January has been a very busy month as I have focused my time on speaking with constituents in preparation for my return to Victoria for the Spring Session of the Legislature which begins on Feb. 9.
With the House back in session starting Feb. 9, I will again have the opportunity to raise the issues that matter most to my constituents. My work in the Legislature stems directly from my responsibility to represent the needs of the people in this area.
Although my time in the constituency is limited during the Legislative session, I always look forward to being in Revelstoke.
I have been able to spend my time visiting not only the larger centres of Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere and Kimberley, but also Field, Canal Flats, Edgewater and Fort Steele. I have also travelled with the Olympic torch throughout the area, joining with you to celebrate not only the Olympic spirit but the uniqueness of each community.
During this Legislative session, MLAs will vote on the legislation that will bring in the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). In keeping with my party’s election promise to not implement the HST, I will be voting against this legislation. Unfortunately, BC Liberal MLAs, who also promised not to implement the HST, will not be keeping their promise.
Over the last few weeks, I have been working to bring to the attention of the Minister of Forest my mills’ concerns with the proposed changes to the calculation of stumpage rates. If the government goes ahead with these changes to the way the cost of logs for mills is calculated, mills in my communities will be negatively affected, adding millions of dollars in costs, and possibly putting operations at risk. As a result of these efforts, the Minister has agreed to visit the area and meet with local mills to find a way to recognize the higher cost of harvesting timber in wet belt and steep slope areas which will help to keep these mills viable.
I will continue to put pressure on the government to stop harmful cuts to seniors care and education. These are two issues that are raised with me again and again by the people I represent. You tell me that taking care of seniors and providing opportunities for children are the most important things a government can do.
As always, I rely on you to let me know what is on your mind. I need to know what matters to you.
Norm Macdonald is the New Democratic Party MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke