Acting on a progressive economic agenda
By Chrystia Freeland
It’s one of my favourite traditions: doing one final subway canvass the morning after an election. It’s an opportunity to connect with my constituents in person, and thank them for their support. Expressing my gratitude also reminds me of how privileged and honoured I am to be serving as the first member of Parliament for the newly created riding of University-Rosedale.
I am eager to act on a progressive economic agenda that will shore up Canada’s middle class and make sure our capitalist democracy delivers for everyone, both at home and abroad. Domestically, we will end income splitting, lower taxes for the middle class, and institute our enhanced childcare benefit, while investing in better transit, more affordable housing, and greener infrastructure.
Internationally, as the Minister of International Trade, I will promote our Canadian brand of inclusive prosperity on the global stage. Since being sworn in on Nov. 4, I have travelled to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, and participated in a very productive meeting. I discussed enhancing trade with our APEC partners, and announced Canada’s support for globalizing micro, small, and medium enterprises. I was also energized by the commitments on inclusive growth and women’s equality. On my way home to Canada, I stopped in Los Angeles, where I met with economic leaders, spoke with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom of California about collaborating on the environment, talked about the close economic ties between Maine and Canada with Senator Angus King, had a fruitful exchange with the California state treasurer, and discussed partnership ideas on infrastructure and a green economy.
Shortly before I left for Manila, I expressed my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed in terrorist attacks on Nov. 13. Even as we stand with the people of Paris and France, and with all victims of terror around the world, we cannot lose sight of our Canadian values of diversity and inclusiveness.
As the proud daughter of a Ukranian-Canadian who fled Europe after the Second World War as a displaced person, I am as committed as ever to welcoming refugees to our shores. Our government is standing by its promise to resettle 25,000 refugees in Canada, in addition to the 3,098 Syrians who arrived between Jan. 1, 2014, and Nov. 3, 2015, and are already making their homes here.
Our #WelcomeRefugees plan consists of five phases, and aims to have 10,000 of the most vulnerable Syrians resettled in Canada by the end of 2015, with the balance of the 25,000 resettled by the end of February. In the first phase, we will work with the United Nations Refugee Agency to prioritize low security risk refugees — women and complete families — already registered in Jordan and Lebanon. In the second phase, approximately 500 visa officials will process interested refugees through interviews and information collection, after which successful applicants will be transported to Montreal or Toronto on privately-chartered aircrafts in Phase 3. Phases 4 and 5 will see the arrivals processed and settled in communities across Canada. We are already preparing to welcome our new community members by ensuring we have settlement supports in place that include schools, housing, and language training.
It’s a plan that balances our humanitarian responsibilities while being mindful of the protection and safety of Canadians, and I’m delighted that so many local residents are also raising money to sponsor families and welcome them to University-Rosedale.
As with these newcomers, I’m still discovering all there is to know about this riding, and how best to represent all of my constituents, whether they voted for me or not. I’m looking forward to partnering with my colleagues at the province and the city to work on infrastructure challenges, enhance rail safety, and move our economy forward.
Thank you all for your trust.
I wish you a very happy holiday, and all the very best for 2016.
Chrystia Freeland is the member of Parliament for University-Rosedale.