As I write this article, throughout our riding in communities large and small, people are preparing for this season of celebration.
For some, it is a time to celebrate the life of Christ; for some, a time to renew friendships and strengthen family ties; for all, it is a time for reflection on what gives life meaning and value. Soon we will all be anticipating the New Year and also the resolutions which we may choose to make. It is also a time to look back over the past year and take inventory.
For Canadian families, the last year has been about facing the challenges created by the global recession. Businesses have seen a decline in sales and increases in costs, putting pressure on workers and their families. But Canada’s economy has recently started to see positive economic news.
Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, our government is delivering support for families, while strengthening businesses and communities. There are 12,000 projects across the country in the works with 8,000 already begun, some of which are within our riding of Crowfoot. 97 per cent of our Economic Action Plan is committed. Building our nation’s infrastructure is laying a strong foundation for our nation’s prosperity in the future.
This year we have expanded international business opportunities through the negotiation of free trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association and countries like Jordan, Colombia, Peru, and Panama.
We are opening six new trade offices for Canadian businesses in China and we are building on our Canada-India trade relationship by opening Canada’s eight trade office in India.
Our Conservative Government is helping to give self-employed Canadians additional security by delivering voluntary access to Employment Insurance special benefits. This includes maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits. Older workers may also face unique challenges, especially if they have lost their jobs after several continuous years of employment. We increased EI benefits for those that are eligible by an additional five to 20 weeks.
While the economy remains top of mind during the global recession, crime continues to be a key issue for many Canadians. We’ve recently passed a new law to end the practice of 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 credit for time served for those convicted of committing crime. Our criminal justice bills are aimed at ensuring that criminals who commit serious crimes receive appropriate sentences. We are cracking down on identity theft by putting in tougher penalties on those who steal personal identification to commit fraud and we are cracking down on child pornography by making it mandatory for Internet and e-mail service providers, as well as social networking sites, to report suspected child pornography being delivered through the Internet.
There are many more files important to our riding upon which we can report progress including the initial passage of the bill to dismantle the failed long gun registry and Hong Kong and China are opening up to Canadian beef exports.
By taking action to meet the challenges of the recession and make our streets safer, our Conservative government is working to protect Canadian families.
My wish for each of you is a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2010.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail email@example.com