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MP stands by government record
Reflecting on the past year as Okanagan-Shuswap’s MP is for Colin Mayes, a mostly satisfying endeavour.
An eight-year member of the Conservative government’s backbench, Mayes says he is proud of the federal focus on trying to help families and seniors survive in this economy.
“There have been various initiatives to help put money back in the pockets of young families,” he says, noting the programs help parents involve their children in activities such as hockey and gymnastics. “The child tax credit has been popular; it puts a few extra dollars in parents’ pockets to hire a babysitter or help to pay for activities, or put it in savings for future education.”
For seniors, it’s income splitting.
“Canada has one of the least number of seniors living below the poverty line,” he says, maintaining some 70 per cent of Canadian seniors have incomes of $50,000 or better.
“I know there is still 30 per cent who, for sure need help. The tax free savings account has helped seniors of our country be able to get through tougher times.”
When asked about child poverty in this country, Mayes, who’s daughter works for Samaritan’s Purse in Africa, says people don’t know what poverty is in this country.
He says recently released Statistics Canada figures indicate that the number of children living in poverty has been reduced by 70,000 over the past decade.
“It needs to be fixed, but I definitely believe we’re making headway with low-income housing helping single moms and children,” he says. “Our government really believes to help people is a good job and we’re working on spending money with the provinces to make sure everybody has a good job.”
Mayes says his government is doing a study in Human Resources Development Canada on how Ottawa can better provide First Nations with the skills they need for the jobs of today.
“I have to say, you’ve heard what Abraham Lincoln said: ‘The government should never do for citizens what citizens can do for themselves,’” he says. “In saying that, it’s not up to us to feed the children that might not be getting proper nourishment. Our job is to make sure the parents are those who are caring for the children, to give them the support they need to ensure they have the resources to provide the nourishment for their children.”
In relation to MP Mike Chong and several other backbenchers seeking more power, Mayes believes there has been some misunderstanding.
“We have power as backbenchers, the ability to speak to the Prime Minister in our caucus meetings and to speak, once a month, directly to the ministers on issues concerning our committees,” he says. “The effort that has been made by Michael Chong is to try to allow for decisions around caucus discipline; that it should be a caucus decision not a prime ministerial decision.”
Mayes maintains this push is not a direct result of any actions by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He says Chong is trying to ensure that no prime minister is able to drop party candidates from out of a riding, or even out of the country, into ridings, thereby circumventing the grassroots within the constituency. This, he says, puts the process back in MPs’ hands.
“I have been there for eight years and I never felt once that my position has been compromised by any prime ministerial discipline,” he says. “I have disagreed with him on some issues and even voted against him on some.”
Mayes says Harper has respected his position and those of his colleagues who have shared his position, but was not willing to share examples.
Agreeing that the Senate scandal has indeed been embarrassing for the Senate, Mayes says that with 308 MPs and 110 senators, there are bound to be “different thresholds of ethics.”
“But you don’t go blaming the other senators or MPs for the indiscretions of other members – that’s just ridiculous,” he says, noting he always likes to think good can come from all problems and issues.
“Now we have really narrowed guidelines for expenses, we have the governor general auditing and now Colin Mayes and all my colleagues are disclosing every month online all our expenses, so now the public is able to see what their MP or senator is spending. That’s a very positive thing.”