2018 in re­view

Asian Journal - - NATION - By MP Stephen Fuhr

It’s hard to be­lieve an­other year has come and gone. 2018 was a chal­leng­ing year but much was ac­com­plished.

On the trade front, we de­fended Canada’s in­ter­ests and con­cluded the Canada-us-mex­ico free trade agree­ment (NAFTA), safe­guard­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in daily trade, pre­serv­ing im­por­tant mar­ket ac­cess for Cana­dian prod­ucts and con­tin­ued growth on both sides of the bor­der. Ad­di­tion­ally, on De­cem­ber 30th the Com­pre­hen­sive and Pro­gres­sive Agree­ment for Trans-pa­cific Part­ner­ship (CPTPP) came into force pro­vid­ing Canada with sig­nif­i­cant ex­port di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially for our agri­cul­ture sec­tor in­clud­ing new mar­kets for Okana­gan cher­ries. To­gether with the Canada-euro­pean Union Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment (CETA), Canada is now the only G7 coun­try with a free trade agree­ment with ev­ery other G7 na­tion. On the cli­mate front we man­aged to for­mal­ize a way for­ward af­ter a num­ber of Prov­inces flip flopped on agree­ing to price pol­lu­tion de­spite all the ev­i­dence telling them to do so. Cana­di­ans rec­og­nize what British Columbians have known since 2008 that putting a price on pol­lu­tion, with an em­pha­sis on eco­nomic growth, is the way for­ward to ef­fec­tively ad­dress the chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with changes in our cli­mate.

De­spite the naysay­ers and a mis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign about in­creased taxes and lower wages – Cana­di­ans pay one of the low­est tax bur­dens in the OECD and wages are ris­ing – many, in­clud­ing Canada’s largest busi­ness group, the Cana­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce, have en­dorsed the price on pol­lu­tion as the most ef­fi­cient way for the coun­try to cut green­house gas emis­sions.

As noted by the Cham­ber, if ex­e­cuted well, the pol­icy has the po­ten­tial to re­duce the over­all costs to busi­ness through the re­duc­tion of du­plica­tive reg­u­la­tion and in­vest­ment in in­no­va­tion and tech­nolo­gies to re­duce car­bon emis­sions and en­ergy costs. Com­bined with record job cre­ation and the po­ten­tial of more eco­nomic growth, we have en­tered 2019 in sound fis­cal health, sup­ported by a fed­eral fis­cal pol­icy that Canada’s Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fi­cer (PBO) says is sus­tain­able over the long term.

Closer to home we con­tinue to see prom­i­nent fed­eral vis­i­bil­ity with fed­eral fund­ing con­tin­u­ing to flow into our rid­ing sup­port­ing the is­sues you told me were im­por­tant to you. Ex­am­ples in­clude fed­eral sup­port for the Okana­gan Rail Trail, the new Lake Coun­try ac­tiv­ity cen­ter, Okana­gan in­va­sive species, UBCO and Okana­gan Col­lege, our tech sec­tor, af­ford­able hous­ing and home­less­ness, and con­tin­ued sup­port for multi-year in­fra­struc­ture projects just to name a few. Sup­port­ing Cana­dian fam­i­lies con­tin­ues to be a cor­ner­stone of our gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies through our home­less­ness and poverty re­duc­tion strate­gies, the Canada Child Ben­e­fit, which was in­dexed this past July a full 2 years ear­lier than orig­i­nally planned, on­go­ing sup­port for se­niors and Vet­er­ans, and an in­crease by nearly 50% start­ing in 2019 to the Work­ing In­come Tax Ben­e­fit, which pro­vides cash pay­ments to work­ing Cana­di­ans with very low in­comes. This will give more sup­port to those who need it most. There is no doubt that 2019 will be an im­por­tant year for all of us and that our vig­i­lance in sup­port of truth, democ­racy, and equal­ity, and a be­lief in our abil­ity to in­no­vate and work hard to main­tain our qual­ity of life is more im­por­tant than ever.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and I thank you for your sup­port as we con­tinue to make our com­mu­nity, and coun­try, the very best it can be.

Stephen Fuhr

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