As I write my MP report I am preparing to head back to Ottawa after the Christmas Break.
It was great to be here in the riding and visiting with family, friends and constituents. I am so incredibly grateful for the people who have contacted me in the last month with their kind words of support. I look forward to returning to Ottawa and will work hard to represent all of the constituents of Red Deer-Lacombe.
2016 was a bit of an adjustment for me personally as I transitioned from the government bench to the opposition bench; as a party the Conservatives found our path right away and the year ended with a renewed purpose for 2017.
I have had a year now in my role as the Chair of the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee and am very proud that our committee tabled two very important reports related to protecting the privacy of all Canadians. I look forward to doing my part to ensure that the Liberal Government makes good on its promise to revamp the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act.
In addition to my role as the committee Chair, the interim leader of the Conservative Party, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, asked me to be the Ethics Critic. This has been a unique opportunity for me to rise in the House of Commons on a regular basis during Question Period to ask the Liberals hard questions about their use of taxpayer dollars. Whether it is cash-for-access schemes, taxpayer funded nannies, million-dollar office renovations for ministers, or moving expenses for friends, rest assured that I will be there to ask the tough questions.
In 2016 the Alberta Conservative Caucus created the Alberta Jobs Taskforce with the sole intent of hearing from Albertans on the current job crisis in our province. We spoke to thousands of Albertans from all walks of life, from working to unemployed, social agencies, small business, seniors and youth. Albertans that I spoke to were loud and clear: we want to get back to work and we want our province and the people in it to have a chance to succeed. The findings of these discussions will be put into a report which we will present to the government for consideration during the upcoming budget deliberations. I am incredibly proud to be from Alberta and I will continue to fight to ensure that our interests are protected.
Our Alberta Caucus lost some great friends and colleagues in 2016 with the passing of MP Jim Hillyer and the retirement of Jason Kenney and Stephen Harper. These men were dedicated to proudly serving Canada and I miss their voices in Caucus and on Parliament Hill.
2016 also marked the first full year of the Liberal Government. Over the course of that year, the Liberals have made life a little harder for Canadians. The Liberals far exceeded their projected “moderate deficit” spending and failed to create any new jobs. The Liberals removed tax-saving programs such as the Children’s Art Credit and the Children’s Fitness Tax Benefits and are making plans to replace them with a Federal Carbon Tax. Justin Trudeau has also promised to end oilsands development. The Liberal mishandling of the Energy East Pipeline has created a complete restart of the project that will undoubtedly see many months of delay. Sadly, the government is taking money out of the pockets of hard-working Canadians and not delivering much hope for those who are out of work.
On a positive note, this year started with some optimism with the approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and the Enbridge Line 3 Project. While Trudeau’s decision to reject the Northern Gateway Pipeline was a blow to the economic future of the province of Alberta and the 31 First Nations communities that supported the pipeline, I remain optimistic that there will be prosperous days ahead for Albertans in 2017.
My door is always open. Please contact my constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on any federally related matters; postage free at Box 59, Blackfalds, AB T0M 0J0, telephone at 587-621-0020; toll free: 1-800-665-0865, or visit my website at www.blainecalkinsmp.ca or on twitter @blainecalkinsmp.