Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor Liberal MP Scott Simms said he thinks it’s time for the federal government to pick up the ball its been juggling for a number of years and run with in 2013 — to the completion of many unfinished projects in his riding.
COVERAGE AREA — Get it done. That’s the message Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor Liberal MP Scott Simms has for the federal Conservative government.
“Politically, 2012 was a year of strange truths. It was a year the federal government did a lot of things to skirt democracy and avoid scrutiny at every corner,” said MP Simms. “(In my riding) there are just too many things left undone and still left lingering from the past that we keep hearing about being dealt with, but aren’t…this needs to change in 2013.”
MP Simms said, in Gander in 2012, there still wasn’t a lot of movement on new search and rescue equipment, in particular fixed wing aircraft, for 9 Wing Gander, or on the construction of new buildings at the Canadian Forces Base.
“These (two issues) have been ongoing for years, and once again will have to be on the table in 2013…hopefully, we can get something done,” he said. “Also in 2013, we will see the loss of around 30 valuable (Service Canada) jobs to the town of Gander, as well as more jobs lost in Grand Falls-Windsor.”
A decision, combined with several other moves made by the federal government in regards to its services in rural Newfoundland and Labrador during the past number of years, he said, will see (this) federal government having less relevance on the lives of people in his riding.
“Regionalization seems to have been the trend (for the federal government) in 2012, and it was done foolishly and without considering the ramifications of why and what they were doing…it wasn’t as great a money-saving exercise as they thought it was going to be,” he said. “So my question is, ‘Why continue to do it?’
“It seems Mr. Harper will never bend and say they should put the marine rescue sub-centre back in St John’s, or Service Canada back in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.”
Another point of contention with Mr. Simms that he considers didn’t draw a lot of attention from the federal government in 2012 was the move from broadband to high-speed Internet service, which he said affects approximately 60 communities in his riding.
“However, the number one issue in my riding that my three district offices dealt with was senior poverty,” he said. “The cost of living, such as food and fuel for heat, is rising, and the fixed income of our seniors can’t keep pace with rising costs. This needs to be seriously looked at in the year to come.”
Mr. Simms said these issues, as well as others such as the crab fishery in 3K and the shrimp plant in Port Union, will be on his agenda to fight for in the year to come.
“It’s going to be a tough season coming up for the crab fishery in 3K because the low catch rates is going to have a great affect,” he said. “We need to look at an increase here because it’s going to be brutal, as well as one in the amount of cod (fishermen) are allowed to catch.”
However, not all was doom and gloom in his riding.
“We have a lot of people with skilled trades, and thanks to this a lot of people in my riding have done well with their incomes…this has been shown in the number of homes being built in a number of the towns,” he said, noting there has also been some good growth in economic development in some of the larger centres.
“We also had some great community festivals this past summer, especially with a Come Home theme. I truly believe in this, and there should be more communities looking at doing this as it’s good in many different ways.”
Another bright spot in 2012, which he hopes will continue into the future, was the growth of activity at Gander International Airport.
“Things are going pretty good, but there definitely are some things that need to be resolved in this riding in the next year…some have been ongoing way too long,” he said, adding he hopes the federal government will also work with the provincial government on cleaning up the former Abitibi paper mill properties in Grand Falls-Windsor and Botwood.
He said he would also being introducing private member bills dealing with employment insurance and artists.