Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton discusses government priorities as Parliament resumes
Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton
With Parliament back in session, urgent issues facing MPs include energy pipelines, a national carbon tax and deployment of Canadian troops, according to Bruce Stanton.
And he knows where he stands on the carbon tax.
“I don’t think it’s ever preferable that the government take a unilateral approach to apply a national carbon tax if, for example, in a certain province they come to the conclusion that the province’s approach isn’t to their liking,” said the Simcoe North MP. “That, to me, is adverse to the kind of collaborative approach the government should be taking on this front. People are taxed enough. There is no tolerance for a new tax.”
As deputy speaker of the House of Commons, Stanton is unable to participate in debates or introduce a private member’s bill. Nonetheless, he shares concerns his neighbouring representatives — Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard and Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MP Alex Nuttall — have expressed regarding the carbon tax.
A national carbon tax “will make the price of just about everything more expensive, including food, gas for your car and heating your home this winter,” Brassard said. “I understand, as a responsible global citizen, we must continue to take steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and we must be responsible to work towards meeting reduction targets.
“But as a nation, we produce less than 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. China, by comparison, is still building coal-fired power plants in 2016, so there is a serious disconnect that exists. I don’t see the prime minister putting much pressure on China or any other polluter in this regard.
“On the contrary, I see the hammer dropping on individuals, businesses and the provinces in Canada by the Liberal government.”
Nuttall and Brassard said they will also raise the issues of rising unemployment rates and possible deployment of Canadian troops in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
“I think the focus, cross-country or locally, is jobs,” Nuttall said. “The last two months have been very difficult in terms of job numbers coming out.”
He wants the Liberals to follow through on their promise to reduce small-business taxes from 11% to 9%, on their commitment to youth employment and to waive the employment payroll tax costs for employers when they hire people aged 18 to 24.
While Canada has had a pretty good year, said Stanton, growth in the country overall is relatively stagnant. StatsCan shows the Simcoe County unemployment rate at 8.4%.
“For all intents and purposes, we’re at a stagnant growth, and what that ends up meaning locally is that businesses are not able to see their sales grow to any great degree,” he said. “And when they’re not seeing expansion, that puts a limit on the kind of new job opportunities they can extend to workers.”
There are companies in Simcoe North that provide equipment to the natural-resources sector that could benefit if the government is able to make a decision pertaining to the pipeline projects, Stanton added.
“On one of at least two big pipeline projects, Kinder Morgan, they have to make a decision on that,” he said. “The other is in the midst of the assessment process: the Energy East pipeline project. It gives a chance for Canadian crude oil from the west to get to the refineries on the east, which would allow our own oil to be distributed to Canadians.”
Stanton has a problem with the government’s announcement Canada may deploy as many as 600 troops for UN peacekeeping operations.
“It’s far from clear where the government is going with it. They wanted to sort of check that box that they’ve fulfilled a campaign promise, but it’s a whole other matter in terms of logistics of putting boots on the ground,” he said. “Whatever the assignment is, our troops have to have the very best support in terms of equipment, intelligence and the kind of support they need from the United Nations to be present in those countries to make sure they can operate safely.”
The fall session of Parliament usually runs until just before the Christmas holidays, but it will be at the government’s call.
— With files from Bob Bruton