Great men leave the stage

 was saddened to learn of the passing of Fred King of Kaleden, a Second World War veteran and retired member of Parliament.

He was a kind, caring man who gave back to his community in many different ways that extended well beyond his time in Ottawa.

Although I considered Fred a close friend, he was also a mentor who offered support and sage advice on many issues around our region.

From his time as MP, Fred had many accomplishments although he was most proud of the work securing federally owned lands that could be used for Okanagan College's Penticton campus.

Some have pointed out that if it were not for his intervention, the Penticton campus may have been placed in a far less convenient location nor without considerable extra costs.

Fred was a strong believer and supporter in our youth and the importance of upgrading skills and education. Fred continued to quietly provide support and assistance for many individuals in hopes they would have a better future. 

What I most admired about Fed was his sincere willingness to always help others, many who were complete strangers never asking anything in return only a desire to try and bring happiness and help to those who were in need. 

It is a privilege to consider him my friend and to recognize his contributions and his service for the betterment of others.

I would also like to pay tribute to another former member of Parliament, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

The former prime minister recently announced he is retiring from Parliament, effective immediately.

Mr. Harper was one of the most misunderstood elected officials I have met who endured significant personal and public attacks that were at odds with my interactions with him during my time in the previous Parliament.

He cared deeply about Canadian families and encouraged policies that promoted prosperity and employment.

As my colleague, MP Pierre Poilievre, recently observed, under Mr. Harper’s term as PM, the number of Canadians living in poverty declined to a record low of 4.2 per cent while middle class incomes rose by 11 per cent.

As we know, Canadian middle-class prosperity surpassed that of the United States in 2014 for the first time, all while balancing the budget in the final year of the previous Parliament.

Mr. Harper also eliminated retroactively a gold-plated pension perk that paid every former Canadian PM on retirement 66 per cent of the PM's salary.

Eliminating this perk cost Mr. Harper (and saved taxpayers) $1.5-$2 million in retirement benefits.

He also brought fairness to the formerly gold-plated MP pension plan and to the public sector pension plan by ensuring that these plans were funded equally on a 50/50 contribution rate.

These changes are estimated to save Canadian taxpayers close to $2.6 billion over the next five years.

What I most admired about our former PM was that he was not afraid to make difficult and unpopular decisions that were necessary for Canada’s long-term prosperity.

It should also be noted that his electoral rivals tried to paint him as someone who would try to dismantle our health-care system by cutting federal transfer payments to provinces as the former Liberal government had done to balance its budget woes.

Mr. Harper consistently raised federal transfers each and every year while in office and insisted that his ministers support these year-over-year increases while finding efficiencies in their departments and staying focused on growing the economy.

While I appreciate some may see my comments as partisan, I have met few people who believe reducing federal funding for important priorities like health care or that forcing MPs to pay more into their pension plan was a bad one.

Ultimately, leadership means taking principled positions and making at times difficult decisions and for that I would like to recognize Mr. Harper’s service to Canadians.

If you have a comment, question or concern about this week’s report or any federal matters, I can be reached at [email protected] or contacted toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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