Thank you for visiting my website. I hope this offers you useful information on the work I am doing as Regina-Wascana’s Member of Parliament.
If you have any questions or comments about any federal program or service, or need help dealing with any department or agency of the Government of Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact my Constituency Office. It is an honour to serve our community.
We’re celebrating Multicultural Week in Saskatchewan, but a few days ago in Regina and Ottawa, ugly signs of racism and hate were evident in graffiti attacks on several private dwellings, a playground and four different places of worship.
Vulgar words and degrading white supremist symbols, scrawled by cowards at night, are intended to drive wedges of fear and division. But the communities’ reaction, across religious and cultural lines, is most often a strong expression of solidarity against such reprehensible conduct.
This instinct to condemn intolerance and to stand with those who have been victimized is crucial. It sends an important pan-Canadian message that there is no social licence for hate – not in Canada.
Ours is a young country with a small, but complicated population, beginning with Indigenous peoples, and then the Norse and French and British explorers and settlers, and then wave-after-wave of enriching immigration.
And today Canada includes every ethnicity, colour and creed, two official languages and many cultures – the diversity of the whole world – mixed together, not in a melting pot, but as an intricate mosaic, and strung out sparsely across the second-largest landmass on the face of the earth. And from all that complexity we have forged a nation.
The Aga Khan, an honourary citizen of Canada, has described this country as the finest expression of pluralism the world has ever known.
Queen Elizabeth has noted that Canadian citizens are not asked to deny their forebears or forsake their inheritance, but only that each of us should accept and value the cultural freedom of others, just as we enjoy our own.
Prime Minister Trudeau has long championed the point that Canada is strong and successful not in spite of our differences, but precisely because of them. In 1982, his father enshrined multiculturalism and the Charter of Right and Freedoms in our Constitution.
But we shouldn’t think that all of this goodwill is our automatic birthright. We cannot be careless. Our history records some painful failures.
The internment of Ukrainian Canadians in World War One and Japanese Canadians in World War Two. The Chinese Head Tax. The Komagata Maru. The Voyage of the Damned. The election of a Saskatchewan government in 1929 with the perverse involvement of the Ku Klux Klan. A hundred and fifty years of failure in reconciling with Indigenous people. Internet slurs about recent refugees. And that graffiti.
The truth is we always need to work very hard at the principled values that bind us together. Our sense of fairness and justice. A spirit of generosity. Compassion. Caring and sharing. Open hearts and open minds. Pride in our vast diversity.
Better perhaps than most countries, we have practised the creative art of accommodation – to make room for one another. To reach out. To listen to each other. To bridge differences. To try very hard to understand one another.
And once we have listened and understood, Canadians are typically prepared to act with and for each other together. Not because it’s in the narrow self-interest of some comfortable majority. Not because we HAVE to. But because we WANT to. Because the action we take together is right for the fair and decent country we aspire to be.
And thus, Canada is a triumph of the human spirit – built and held together, not so much by the force of law or the force of arms or force of any kind, but by our common will. And that kind of nation-building – the Canadian way – is a never-ending process.
Canada is now and ever will be a precious and delicate work-in-progress. It depends on us, all of us, always, together. And we dare not take it for granted.
Multicultural Week helps to remind us.
Today Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement on the death of Nia Eastman:
“It was with great sadness that I learned that Nia Eastman was found deceased by the RCMP today following an Amber Alert.
It is heartbreaking to lose a child, and nothing can ever make that right. I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to Nia’s mother and family, her community and all those who have been touched by this tragedy. We are all grieving together this most terrible loss.”
An important debate is underway in Saskatchewan about the tools to use to combat the accelerating impacts of climate change. Significant tax reductions should be part of the plan.
With more frequent, more severe and more damaging cycles of droughts and wildfires, storms and floods — which extract a heavy toll in Saskatchewan — it’s clear that a more volatile climate imposes costly risks and that man-made air pollution (from carbon emissions and other sources) is a big part of the problem.
Virtually everyone agrees that we need to prevent the worst climate change consequences as much as possible, and find ways to adapt to what we won’t be able to avoid. The debate is about how best to do that. A revenue-neutral approach like British Columbia has taken would enable the Saskatchewan government to safeguard this province’s competitiveness while cutting both property and income taxes.
Climate change is a tough, global problem. But we can’t just wish it away. It’s real and has to be dealt with. If solutions were easy, they would have been implemented long ago. People of goodwill hold strong and differing opinions about what to do. To be productive and find the best way forward, the discussion needs to stay factual and respectful.
As shown in Saskatchewan’s recent “White Paper on Climate Change”, there’s a lot of common ground among all levels of government about the investments needed in new technology and adaptation. The Government of Canada has undertaken to help with these. But differences persist around “carbon pricing” — that is, putting a price on the pollution that lies at the source of the problem.
It’s an odd thing about our society that we charge heavily for good things like fresh water, but there’s almost no charge at all on damaging things like air pollution. A price on pollution would provide an incentive to slow carbon emissions and stimulate technological innovation. Moreover, as other nations adopt carbon pricing to meet their emission reduction targets, more economic opportunities will be created for Saskatchewan.
A price on pollution would, for example, strengthen and expand markets for Saskatchewan’s important “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) technology. Not only can CCS help remove significant volumes of carbon coming from local coal-fired power plants, it can also be sold globally to countries like China and India. But it’s expensive, and the economics aren’t sufficiently attractive if pollution is essentially “free”.
Pricing carbon also strengthens Saskatchewan’s credentials to advocate for greater pipeline capacity to transport our valuable natural resources. It would also generate new revenue for the provincial government.
The idea has been discussed for years. It was explicitly promised during last year’s election, in the Throne Speech last November, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference last December in Paris, and at meetings of Canada’s First Ministers earlier this year in Vancouver.
Support crosses party lines and jurisdictions.
One version of carbon pricing was first implemented 10 years ago by a right-of-centre provincial government in British Columbia. That government is still in office today, and that province has the strongest economy in the country with the best record for slowing carbon emissions.
Different but essentially equivalent pricing approaches have been adopted in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
The principle has been described by Reform Party founder, Preston Manning, as “a good idea” which he “wholeheartedly support(s)”. It is also endorsed by a new conservative advocacy group called “Clean Prosperity” led by Mark Cameron, a former senior policy advisor to Stephen Harper.
The Conservative Opposition leader in Ontario says he supports carbon pricing. So does the new Conservative Premier of Manitoba.
In the private sector, the business executives who lead Canada’s major petroleum and mining companies endorse the concept. So do insurance companies and financial institutions, because they see big losses accruing from the damages caused by climate change. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has long been an advocate for putting a price on pollution. So are many municipalities because of the serious risks to their infrastructure.
Here are some of the core elements of a national pollution pricing plan:
In addition — quite apart from the province’s revenue from pollution pricing — the Government of Canada will be making substantial new investments in Saskatchewan to help drive greater growth.
This could include major science and technology projects like CCS, crop production and others. It could help build smart power grids to link large emitters to hydro power with no emissions at all. It could invest in large-scale water conservation and development projects to better manage damaging flows from storms and floods, while expanding the province’s economic base through irrigation, more diversified agriculture, and in other fields like tourism and recreation.
All of this enhances the economic and environmental credibility we need to get our vital natural resources to market.
The bottom line is a more prosperous, diversified, cleaner and successful Saskatchewan.
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Published on Huffington Post
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