Although not invited, I attended the barbecue hosted by Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed with guest federal President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement on Friday, July 13 at Princess Park. I was curious to know what the event was about. It was obvious when I arrived that it was a conservative gathering. Indeed, Mr. Tweed informed me that the invitation was only sent to Brandon-Souris Conservative members.
An MP, regardless of the party, represents all residents within the riding. I find it troubling that Westman residents were excluded from the barbecue. I’ve been hearing many concerns from people in the area, such as changes to immigration, environment, EI, OAS, federal healthcare transfer payments and funding cuts to many important programs such as the Brandon Friendship Centre youth program and job losses. The event would have been an opportunity for people to have an open dialogue with our local MP and a member in cabinet.
Unfortunately, the federal government is making sweeping changes to our country without consulting Canadians. Discontent and outcry across our nation is building. In an article in the Brandon Sun July 14 edition, “Clement defends Parks Canada cuts,” Minister Clement speculates that the new cross-border shopping limits won’t impact Brandon businesses.
This is an assumption since local businesses in Westman were never consulted on the matter. How will these changes affect businesses closer to the border such as Killarney? Will there be a follow up in the future to determine the impact on Westman businesses? If this decision negatively impacts businesses, how many jobs and livelihoods will be lost?
Minister Clement said a few words at the barbecue and mentioned how his government is supporting job growth and prosperity. Ignoring Canadian family business owners and cutting jobs in the public sector do not support economic growth and prosperity.
Minister Clement made a special trip to Brandon to praise his party’s contribution to, lo and behold, infrastructure within the city, the Brandon University Healthy Living Centre. It’s clear that Minister Clement’s visit is part of a publicity damage control plan to counter the NDP opposition’s accusations of Clement misleading Parliament in the gazebo fiasco.
As you may recall, Minister Clement misused $50 million of Canadian taxpayer’s money in his own riding on infrastructure. That action didn’t bode well for his credibility as a steward of public spending. Instead of being removed from his post, he’s now travelling Canada boosting up his political party and himself.
After crashing the party for the elite, I reflected on where regular folk, like me, fit into the federal conservative’s master plan for Canada. With the lack of meaningful engagement with residents of Westman at this barbecue, it doesn’t look promising. And as I reflect further I don’t even think people of Westman would have even attended the event in droves, as their opinions and concerns mean nothing in the decision making and direction of this government.
Vanessa Hamilton, president
Brandon-Souris NDP Federal
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 21, 2012