Conservative candidate and incumbent Cathy McLeod is running for her fourth term of office in October’s Federal election and said she wants to finish some projects that have started since she’s been member of parliament for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding.
One of these projects is completing the Transmountain Pipeline expansion, which she said is important to show Canada is open for business.
“It’s about Canada being able to get projects done; yes we do need to move away from fossil fuels eventually, but we still need fossil fuels and Canada should be taking advantage and have full opportunity in the market,” said McLeod.
“I’d much rather see our province getting it to market, and Canada benefitting than for example, oil coming down from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia into Canada.”
Another aspect of the pipeline expansion McLeod noted as important is the fact many other Canadian products from industries like mining, forests, and products from provinces to the east also use the railway for transportation, and if the oil that could be passed through the pipeline is shipped by rail instead, it bottlenecks supply from industries across the board, causing a burden that could be diverted through the pipeline.
She also mentioned the benefits of local job creation the expansion would provide.
“The structure is already in place that ensures a benefit to the communities that the project goes through, so certainly in Clearwater, there’s an important community benefit agreement and there are important job opportunities,” she said.
“We know with challenges of the (Canfor) sawmill closing this will be an important measure, certainly for the 18 months of construction season while the community deals with the challenge of the sawmill closure.”
McLeod added she’s been disappointed with the current Federal Liberal Government’s lack of response to the closing of sawmills in British Columbia, saying she sent a letter to the feds more than a month ago regarding the situation and still hasn’t received a response.
Though forestry is in many ways a provincial issue, there are still federal responsibilities involved she said.
“I look at it in three ways: one is supporting the industry and three years ago they promised to get the softwood lumber agreement done, it’s not done, that’s one area where supporting industry is important; softwood lumber was an ongoing issue until the Conservatives got a 10-year agreement when elected. It expired when the Liberals came back into office.
“Supporting the workers—there have been many suggestions in terms of the flexibility of the EI program, the flexibility on how severance is dealt with, and also temporary job opportunity initiatives.
“And third is supporting communities. It’s certainly the communities of Interior British Columbia that have been impacted; we need Western Economic Diversification, that’s what they’re there for. They should be supporting these communities.”
Another issue in the Clearwater area McLeod said she’d like to address is making a priority for broadband, cell phone and internet service, which given the problems in the area, is more important than ever before.
She said when trying to diversify an economy and bringing in new types of business, these things are essential for making operations work.
“As you look at new opportunities, if you don’t have broadband or cell phone those opportunities are more limited,” she added.
“I think as we look at supporting the challenges that lay ahead, those are some of the ways the federal government can help.”
When it comes to what keeps drawing McLeod back to politics, she said being in office offers a great chance to make a difference in communities.
Regarding her appeal to the voters that have kept her in office, she speculated it’s her work representing them in Parliament and the strong team behind her that have kept bringing in the votes.
“Hopefully I have a track record where I’ve worked hard both in Ottawa to deal with the legislative issues as the shadow minister of indigenous affairs, as well as the hard work I do for the communities and the issues communities are facing,” she said.
“I also have a team that works extremely hard for the constituents and the number of challenges they sometimes have with the federal government; so we have an experienced team, I think we have a good track record in terms meeting community goals and certainly we’d love to continue to serve.”