It has been a fabulous summer in Lethbridge! Like many of you, July and August afford me the opportunity to get outside and be out and about in the community at various events and festivities. The chance to interact with individuals and families in the riding is greatly enjoyed and equips me with the understanding I need to represent the constituency of Lethbridge well.
As the summer winds down and I prepare to return to Caucus meets on September 6th and Parliament on September 11th, its a great opportunity to reflect on the summer.
Many great events have taken place across the constituency, but central to all of them has been the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.
During Whoop-Up Days I hosted my annual Free Pancake Breakfast and had the opportunity to engage with many constituents. The line-up of people was steady and wrapped around the block for much of the morning. Over the course of three hours, my team and I served more than 1,000 people with the help of more 30 volunteers.
This community is blessed with many wonderful members! I hosted a number of people from other parts of Canada and the USA this summer and my guests consistently commented on the tremendous community spirit that characterizes our area. Thank-you to the thousands of people who have taken the time to say hello, or chat with me about an issue of importance, or volunteer with me at different events this summer.
Whether it was on Canada Day, at the Coaldale Candy Parade, Nobleford Heritage Days, Coalhurst Miner’s Day, Picture Butte Jamboree Days, Coaldale Settler Days, Lethbridge Whoop-Up Days, at the Farmer's Market, at an ethnic celebration, or at the Lethbridge Airshow, hearing from you was the most important thing I did this summer. Hearing from so many people is the only way to get the big picture of what matters to you and your family.
From these many conversations I have gained a better (albeit, not perfect) understanding of what matters most to the people of Lethbridge. I heard many concerns about the illegal immigrants who are sneaking into Canada across the United States border. Canada is a generous nation that welcomes many refugees; however, the Canadian border must be respected and protected. These migrants need to go through the proper government checks to ensure they are not a security threat, that their claim for refugee status is valid, and that they are not simply economic immigrants using a refugee application to jump to the front of the line. Those who have waited to come to Canada must be honoured and respected. They must not be penalized by having their applications put on hold while others usurp the system.
The people of this constituency are also concerned about the Federal Government's proposed small business tax changes. These changes will dramatically increase taxes on small businesses that are incorporated. While these changes will be felt the hardest by farms, family businesses, doctors, realtors and accountants, these changes matter to every person who works in Lethbridge. More than 70 percent of Canadians in the private sector work for a small business. When it comes to agricultural businesses, 91 percent are small businesses. This means that these tax hikes will have a significant impact across our local economy. Small businesses will be forced to raise prices, lay off employees, and decrease benefits as the Federal Government takes more of their money. This is in addition to the new carbon tax, the increased CPP contributions, and several sneaky reinterpretations of the law by the Canada Revenue Agency-- all of which have increased taxes on small businesses. These changes could also mean less access to healthcare for all of us. Many doctors are incorporated, as this is the easiest way to pay for the staff and office space they use. With the decrease in the Canadian dollar, this tax hike will make it much more profitable for doctors to move to the United States to work. Canada has an aging population and ever-growing healthcare needs. We need doctors now more than ever. To put it simply, the Liberal tax hikes announced this summer are a direct attack on hard-working Canadians and those who depend on them. For this reason, I stand in strong opposition and I will be making my voice known this fall when Parliament resumes.
As a member of the Health Committee, I will return to Ottawa on September 11th to be part of the committee meetings on C-45, The Cannabis Act, which is the Liberal legislation that legalizes recreational Marijuana. This is a hot topic and I have heard from many of you with regards to it-- some are happy with the in-coming legislation but overall I am hearing that constituents are concerned and believe the current government is moving too fast and without considering all of the consequences.
I invite you to share your thoughts and concerns on these topics, or any other topic that affects you. Please contact me through my webpage at www.RachaelHarder.ca or call my office at (403) 320-0070.