The value of remembrance

As both a veteran and a member of Parliament my thoughts this week have been on the value of remembrance.

Veterans Week provides us with the opportunity to pay tribute to the more than 113,000 Canadians who died in service to this nation during the First World War and in the wars, conflicts and military missions that followed.

This year in particular, we are marking the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Hundred Days and the Armistice, the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the 10th anniversary of National Peacekeepers’ Day, and the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Sicily and the beginning of the Italian Campaign in the Second World War.

In stark contrast, we have also been called upon to remember a less honourable time in Canadian history.

On Nov. 7, the government of Canada apologized to the descendants of the passengers of the MS St. Louis, 900 German Jews, who, in the spring of 1939, sought refuge from a rising and brutal Nazi regime.

With motives rooted in anti-Semitism and nationalism, Canada turned its back to their plight and turned them away, guaranteeing that the men, women and children aboard would be among the many that died during the Holocaust.

It is a Canada we are hard pressed to recognize but an important chapter in our history we must not forget.

Remembering is of no value unless we act on what we have learned. 

As painful as the past has been, and as difficult as times may seem today, we owe it to ourselves to walk the path of our veterans, to put others before self, to work for the greater good, and to reinforce the principles of tolerance, equality and compassion so their sacrifice was not in vain.

To commemorate the First World War Armistice and honour all those who have served, the Peace Tower bells in Ottawa will ring out today, as will those in Mons, Belgium, the final town liberated during the First World War by the Canadian Corps.

At nightfall, bells will also ring out in Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast as a way of remembering.

As we gather together at the cenotaphs in Kelowna-Lake Country today, let us see the value in remembrance and the power it has to preserve what we value most. 

History cannot be changed but in remembering it, we lessen our chances that we are condemned to repeat it.


Challenging homelessness

Working together to address homelessness

As our communities grow and change, so do the challenges. 

Homelessness, which has a social and economic impact on every community in Canada, remains one of the most urgent.

Recently, I received a copy of Journey Home, the City of Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness. 

The report provides a five-year framework that will ensure a coordinated and accessible system of care for those in Kelowna who have lost, or are at risk of losing their home. 

As noted in the report, Kelowna is home to many excellent services run by dedicated people and is a community ready and willing to collaborate to be effective. 

I want to commend the city of Kelowna and all those who contributed to this comprehensive and well thought-out plan.

From the outset, our federal government has recognized the strain on communities to maintain safe, stable and affordable housing and to end homelessness. 

In response, our government created Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy — a 10-year, $40-billion plan to lift hundreds and thousands of Canadians out of housing need.

The federal government has also responded with a redesigned homelessness strategy, Reaching Home, which will double support for communities to address the needs of those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness.

Throughout the engagement process, the government heard that the greatest asset of the current homelessness strategy is that it is a community-based program. 

Building on the successful adoption of Housing First as a best practice, decision making will remain at the local level. 

This will give communities greater flexibility to address local priorities, including using programming designed to meet the needs of different vulnerable populations including youth, women and children fleeing violence, seniors, indigenous communities, and veterans.

With Journey Home supporting local strategies and Reaching Home giving communities greater fiscal resources and more programming flexibility, our communities are now better equipped to provide independent and permanent housing to those who need it most.

We have arrived at a place where all three levels of government agree on the magnitude of this problem and we will now work together to take the steps required to drive better outcomes on homelessness in our community.

For my part, I will continue to work directly with our government to ensure our community has access to the funding and support it needs to reduce the risk of homelessness, help our most vulnerable citizens, and achieve our shared goal of building a more equal society for everyone.

Pilot shortage flying high

Recently, I spoke with local COPA members at the Kelowna Flying Club. 

COPA, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, has more than 200 regional and local chapters and represents close to 16,000 members in every province and territory as the recognized voice of general aviation in Canada.

At the meeting we discussed a number of general aviation issues to include the status of pilot training in Canada. There was an overwhelming consensus that there is a need for better support for our flight training schools and student pilots to increase pilot production.

I indicated I had tabled private members motion M-177, which comes before the House of Commons in October, and asks the Standing Committee on Transport to review the growing problem of pilot shortage in the Canadian aviation industry.

As COPA members have indicated, half of Canada’s flight operators state that finding qualified pilots is a significant challenge, an assertion confirmed by the findings of Suzanne Kearns, associate professor of Aviation at the University of Waterloo.

At current pilot production rates it is estimated that Canada will be short nearly 3,000 pilots by 2025 and about 6,000 by 2036.

