I hope everyone had a terrific Christmas.
With the New Year upon us, I look back at 2016 as a very busy year and reflect on the amazing privilege it is to represent the people of Barrie-Innisfil as your Member of Parliament.
In Ottawa this year, the Trudeau government produced plenty of controversies but they achieved little in the way of legislative substance.
Since Parliament officially commenced on Dec. 3, 2015 only 11 bills have received Royal Assent and one of them was to change the words to O Canada! The first year of the previous five Parliaments – dating back to 2001 – witnessed an average of 47.8 bills being passed.
Missing two-thirds of Question Periods in 2016, globe-trotting Justin Trudeau has had lots of fun in his first year as Prime Minister, but now the excitement is over and it’s time to get down to serious work.
Since the Liberals took office, Canada has gone $100 billion more in debt and 30,000 Canadians lost full-time employment. Is this the “Real Change” voters expected?
Given the Liberal’s lacklustre report card, our Conservative Caucus remains laser focused on opposing the agenda of uncontrolled spending and being the voice of the taxpayer. We are a united, effective opposition, doing our job, holding the government to account and proposing good ideas.
In October, I was honoured to be appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as the Official Opposition Critic for Veterans Affairs.
There are thousands of active military families who call the Barrie-Innisfil area home and many thousands more who previously served our country with integrity and distinction.
Through the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and bringing issues up in Parliament, I have been championing many causes including banning the use of the dangerous anti-malaria drug Mefloquine on our troops and allowing a tax credit for PTSD sufferers who need a service dog.
Initially my pleas were met with redundant ‘talking points’ but lately I have seen the government begin to at least acknowledge some of these problems exist. I will continue to work tirelessly in Ottawa advocating for veterans across the country and I am hopeful some progress can be made in the coming year.
Throughout the year there were plenty of activities back in the riding.
I hosted two passport clinics, attended countless community events, met with nearly 100 constituents and stakeholder groups and held two community barbeques where the Barrie and Innisfil Soccer Clubs collected enough donations to sponsor 10 worthy kids for 2017 house league fees.
I was pleased to deliver over $620,000 through the Canada Summer Jobs program to local organizations and I personally funded scholarships for students at seven local high schools.
Our office also collected over 800 pounds of food in December for the Barrie & Innisfil Food Banks at my first Family Skate and Christmas Open House.
The spirit of giving is truly alive and well in Barrie-Innisfil.
Thank-you Barrie-Innisfil and please accept my best wishes to you and your family for a happy and prosperous New Year.