Nova Scotia

'What a waste': MP's filibuster keeps Cape Breton councillor from addressing committee

A Cape Breton municipal councillor says she's frustrated by a Conservative MP's filibuster that prevented her from speaking Wednesday about a new immigration pilot program.

Coun. Amanda McDougall was scheduled to speak at the standing committee on citizenship and immigration

Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor Amanda McDougall (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

A Cape Breton councillor invited to address a parliamentary committee about a new immigration program is expressing frustration over a Conservative MP's filibuster that prevented her from speaking.

Coun. Amanda McDougall, who represents District 8 of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, was asked to appear before the standing committee on citizenship and immigration in Ottawa about a pilot program to bring immigrants to Atlantic Canada.

But McDougall said she didn't get a chance to speak because of a filibuster by Alberta MP Michelle Rempel, the Tory immigration critic, that lasted for more than an hour until the committee adjourned.

"The worst part is, there was myself and several other witnesses who were going to speak to this," said McDougall, the former manager of immigration partnerships at Cape Breton University.

"What a waste. These people are coming from all over Atlantic Canada who spent time preparing. Unfortunately, that's part of the process, but wow, it was really shocking."

Rempel 'wasted tons of time'

McDougall said Rempel, the MP for Calgary Nose Hill, "wasted tons of time" by reading old newspaper articles line by line. 

Rempel spent most of her time challenging the immigration minister to appear before the committee to answer questions on Bill C-6, said McDougall.

The overhaul of the Citizenship Act seeks to reverse reforms brought in by the previous Conservative government.

McDougall said she doesn't know if she will be given another opportunity to appear before the committee.

Program important to Cape Breton

The councillor had been expected to speak about the importance of immigration to Cape Breton's economy.

The immigration pilot program could attract an additional 800 immigrants to Nova Scotia each year, above the current cap of 1,300.

"In a time when our population continues to decline, we have an aging population, this program is so important," said McDougall.

"I don't mean to sound dramatic, but it was so essential that the voice of Cape Breton be heard. I'm so disappointed in how the session went."