Gun buyback misguided

The community has come together to pay tribute to those we lost in the tragic crane accident in downtown Kelowna – including displaying high-visibility vests as a way of mourning and showing support for the friends, families, and coworkers who lost loved ones.

My heart goes out to their families and to everyone who knew them. Thank you to all the first responders and emergency workers.

I recently held a round-table discussion on the ever-increasing costs of living and housing. We heard from supportive housing and social service providers, housing builders, and those working in various financial services in order to get a well-rounded perspective of what they are seeing. Their expertise and suggestions were invaluable and will greatly help as my Conservative colleagues and I work to address these growing issues.

In the Liberals' continued misguided drive to go after law-abiding firearm owners, they are now looking to spend nearly a billion dollars on a gun buyback plan.

According to the independent and non-partisan Parliamentary Budget Officer, the program would cost approximately $756 million on firearms alone, an amount 70% higher than the government’s own estimate. This does not include administrative costs that could multiply that amount, according to some observers.

Every dollar spent with this program is a dollar not going to fight the greatest issue of firearm crime in Canada – illegally smuggled guns. It has also been reported that the union representing RCMP officers has itself come out against the Liberal ban, saying it would do little to curb gun violence.

Conservatives have called on the government to scrap this, and instead focus on a real plan to keep Canadians safe by giving law enforcement the resources they need and targeting criminals.

The Liberals’ priorities also appear to include continuing their war on small business owners by recently refusing to implement tax reduction legislation that was recently passed in Parliament and signed into law. It is clear to see that our democratic functions are continually being challenged by this government.

Conservative Bill C-208 would make the taxes owing for transferring a business to a family member no different than selling to a stranger, as right now the taxes would be higher. I heard from many small business owners in Kelowna-Lake Country who were thankful for this legislation.

Previously, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called hardworking small business owners – who are the backbone of our community – tax cheats, and implemented harmful tax changes on the small business community.

It was only after continuous and sustained pressure from Conservatives that the Liberals finally agreed to respect the will of Parliament and implemented this legislation.

The ethics commissioner recently confirmed that he is taking initial steps of launching a new ethics investigation. This is because almost all Liberal MPs are using taxpayers’ dollars to pay for maintenance and licensing of software from a company which the Liberal Party of Canada uses to run their political database.

The company is also tied to a childhood friend of Trudeau who held senior positions within Liberal campaigns and is married to the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada.

It is important to remember that we have been in similar unsettling situations before. The prime minister was found guilty multiple times of breaking ethics rules with his trip to Aga Khan’s private island, and again during the SNC Lavalin affair – when he was more concerned about Liberal votes than Canadian laws.

The latter also led to the resignation of Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general, MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.

When under investigation for the third time during the WE Charity scandal, Trudeau prorogued Parliament in an obvious attempt to avoid scrutiny and accountability.

One of the pillars of our five-point Conservative Recovery Plan is “Securing Accountability,” which will toughen the Conflict of Interest Act, toughen the Lobbying Act, and increase transparency in Ottawa.

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


Raw sewage being dumped

Do you think we should be dumping raw sewage into Okanagan Lake or other waterways in Canada? You likely said no, and I don’t think we should either; however, this is what is occurring in other waterways in the country.

Bill C-269, introduced by a member of the Conservative party, would have amended the Fisheries Act to prohibit the dumping of raw sewage into our nation’s waterways.

Since 2013, Canadian cities have dumped almost 900 billion litres of raw sewage – enough to fill more than 355,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. What’s worse, is that this amount is increasing every year. Could you just imagine with the recent high temperatures, how unbearable it would be to be near a beach, or even consider being in the water.

One might think that common-sense legislation like this would be easy to pass in the House of Commons, but that turned out to not be the case.

I was happy to cast my vote in favour to protect our waterways. Shockingly, the Liberals, NDP, and Green Party members all voted against this real action on environmental protection.

After breaching four lawful orders of the House of Commons to produce documents relating to deadly viruses being transferred from Canada to China and the subsequent firing of two government scientists, the Liberals are now taking the unprecedented step of taking the Speaker of the House to court to prevent the document release to parliamentarians. The Speaker is the highest officer in the House of Commons and is impartial. Some responsibilities include interpreting rules, maintaining order, and defending the rights and privileges of all Members (MPs).

The government taking the Speaker to court is another example of our democracy being tested.

