Weekly Commentary  

Wise, surprise and super size

Three areas to cover in this week's report. First, a few weeks ago, the world bore witness to a spectacle which was as nauseating as it was despicable. The convicted Lockerbie Bomber, the mass murderer of innocent children, women and men, was set free after serving only a fraction of his time in a Scottish jail.

The Libyan terrorist, released supposedly on humanitarian grounds, received a hero's welcome in his Libyan homeland. I won't take the time or the frustration to reflect on the grotesque and ominous message of encouragement his release sends to up-and-coming terrorist murderers everywhere.

Compounding the obvious sense of violation which is felt by all civilized people is the helplessness we feel as we realize there is little we can do. It is with some quantum of pride therefore that I appreciate Canada's response.

Muammar Gadhafi, the thuggish dictator of Libya, decided to have his plane make a pit stop in Newfoundland on his way home from 'enlightening' the United Nations. As a free nation and signatory to international air agreements we have no grounds to refuse the refueling of the plane. However, we made a decision to show our collective repulsion towards Mr. Gadhafi.

In an extraordinary display of diplomatic disapproval we announced his plane would be met by our Minister of Foreign Affairs to deliver a clear message. Telling a brutish violator of human freedoms that we don't like what he does may still seem to fall short in the eyes of some.

However, most citizens understand our limitations in the light of international jurisprudence. In that context, no matter how the plan went, I felt some satisfaction that we had made a decision to show the world that we still uphold basic human values which we have always stood for, and fought for, as Canadians (at the time of writing this column Col. Gadhafi appeared to have got word of our plans and changed his).

Secondly, on a happier front, we announced this week another series of infrastructure commitments. These projects form part of our Economic Action Plan. We recognized last year that we would be buffeted by the financial storms of the global recession.

We stimulated the economy by accelerating building projects in communities across the country. This involved unprecedented cooperation of elected officials and bureaucrats at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

Government funding programs never have enough money to satisfy every request. Those which may not have been approved in this tri-lateral process this time may get funds in a subsequent round. Having said that, I was very pleased that we were able to secure funding for 9 projects throughout the constituency with a total federal investment of $19 million dollars.

These projects mean jobs, investments and vast improvements in systems covering everything from roads to water treatment to recreational facilities. I will continue to work with colleagues at the provincial and municipal levels for the ongoing quality of life issues that reflect a standard of living we can feel good about.

Finally, this week I was in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Gujarat (India). We signed infrastructure deals for Canadian companies, started free trade negotiations with Ukraine, a nuclear cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan and opened a trade office in Ahmedabad, India.

Here's just one example of positive benefits of Canadian/Indian joint action. McCain's opened a french-fry and vegetarian patty factory in Gujarat. They started with teaching one farmer on one hectare of land how to grow quality product in an environmentally sustainable way. Now, with a contract from Macdonald's, they are contracting with over a thousand growers! They are using a water-saving drip irrigation method and sustainable agricultural practices to efficiently produce higher yields requiring less land and less fertilizer per ton of spuds.

Additionally that means another 135 good, full-time jobs at the state of the art production facility and all the economic benefits that go with it.

Free trade can truly be fair and beneficial for all concerned.

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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