Approximately 40 residents attended the MP Forum hosted by Alex Atamanenko NDP MP for the Southern Interior, at The Royal Canadian Legion Hall on Wednesday, March 19.
Guest speakers for the evening were Mayor Frank Armitage, RDOS Area H director Brad Hope and Support Our Health Care president, Ed Staples. The evenings moderator was Keith Olsen and timer for the questions and answers period was chamber manager, Lori Thomas.
Liberal MLA Jackie Taggart sent her regrets as she was unable to attend.
During the initial opening of the forum, Atamanenko went on to share his concerns with respect to the new elections act, Free Trade agreements and how he was appalled at the treatment of Veterans. He was adamantly concerned about the passing of the C-18 Agriculture Omnibus Act (Agricultural Growth Act), and Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s). Just last year, Atamanenko introduced Bill C-322, “An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (the slaughter of of horses for human consumption). This bill has since been replaced by a more expansive Bill C-571, in which the bill would continue to cross the border, but would not enter slaughter plants, combining both animal protection as well as food safety.
The fazing out of Canada Post home mail deliveries, setting up community mailboxes and the opening of Canada Post franchises outlets in Pharmasave drug stores is a major concern. Atamanenko feels this will result in loss of postal jobs and possible closure of main post offices.
His suggestion to the chamber was to get involved and work together with both the businesses and council in order to protect well-paying jobs in the workplace.
The first guest speaker of the evening was Mayor Frank Armitage. He opened with a brief council update, showing his appreciation for the councillors, praising their hard work, including the extra duties taken on as the result of the unfortunate resignation of councillor Jason Earle, whose employment took him out of town. The mayor extended his thanks to the steering committee members for their work on the local health services concerns. He mentioned concerns regarding the priorities and needs for the town, an important one being establishing a plan to pursue approximately $400,000 per annum of the Copper Mountain Mine tax dollars and re-routing them back into the community.
Up next was RDOS Area H director Brad Hope, who praised Atamenenko for his being down-to-earth and his honesty. “He taught me a lot,” said Hope. And like Atamanenko, Brad Hope felt that a lot can be accomplished if everyone worked together.
Next, Support Our Health Care president, Ed Staples, took the floor—stating that the health care system was “in chaos,” saying that people are frustrated, angry and concerned.
“I’m very worried about what is happening at the federal level of government,” he said. Staples pointed out that the Canada Health Accord expires at the end of this month, (see article on page 5), the national health care system is currently under a legal attack in the courts, which could result in the possible establishment of a medical care system similar to the United States. He asked that residents voice their concerns by visiting www.savemedicare.ca or www.healthcoalition.ca and to join him at the Support Public Health Care rally on March 31 at noon in Veterans Square. “Please join me in this concern, “ said Staples, we all deserve quality health care—it shouldn’t matter who, how or where you are.”
A presentation on Solar power was given by John Alsop, who worked here in Princeton for the Ministry of Highways from 1973 to 1975. He says he is a “citizen of planet earth,” hoping to introduce solar energy to the community. He currently assists with one to one reading in the schools and has presented an idea for solar energy to be used at the schools. Roger Huber of Pro Eco Energy was on hand also to answer any questions.
A question and answer period was held after the speeches ended. A variety of queries and concerns were voiced from various members of the audience. Issues regarding health care, library funding shortfalls and the cutting of library hours, the proposed plan for an indoor aquatic centre, shopping local, improved business strategies, composing a letter to the Minister of Health and many other issues.
As the forum came to an end, each of the guest speakers extended their thanks to MP Atamanenko. “You’ve done a great job,”said Mayor Armitage, “You are reachable and have worked on our behalf—I wish you and your good wife all the best, so don’t be a stranger.”
MP Alex Atamenenko will be retiring at the end of his term in 2015. He stated that he has enjoyed his tenure immensely— meeting people and working on issues with them. He says “When I come to these (forums), I get plugged in, re-energized. Thank you so much for having me….I will see you in August when I come to crank out some music at the Festival.”