Last week, Conservatives announced our Canada Emergency Preparedness Plan to ensure we are ready to face future pandemics. Notwithstanding decisions since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, there were many prior decisions by the Liberals, such as shutting down the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (Canada’s pandemic early warning system) and depleting our stockpiles of PPE, that left us vulnerable.

Lives have been lost, our economy was crippled, businesses closed, and mental health concerns continue. We need strategic plans now. Our four-part plan includes making Canada resilient to threats, preventing pandemics, detecting and assessing threats, and countering the threat.

Details can be found here.

It has been wonderful to be back in the riding and connecting with constituents. With the lifting of health restrictions, I look forward to being able to connect more in person.

It is important, now more than ever, that we support local. I have been all over our community visiting some exceptional small businesses and not-for-profits, and you can see some of these on my social media.

With the intense heat our region has been facing, it takes extra effort to stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay safe. We all need to work together to conserve water and prevent human-caused fires. Prolonged high temperatures have the added risk of increased fire activity – as we hear of new fires and of the tragic news out of Lytton. Thank you to our local firefighters who have gone to the region to help.

There are heartbreaking stories of those who lost homes and loved ones after having just minutes to gather what they could before fleeing. It is a stark reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness. There are many websites that have tips, and two that have family emergency planning details are the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada.

To report a wildfire, or other burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cellphone.

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

Inflation, budget, housing

The House of Commons rises for the summer this week, and I am looking forward to being back in the riding and connecting with constituents.

While in Ottawa, I was able to ask questions and debate many important topics the past few weeks, one of which was the Liberal government’s Budget 2021.

I’ve spoken before about Canada’s increasing debt, and we see this is not the only thing that’s getting more unaffordable. From housing to lumber to food to fuel, it doesn’t just seem like every-day items are getting more costly, they are.

In May, Canada’s inflation rate increased by the fastest rate in a decade. Country-wide, transportation costs were up 7.6%, shelter was up 4.2%, and clothing and footwear 3.9%, just to name a few.

I’ve heard from countless Kelowna-Lake Country residents that life is getting more expensive, and that the Liberal government doesn’t seem too concerned.

Not having a softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. since 2015 and not addressing shipping container shortages for Canada are a few factors contributing to cost increases and I brought these forth to ministers.

Despite spending more than $1 trillion in the combined 2020 and 2021 financial years, the sectors that need help the most are getting ignored in this omnibus budget.

It was disappointing to see only $500 million dedicated specifically to tourism relief. This industry has been devastated by the pandemic and will likely be one of the last to recover.

The budget also detailed how arts, entertainment, and recreation were the largest affected sectors for people losing work February 2020 compared to 2021, and yet only $450 million is allocated, spread over three years.

This is disappointing to musicians and performing artists, as well as the festival, arts, culture, and sports providers in our community.

Aerospace is another major employer in Kelowna-Lake Country.

The budget states, “in 2019 aerospace contributed more than $28 billion to Canada’s GDP,” and “directly and indirectly supported 234,500 jobs.”

It also notes that this sector is “highly dependent on purchases from airlines hit hard by the pandemic,” and “the sector is facing reduced demand and a longer path to recovery, relative to other sectors of the economy.”

Yet, there is just $250 million over three years across the entire country in the budget for this sector.

These are just a few examples of this unfocused, half-a-trillion-dollar spending plan.

The sheer amount of new debt without targeting stimulus to the most affected sectors, on top of the trillion dollars we already owe, will continue to increase inflation.

No inflationary concerns have been more vigorously expressed than the monumental increase in housing costs in our community. The government’s current response to this crisis is to double down on its failed First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

With this program, the government takes an ownership stake in your home and gets a piece of the pie if it goes up in value when you sell it.

The program was touted to help 100,000 Canadians become homeowners in three years, however, there has been little uptake and it’s estimated that it will take nearly 20 years to hit that target. The government needs to admit that this was a bad idea and move onto a plan that will work.

Recently, Conservatives put forward a common-sense plan in the House of Commons with concrete actions to address this issue.

This plan would combat money laundering and foreign money pouring into the real estate market and calls for real measures to increase rental housing units and supply.

Experts are saying that the government has ignored calls to action and the cost of housing will jump another 13% this year, putting first-time home ownership further out of reach for many in our community.

We will continue to hold the government to account to address this.

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

Stay well.

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

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.

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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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