I want to start by saying that it’s a great honour and privilege to be re-elected as the Member of Parliament for South Okanagan-West Kootenay. I’ll continue to work hard to live up to the responsibility of that position.
It was a hard-fought campaign, and the landscape of Canadian politics has shifted somewhat. We have a Liberal minority government that received only a third of the votes cast, the lowest share for a governing party in Canadian history. The Conservative opposition actually received more votes than the Liberals. In third place is the Bloc Quebecois, which managed to win 32 seats despite only getting 7 percent of the vote. The NDP elected 24 MPs with 16 percent of the vote. It’s clear that a better electoral system is needed to properly represent Canadians in Parliament and I’ll continue advocating for that.
There is concern in some parts of the country that the new government does not adequately represent regional interests, particularly in Alberta. After spending a considerable amount of time during the campaign with the candidates from all other parties, I can say that we have much more in common across the country and across the political spectrum than our differences might suggest. We all want a thriving economy, a healthy environment, affordable housing and fair taxation. Politicians should work across party lines to achieve these goals instead of emphasizing the things that push us apart.
While the situation seems complicated, there is actually one clear mandate that the Liberal government received from the voters—to move forward quickly with an effective plan of climate action. Two-thirds of Canadian voters rejected the Conservative plan to get rid of a price on carbon and simply hope that industry will save us. The Liberals must work with the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc to set science-based emissions targets, put them into law, and create an independent office that will ensure governments meet those targets.
Last week I met with my NDP caucus colleagues in Ottawa. I met the new NDP MPs and said goodbye to some of those who retired or lost their bids for re-election. Canadians responded well to the positive message the NDP offered in the election—such as our plans for pharmacare, dental care, and affordable housing—and we will continue to press the government to carry out those plans.
This is the time of year when we remember the sacrifices that the men and women in our armed forces have made to protect our country and to bring peace to conflict zones around the world. Too often governments have neglected the needs of veterans after they have put their lives on the line for us. We must make sure that veterans have access to fair lifetime pensions. Perhaps most critical is ensuring that veterans have prompt access to mental health care to combat the unacceptable rate of suicide among members of the armed forces and first responders.
If you have any comments or concerns that you’d like to bring to my attention, contact my office in Penticton (#202-301 Main Street, 250-770-4480) or Castlegar (1695A Columbia Ave., 250-365-2792), or simply email me at Richard.Cannings@parl.gc.ca.