My MP has recently been in the news for comments he made at a parliamentary committee last week. I provide the story as a backgrounder:
Maritimers don't need bus fare to Alberta, says MP
Last updated Jun 9 2006 11:08 AM MDTCBC News
A Conservative call to help workers from the Maritimes move west has provoked the ire of Liberal MPs, who say Ottawa should instead be creating jobs where they live.
Tory MP Brian Jean set off the row Thursday when he said the government should develop a strategy to relocate unemployed Atlantic Canadians to Alberta, either temporarily or permanently.
His northern Alberta riding includes Fort McMurray, which some Newfoundlanders refer to as their own province's third-largest city because so many of them are working there.
Jean told the parliamentary committee on human resources development that Ottawa should make it easier for job seekers from the east to move to his job-rich province.
New Brunswick MP Jean-Claude d'Amours called Jean's suggestion "unacceptable," and said East-coasters are not cattle to be herded from one part of the country to another.
"We are a big country and I think it's not by taking a group of persons from one area to another that we will solve any problems," d'Amours said.
Nova Scotia MP Geoff Regan and New Brunswick MP Andy Scott also condemned Jean's comments.
Regan said the suggestion was insulting, while Scott said Atlantic Canadians need investment in their local economies, not bus fares out West.
Conservative MP Peter MacKay, who is responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, accused the Liberals of distorting the truth, and insisted that his party has no policy on relocation.
With its booming oil industry, Alberta has been a job magnet for Atlantic Canadians for many years.
The westward migration has been especially pronounced this year, with the fishing industry suffering particularly from a dearth of workers.
"[Fishermen] are having trouble rounding up a crew because people are on their way to Alberta," Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, told CBC News this week.
Newfoundland and Labrador's current unemployment rate is 14.8 per cent, while Alberta's is 3.4 per cent.
Well I say hear hear, Brian!
Frankly, the noises coming from the diaper-clad Liberal benches (hat tip to Amy for the term diaper-clad) are absurd.
I'm sorry, but I don't believe that its government's duty to create employment on such a scale... it is government's duty to stimulate the conditions where gainful employment can be created. I'm not talking about ACOA-esque programs where you pay people to dig a ditch, then fill it back in again, i'm talking about targetted tax relief and the like so that small and emerging industries can be given a chance to grow.
What Jean-Claude D'Amours, Geoff Regan, and the rest of those sorry Reds need to realize is that Canada is a big country and we should all be in this for the greater good. If there are good paying jobs in one part of this country, and under- or unemployment in another, it stands to reason that we should encourage CANADIANS to take those jobs.
Brian Jean is not exposing an secret Conservative plan to drain the population from Atlantic Canada. He is, in fact, highlighting an opportunity for Canadians (rather than foreign workers) to come to our region and make a great living for themselves and their families, and help build Canada's economy in the process.
Brian is standing up for Canada, and i'm standing behind him 100%.