MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“2009 A Year of Wins for Prince George-Peace River”
When I started to look back on 2009 and what it meant for Prince George-Peace River, at the forefront of my mind were the challenges we’ve faced as fallout from the global economic crisis, particularly by our forest workers and communities.
Yet, as I reviewed the measures taken to counter these challenges I was surprised at just how many triumphs – big and small – we were able to celebrate in our region this year.
January heralded a federal budget that included a new $1-billion Community Adjustment Fund to help our forest communities restructure and diversify their economies.
That same Economic Action Plan also directly answered the call for assistance from mills right here in our constituency to extend the Employment Insurance Work Sharing program by 14 weeks, thereby avoiding more layoffs while the industry and economy recovers.
Given their proven track record in driving economic activity, we celebrated locally as the Northern Development Initiative Trust was chosen by the federal government to deliver $30-million of the Community Adjustment Fund to create jobs in Northern BC.
Canadians everywhere welcomed the arrival of Tax Freedom Day three days earlier than last year and 19 days earlier than it was under the previous Liberal government.
Then our Conservative Government, in close consultation with the Forest Products Association of Canada, created the new $1-Billion Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Fund to help struggling pulp and paper producers, who produced black liquor in 2009, become more energy efficient. Our riding’s share of this program was a whopping $122.8-million!
The Bear Mountain Wind Park, just outside Dawson Creek, became British Columbia’s first fully-operational Wind Farm. The project was completed on budget and ahead-of-schedule with help from a $20.5-million federal investment over the next 10 years through the ecoEnergy Renewable Power program.
And the first 747 aircraft touched down for refuelling at the Prince George Airport. Prince George now has Canada’s third longest commercial runway – a tech stop with no operational restrictions and curfews, offering international carriers a 24/7, lower-cost, non-congested alternative for refuelling and crew changes.
Over the past year, Prince George-Peace River had well over $300-million in new federal investment to celebrate. That’s much-needed funding for highways, bridges, sewers, water systems, recreational facilities, and job-creation and worker training.
In terms of legislative change to boost the prosperity and safety of Canadians, as I outlined earlier this month, 2009 has brought Canada one of its most successful Parliament’s ever! Our Conservative Government introduced a total of 70 bills and, even in this minority parliament, 34 of those bills, or half, received Royal Assent.
Unfortunately, this success is being threatened by Liberal Senators who are over-ruling the will of the majority of elected Members of Parliament, including their own leader Michael Ignatieff and fellow Liberal MPs, by gutting important justice and consumer product legislation.
These legislative reforms are essential to the safety and health of Canadians and must be passed. Therefore, this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the ‘prorogation’ of this session of Parliament. With a new session in the New Year, Senate Standing Committees can be reconstituted and we can continue to build upon the accomplishments of 2009.
Next week I’ll look ahead to 2010!