Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison has been officially sworn in for a second parliamentary term as the federal Liberal minority government gets set to unveil a new cabinet this week.
Morrison, who was elected as Kootenay-Columbia’s Conservative Member of Parliament last month, is preparing for the fall session as the the House of Commons is set to reconvene on Nov. 22, roughly two months following September’s snap election.
The Sept 20th election returned a near-identical parliamentary makeup to the one before, as the Liberals garnered 160 seats, the Conservatives 119 seats, the Bloc Quebecois 32 seats, the NDP 24 seats, and the Greens two seats.
The federal Liberals, which were re-elected as a minority government, will be swearing in a new cabinet on Tuesday, Oct. 26, with opposition parties later following with their own critic portfolios.
Local issues facing communities across the riding include addressing housing affordability, labour shortages and weak cell service in remote areas, such as the Kootenay Pass, according to Morrison.
Morrison added plans are in the works to hold town halls across the region so constituents can raise issues directly to him.
First elected two years ago just before the global COVID-19 health crisis, Morrison said his office has fielded thousands of requests for various kinds of assistance during the pandemic.
“I think that’s one thing we learned, is we have to be there and be available to people when they call us, and we are, answering every email and call that we can and in a timely fashion,” Morrison said.
Once parliamentary business gets underway, Morrison said he hopes the federal government will look at infrastructure funding, in terms of capitalizing on projects that are considered shovel-ready, providing tax relief for seniors living on income from Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan, and creating a temporary foreign workers program stream targeted specifically towards the tourism and hospitality industry.
“That’s a group where it takes a long time for them to get the approvals for foreign workers, but then by that time, maybe business has slowed down and they maybe don’t need as many,” Morrison said, “but there’s lots of areas around…Golden’s one prime example where temporary foreign workers are so hard to get, yet they just don’t have the labour there for the entry level type hospitality positions.
“If we can somehow streamline that foreign worker program for those types of human resource shortages, I think that’d be a huge benefit for Kootenay-Columbia, because we’re so tourism and hospitality-based here.”
Morrison also continued to push for a full re-opening of land border crossing points with the United States by following full COVID-19 vaccination protocols or utilizing rapid testing.
The Liberals made it a campaign pledge to require mandatory vaccination if travelling by air, train, cruise ship or other federally regulated transport service.
Morrison also announced plans to relocate the Cranbrook constituency office to another location, following changes to parliamentary ethics rules. The current building housing the office is owned by Morrison’s in-law relative, which was disclosed and approved at the time in order to ensure there was no ethics breach.
The office space was chosen due to it’s availability and central downtown location, however, while the lease passed ethics muster at the time, new changes to those rules are prompting a move to a new location within the next few weeks.