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    Today we said goodbye to a true hero. A true hero. Ray Hoffman was still a teenager when he went overseas to defend Canadian freedoms in the Second World War. Ray was a living reminder of the sacrifices of war and the debt of gratitude we owe our Canadian Forces veterans. As we said goodbye to Ray today at the Cochrane Legion, I am reminded of the importance of ensuring that their stories are told and memories are preserved for future generations. On behalf of all Canadians, thank you Ray. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/cochraneeagle/obituary.aspx?n=raymond-hoffman&pid=177583761
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    I’ll be there tomorrow night to support Canada's veterans, will you? https://bertchurchlivetheatre.ticketpro.ca/#def_1122469356
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    Just as the TransCanada highway and Canadian Pacific Railway were considered nation building initiatives, connecting one end of our vast country to the other, our national energy infrastructure – particularly pipelines transporting Canadian oil to Canadians and new markets – has a vital role to play in our country’s long-term economic and social prosperity. Despite this, TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline, an infrastructure project of national significance bringing oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada and on to international markets, has been the subject of misguided rhetoric and attack. Prime Minister Trudeau says it’s not his job to support Energy East. Yet, this proposed pipeline would create 14,000 full-time jobs every year of its construction, displace the more than $20 billion Canada spends on importing foreign oil to Quebec and New Brunswick refineries, generate over 10 billion in tax revenues to communities across Canada, and add about $55 billion in economic growth, all without the use of Canadian tax dollars. But we have yet to see the Prime Minister stand up for jobs or economic growth. This, in addition to recent comments that our country should be recognized for its “resourcefulness” as opposed to its “resources” calls into question the Liberals’ support for workers in Canada’s energy industry. The Liberals’ new “interim” measures for pipeline assessments, announced last week, is just another example of this. These measures present yet another burden on an already strained energy sector, especially as they are only temporary until the Liberals complete a full review of the federal environmental assessment, a process Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says could take years. Creating further uncertainty within the natural resources sector during times of low oil prices, mass layoffs, and a low dollar is not leadership. If you share my concern that the Trudeau Liberals aren’t standing up for Alberta’s interests and jobs in the energy sector during this time of economic uncertainty, visit http://www.blakerichards.ca/have-your-say/ to have your say.
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    The Liberal government said it was committed to making meaningful changes to the Senate. But instead, they’ve announced an unelected, unaccountable board will be making secret recommendations for an unelected Senate. Today, in the House of Commons, I asked Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef how an advisory board that provides a secret short list of candidates for the Prime Minister to consider or to ignore in his decision for Senate appointments could ever be considered reform? Why the secrecy instead of openness and transparency? http://tinyurl.com/zw83po7
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    Have Your Say - http://www.blakerichards.ca/have-your-say/ Regardless of where you stand on the need for electoral reform, most would agree that a change to how we vote, to how governments are formed and who forms them, is fundamental to our democracy and to what it means to be a Canadian. Yet, the Trudeau government recently declared it will not engage Canadians in a referendum on the subject of our national voting system. Instead, and in spite of growing criticism from both the left and right regarding the government’s decision to rule out a referendum on the matter, the Liberals insist a committee of their choosing will hammer out the details of Canada’s new electoral system, whatever it may be. But, when changes are proposed to our method of voting, every Canadian should have a say. This sentiment, together with a direct call on Trudeau’s government to engage Canadians in a referendum on this important issue, has become the focus of national commentary in recent weeks: “Changing the voting system can’t be treated like any other legislation. This should be obvious. Bringing in a new way of selecting representatives is no technical tweak. It’s vital that any change be seen as a genuine step forward, not a bid by one party to rig the system in its favour.” – Toronto Star, editorial, Jan. 8, 2016 “[Justin Trudeau] cannot seriously believe that a promised special parliamentary committee on electoral reform, its government members drawn from a House where MPs have traditionally taken daily dictation from their party leader, will really be independent and non-partisan. Nor can any member of the government assert with a straight face that euphemistically “consulting” the people is the same as actually consulting them democratically, with a vote.” – Globe & Mail, editorial, Jan. 3, 2016 “The opposition is mounting to the Liberal government’s electoral reform plans. Sooner or later, they’re going to have to give in and call a referendum. It’s the only politically sensible option. It’s the right one, too….Electoral reform is different than tinkering with the tax code, or amending a couple of sections in the Criminal Code. It will fundamentally alter the structure and composition of future governments.” – Toronto Sun, editorial, Dec. 30, 2015 “It is my view any major change to the first past the post electoral system - unlike electoral term change and the proposed change to the appointment of senators - is a major quasi constitutional change. It mustn't be made by a simple majority vote of those in parliament representing only 39.5% of the electorate.” – Ujjal Dosanjh, Trudeau’s former Liberal caucus member and former NDP premier of British Columbia, Dec. 30, 2015 “The “constitution” is about the rules of the game. No rules are more important than those that determine which MPs will be elected and which party forms government. That is what “electoral reform” is all about. And it should not be managed by the job seekers.” – Gordon Gibson, Globe and Mail, Dec. 29, 2015 British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and Ontario have all held referendums on proposed electoral reform just as New Zealand and the United Kingdom have done. A precedent has been established on this issue for good reason. Please visit http://www.blakerichards.ca/have-your-say/ to have your say on whether the government should hold a referendum on any changes to Canada’s federal electoral system.
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