Conservative MP tours Cape Breton

OTTAWA: A Conservative MP from British Columbia was in Cape Breton last week.

On February 20, Cathy McLeod – Conservative shadow minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo – toured the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), discussing economic development and how a Conservative government will balance the budget, lower taxes and help Nova Scotians get ahead.

McLeod said part of her shadow cabinet responsibilities include travelling around the country, speaking with Canadians. While she did not visit the Strait area, McLeod said many of the issues raised in the CBRM were pertinent to this region.

“One of the things is really understanding the communities, in terms of economic development, and also the barriers that the federal government is creating for economic success,” McLeod noted.

The visit included meetings with CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke, Police Chief Peter McIsaac, members of the Membertou First Nation, a roundtable with business owners, and a tour of the Port of Sydney.

Aside from getting to as many regions of the country as possible, McLeod said another priority is exposing the tax and regulatory burdens being placed on small businesses.

“The federal government is putting a lot of barriers in front of small business,” McLeod noted. “Whether it’s the tax regime or the rule changes, it does create challenges for small businesses.”

The Conservative MP heard about the need for jobs, growth and investment in Cape Breton, but also about the financial stresses on the Island’s doctors. She said some of the federal tax changes affecting doctors that were proposed by the Liberals have been scaled back, but not all.

“Like many areas in the country, there are physician shortages, but when the tax burden is extremely high on physicians, it’s less enticing for them to be in some locations when they’re paying extraordinary amounts of their income into taxes,” McLeod said.

The British Columbia MP noted that while in government, the Conservatives made it easier for Canadian doctors taking their education overseas to return to Canada to practice. McLeod said the Conservatives also offered loan forgiveness for doctors locating in rural communities.

“I haven’t seen any initiatives in the past few years from the current government to deal with that,” McLeod said.

Another issue which arose during her visit was pipelines, an issue the British Columbia MP is well acquainted with since the expansion of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline will run through her riding. McLeod said she supports using pipelines to transport oil and gas.

“I think Canada has a huge opportunity to be much more energy self-sufficient,” McLeod said. “For my perspective, I’m watching the increased, increased movement of oil products by rail and I much, much prefer to see them in the pipeline because, of course, when you move by rail, you also reduce capacity to get other products to market.”

McLeod added that she heard the same concerns in Cape Breton that she’s been hearing across the country.

“I think there’s a commonality, and the commonality is the issue around physicians, the commonality is making it easier for small business to get ahead regardless of where they want to set up their business,” McLeod stated. “I think there are common things that create an environment for success, period. And when the government puts too much red tape in the way, or federally, charge too many taxes, or make things unappealing, then we reduce the incentive for small business.”