From the Hill

Stephen Fuhr, CD is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence.

As we are only days away from completion of the 42nd Parliament I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past few years as your Member of Parliament. First, thank you.  Thank you for the trust and confidence you placed in me back in 2015 when I was elected. As your MP my responsibility was to represent you all in our nation’s capital to ensure your opinions were considered during policy discussions and that our community received our fair share of federal fiscal support. Additionally, my office often supported constituents, with great success, on a number of personal issues to include immigration, taxation and labour, just to name a few.

We also ensured solid federal visibility for our riding: Over the past few years we have hosted a number of high-profile events including a National Caucus, several Pacific Caucuses, national pre-budget consultations, and a post- budget tour by the Minister of Finance. We’ve also enjoyed a consistent parade of ministerial visits to support federal funding announcements or to consult with us on a wide array of issues. 

From a federal funding perspective, we’ve enjoyed some of the strongest fiscal support the riding has seen.  The government’s commitment to invest in infrastructure materialized in big support for clean water, flood protection, and our university and college infrastructure. Small businesses, arts and culture, affordable housing initiatives and seniors centers all received solid support. Our local Rail Trail effort also received nearly two million dollars to assist with the completion of phase one of this legacy project.

From a national perspective, the government moved the yardsticks significantly on a number of issues that were important to you. We have a new healthcare accord, a funded national housing strategy and better support for our seniors and our veterans. Families are better supported with a more generous, tax free, indexed Canada Child Benefit, a program that is making a real difference in the lives of nearly 17,000 local families.  We have also developed a National Poverty Reduction Strategy that has lifted 825,000 Canadians out of poverty, including more than 50,000 seniors, and resulting in a poverty rate that is at the lowest it has ever been. New policy on cannabis legalization and medical assistance with dying was also enacted.

From an economic perspective, the country has faired very well during challenging times: Unemployment is currently at a 42 year low and we are seeing some of the best economic growth amongst our G7 partners. Foreign direct investment is at a 5-year high and Canada is the only G7 country that has a formalized trade agreement with every other G7 nation. Investments made in Canadians are closing the gaps in social and infrastructure deficits and we are better prepared for the effects of automation, artificial intelligence and a digital economy.

As for one of the most important priorities for Canadians, Canada now has a national price on pollution and is investing nearly 70 billion dollars in the effort to fight climate change. It is unfortunate this is still a divisive issue in our country, but this government is committed to living up to its responsibilities on the climate file. Democracy often slows necessary progress, but this fight is essential for the prosperity of future generations. We can succeed; we must.

So, as you gather around your dinner tables to discuss the political future of our Canada, I’d ask you to consider the following: Are we in a better place than we were? Are we headed in a better direction? Which party can reasonably deliver on the things you care about; the things that matter.

Have a careful look at recent Provincial leadership results and policy direction. Is it working, is it not?

I highly suspect there is no one party that will satisfy everyone’s wants so a focus on policy and outcomes is necessary.  The reliability of the information you receive therefore will be important: Consider the source, verify the claims, and look to impartial, non-partisan sources like Statistics Canada, the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Bank of Canada.

This is a rational decision not an emotional one.

As you know, I’m putting my name on the ballot again in 2019.  I believe in the progress we have made in our community and our country and I believe it is this progress that makes Canada one of the best places in the world to live.

Let’s continue to move forward together.