By Stephen Fuhr
As Parliament heads into its final week before it rises for the Christmas and holiday season naysayers, egged on by the official opposition, have attempted to launch a protest against what they see as an egregious example of government waste.
This time however, it’s more Scrooge than squander.
The controversy is over the Canada 150 rink on Parliament Hill, which will be open Dec. 7 through the 40th anniversary of Ottawa’s Winterlude and until the end of February.
A national Canada 150 Skating Day will be held on Dec. 10 in communities across the country.
It’s been a year of outstanding celebrations across Canada and the Canada 150 rink will be one of the last opportunities this year to bring Canadians together to enjoy the unique opportunity to skate on Parliament Hill.
That’s not all – the rink will also be home to another great Canadian pastime, a winter hockey tournament. Thirty-two eligible girls and boys peewee house league teams, representing every province, territory and region, will compete at this year’s Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament in a special Canada 150 division, giving them a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play on Parliament Hill.
I am extremely pleased that the Kelowna peewee female Rec Devils have successfully competed for the chance to represent B.C. and will participate in the Hockey on the Hill tournament to be held Dec. 27 to Jan. 1. To view their winning video and learn more about our community’s team, go to http://www.kelownaminorhockey.com/kelowna-peewee-female-rec-devils-going-ottawa/.
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Fiscal responsibility is essential, of course, and that is why the government has partnered with the Ottawa International Hockey Festival to pay for the design, build and programming of the outdoor skating rink on Parliament Hill, including the cost of the youth hockey tournament.
And those efforts won’t go to waste once all is said and done: after the end of its stay on Parliament Hill, the skating rink will be donated to a community in need and will serve as a lasting legacy of Canada 150 for the next 30 years.
For the past 150 years Canadians have worked together to make this country great, one that is economically and socially sound. Today, we have the fastest growing economy in the G7, the lowest unemployment rate in almost a decade, a strong middle class, an improved Canada Pension Plan, universal health care, access to affordable post-secondary education, a skilled workforce, and a society built on inclusiveness and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
We live in cynical world and it’s especially hard at this time of year to square our good fortune against the conflicts and suffering that affects the daily lives of so many others. But as we reflect on Canada 150 and what it means to live in a country like Canada, let’s not let cynicism get the better of us; let’s recognize that from time to time, while we remain vigilant against the most pressing issues, a little levity, a positive outlook, especially for our children, is allowed.
As we close out the year for Canada 150, let’s put the partisan swords down and allow ourselves a moment to celebrate bringing Canadians together, and providing an experience our young Canadians, their coaches and parents will never forget.
Stephen Fuhr is the Liberal MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.