Building great economic partnerships

The possibilities of growth in the Okanagan’s business sector, especially tourism, have increased tenfold now that United Airlines has announced it will fly direct between Kelowna International Airport and Los Angeles.
Visitors from the US will be able to enjoy easy access all year round to some of the best wineries, skiing, hiking and biking in Canada. Flights are scheduled to begin December 19th, just in time for ski season.
It’s great to see the Region realizing the benefits of the airport’s expansion, a project that was funded jointly by the federal government, the province of BC and the City of Kelowna. 
It’s just one more example of the good that comes from strong partnerships between all levels of government.
Keeping people, goods and services flowing smoothly between the Canadian and American border is vital to our local economy and the federal government is doing all it can to facilitate it.
NEXUS, the cross border initiative designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travelers into Canada and the United States is one great example of the progress we are making.
For a nominal fee, Canadians can enroll in the NEXUS program and enjoy faster, easier travel across the Canadian-US border.  For frequent business travelers especially, NEXUS membership allows travelers to use automated self-serve kiosks in dedicated areas at designated international airports and designated lanes at the land border. 
As well, under the US Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), NEXUS members can use their membership card as an alternative to a passport when entering the United States by air at designated airports, and at all land and marine ports of entry.
To make the NEXUS program even better, the government recently announced that, as of June 30th, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has lifted the three-year residency requirement for Canadian and United States citizens who apply.
By amending the three-year residency requirement, more pre-screened travelers will enjoy expedited processing at the border including citizens of Canada or the United States currently residing abroad, or who have recently returned to Canada or the United States. 
By attracting more people to NEXUS, travel between Canada and the United States will be faster and more efficient, encouraging more business and greater economic benefits for both countries. 
Pre-approving travelers under the NEXUS program also allows border services officers to concentrate their efforts on unknown or higher-risk travelers and goods.
The CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are now conducting enrolment blitzes to assist with increasing application volumes. Three successful blitzes took place over May and June 2012 which enrolled over 1,000 new members of the NEXUS program. Future blitzes will be considered based on application volumes.
Increasing NEXUS membership is just one of a number of initiatives Canada and the United States are undertaking as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan that will help facilitate lawful trade and travel while enhancing security. 
Expanding direct flights between major Canadian and US cities at Kelowna International Airport, and making travel easier through enhancements to NEXUS, not only builds on the positive relationship we have established with our largest trading partner, the United States, but allows our Region to continue to reap the economic benefits of this strong economic partnership.
Once again, it’s a win-win for all of us.
For more information on the Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, please visit the Web site www.borderactionplan.gc.ca.
For more information on NEXUS, go to www.nexus.gc.ca.
Saying Goodbye
I want to recognize the recent loss of two dedicated community members, Mel Kotler and Dr. Barry Urness.  Both were great men, successful in their own right, who had endless amounts of energy, generosity and compassion which they shared with the community.  We will feel their absence for a long time to come.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Mel’s wife Dina and Barry’s wife Betty, their family and their friends.
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and can be reached at 250 470-5075 or [email protected]

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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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