MP has free Canadian flags

While we mark National Indigenous History Month in June, we do so at a sombre time with the devastating news of the bodies of 215 children found in unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops.

This is another reminder of the devastating legacy of residential schools, and I mourn alongside those who loved these children.

The Official Opposition has called on the government to take meaningful action on reconciliation, including implementing Calls to Action 71 to 76 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report by Canada Day.

In addition, we ask the government to pass bills implementing parts of the commission’s call to action such as Bill C-8, which is before this Parliament.

We need to fund investigations at all former residential schools where unmarked graves may exist, and we need to ensure that proper resources are allocated for communities to re-inter, commemorate, and honour any individuals discovered during these investigations.

In 2008, then prime minister Stephen Harper delivered an historic apology to former residential school students, their families, and communities, Canada’s Conservatives will continue to work to advance the work of the TRC.

With only a few more weeks of parliamentary work before the House of Commons rises for the summer, there is a lot of activity and I’ll touch on a couple of items.

Canadians were rightfully angered to hear that Julie Payette, the former Liberal-appointed governor general, would receive a generous pension and benefits for life after only a short term in office after being forced to resign in disgrace after a workplace review.

This generous pension for such a short term was something I heard a lot about from constituents in Kelowna-Lake Country, and I was more than happy to second a private member’s bill from my colleague, MP Marilyn Gladu, to stop this from happening again.

I also continue to hear concerns from many constituents on the government’s attempts to limit free speech through Bill C-10, which would make changes to the Broadcasting Act.

It has been suggested by experts that this bill could allow the CRTC to regulate what individuals can or cannot post and view online.

On June 4, the government attempted to shut down debate on C-10 by using a parliamentary procedure that hasn’t been seen in Parliament for decades.

Conservatives worked unapologetically to defend free speech and prevented this vote from occurring.
Conservative colleagues and I called for an emergency trade committee meeting to question the trade minister on the recent U.S. announcement of their intention to double tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada.

I questioned the minister on what actions she has taken and received nothing more than evasive responses. Our committee meeting received national news coverage.

Because our Canada-U.S. supply chains are so integrated, this could result in more uncertainty and less production in Canada, leading to even higher lumber prices here.

The last softwood lumber agreement was negotiated by the Conservative government and expired in 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in 2015 he would negotiate a new agreement within 100 days of forming government, which hasn’t happened.

Since then, there have been three U.S. administrations, and we’ve seen production and jobs go south.

With re-opening, we can look forward to more activities; however, major events are still on hold, such as our large Canada Day celebrations.

I am once again offering Kelowna-Lake Country residents a Canada flag on a first-come basis. The cut-off is June 20 — so be sure to reach out soon.

To request your Canada flag kit, please call (250) 470-5075, email [email protected], or visit us online at www.TracyGrayMP.ca.

If you need any assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, please reach out any time.

Stay well.


Connecting, budget, bills

This past week was a constituency week, which allowed me to focus on the aspect of being an MP that I care about the most – connecting directly with residents of Kelowna-Lake Country.

I was able to bring many residents and organizations new Canadian flags and visit numerous small businesses as part of my continued social media “small business spotlights.”

It was great to volunteer with CrimeStoppers Central Okanagan at their Shredding Event where a record number of people drove through, bringing a total of 11,370 kg of paper to be shredded by Okanagan Paper Shredding.

This fundraiser will help fight crime as well as contribute to the community’s spring-cleaning efforts.

Through back-to-back meetings (many virtual) and phone calls every day, residents of our community brought forth a number of timely and important concerns on many pressing topics.

I heard from many residents on the recently announced budget and the enormous deficit that it will leave our children and grandchildren.

The deficit for the 2020-21 fiscal year is projected to be $354.2 billion, with a further deficit of $154.7 billion in 2021-22.

Combined, that’s over $13,000 of new debt for every person in Canada in just those two years, and an eye-watering $52,000 for a family of four.

The non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer and others have expressed concern that the level of spending in the budget may be higher than necessary to stimulate the economy.

