The Central Okanagan’s two Conservative MPs have landed shadow cabinet posts.
Tracy Gray, who beat Liberal incumbent Stephen Fuhr to become Kelowna-Lake Country’s new MP, has been named shadow minister for interprovincial trade.
Dan Albas, who was elected for a third term as MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is shadow minister for employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.
“I’m very proud to be appointed (to the shadow cabinet),” said Albas.
“Having a job is more than just a paycheque. It provides meaning, a place in the world. Building a skilled workforce is essential for ensuring that Canadians can realize their dreams from themselves and their families.
This includes the many persons with a disability who for too long have been unable to participate fully in our economy and our society.”
Albas also addressed the forestry crisis in B.C., which includes Tolko shutting down its Kelowna lumber mill and putting 200 out of work.
“I will work tirelessly to hold the government to account and make sure Canadians can get ahead and those in our struggling energy and forestry sectors can get back to work,” he said.
Albas will shadow Delta MP Carla Qualtrough, who was appointed Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government cabinet.
Gray believes she was tapped for shadow cabinet due to her business background as owner of two Discover Wines VQA stores and her previous political experience as a City of Kelowna councillor.
“I am honoured to have been asked to serve at this level,” she said.
“Being in the shadow cabinet will bring the voices of Kelowna-Lake Country and British Columbia forward to an elevated level to hold the government to account.”
Gray is passionate about having goods, services and people being able to cross provincial borders more freely.
“We have free trade agreements with other countries, but not within our own country,” she said.
“As an entrepreneur working the the B.C. wine industry, I saw firsthand how interprovincial trade barriers created more barriers than opportunities and made it challenging to expand markets for our local B.C. wineries.”
Interprovincial trade problems extend well beyond wine.
“Internal trade disputes have escalated between provinces, creating uncertainty in various industries,” said Gray.
“It will be imperative to hold the government accountable for unity issues. Interprovincial trade affects many industries, including farming, technology and energy and resource sectors.”
The Liberal minority government doesn’t have a dedicated interprovincial trade minister, but Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, the MP for Toronto Centre, is also minister of intergovernmental affairs.
Gray will be officially sworn in next week before the first session of the House of Commons.
As a returning MP, Albas was sworn in earlier while in Ottawa.