Fall Session

With the fall upon us, the House of Commons has returned for the second session of the 39th Parliament. I enjoyed a great summer here in the Okanagan and had the opportunity to talk with many of you. Our riding is growing rapidly. Infrastructure in particular will require support from all levels of government. You can be assured that I will be talking with the respective Ministers to ensure that our priorities are addressed effectively.

The government continues to set a robust agenda for the fall session and have already achieved two major goals. The Softwood Lumber Agreement easily passed in the House and we now are debating C-24 the enabling legislation for the Agreement.

As well, on September 26th, the government announced the results of its program review. Over a billion dollars in savings was announced and an unprecedented $13. 2-billion was paid down on our national debt. The result will have a long-term positive impact on all of us by reducing both the tax burden for future generations and the cost of financing debt.

There is no denying that local groups will feel the effects and their concerns will need to be addressed. The Opposition in the House of Commons has already started to characterize the government as one that doesn’t support the Arts, women, aboriginals, literacy and the list goes on. There are still many programs and funding avenues designed to support each of these groups.

The truth is that cutbacks, as unpopular as they are, are necessary. If you balance the budget in your own home you know what I’m talking about. Families deal with limited budgets and need to identify priorities. It isn’t any different for a responsible government. Previous governments avoided making the tough decisions and relied on raising taxes instead. Our government believes spending tax dollars should first focus on areas of federal jurisdiction, particularly those that have a positive effect on the economy, and thus benefit the greatest number of Canadians. The government is determined to bring fiscal responsibility back to federal spending.

Announcements that constituents can look forward to this fall include the unveiling of the ‘Clear Air Act’ which will provide a concrete and tangible plan for reducing pollution in Canada and preserving our environmental heritage for future generation. We will not be donating billions of your tax dollars to foreign nations like the Liberals planned to under the Kyoto framework Instead we will be investing that money here in Canada to ensure Canadians receive the benefits of cleaner air and the development of technologies that will promote clean, sustainable resources. Furthermore, we will be using a framework that will reduce emissions. Under Kyoto, Canada was unable to reduce or reach its emissions targets.

Our government will also be moving forward on the remaining aspects of our crime package. Our government is in the process of abolishing conditional sentences and instituting mandatory minimum sentences for several categories of crimes such as street racing, sexual predators, and offenses involving firearms.

This firearms initiative to tighten up gun laws in Canada is particularly important. We were all shocked and saddened by the recent tragic events at Montreal’s Dawson college. While critics used the opportunity to criticize the government for its plan to devolve the long gun registry, the Prime Minister was quick to point out that that the gun registry did not prevent the Dawson College tragedy. He asked the opposition to support tougher laws for offenses involving firearms and has asked the acting commissioner and the deputy commissioner of the RCMP to accumulate all the facts so that the government can strengthen its future actions to ensure that we reduce all possibility of unstable individuals from getting a hold of firearms.

It is important to point out that it was the Montreal Police and their quick response that prevented further death and injury. How many more police could have been put on the streets in our communities had the previous government not wasted $1 billion dollars on a gun registry that has proved to be ineffective in stopping crimes like those at Dawson college? More police walking our streets will make our communities safer.

As for me, I will be spending much of my time this session championing issues of local importance. My number one priority is infrastructure. Sadly there was yet another fatality on September 15th on Hwy 97. This is one in a long string of accidents regarding this stretch of highway. We need cooperation from both the federal and provincial governments to find the funding. I had a chance to speak with Premier Campbell in Ottawa this week and my staff had a chance to speak with Minister Falcon in Kelowna. Both are aware that from our perspective Highway 97 needs to go to the top of the list of priorities so that we can make Highway 97 safer.

I am also working on finding federal funding to extend the runway at Kelowna International Airport. By accommodating international flights, the region will be able to attract more tourists and our economy will benefit greatly. Furthermore, the airport will be able to take advantage of the traffic that will be generated by the 2010 Olympic Games. This can only be a boon for our tourism and hospitality industry.

Amid the good news lie some much tougher problems. Our apple growers are in crisis and require help. I have been working with our apple growers to lobby the government to recognize the unique problems facing our fruitgrowers and to develop a solution so that our farmers are not forced to abandon their orchards. The government recognizes that horticulture is a unique industry in Canada and the Department of Agriculture has been directed by the Minister of Agriculture, Chuck Strahl, to create a horticultural strategy. The solutions are not easy and will require the willing participation of other levels of government. We have seen the positive benefits of initiatives such as the elimination of the 20% excise tax on the wine industry. Now we need to see measures to ensure the vitality of our fruit growing industry.

Finally, I continue to try to move forward on some longstanding files. The Department of Foreign Affairs is currently doing a business study to see if a passport office in Kelowna will be viable. Passport offices are self-financing, meaning the revenues they generate support the operation of the office. The demands on passport services continue to grow in the region and should be able to support a full time office in Kelowna.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

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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