With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser described being in his position, during such a milestone year, as “a great opportunity.”
“We took an approach, from the federal government’s perspective, instead of having one big party in Ottawa on Canada Day, what we wanted to do was support community initiatives and events that took place throughout the year,” Fraser said, referencing the Canada 150 grants, which were access by a number of organizations locally.
“We had quite a number of different events and initiatives in Antigonish and Pictou County, along the Eastern Shore, which we supported to different degrees, to help Canadians, in their communities, celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.”
He talked about when July 1 rolled around.
“It was an incredible thing for me, particularly on Canada Day,” Fraser said.
“I was able to see the very best of our communities. I was able to see thousands of people, in so many different communities, come out and talk about why they were proud to be Canadians and get involved with things which were going to make their communities better.
“Canada 150 was not about the federal government, it was about Canadians in their communities, and to have front row tickets to see how the communities, I represent, celebrate Canada Day, was an experience I’ll keep with me for a lifetime.”
In a continuation of 2017 reflections, Fraser started with federal initiatives such as Canada Child Benefit and the national housing strategy.
“When I look at the big things, if I can sum up what the government is all about, it’s about creating a bustling economy that works for everybody,” he said.
“We’ve seen almost 600,000 new jobs added to the Canadian economy in the past two years and, right now, we’re within point one percentage points of the lowest employment rate that our country has seen since we started measuring that statistic. And it’s encouraging to me because I know the money is not just going to the wealthiest Canadians, everyone is having a chance to participate.”
It would be hard to look back on the year without noting the controversy his government dealt with regarding tax reform and the impacts proposed changes would have on small business.
“On any given day there is going to be an issue that makes its way into the news cycle; the fact is we’re going to start cutting taxes for every small business in Canada,” Fraser said.
“The passive investment piece was something I heard quite a bit about when I went and asked small businesses, in my communities, and adjustments were made to the policy such that less than three per cent of businesses are going to be impacted.
“These are individuals behind businesses that, in addition to what they have saved up today, are going to be able to save up an additional $1 million or so before they need to be concerned about these. It’s not going to impact businesses’ ability to weather downturns, hire employees, buy that new piece of equipment; but it will insist the individual behind the business can’t use their very low small business tax rate for personal gain.
“So there was some controversy, over the course of the summer in particular, but I’m confident the adjustments made to the policy will limit the impact of these changes to, predominantly, very wealthy business owners who are getting an advantage that is not available to other business owners or, certainly, to most Canadians.”
Fraser talked about his continuing work on the Parliamentary Standing Committee for the Status of Women, amongst other duties in Ottawa.
“This has been an absolute privilege for me,” he said.
“One of the things we’re missing out on as Canadians is the equal participation of women in Canadian society. Whether it’s from a social, cultural or economic perspective, and this is costing us billions of dollars a year, as a country.
“One of the major systemic obstacles to equality in Canada is the endemic problem of gender-based violence. So I’ve been working with the committee to make recommendations to the government on how we can help end violence against women.
“I was extremely pleased to see the government has been listening. Pursuant to our report, they introduced a gender-based violence strategy across Canada and funded it with more than $100 million. This is going to help everything from education initiatives, to supporting women centers that are providing services to victims and will, hopefully, lead to significant reform in the criminal justice system.”
Just some of the funding announcements in Antigonish, Fraser took part in over the year, include for work at St. F.X., to support the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59 joint move to the former philatelic centre, and a contribution towards the hosting of the national Special Olympic Summer Games, in 2018.
“These are investments which are going to create hundreds of jobs over a period of several years,” he said, referencing the work involved in these announcements and others.
“And are going to leave us with incredible assets to train young people in issues of public policy and, importantly to Nova Scotia, how to deliver healthcare in a more effective and innovative way,” Fraser noted, a reference to the programs St. F.X. will be delivering in its new spaces.
“I’m incredibly pleased that these programs, we hear announced at the federal level, are creating jobs in our communities; that’s my top priority and will be as long as I have this job.”
Fraser concluded with a holiday wish for his constituents.
“Happy New Year to everyone,” he said. “I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and continues to enjoy a safe holiday season. I can’t say how proud I am to be a representative of the best communities in the entire country.”