COLUMN: Wayne’s World two years in

Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski writes about his first two years in office

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.

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