Many items in the budget unfortunately aren’t focused on economic recovery or programs helping the most affected people and businesses, but instead on election-like spending.

The biggest source of federal government funds last year wasn’t tax revenue or lenders, but central bank money printing.

The $303.5 billon of new printed money in 2020 is not free.

Too many dollars chasing too few goods risks increasing inflation — meaning everyone pays more for things such as housing, food, and transportation.

Statistics Canada just announced that the cost of living went up 3.4% in April alone.

With years of deficits that were not needed prior to the pandemic, it’s clear that the government has no real plan to secure our future through an economic recovery where all sectors in all regions are firing on all cylinders.

In addition to holding the government accountable on many issues, our Official Opposition Conservative team have been hard at work introducing common-sense legislation that will benefit many Canadians.

Here are just three Conservative private members’ bills that have gone through the House of Commons and are now at the Senate:

First, Bill C-208:

C-208 makes it equitable for small businesses and farms to sell to family members. This is a great relief for many multigenerational businesses.

As it stands now, if you sell your small business or farm to a total stranger, you are taxed less than if you were selling to a family member. While this legislation received unanimous support from all opposition party members, only 19 Liberals voted in favour.

Notably, those who voted against this bill included the Minister of Small Business and the Minister of Agriculture.

Second, Bill C-220:

Bill C-220 extends the length of compassionate care leave by up to three weeks after the death of a loved one. This bill aims to allow more time for caregivers to grieve and take care of practical necessities before returning to work.

Third, Bill C-210:

Bill C-210 allows Canadians to easily register as an organ donor through their annual tax return. This information would be passed on to provincial and territorial governments so that their wishes would be added to their local registry.

The House of Commons is now sitting until late in June and I’m sure there will be much to report. If you need any assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, please feel free to reach out anytime.

Stay well. 250-470-5075 / [email protected] / TracyGrayMP.ca

Input, census, online rules

As we approach the May long weekend and warmer weather settles in, more and more we are outdoors enjoying the beauty of our surroundings in Kelowna-Lake Country.

Many residents are contacting me to seek updates on the progress of potentially completing the Rail Trail — specifically a seven-kilometre portion between Lake Country and Kelowna.

This was one of the first issues I looked into after becoming your MP and I’m continually corresponding with all stakeholders.

Part of this issue stems from the federal government’s delay administering an Addition to Reserve on part of the CN rail line. I wrote the Indigenous Services Minister asking him to look into this and provide an update.

Due to the lack of response from the Minister, this was one of the first issues I brought forth in the House of Commons when Parliament returned in September 2020 after the government’s shutdown through prorogation.

When I questioned the Minister, he gave no information, and promised to sit down with me at a later date.

Instead, he sent a note that stated, “the Addition to Reserve process is nearing its final stage.”

I raised this issue in the House of Commons at an evening “adjournment debate” and have again recently written the Minister on this important community issue.

This was one of several issues that were shared with me in the responses of two recent community surveys I sent out during the past couple of months.

Clearly, the residents of Kelowna-Lake Country are very engaged as I received more than 1,000 responses — with more still arriving.

I appreciate everyone who took the time to send their feedback and write detailed notes as this helps me to better serve our community in Ottawa.

It is also clear that protecting free speech is of critical importance to our residents based on the feedback I’ve received on Bill C-10.

This proposed legislation seeks to make overreaching regulatory changes to the Broadcasting Act, as well as many forms of media including online and social media.

This legislation is an unacceptable attempt by the Liberals to target the freedoms of individual internet users in Canada.

It would give sweeping new powers to the Canada Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate the internet, with no clear guidelines as to how that power will be used.

It’s been suggested by experts that this bill would even allow the CRTC to regulate what individuals can or cannot post online. Conservatives have been opposing this bill in its present form and we will study any potential amendments carefully.

If one hasn’t arrived already, you should be receiving your census questionnaire shortly, which all residents of Canada are legally required to complete.

The census provides important information for policy makers and all levels of government for decisions including funding for our community.

