Albas: Harper was ‘misunderstood’

What I most admired about Harper was that he was he not afraid to make decisions that were necessary for Canada’s long-term prosperity.

Last week I was saddened to learn of the passing of former World War II veteran and retired MP Fred King of Kaleden, B.C.

Fred was a kind, caring man, who gave back greatly to his community in many different ways that extended well beyond his time in Ottawa.

While I considered Fred a close personal friend, he was also a mentor who offered support and sage advice on many issues around our region.

What I most admired about him was his sincere willingness to always help others, many who were complete strangers never asking anything in return only a desire to try and bring happiness and help to those who were in need.

It is a privilege to consider Fred King my friend and to recognize his contributions and his service for the betterment of others.

Another former MP I would like to pay tribute to is former prime minister, Stephen Harper, who has retired from Parliament.

From my own personal experience Harper was perhaps one of the most misunderstood elected officials I have yet met, who endured significant personal and public attacks that were at odds with my interactions with him during my time in the Ottawa.

In my experience Harper was someone who cared deeply about Canadian families and encouraged policies that promoted prosperity and employment.

As my colleague, MP Pierre Poilievre recently observed, under Harper the number of Canadians living in poverty declined to a record low of 4.2 per cent, while middle class incomes rose by 11 per cent and as we know Canadian middle class prosperity actually surpassed that of the U.S. for the first time in 2014. All that happened while managing to balance the budget in the final year of the previous parliament.

On a personal level, as prime minister, Harper eliminated—retroactively—a “gold-plated” pension perk that paid every former Canadian PM 66 per cent of his or her salary on retirement.

Eliminating this perk alone personally cost Harper (and saved taxpayers) between $1.5 million and $2 million in future retirement benefits.

Harper also brought fairness to the MP pension plan and to the public sector pension plan by ensuring those plans were funded equally on a 50-50 contribution rate. These changes are estimated to save Canadian taxpayers close to $2.6 billion over the next five years.

What I most admired about Harper was that he was he not afraid to make difficult and unpopular decisions that were necessary for Canada’s long-term prosperity.

It should also be noted that his electoral rivals tried to paint him as someone who would try to dismantle our health care system by cutting federal transfer payments to provinces.

But Harper consistently raised federal transfers each year and insisted that his ministers support these year over year increases while finding efficiencies in their departments and staying focused on growing the economy.

While I appreciate some may see my comments as partisan, I have met few people who believe raising federal funding for important priorities like health care, or forcing MPs to pay more into their own pension plan, are bad moves.

Ultimately leadership means taking principled positions and making at times difficult decisions and for that, I would like to recognize Harper’s service to Canadians.

Just Posted

Repairs underway to West Kelowna road after flood damage

A portion of Lower Glenrosa Road will be closed until at least Monday says the city

Rally in Kelowna to protest pipeline

Forty people gather outside MP’s office to protest Trans Mountain pipeline project

Protect the Water rally today in Kelowna

The rally will be held at No. 102 – 1420 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Feature Friday: Is the sky the limit for downtown Kelowna construction?

City building up, not out, as high rise living becomes more popular

Free theatre performance for Lake Country families

Robinson Crusoe + Friday will be performed at Creekside Theatre April 14

What’s happening

Find out which events are taking place in the Okanagan and Shuswap this weekend

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

Hometown hero welcomed home with parade, recognition ceremony at city hall

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

Most Read