It’s no secret that Western Canada is feeling the pressure of the downturn in the economy. As the Conservative opposition critic for Western economic diversification, I have been meeting with small, medium, and large businesses to discuss their strategies when it comes to coping with the current economic reality. These companies are the backbone to our communities, and many are struggling to simply survive to the next month.

Regardless of the very real challenges they are facing, not on of these businesses has been in my office asking for handouts. Some suggest regulation changes, some desire temporary measure to stave off their need to downsize. But they are all unanimous in simply asking for support: for the provincial and federal governments to work with them to find solutions.

My Conservative colleagues and I have stood up relentlessly stressing the impact that the government’s current plan of doing nothing is having on our fellow neighbours, constituents, and hard working Western Canadians. We have been met with partisan responses from: a federal environment minister whose only priority seems to be vilifying Western industries and implementing a national carbon tax; from the federal natural resources minister, who has no clear vision with regards to the future of the oil and gas industries; and from the prime minister, who simply repeats his rehearsed talking points that his child-tax-benefit revamp is the answer.

Quite frankly, these empty words are not enough. Imagine you are a company looking to invest millions of dollars into our Western economy. Would these empty words be enough to reassure you that the government is doing everything it can to ensure that the bottom doesn’t completely fall out from underneath the West? Would you invest in us while the government dithers on key Western industries and refuses to clearly state whether it plans to pull the plug on them all together? Would you take that risk? The answer is no, and that is exactly why companies have told me they are simply deciding to invest elsewhere.

It is now time for all levels of government, but particularly the federal Liberals, to put partisanship aside and step up to support Western Canada. It is not about choosing between oil and the environment; it is about encouraging companies to use labour in the west and invest in our communities. It is about innovating and diversifying our industries in a way that defends our crucial Western industries, utilizes our wealth of natural resources, and protects our environment. If this is done, I will be the first to stand and applaud-because the people of Western Canada need us to.


SOURCE: HILL TIMES

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