MP looks back at the year that was

2023 in review

I often refer to the “spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country” as a way of capturing the generosity of people in our community.

This year was a challenging year in many ways, and local residents opened their hearts, homes and wallets to help those in need.

The most impactful event of the year for our region was undoubtedly the summer wildfires. I continue to show gratitude to all responders and volunteers who played a crucial role in saving lives and providing protection and support to members of our community. The tragic loss of homes in our community and surrounding area will be felt for a long time, and we must continue to do all we can to support those in our community who were affected.

Many residents face a cost-of-living crisis that impacts their ability to provide basic necessities like gas, groceries, and heating. Tax increases, such as the carbon tax, the compounding effect of above-average inflation, and decades-high interest rates have pushed up the price of everything from food to mortgages.

Many young adults have lost hope of ever owning a home, and I hear about seniors having to go back to work just to pay for basic necessities. Food bank use is the highest it’s ever been. In eight years, rents have doubled, and monthly mortgage payments have increased by 150% for a typical family home. Many residents feel the federal government is out of touch with these concerns.

When the cost of servicing the debt interest on Canada’s more than $1 trillion national debt is now greater than Canada’s entire federal healthcare transfers, a path of fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets is needed. These are important issues I continually fight for in Ottawa.

There were federal bills that garnered much time and attention, including affecting responsible firearms owners, viewing news articles online, “revolving door” bail reform and taking carbon taxes off farmers.

I continued to advocate for protecting our lakes from aquatic invasive mussels and opening the Okanagan Rail Trail. Wars and instability in the world affect people in in our community and I continue to connect with those affected in our community.

I was disappointed this year that Liberal and NDP MPs did not support my “End the Revolving Door Act” Private Members Bill, which would have offered mental health and addiction treatment and recovery to those sentenced to federal penitentiaries. Instead, the federal government chose to approve drug decriminalization policies.

I was proud to be the seconder on many Conservative Private Members Bills, including one that would provide maternal and paternal benefit equity for adoptive and intended (surrogate) parents.

Canada Day, Remembrance Day and the many other special days, events, and activities I attended around our community were a wonderful way to connect. I appreciated the tens of thousands of conversations and pieces correspondence from local residents throughout the year, as it helped inform the work I did in Ottawa.

One of the greatest ways to serve is to volunteer when I’m home with many local charities and not-for-profits.

My constituency office overflowed with opportunities to serve residents with federal government programs and supports.

It’s my honour to serve the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country as their voice in Ottawa. I hope this holiday season is full of joy for you and your family, and we also reach out to those who may be alone or need help.

Merry Christmas, seasons greetings and happy New Year.

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

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the 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, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman 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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