Column August 2012
Summer is well under way, the crops have been planted and we have had a good amount of moisture and some sun and heat. I have driven around the riding and it appears we should have an excellent crop year for farmers if the hail doesn’t target the ripening crops. With the drought in eastern Canada and the United States, crop prices continue to remain high. Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of agriculture and food products, with last year’s exports hitting an all-time high of more than $40 billion!
We recently were fortunate to have had two of our Federal Ministers visit our Riding in July. Minister Peter MacKay was here on July 9th for a visit to CFB Suffield to announce two important infrastructure projects totalling almost $18 million, with the construction bid going to a local contractor. These two additions include a new Fire Hall and Control Center for field operations. Minister MacKay`s visit was very beneficial for our Riding. A BBQ later that evening gave Minister MacKay the opportunity to visit with many of our constituents.
We also had Minister Gerry Ritz attend the BBQ in Medicine Hat, and visited with some people in the agriculture industry. On July 10th he travelled to Brooks for a round table discussion with farmers and ranchers who gathered from across our Riding. This round table allowed them to have a one on one talk with the Minister to discuss some of their agriculture issues. It also allowed the Minister to respond to their concerns and advise them of federal programs that would benefit them, as well as the long term agricultural outlook for the region and the country. The Minister also discussed our government’s desire to open new markets around the world for our agriculture products and our efforts have resulted in new free trade agreements which have already been signed by our Conservative Government. This round table event was very successful and we received many positive comments from the farmers and ranchers who attended.
Our Conservative Government has recognized the necessity of opening new markets for Canadian products around the world. For Canadians to prosper, we cannot simply rely on our major trading partner to the south. This has motivated us to ensure that we continue our efforts to open bilateral talks with other countries. Talks to initiate free trade negotiations with the European Union, India and now the Trans Pacific Partnership countries, are an important step for Canada. For this reason, we continue to prosper and grow our markets and improve our standard of living. The world seems to be getting smaller and more competitive and Canada must be at the forefront to secure access to these markets for our products.
A Special Committee has been established to review Co-operatives, as this is the International Year of Co-operatives. The first meeting was held in June of this year and subsequent meetings were held in July. I am pleased to be a member of this committee and have been in Ottawa this summer to hear testimony from approximately 50 Co-operatives and Credit Unions, as well as with a few other organizations, some non-profit organizations and the Farm Credit Corporation. We heard of the successes of these co-operatives and credit unions and how they have helped create jobs and grow our economy and, in addition, provide much needed services to their members.
The Medicine Hat constituency, including the urban and all the rural communities in our Riding, are important to me so I am pleased to listen to your issues and concerns. In this way I am better able to communicate your concerns to our federal government.
I am grateful for your continued support and thank you for your comments and suggestions on how we can make our country better for all of us.