2 women make their mark

Two of this year’s Order of Canada recipients are from the Okanagan
From the fields of science, community activism, literature, politics and sports, this year’s Order of Canada recipients were announced on June 29 on behalf of Governor General Julie Payette.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you that  two of the recipients are remarkable women with strong links to the Central Okanagan.
Bev Busson, from the North Okanagan region, is appointed to Member of the Order of Canada for “her lifelong commitment to public safety and for her dedicated service to Canadians through her involvement in multiple national and regional safety and justice initiatives.”
Bev was one of the first females to join the RCMP when they opened their ranks to women in the early 1970s. By then, Bev had graduated from UBC Law School and subsequently went on to become the Commanding Officer for Saskatchewan and the first woman to lead the RCMP, becoming the 21st commissioner in December 2006.

Bev retired to the Shuswap and became an important member of the Okanagan College Foundation Board for many years.
Deanna Hamilton, from Westbank First Nation, is appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for her “visionary contributions to First Nations fiscal management and governance, which have led to greater independence for Indigenous communities across Canada.”  
Returning to her community in the 1970s, Deanna realized that without proper funding, most aboriginal communities, hers included, would never be able to provide the infrastructure that most non-native communities take for granted – sewers, water, sidewalks and streetlights.

Deanna joined the band council, developed the Westbank First Nation property tax system, and then sought out a model that could be adapted to enable First Nations to raise funds to create the essential on-reserve infrastructure so essential to their progress and development.

With Deanna’s remarkable tenacity, leadership, and guidance, the First Nations Finance Authority sold its first Moody’s rated bond issue in 2014.     
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest civilian honours, recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation and those who have taken to heart the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (“They desire a better country”). 
Appointments are made by the governor general on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada in the name of all Canadians.
Appointees are awarded one of three levels under the Order:

  • Member (C.M.), which recognizes outstanding contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity
  • Officer (O.C.), which recognizes national service or achievement;
  • Companion (C.C.), the highest honour, which recognizes national pre-eminence or international service or achievement.

Any person or group is welcome to nominate a deserving individual as a possible candidate for appointment to the Order of Canada. More information on the nomination process, and on this year’s recipients, can be found at the website of the governor general at www.gg.ca
On behalf of our community and those throughout the Okanagan who have benefited from Bev and Deanna’s commitment and contribution to our nation, I offer our sincere appreciation and congratulations.


Canada and NATO

On June 18, as chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, it was an honour to table our committee’s report Canada and NATO: An Alliance Forged in Strength and Reliability.
It was the committee’s 10th report and was unanimous.
Since 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been the cornerstone of transatlantic security.
As a founding member of NATO, Canada has been a reliable and strong member for almost seven decades and has contributed to every NATO mission since its inception.

Adapting to major shifts in global security from the end of the Cold War to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the NATO political, military and economic alliance remains vitally important, and continues to provide its 29 member states with collective security and stability.

NATO has also proved its ability to adapt to today’s highly complex and unpredictable international security environment. 

In 2014, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and behaviour in Eastern Ukraine marked a fundamental shift for NATO, and prompted NATO’s largest reinforcement of collective defence since the end of the Cold War, an effort in which Canada plays a major leadership role. 
At the same time, the persistent threat from transnational terrorist groups and the rapid rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has compelled NATO to enhance its efforts in conflict-prone regions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Throughout the committee’s study, witnesses repeatedly said Canada matters to NATO, holding the view that Canada is a well-respected and dependable ally within the organization, capable of integration and leadership at every level within it.
The committee also heard that more could be done to support NATO and its allies. Witnesses pointed to improving Canada’s procurement process, allocating funds for developing new technologies, and investing in cyber and information warfare.
It was also suggested that Canada do more to support the Canadian defence business sector with the goal of increasing their participation in NATO’s procurement projects. 
The committee’s report contains 27 recommendations relating to Canada’s involvement in NATO in such areas as NATO’s programs and operations, public outreach, and educational awareness and communications.

It also included issues in relation to NATO procurement and the defence industrial sector, research and development on new technologies, cyber defence, Arctic and maritime security, the Women, Peace and Security agenda, security sector reform, nuclear disarmament, and NATO’s unity and interoperability.
At its core, NATO remains a values-based alliance, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy and the rule of law.
Canada’s leadership within NATO, the value of the country’s contributions, and the recognized professionalism and inter-operability of the Canadian Armed Forces with other NATO countries makes us a reliable, well-respected ally within the North American alliance. 
Canada has been a dependable, strong partner and remains committed to both NATO and the collective security of NATO countries. Certainly, Canada matters to NATO, and NATO matters to Canada.
We look forward to receiving the government’s considered response to see how it envisions meeting the needs of NATO including through the objectives of Canada’s defence policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged. 
For those interested in reading the full report, please go to www.ourcommons.ca.

