October 19, 2015 was an interesting evening. Around 10 p.m. both Global and CBC prematurely declared my Conservative colleague as elected in the federal riding of Kootenay-Columbia. It was well after midnight when the last vote was counted and I became your Member of Parliament. Many of my supporters went to bed that night feeling blue and woke up to a bright orange glow! We have just passed the halfway point in the life of the 42nd Parliament.
What’s it like being a MP? The best part of the job is that we help people every day and I learn every day. The hardest part is the travel. The worst part is Ottawa’s focus on partisan politics – good ideas don’t make it into law because it’s not the party in power putting the proposal forward.
I said to my volunteers on election night, and I repeated it to my staff as I hired them on, that for me partisanship ended on election night, and that we will serve all of our 107,589 constituents to the best of our ability.
I have great staff working in my offices in Nelson, Cranbrook and Ottawa, and I asked them what they were most proud of so far. Here is an abbreviated list:
• We’ve helped over 2,100 individual constituents since taking office as MP.
• Convinced Canada Revenue Agency to stop the dangerous situation in which single parents who have left abusive partners are asked to get the ex-partner’s signature to prove sole custody of a child.
• Intervened with Service Canada to stop the inequity of not allowing spouses who have been involuntarily separated to claim GIS based on individual, not combined income.
• Held the government to account on behalf of credit unions, which were being ordered to stop using everyday words like “bank, banker, and banking.”
• Held three successful Small Business Forums, which brought all levels of government together to discuss how we can improve the climate for these important economic generators.
• Participated in an important diplomatic mission to Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
• Held a successful telephone town hall on the issue of legalizing marijuana and issued a comprehensive report.
• Intervened successfully through the Competition Bureau to ensure that there is a competitive market for propane in East Kootenay.
• Convinced the government to remove gender-biased terms like “father” and “mother” from forms.
• Worked with non-profit organizations, municipalities, local food companies, tourism, small business, arts and culture groups to secure more than $ 1,237,000 in federal funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program, resulting in 373 summer jobs for youth in Kootenay-Columbia.
• Spoken on behalf of Canada’s Border Security Officers, who have been without a contract for almost four years.
To keep you informed, we have sent out nine quarterly newsletters, 16 monthly newsletters, and 20 email newsletters.
In the House of Commons:
• Spoke 162 times
• 27 questions during Question Period
• 10 Statements on behalf of constituents
• 27 speeches on national, provincial and territorial parks
• 22 speeches on nature conservation
• 10 speeches on community infrastructure
• 10 speeches on small business needs
In 2017, communities in our riding received:
• $33,398,204 in infrastructure funding for Kootenay Columbia
• $2,911,593 in assorted other funding, which went mainly to municipal upgrades
• $803,807 in Canada 150 projects
It has been an honour to serve you as your Member of Parliament these first two years.