Adding to the problem, the International Civil Aviation Organization estimates that on a global scale, 80 per cent of the 620,000 new pilots needed to sustain expected growth in passenger traffic by 2036 have yet to begin training.

If finding qualified pilots is a challenge, finding qualified instructors is equally challenging as more experienced pilots are being snapped up by commercial airlines.

For local operators the effect is immediate. As noted by the BC Aviation Council, one local company has had to hire and train the equivalent of 100 per cent of its pilot workforce in less than a year.  Not only is this a costly endeavour, it creates the additional problem of a pool of less experienced pilots.

To try to fill the gap, operators are actively recruiting internationally, but are running headlong into immigration issues that make hiring outside Canada an economic impossibility.

As for those people who are interested in becoming pilots, traditional pathway in Canada involves earning licences and ratings that cost approximately $75,000 and twice that if combined with a degree or diploma from a post secondary institution.  It’s a financial burden many cannot afford.

These are only a few of the issues facing the aviation industry which need to be addressed and I am hopeful that the committee review will result in robust recommendations to the government of Canada.

Whether by land, sea, or air, the safe and efficient movement of goods and people is essential for the growth of the economy and we must support the general aviation industry in recognition of its importance to local and regional economies.

I want to thank local members of COPA for speaking with me and look forward to working with my caucus and opposition colleagues this fall to find ways to alleviate the challenges being faced in this vital sector.

ArtWalk celebrates 25 Years

For two days every September, the Lake Country Community Complex becomes a showcase for the Okanagan’s creative talent.

Celebrating an outstanding 25 years of supporting the arts, the Lake Country ArtWalk, which will be held Sept. 8-9, will feature more than 200 visual and performing artists from the Okanagan.

The two-day festival entitled Art of our Times: Celebrating 25 Years of ArtWalk will also have children's activities, live artist demonstrations, workshops, a live art auction and some great food and beverages.

I’ve enjoyed attending this event in the past and have had the privilege of purchasing some of the work of our talented artists.

Our cultural sector is not only an important economic generator, but an important way to share with each other and the world our unique Canadian perspective and our immense and vibrant diversity.

That is why the government continues to support local events like ArtWalk, and our local art galleries and museums in both Lake Country and Kelowna. 

It is also the reason that our government has committed more than $3.2 billion of new funding to arts and culture and why it will continue to work with creators and artists to find new ways to strengthen this important component of our economy and our identity.

I encourage everyone in our community to attend this outstanding annual event and discover the great creative talent we have here in the Okanagan. 

More information can be found at www.lakecountryartwalk.ca  .

Visiting ministers and Pacific Caucus

Last week, a number of cabinet ministers and my Pacific Caucus colleagues took the time to pay our riding a visit.

A number of productive meetings took place with organizations and individuals including:

  • City of Kelowna
  • District of Lake Country
  • City of West Kelowna
  • Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission
  • Kelowna International Airport, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
  • BC Wine Institute,
  • Agents of Discovery,
  • Okanagan College
  • University of British Columbia-Okanagan
  • Thompson Okanagan Tourism.

Some of the more notable highlights included:

  • an announcement with Lawrence MacAulay, mnister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Sukhpaul Bal, president of the BC Cherry Association that the government of Canada has secured market access in Japan for B.C. fresh cherries.
  • positive comments by Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who told us that our government’s federal investment in strategic infrastructure has yielded more than a legacy of buildings and the jobs that went into constructing them. The funding has helped to provide a great return on investment by allowing the college to expand programming that focuses on sustainability and leverage associated research initiatives.

There is always more to be done and as we near our return to Ottawa later in September, I look forward to pursuing our Kelowna-Lake Country priorities with the support of my colleagues. 

I wish to thank everyone who took the time to meet with my colleagues and assure you there will be more opportunities in the coming months. 

Likewise, if any local organizations are planning to travel to Ottawa, I encourage you to reach out to my office at [email protected] so we can help facilitate meetings with our government. 

More MP Report articles

About the Author

Stephen Fuhr was born in Edmonton, AB and grew up in Kamloops, BC. He is a former CF-18 fighter pilot with the Canadian Air Force.

After serving with distinction for 20 years, Stephen retired from the Canadian Forces in 2009 with the rank of Major. He joined his family’s Kelowna-based company, SkyTrac Systems, which develops aviation communication and tracking equipment. As CEO and Director of Business Development, he led the company to financial success in a challenging economic climate.

In 2012, Stephen left the company to pursue his first love of flying.

With growing interest in politics and a desire to serve his country again, Stephen ran for office in the 2015 election.

Today, he proudly serves as the Member of Parliament for the Kelowna-Lake Country riding. 

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

Previous Stories