The sum of our parts

At last week’s Oyama Days, I was approached by constituents about pipelines and carbon taxes, which, in addition to NAFTA negotiations, are issues foremost on constituents’ minds.

I am sensitive to, and understand, constituents who reject the pipeline on the principle that it contributes to climate change and presents risks to the environment. 

But I am also aware that many constituents believe the pipeline is necessary for Canada’s economic growth, for the employment of thousands of British Columbians, and to ensure support for the programs and services that ensure a fair and equitable society.

That is why our government’s commitment to balancing the economy and the environment and transitioning to a low-carbon, knowledge-based economy, includes resource projects like the TMX expansion, while others like the Northern Gateway pipeline will not proceed. 

As we make the transition, we have also put in place a rigorous regulatory process, an Ocean’s Protection Plan, a tanker moratorium on B.C.’s north coast, and made major investments in science, innovation and research resulting in the very technologies that are moving us away from our reliance on carbon.

In addition, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will ensure all provinces follow the lead of British Columbia and establish provincial carbon pricing, the revenues of which can be returned to the taxpayer in a manner that is determined by each province.

But there is something greater being tested here: 

it is our resolve to recognize that the strength of the Confederation is the sum of its parts, that necessity rather than ideology, and our ability to take a long view while making the changes in the short-term will help us reach our goal. 

Our goal to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, must work in tandem with our responsibility to address ongoing priorities, including affordability, especially housing, income equality and healthcare. 

More important, we have a responsibility to maintain economic and political stability and it is a responsibility that falls not only on governments, but also citizens.

To have simply walked away from Kinder Morgan would have hurt more than just those who rely on jobs; it would have affected the revenues that support essential programs and services.

NAFTA negotiations, tariff retaliation and the unpredictability of our largest trading partner; provincial tensions and the divide over the pipeline – these events are challenging us to consider what it means to stand together and act in the best interest of the nation.

But challenging times also provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the country we have built, and to recognize why Canada continues to represent democracy at its best.

Despite our differences, I am reminded every day how lucky we are to live in a welcoming country of opportunity, of diversity and inclusion, where it is still possible to work hard and make a better life for our families.  

This vision of a stronger, fairer Canada drives my work every day as I serve the constituents in our community and it is what guides the actions of our federal government.

It is more important than ever that we do not allow our disagreements to negatively impact our demonstrated ability to work together. At the end of the day,

it is a balanced approach that will deliver a fair and equitable society that works for all Canadians.

Innovate to create jobs

The economy remains a top concern for Canadians and constituents often write to me looking for assurance that our government is doing all it can to foster an environment of economic growth and job creation.

I can assure you that Canada is in an excellent position to take advantage of today’s rapidly-changing, knowledge-based economy. 

Strategic investments by the federal government through our Innovation and Skills Plan, top notch academic institutions, and a skilled workforce are helping to make this country a global centre for innovation and Canada continues to draw top talent in emerging fields from clean tech to artificial intelligence (AI).

Large firms like Toyota, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Salesforce and Microsoft are expanding, investing, opening offices and creating jobs in Canada signaling a tremendous vote of confidence in our potential as an innovation and tech hub.

In fact, Canadian cities are among the fastest growing AI hubs in the world, a global industry forecast to be worth $1.2-trillion (in US dollars) by 2020.

It’s a plan that is also producing results closer to home.

UBCO and its Digital Learning Factory is a partner in Canada’s new Digital Technology Supercluster, a consortium of industry, post-secondary, and non-profit partners that is finding solutions to industry’s most significant challenges, including in modern manufacturing.

A first of its kind, our government’s $950 million Innovation Superclusters Initiative is fostering stronger connections between small, medium-sized and large companies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations to support the success of leading domestic and global companies that choose to innovate in Canada.

This month’s grand opening of the state-of-the-art training facilities at Okanagan College is another success story.   Supported by more than $3 million in federal support under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, Okanagan College has established training facilities at the Kelowna and Vernon campuses training the next generation of highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs but also serving as hubs of discovery and collaboration.

And companies like Bowman Employment Services Inc., which for nearly 30 years has designed and delivered a wide variety of employment related programs and services to students in BC’s southern interior, is working with the federal government through its Youth Employment Strategy to help local post-secondary students transition to the labour market in high demand sectors such as business, social services, tourism, trades and technology.

Canadians have created more than 600,000 jobs over the last two years. The unemployment rate is near 40-year lows, and wages are growing at their fastest rate in six years.

We have a strong, stable and predictable business climate and a sound, efficient financial system that is attracting global businesses looking to make Canada their new home.

By cultivating a strong economic ecosystem, as we are doing here in the Okanagan, we are ensuring the opportunities and benefits of a rapidly changing, knowledge-based economy will be shared by all.

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.

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