2021 was undoubtedly one of the most challenging years for our community of Kelowna—Lake Country.
While still coping with COVID-19, we suffered through extreme heat, wildfires, mudslides, and floods. These extreme weather events took homes, livelihoods and loved ones. Those who bravely worked to protect and save lives, from our first responders to front-line health care workers, have been the heroes of our community. We owe each of them a tremendous debt of gratitude.
While these events were difficult, they gave our community the opportunity to shine. Thousands volunteered with time and resources to help people and animals impacted by the devastation. The spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country is stronger than ever before.
While we’ve faced challenges at home, as your MP, I’ve continued to pressure the government in Ottawa to take meaningful action on issues like inflation, tax increases, border rules, affordable housing and free speech that are impacting members of our community.
Prior to the election, while serving as the export promotion and international trade critic, I helped form the Canada-US special economic relationship committee. Its focus was on important issues including demanding action on unjustified and unwarranted softwood lumber tariffs which also increased lumber costs at home. Unfortunately, Liberal inaction on the trading relationship with the United States has actually caused it to worsen.
The Canadian Press recently named the horrific discovery of the bodies of 215 children in a mass grave at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops as the most significant news story of 2021. The discovery caused all Canadians to pause and reflect on the importance of truth and reconciliation. That’s why I joined colleagues to call on the Liberal government to immediately implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action 71 to 76. Unfortunately to this day, we have seen no meaningful action from the government.
However, in a year as tragic as 2021, I was proud to join my colleagues in the Conservative Party in taking real action for Canadians. Despite serving in opposition, we were able to win support across party lines to pass bills that will offer more bereavement leave, reduce fuel costs for farmers, keep the environment free of plastic waste dumping, reduce recidivism and remove the unfair tax burden families face transferring farms or businesses to their children.
While some (proposed) legislation will now have to be re-introduced after (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau’s unnecessary snap-election call, much of it, and more, is now the law of the land. These were important changes and I’m proud to have been a part of them.
It’s an honour to have a new role as small business recovery and growth critic. Small businesses were some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. I’ve made suggestions to the government for addressing labour shortages and I asked the government to halt all scheduled tax increases in 2022, however a minister shockingly responded that businesses “can afford this”.
Some of my most important work I do as your MP remains right here in the riding and through the feedback I receive from local residents.
This spring and summer, I spent days delivering Canada flags to homes for Canada Day, spent a week meeting with local farmers and touring farms and agriculture production facilities and held five roundtable discussions to further policy on critical local topics to our community—mental health, housing, affordability, small business and tourism.
I was proud to fight alongside many of you to end the closure of Kelowna International Airport to international travel without rationale or metrics from the Liberal government. It was with the help of our entire community that I was able to pressure the government to safely fully re-open our airport.
I want to thank my team both in Kelowna and Ottawa for their hard work during this exceptional time, and their dedication to serving our residents.
After the snap election this summer, I would like to again thank the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country for re-electing me to continue to serve you in Ottawa. It is a privilege to earn your confidence to fight for you each and every day.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a happy New Year to all for a prosperous 2022.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.