) and we still don’t have it in place.” Nicholls said that even if the project had met the conditions of the current federally legislated safety regime, it wouldn’t be acceptable to the NDP. Those safety laws have been inherited by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party and to change them would involve recalling parliament.
“He needs the political will.” Nicholls said the Enbridge 9b flow reversal plan that would see diluted bitumen flowing through the 40-year-old pipeline thorough the Vaudrueil-Soulanges region should be subjected to a more thorough review than the Conservatives asked for. “I don’t think it’s acceptable for our member of parliament to say that it’s a binding decision when he has colleagues out west saying those decisions can be reviewed but ours can’t.”
Nicholls is transitioning from his politics back to his private life, closing both his Ottawa and Vaudreuil-Soulange offices.
“I have a couple of offers that have come in that I’m considering,” said Nicholls, describing potential work at the management level in academia. “As I said the night of our defeat, I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to still be around, promoting our education system and public healthcare system.”
Nicholls has been active on social media since the October 19 election that saw, much like the rest of Canada, a red Liberal wave roll through the region, electing Hudson native Peter Schiefke as the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP. He told Your Local Journal that despite the election results, public health and wellbeing remains his personal and professional focus.
“I recently posted that doctors and nurses have come out and said the Chaoulli Decision made in 2005 is ruining our public Medicare system,” he said of the Supreme Court ruling in which four of the seven judges concluded the Quebec Charter guarantees a right to private insurance where the public system is inadequate. “The same year, Jack Layton had made his support of Paul Martin’s government contingent on the fact that Martin expressed that private care was not acceptable under the rubric of public financing. That was one of the things that tipped the Liberal government over and brought us Stephen Harper.”
Nicholls reiterated the need for adequate medical services in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. “Obviously we need a hospital. Residents are going to Ontario and funding hospital expansions with our tax dollars. It’s not right.” He also remains passionate about issues like area housing and public transit, including Conseil Intermunicipal de Transport La Presqu'Île (CIT) and the Train de l’Ouest project.
While he says he hasn’t ruled out another run at politics, “…four years is a long time,” but is emphatic that if he does return, his loyalties remain with the NDP.
For now, Nicholls is making the most of this time off to spend with wife Amanda MacDonald and new baby Penelope.
“It’s good to be back spending time with my family.”