Albas: Leadership needed from PM on trade battle

Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola MP Dan Albas’s weekly column

In my report last week, I wrote about the trade war between B.C. and Alberta. This spat has resulted in many British Columbia wineries ending up as political pawns, currently shut out of the Alberta marketplace.

I find this completely unacceptable.

This situation was in no way created by the B.C. wine industry but rather a politically motivated campaign by two NDP provincial governments.

The greater challenge is the Trudeau Liberal Government has repeatedly stated the Trans Mountain pipeline project is in Canada’s national interest and will get built.

However, missing from the Prime Minister’s statements is when the Trans Mountain pipeline will be built and what measures he is prepared to invoke in order to ensure that federal jurisdiction is not impugned.

In the absence of any federal leadership on this file, B.C. and Alberta have been left alone to duke it out.

As the Official Opposition, we attempted to encourage the Liberals to show some leadership this week with a motion we tabled in the House of Commons.

The motion was as follows:

“That, given the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the national interest, will create jobs and provide provinces with access to global markets, the House call on the Prime Minister to prioritize the construction of the federally-approved Trans Mountain Expansion Project by taking immediate action, using all tools available; to establish certainty for the project, and to mitigate damage from the current interprovincial trade dispute, tabling his plan in the House no later than noon on Thursday, February 15, 2018.”

I participated in the debate over this motion and also voted in support of it.

Unfortunately the motion was defeated.

It was no surprise when the NDP opposed this motion. The NDP have consistently opposed pipeline projects in the House of Commons.

It was a surprise when, not only did the Liberals oppose this motion, they did so unanimously.

That means even Liberal members of Parliament from British Columbia voted against a motion that would support their B.C. wine industry and direct the Prime Minister to do his job, show federal leadership and end this dispute that is causing serious harm to the B.C. wine industry.

This follows a similar pattern where last week, when Liberal MP’s voted against a motion that directed any costs incurred to taxpayers, as a result of a Member of Parliament receiving a gift or hospitality benefit found in a conflict of interest, be repaid by the member in question.

We already know that if a single parent is declared not to be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit, any benefits paid can result in a bank account being seized or wages garnisheed to recover those benefit payments.

From my perspective it is not unreasonable to expect that a Member of Parliament receiving benefits they are not entitled to receive should also be repayable to taxpayers, if a cost is involved.

It is my opinion that the Liberals are demonstrating an attitude of being entitled to entitlements. However, the Liberals continue to point out there is no law that suggests benefits obtained through a conflict need to be repaid if a cost occurs to taxpayers.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna (specific boundaries), West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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