Jati Sidhu, newly-elected Member of Parliament for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, recently announced he will be hosting an open house Saturday for all riding residents to visit his new constituency offices in Mission.
“We have been open for a while, but we now have all our staff in place and are finally feeling settled in,” said Sidhu. “We think it’s time to welcome everyone in for a visit, meet the team and ask any questions or bring any concerns they might have.”
In the lead up to this weekend’s open house, he answered the Agassiz Harrison Observer’s questions this week by email.
As MP for the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, what do you see as the important issues for the Agassiz/Harrison area specifically? How will you address them?
I believe the most effective way to represent my constituents’ interests, regardless of where they are in the constituency, is 1) to be as accessible as possible and 2) work hard to represent those interests.
During the campaign, I heard from a lot of people throughout the riding, including the Agassiz/Harrison area, about what their concerns were.
A top concern was economic stability, particularly regarding the region’s long-term growth.
I firmly believe that small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, yet they are being held back by red tape, lack of labour and lack of funding.
Going forward I’ll be seeking an end to the Conservatives’ annual Employment Insurance premium hikes.
I also heard many concerns regarding health care.
Everyone should have access to high quality health care, and that means collaborating with the provinces and territorial partners to tackle critical needs such as community-based care, elder care and mental health.
Finally, I’ll be working with my colleagues to ensure a Liberal government enhances the existing Canadian Pension Plan.
We’re already making it easier for many Canadians to save by cutting taxes for the middle class.
With agriculture so important to the area, what will you work to achieve for that industry?
I was a farmer for a long time before I was elected to the House of Commons.
It’s obviously close to my heart and I admit to being very passionate about it.
What we are trying to achieve both for BC and the country’s farming isn’t just rhetoric.
We’re planning to put a lot of time, resources and money into this crucial sector.
First, to attract investment and create good jobs in food processing, we will invest $160 million over four years in an Agri-Food Value Added Investment Fund.
This will provide technical and marketing assistance to help food processors develop new value-added products that reflect changing tastes and market opportunities.
Further to that, we will invest an additional $100 million to support innovation in the agricultural sector through brand-new research.
Finally, we will also invest an additional $80 million in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for more food safety inspections of domestic and imported foods.
You showed your support for the inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls (some of whom were in this area). What is your outlook on relationships between your office and the many First Nations bands in the constituency? Any specific initiatives planned?
That’s an important question and an issue I care deeply about.
I’m committed to working hard to improve relations with First Nations people, and that starts with repealing the antiquated Indian Act.
We must move to create modern, collaborative relationships with First Nations communities in this riding, and that starts with meeting with individual Bands and working on a plan based on existing treaties, First Nation rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
With that in mind, on a local level I promised during the campaign to organize round table meetings with First Nations Chiefs in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.
My team is working towards making the first of these happen this coming spring or summer.
Is there anything else you would add about the Agassiz Harrison area our readers would be interested in?
I want to thank everyone in Agassiz Harrison who has contacted my offices so far with questions or concerns, and I sincerely appreciate your kind words of thanks and support.
If anyone ever needs to reach me or my team, don’t hesitate to call or e-mail us.
• The Mission constituency office is located at 32081 Lougheed Highway, Suite B3. The open house event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on March 19,. All are welcome, and light refreshments will be provided.