As I sit down to pen this summary of my first year serving as your Member of Parliament, I am just now processing how much need there has been and continues to be throughout Kootenay Columbia. Under normal circumstances we have time to create memories to draw on. However, this year has been anything but normal as the health crisis has impacted every one of us.
We have processed thousands of files already this year and the need continues to grow. Faced with the arrival of COVID-19 in March I was thankful I decided to prioritize staffing levels over a third office lease. I’d like to thank Krissy, Wes, Glory, Sarah, and Chris for their tremendous commitment to this office and the people of Kootenay-Columbia.
In January, I received the exciting news that I had been chosen for the role of Deputy Shadow Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. During my time in that role, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety covered a wide range of important topics, including systemic racism and the Liberal gun ban.
The majority of national gun violence is perpetrated by those who have no regard for the rule of law and who do not acquire weapons legally. Taking guns away from lawful sportsmen and farmers in Kootenay-Columbia does not solve the problem and yet there is an urgent problem that remains to be solved. As such, I continue to call on the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and Public Safety Minister Blair, to dedicate more resources to support the CBSA and the RCMP in their effort to combat organized crime and the flow of illegal weapons across our shared border with the United States.
During my first year in office I had the opportunity to question Blair and RCMP Commissioner Lucki at Public Safety Committee on the topic of racism. In a peaceful and free country like Canada, there is absolutely no room for intolerance, racism, or extremism of any kind.
At the outset of the health crisis, we were presented with the challenge of repatriating hundreds of Kootenay-Columbians who were trapped abroad and looking for a safe way home. My office was able to assist all of those who called on us.
I do believe, under the leadership of Erin O’Toole, that the Conservative Party will take meaningful steps towards addressing policy on the environment and my office is positioned to provide a voice to those discussions. Our riding holds diverse opinions on this topic. The role of MP is to be a voice for all Kootenay-Columbians. As such, my staff will to work together with the Citizens Climate Lobby to create a working group that would bring together climate conversations from across the riding into a central group, whose purpose will be to coordinate message and approach.
In March, the economic floor fell out from underneath Canadians. In our riding, one of the hardest-hit sectors was tourism. I went to work and we were successful in pressuring the government to raise the wage subsidy to 75 per cent.
Since the onset of the health crisis far too many Kootenay-Columbians lost their jobs, which resulted in a difficult time for many families. To address this issue, I formed a working group, including service sector owners and agriculture representatives, to assist in tackling the labour shortage in these specific sectors.
I am pleased to report that Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Erin O’Toole, has appointed me to the Conservative Shadow Cabinet where I will be responsible for the National Security portfolio. Within that role, I will also serve as a member of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
The use of fentanyl in street drugs is on the rise while public health measures, designed to prevent overdoses, are on the decline. This issue is top of mind and has been made more difficult by the health crisis. As we begin to return to normal in the months ahead, I will be calling on the government to act.
Canada and the United States have begun negotiations to renew the Columbia River Treaty. As the treaty is primarily in the Federal riding of Kootenay-Columbia, I presented a formal request to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to be provided with observer status.
In November of last year, my office began work to look into the prices of fuel in the riding. We needed more than a superficial look into the issue and so I began a long process of investigation to find the root cause. Several actions are in process on this file and include:
- The filing of a formal petition calling on the government to address fuel prices in Kootenay-Columbia
- Presentation of findings to provincial representatives delivered with a message encouraging the pursuit of the issue at a provincial level
- Publicly calling on all fuel companies to do the right thing for their customers in Kootenay-Columbia
This is a difficult time, but it is our time to shine, to be a light for the many who see no hope, to be a beacon of joy for those whose smile has been lost, and to be an example of what it is to be Canadian.
This health crisis will end and there will be a time again soon, where movie theatres will be full, places of worship will gather and children will once again convene in large numbers for a game of neighbourhood hockey. We are all Canadians, we will see the end of this health crisis together.
Below are three ways that you can be in touch with my office and I look forward to hearing from you: