An opportunity to meet with Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod in a local setting took place on Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the Station House Restaurant in Barriere.
Coffee & Tea with Your MP was an invitation that was extended to the community for area residents to share their thoughts with McLeod over a cup of coffee or tea.
McLeod said she welcomed all comments and input from the approximately 30 constituents who attended over the course of afternoon.
The MP noted that she was most interested “to pull together feedback from our communities on where we can cut spending as the government pulls back.” She noted that the government is starting to phase out the economic stimulus money, and that they are hoping private industry will now be able to take over.
Discussing government tax cuts McLeod said, “The average family of four is now able to keep about $3,000 more in their pockets than they did three years ago.”
She noted that cutting corporate tax rates has helped to reopen mills and create jobs. “We believe our corporations have to have that tax incentive to do business here.”
The MP stated, “As private industry collapsed the government stepped in. The government has given an injection of huge, huge, dollars over the past two years to keep communities going. We have now regained about 400,000 jobs back (although some say the jobs aren’t quite so good as before). The economy is rebounding, but we are still worried. However, we are committed to get back to a balanced budget by 2015.”
She said, “We’re better off than other countries, but we are still not where we want to be.”
McLeod noted the government has also focused on expanding Canadian markets over the past two years. “We believe Free Trade Agreements are good for Canada, they are important for moving forward.”
One person in attendance asked to bring home Canadian troops from the Middle East, saying, “Let’s get the hell out of Afghanistan”.
The MP answered, “In June of 2011 we will be taking approximately 3,000 troops out of Kandahar. We will be leaving 900 there in a training role rather than a combat role. Our soldiers have shown an incredible faith in the mission, and really believe in what they are doing over there to help the country.”
People asked questions about salmon farming, and why the government is not “cleaning them up and getting them out?”
McLeod says the regulation of salmon farming has now been turned back to the federal government, and they will make a decision after an inquiry based on the science of salmon farming is completed.
Questioned about the delay of “just one more inquiry”, the MP said, “I believe we should let the process happen; look at the recommendations, and then act on those recommendations as quickly as possible.”
Other attendees asked questions about senior’s housing and health care, and the large amount of money spent on homelessness. Airport security regulations were brought up by attendees who felt they were too stringent. “We’ve prevented some significant disasters thanks to airport security,” said McLeod.
Discussing Canada’s recent announcement to purchase fighter jets it was evident that all in attendance thought this a good idea. “How are we going to protect the Arctic if we don’t have planes to fly up there,” commented one constituent.
McLeod noted the cost of the new jets will not start to come in until 2015. “I’m very supportive of what we are doing – not only in the Arctic,” said McLeod, “Who can predict what’s going to happen in this world. We need to protect our men and women in uniform.”
Other discussions to place regarding policing, gas tax funding for community projects and infrastructure, carbon tax and environmental concerns.
Asked what the federal government was going to do about the long gun registry McLeod said, “We remain committed to canceling the long gun registry. I’m committed and so is the government.”
Asked why the size of parliament has not been reduced, McLeod noted that it can’t be reduced because of the Constitution.
McLeod concluded by noting she started meeting with constituents throughout her riding of 120,000 six months ago, and that she will continue to visit each community, talk to the people and listen to their concerns.