Conservative M.P. Cathy McLeod got some world-class help last week. Former Olympic gold medalist and world champion skier Nancy Greene Raine toured with the Kamloops-Shuswap-Cariboo incumbent as she campaigned in the North Thompson Valley for re-election.
Greene said she had known McLeod many years ago when she and her husband Al Raine were helping develop Whistler and McLeod was mayor of Pemberton. Now they live near to each other in Kamloops and find themselves working together in Ottawa, where McLeod is a M.P. and Greene a senator.
“Cathy McLeod’s background is as a mayor in small town B.C. I grew up in a small town, Rossland. We both believe that the wealth of B.C. comes from the hinterlands,” said the former ski champion.
“The first phase of our economic action plan is working,” said McLeod. “The economists called it the Great Recession and the OECD is saying Canada came out of it the best of any in the group.”
McLeod said Clearwater is a perfect example of how the action plan is working. Federal programs that helped through the downturn included job sharing, extended EI premiums and the support for forest fuel reduction projects that took place over the past two winters.
The government had the second phase of its action plan in the budget when the Opposition forced an election. The budget included at least 10 suggestions brought forward during a roundtable discussion held in Kamloops with the finance minister and a wide range of representatives from the region, she said.
“We need to keep corporate taxes low so companies can invest,” said McLeod, adding that Canfor is investing $24 million into its Vavenby operation before re-opening it.
“It is a good budget for Canadians,” she said. “It’s targeted. It’s responsible. This is not the time for multi-billion dollars worth of new social programs.”
McLeod noted that Prime Minister Harper recently announced that a Conservative government would end the long gun registry.
The government already has moved ahead important criminal legislation, such as eliminating the faint hope clause for multiple murderers.
The Conservatives plan to spend more money on jails, but also on preventative programs as well, she said.
The federal government will not balance its budget by downloading healthcare onto the provinces. Instead, they will consult with the provinces to find out what’s working and what’s not in an effort to find efficiencies.
The Conservatives have improved education by increasing transfers to the provinces for universities, she said.
There have been changes to the student loan program and more grants for low-income students.
It is now easier for part-time student to go back to school and for people from overseas to get their qualifications recognized.
Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops has seen an increase in the number of research chairs and improvements to its infrastructure.
Calvin Lutz asked about plans to purchase F-35 fighter jets.
There actually was a competitive process in the 1990s to decide who would develop Canada’s next fighter aircraft, said McLeod. That was when the Liberals were in power and she found it strange that they now say there was no competition.
“I can understand why it has created concerns,” she said. “People hear a horrendous figure but they don’t realize that includes 20 years of maintenance.”