It was a year of accomplishments large and small for the Conservative government and the Kamloops riding, said MP Cathy McLeod, reflecting on 2013.
But the Senate scandal may have overshadowed much of that work in the minds of citizens.
“It was certainly incredibly disappointing for many of us to see senators abusing their expenses,” said McLeod. “I think it took a huge focus away from what is an important agenda for government.”
McLeod highlighted the October announcement of a European free trade agreement as a major initiative that didn’t get the attention it might otherwise have.
But there’s plenty of time to revisit it — ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is expected to take two years.
The deal would give Canada preferential market access to the European Union’s 500 million consumers and provide an anticipated $17 trillion in annual economic activity. It was also criticized for saving European exporters three times as much in annual duty payments as Canadian exporters.
In the meantime, the senate scandal still looms large for 2014 as the Conservative government attempts to attain the right to impose changes and limitations on the senate.
“The bigger picture is waiting for the Supreme Court to indicate how we can move forward with . . . changes possible for the senate,” said McLeod.
As for Kamloops, McLeod said the local riding saw “a number of small successes.”
Among them were partnerships with the provincial and municipal governments allowing some infrastructure work to progress without breaking the City’s budget, she said.
McLeod was also proud as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue for her work in streamlining National Revenue Agency bureaucratic processes for small business.
The efforts earned Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Golden Scissors Award for cutting red tape.
For the year ahead, McLeod has been tasked with improving mental health in federally regulated workplaces as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification.
In the bigger picture, the Conservative government will be putting much of its energy into balancing the budget, said McLeod.
She also anticipates lots of discussion around the issue of pipelines — especially with First Nations groups — with a decision for the Northern Gateway Pipeline expected in the spring.