Eighteen people showed up to hear Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod’s update and to provide their input on the hot topics in Parliament, and in the riding, at a forum held in the Valley Room on Aug. 23.
McLeod says she held the public forum to help her gauge the temperature of the South Cariboo community on national issues, and to offer her constituents an opportunity to bring local issues to their MP before she returns to Parliament this fall, she explained.
McLeod gave folks a quick glimpse of the economy, and then a fairly comprehensive presentation and discussion about electoral reform, before opening up the floor for input on policy consultations and anything else they wished to discuss.
“Most importantly are the local issues, and what’s on your mind of a federal nature.”
McLeod noted enthusiastically that, after spending the day in 100 Mile House, she had seen “great creativity” in the “absolutely phenomenal” entrepreneurship in the community, “a lot of sold signs” on properties, and the Wranglers hockey team’s 2016 championships ring.
“I think there are some things really happening in this community.”
The province is now showing a brighter economic and employment position than seen elsewhere across the country, she added.
“In British Columbia, we truly are a bit of a beacon on what is happening Canada-wide.”
The MP said it was “important” to note the change to Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan joining with her home province to now lead the way in job opportunities and finance.
“Recent data shows [B.C.] is the only one in a good fiscal position.
“Canada lost 31,000 jobs in July and there are 110,000 jobs that have been lost on the last two months, offset by some part-time gains … but significant job loss in other parts of the country, and we’re not feeling it as badly here.”
In fielding a question on where in Canada these 31,000 jobs were lost, McLeod’s response was that she didn’t have those details on hand, but could get them if requested.
“Certainly Alberta continues to struggle. There is some offshoot for people who service the jobs in Alberta, but certainly the level of manufacturing in this country is significantly lower than it has been in many, many years.”
McLeod noted Canada’s debt of $630 billion has “increased a lot” and she is concerned about the national deficit – particularly when the “historic low” interest rates rise – noting her Conservative party’s own painful deficit-reduction struggles.
“It hurt a lot of programs and services when you had to make such deep cuts that we did.”
“The year I was first elected [our Conservative government] paid off $40 billion, then we had the global recession, so we added to the debt.
“We managed to get back to budget.
“The new Liberal government … indicated [in Trudeau’s campaign] they’d go to $10 billion a year, but they just indicated they will be going $30 billion a year into the hole.”
No one at the forum posed any comments or questions to McLeod on these particular issues of debt and deficit.
Of “particular concern” to the Cariboo and across the province, is the 10-year softwood lumber deal, which expired last October … with a one-year moratorium on any new action that ends Oct. 15, she noted.
“At that time, we can be back to where we were before the agreement of 10 years ago, where they estimated it cost about 15,000 jobs in [B.C.] and about $5.4 billion had to be paid in tariffs.
“In our role as Opposition, we are really trying to encourage [Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland] to use every tool at her disposal to try to get it resolved … especially before the next election.”
McLeod added Canada’s chief negotiator (Martin Moen) in the softwood-lumber talks with the United States was “not giving very optimistic signals” in his report to a parliamentary committee in mid-August.
“The only way I see we will get a resolution in the next year is if [United States President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] say ‘you have got to get it done’.”