At last week’s Oyama Days I was approached by constituents about pipelines and carbon taxes which, in addition to NAFTA negotiations, are issues foremost on constituents’ minds.
I am sensitive to and understand constituents who reject the pipeline on the principal that it contributes to climate change and presents risks to the environment.
But I am also aware that many constituents believe the pipeline is necessary for Canada’s economic growth, for the employment of thousands of British Columbians, and to ensure support for the programs and services that ensure a fair and equitable society.
That is why our government’s commitment to balancing the economy and the environment and transitioning to a low-carbon, knowledge-based economy, includes resource projects like the TMX expansion, while others like the Northern Gateway pipeline will not proceed.
As we make the transition, we have also put in place a rigorous regulatory process, an Ocean’s Protection Plan, a tanker moratorium on BC’s north coast, and made major investments in science, innovation and research resulting in the very technologies that are moving us away from our reliance on carbon.
In addition, the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change will ensure all provinces follow the lead of British Columbia and establish provincial carbon pricing, the revenues of which can be returned to the taxpayer in a manner that is determined by each province.
But there is something greater being tested here: it is our resolve to recognize that the strength of the Confederation is the sum of its parts, that necessity rather than ideology, and our ability to take a long view while making the changes in the short-term will help us reach our goal.
Our goal to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, must work in tandem with our responsibility to address ongoing priorities, including affordability, especially housing, income equality and healthcare.
More importantly we have a responsibility to maintain economic and political stability and it is a responsibility that falls not only on governments, but also citizens. To have simply walked away from Kinder Morgan would have hurt more than just those who rely on jobs; it would have affected the revenues that support essential programs and services.
NAFTA negotiations, tariff retaliation and the unpredictability of our largest trading partner; provincial tensions and the divide over the pipeline – these events are challenging us to consider what it means to stand together and act in the best interest of the nation.
But challenging times also provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the country we have built, and to recognize why Canada continues to represent democracy at its best. Despite our differences, I am reminded everyday how lucky we are to live in a welcoming country of opportunity, of diversity and inclusion, where it is still possible to work hard and make a better life for our families.
This vision of a stronger, fairer Canada drives my work every day as I serve the constituents in our community and it is what guides the actions of our federal government.
It is more important than ever that we do not allow our disagreements to negatively impact our demonstrated ability to work together. At the end of the day, it is a balanced approach that will deliver a fair and equitable society that works for all Canadians.
Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country