James Maloney, MP of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, on the political processes and a life in politics

James Maloney was originally a lawyer before being elected to the House of Commons in the 2015 election, and as a member of the Liberal Party he represents the voting of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Before the election he worked as a lawyer at Hughes Amys LLP. He was campaign manager for city council member Mark Grimes in the 2010 election before being appointed to council in 2014 to represent the Etobicoke-Lakeshore ward as an interim councillor after the resignation of Peter Milczyn.

Originating from Thunder Bay, he has law degrees from both the University of Windsor and University of Wales, and a bachelor’s degree from Bishop’s University in Quebec.

We sat down to ask Maloney about his life as an MP, what his duties are like when in the House of Commons and in his constituency, the procedures that take place during Question Period and what he hopes to accomplish during his term in office.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Describe what your day typically looks like as an MP

“The job here [in Toronto] and the riding is different than the job in Ottawa. A typical day here is completely different than a typical day there. There you’re going from morning to night, either sitting in a committee or the House of Commons. You're meeting with different groups or at a briefing, or meeting with other MPs.”

During his spare time at work, Maloney likes to take the time to take or return phone calls and talk to constituents in the community.

Here’s what a typical morning looks like for him: he gets to his office around 8:30 a.m., followed by committee meetings in the morning from 8:45 to 10:45. When he has to be in Question Period, he has to be there by 1:30 p.m., and then it runs roughly from 2-3:15. When he’s on duty in the house, he could be there until 6:30 at night.

What can you tell us about the House of Commons?

“The House of Commons sits from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., but most people think that since it’s the House of Commons, there’s question period. That’s only 45 minutes a day, everyday. The MPs are there to debate and discuss legislation. Motions are heard and that’s much of what we do. The only time the MPs are in the House of Commons is during Question Period or during votes.”

For the rest of the time there is a quorum of MPs in each party, and each one has to do house duty two or three times a week. That either consists of the morning or night shift, which is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Other than that, you always have to be within about 30 minutes of the House of Commons, because there’s only that much notice until an event happens. The days are very full in Ottawa, wrapping up at around 8 p.m.

What does your job look like in your constituency?

His days in Toronto are filled filled with opportunity to get in touch with and meet constituents or have them in my office. There’s local people and businesses coming in to talk about different issues.

“I also happen to coach here in the Toronto caucus, which is 25 MPs. I get a lot of people coming in to see me and to talk about issues that are relevant to Toronto.”

He also has special days where he gets to do community outreach, like going down to Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate Humber College’s 50th anniversary.

What is the protocol to ask questions in the House of Commons?

“Question Period always starts with the leader of the opposition, asking the first round consisting of four questions. Then it goes to the leader of the third party which is now Jagmeet Singh. Then it goes back to the Conservatives with their set of questions, then to the NDP.”

There’s three questions that any MP can use, so another MP on the Liberal side can ask the cabinet or Prime Minister a question. They can use these questions to address issues specific to the riding or general policies.

For 15 minutes before Question Period, there’s what’s called a Member Statement, which is when MPs can get up and make a statement about anything. You see that mostly in the context of the budget, when they get up to talk about the Canada Child Benefit and the benefits it’ll bring to the community.

What sort of community work do you participate in?

If there are issues that are important to the community, Maloney will bring them up in the House of Commons. You can also meet with your own caucus, which meets every Wednesday morning.

There’s also a National Caucus meeting with just the Liberal MPs and the Prime Minister, and what happens there stays there.

Why should people be interested in politics?

“Public service matters. That’s something I believed since I was a little kid — it’s something I learned from my parents. The government is the most important institution in your life and it’s important to have a local representation in the community who know their community.”

What do you want to see change in politics?

“That there’s even a small group of people who have a higher opinion of public officials and the work that we do, then I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. Locally there’s a lot of specific issues that I feel strongly about; for instance transit and infrastructures in the community."

Maloney told us that he’s trying to get more people engaged in the political process. If he can get someone involved at a younger age, they tend to stick with it. Whenever he can, he gets involved at schools and works with young people trying to encourage them to participate. This is a perspective that the Prime Minister shares as well.

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