No, I'm not going to compete with the chair. Actually, there are representatives of a few rural ridings here. Mr. Ruimy is here from the west coast. I know it's a long way to get to Vancouver, and with the time difference, if you add that in, it's pretty strenuous. For this conversation, I think it's very important that we talk about why unanimous decision-making and consensus is critical, Mr. Chair.
I'm from Vancouver Island, where there are no government MPs, so it's very important that we're a part of that discussion, but also that decision. I like one thing about what I've learned being in Parliament, and it was a great surprise, but it shouldn't have been, because in my community we get to know each other across political lines. I have neighbours who vote Green or Liberal, even Conservative, and I'm trying to have fun with it. They're my friends. They're my neighbours. They're my community. I care about their families. Coming here, I've gotten to know some of my colleagues, and I care about them. I care about their families. One thing we have in common is that we care about our country. We care about our country, we care about our families, and we care about the families in our communities. That's why we're here: to fight for families, to stand up for families.
When I take that into consideration, it's very important that we have that in common, we have that consensus: that we're here for families, that we're here to look out for each other. We want the same thing: a great country. How we get there is what differentiates us. That's where the debate comes in, the important debate and discussion.
I had heard about PROC. Obviously Mr. Christopherson's been a part of PROC. He had so much pride that PROC was a committee that worked on consensus, where parliamentarians looked out for each other, looked out for each others' families, and the importance of that.
When I look at my schedule, and I think about the government considering extending sitting days to more months in the year—I know that's been considered—I think about how hard that would be on my family, and on me as a western MP. Right now I go home and I come back. By the time I get home, I have a day in my riding and I have to turn around and come back. When I get home to my riding, I have to get on the road or I'm not going to see people in my communities. If we stretch out the year even more, then many of the smaller communities are going to be missed out, Mr. Chair. I'm not going to be able to see many of those communities that I want to get to. In my Canada and in my riding, everybody counts. For a community like Hesquiaht, which has 40 people in it, it takes me 15 and a half hours to get to Tofino to get to the dock and an hour and a half by boat to get to Hesquiaht to see these people who are really struggling, who are living in poverty. If I don't go and hear their story, I can't represent them in Ottawa and make sure they're being heard. Their issues are important, their story is important, and their vision is important, so that we can help contribute to the vision of our country.
I have many communities in my riding that are struggling with absolute poverty. They're very nervous when their MP can't come to their community and learn how we can bring their important ideas forward or their needs. I know that we have a crisis in my riding right now with youth suicide, and there are many children on suicide watch. If I can't go home and get to those small rural communities, I don't know their story or have those relationships and that trust. It is about trust when these dangerous situations and emergency situations are happening, and that can only be achieved in that time that we're in the ridings.
Mr. Chair, the consideration is of shutting down sittings on Fridays, that it's going to make it easier. It's not. As to extending the days in Ottawa, how are we going to extend the days? How are we going to work longer? We're here, and it's 11 o'clock at night. If I wasn't sitting at this committee having this conversation, I'd likely be in my office phoning people in British Columbia, because it's suppertime right now and people are getting home from work. To add hours to the day would be very difficult, especially Mondays. When we come in on Sunday, we get home in Ottawa at about two in the morning. We have to get up early and get to work. And there's a three-hour time difference. We're sleeping for about five hours, if we're lucky, and then we have a long day on Monday, and we're exhausted. I just can't imagine making it longer. If we make Thursdays longer, we can't fly out Thursday. That means we can't get home to British Columbia. We'd be definitely going home on Friday.
Then we look at the importance of being in the House on Fridays. Canada is such a big country. Things happen every day. They happen seven days a week. We have situations that arise in our country on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Taking Friday away, of making sure we are asking questions of government, is a big problem for us because often it's an opportunity for us to ask a question before the weekend should a crisis arise. With the limited amount of questions that we do have in question period, it could be challenging, especially for the new MPs who might be sitting on the backbenches. It's an opportunity for us to ask a question; and we value Fridays, being able to get that opportunity to ask that question.
There are only so many questions, and there are 338 MPs in the House. We all want to make sure we have a chance to ask those really important questions on behalf of our constituents. Taking away Fridays, taking away that opportunity is like taking away so much from my riding and my community, and we're already feeling alienated. We're already feeling far away from Ottawa and people are already feeling ignored. To make them feel even farther away and that their voice might be limited, or their MP might not be able to visit them is very nerve-racking for people in my community.
When we talk about being family friendly, we all care about each other. We care about our country. We care about our families and our communities. It should be consensus-based decision-making when we're talking about our families and how we're going to take care of each other, as parliamentarians, so that we can represent the people in our communities. I can't imagine making a decision that might affect one of your families and not having consensus-based decision-making, especially in a region that isn't represented by a government member, Vancouver Island, where we have even further to go than Mr. Ruimy, for example.
I just want to state that. I want to make it clear that people in my community want me in the riding. They also understand the importance of my being in Ottawa. When I'm in Ottawa I want to be here and I want to make sure that we don't try to do something we can't do, and right now it is very difficult for us. When we were asked for suggestions to make it more family friendly, I certainly didn't expect we would start talking about taking away Friday sittings and making longer days for us. We're already working really hard. I see everybody here, and they are here because they work hard. We have that in common.
To consider making us sit more months of the year and taking away the opportunity to get out into our communities and listen to our constituents...I think a lot of people are going to get lost, Mr. Chair.
I'm happy just to leave it there in terms of sharing my concern around that and on the importance of consensus-based decision-making. We care about our families and we care about each other.