You can do your census online using the secure access code that should have been mailed to you, or by calling 1-877-885-2021 to request a paper version. Go to www.census.gc.ca for more information.

Canada lost 200,000 jobs in April — a massive backward step for businesses and workers due to this third wave. Provinces pleaded for months for more vaccines, and the Trudeau government failed to act to keep COVID variants out of Canada from hotspot areas.

It was International Fire Fighters Day on May 4, and I paid tribute to my dad and all firefighters who serve or have served.

May is Asian Heritage Month and it was wonderful to participate in the OCCA’s Community Association virtual Opening Forum, the first of many events this month.

If you need any assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, please feel free to reach out anytime. Stay well.

250-470-5075 / [email protected] / TracyGrayMP.ca


Dollars and sense

There are numerous issues of importance to our community and I’ve brought forth many in the House of Commons and at committee during the past few weeks.

In a recent speech, I highlighted how entertainment venues, performing arts, musicians, arts and culture have been hit particularly hard.

Virtual fundraising and a few virtual performances are not enough to continue sustaining them.

At the International Trade Committee, I questioned leaders from the bio-manufacturing industry where we heard how they've had “no success” and “no relationship” over the past three years on engaging with this Liberal government.

They’ve been calling, but no one is answering.

During debate, I had the opportunity to discuss Bill C-14, the government’s Fall Economic Statement.

The government was seeking to increase the federal debt ceiling by $700 billion, to $1.83 trillion. This is an increase of borrowing capacity of 56.8%.

It took 150 years for Canada to get to $1 trillion in federal debt. Now, after the billions of debt accumulated by the Liberals every year since 2015 and during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were looking to increase the debt ceiling again, without a full explanation to taxpayers.

This limit goes far beyond what is required to fund emergency programs and stimulus, and would put our country in a perilous financial position.

The government finally tabled their first budget in more than two years. Acting in the best interest of Canadians, Conservatives have supported programs to help workers, businesses and not for profits, including the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy.

There are some good initiatives in the budget including the extension of some programs to help business.

However, we must acknowledge that continued impacts from the economic downturn and lockdowns are due squarely to the lack of data driven planning and vaccine procurement from the federal government.

I also spoke on how we need a clear, data-driven plan to re-open our economy when it is safe to do so.

At a time when residents want to see their lives return to normal, the federal government has been crystal clear in their desire to see our economy "re-imagined."

This budget is more of an election-spending budget than an economic-recovery budget. This budget is also based on assumptions with little room for variables such as inflation or interest-rate increases.

To table a budget without accounting for uncertainties is naïve. As anyone who has put together a business plan or household budget knows, this is not a good strategy.

One of the key points in the budget the government is something Liberal governments have been promising for decades – a government-regulated childcare system.

This one-size-fits-all childcare system certainly won’t work for all families, and provincial governments have to fully agree, including budgeting to pay their portion.

Many experts are chiming in on the budget. Jack Mintz from The Macdonald-Laurier Institute remarked, "you have to dig pretty deep to find any reference to a fiscal anchor in this eye-straining 724-page federal budget.”

John Ivison, in the National Post said, “this is a government that is far better at giving away money than generating it, collecting it or delivering services.”

Robert Asselin, former top adviser to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Finance Minister Bill Morneau stated, “it’s hard to find a coherent growth plan” in the Liberal budget.

With increased complexity to this year’s tax season for many, and the finances of Canadians heavily impacted, Conservatives have called for the tax-filing deadline to be extended to June 30.

Last year, the government extended the tax filing deadline, and we hope they agree with and implement our reasonable recommendation.

On another note, it was recently Earth Day, and to commemorate, a friend and I went out and picked up roadside garbage in our community.

If we each do a little, it can add up in keeping our community beautiful.

If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out. 250-470-5075 or [email protected].

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade.

She also serves on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and is a member of the National Caucus Committees Credit Union Caucus, Wine Caucus, and Aviation Caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the year, and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, on the Passenger Transportation Board 2010-2012, and elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library as a Trustee and was chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]

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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