Now that the election frenzy has died down, life is getting back to normal. I would like to congratulate all MPs who were re-elected and also to welcome our new MPs. In particular, I would like to congratulate the two new MPs in neighbouring ridings: David Wilks in Kootenay-Columbia and Dan Albas in Okanagan-Coquihalla.
The fact that the Conservatives now hold a majority with the NDP as the Official Opposition certainly changes the dynamics of the political landscape. At the riding level, there should not be many changes for me. As we have done in the past, my staff and I will continue to serve all citizens of B.C. Southern Interior to assist with any issues that may arise.
During the election campaign, I received a great deal of positive feedback on the various publications that I periodically send out to homes in our riding. This effort will continue as Parliament resumes its work.
As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I hope to advance the agenda of a national food strategy and will work with our Agriculture critic, Malcolm Allen to move this forward.
As I discovered during my “Food For Thought” tour, groups and individuals right across this country are asking for a national food policy. It is encouraging to see organizations such as the National Farmers Union and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture advocating for this concept. Our challenge as an exporting nation is how to regain control of our food supply so that farmers can make a decent living and supply us with good quality food.
It makes no sense that many fruit growers in our area are struggling and losing money while we allow cheap imports from the US and China to flood our markets.
I firmly believe that we can retain to our status as an exporter of agricultural commodities and also maintain a strong domestic policy that gives us control of our food supply.
My task will be to convince the Conservative Government that this direction is important for our survival as a sovereign nation.
Apart from Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed in our riding such as the closure of the Mill in Slocan, difficulty of landing at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar, cutbacks in postal services, possible closure of the emergency ward at the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver and concerns that ranchers have about the proposed National Park in the South Okanagan.
Although some of these issues are provincial in nature, I have been in contact with our MLAs and local government colleagues to see how I can help.
It will be a busy four years as we work together to address these and other issues of concern locally and in our country as a whole
I would also like to take the time to wish my former colleagues Stockwell Day and Jim Abbott all the very best in their retirement.
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.