Over the past several weeks, Canadians have encountered a varied international response to the situation in Israel. Understandably there has been much doubt and speculation about Israel’s friends in their time of need. There can be no such speculation about Canada’s position. Our Prime Minister and our Government are entirely supportive of the right of Israel to defend itself against clear terrorist acts on its citizens and way of life.
These are indiscriminate rocket attacks that threaten the lives of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike. While the Israel Defense Forces have taken every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, Canada mourns for those innocent Palestinians who have lost their lives. But let there be no mistake – Hamas and its allies are solely responsible for the current crisis. Their complete disregard for the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, and their use of human shields to further terror in the region, is unacceptable and will not lead to peace. Peace can only be achieved through support of Israel’s ideals and a stable democracy in the Palestinian state.
Canada’s unequivocal stand for Israel’s security is not new. This is a friendship that our two nations have maintained before and throughout the current crisis. Our two nations are natural allies as we maintain a strong relationship rooted in history and shared values. We must stand alongside Israel and defend its right to exist because, in the words of Prime Minister Harper, it is “a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.”
Like we have shown through the situation in eastern Ukraine, Canada will always stand opposed to aggressors who threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of peaceful states. This is no different with Israel – the region’s lone democracy which has continually demonstrated its respect for peace, human rights, stability and the rule of law.
Canada will always cherish and promote these values. Israel, too, has every right to defend them.
OTTAWA (14 August 2014)– Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, has joined Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in announcing the coming into force of a series of important regulations, as well as an Order in Council (OIC), related to the implementation of Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act. “This is good news for Vegreville-Wainwright farmers as we approach the fall and winter months,” said Benoit. “Now farmers have the assurance that our rail system will continue to move grain at a measured and consistent pace.”
The legislation received Royal Assent on May 29th, 2014. As an amendment to the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Grain Act, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act follows what was a record crop year for Canadian famers and will ensure the quick and efficient operation of Canada’s rail transportation network. “Since our March 7th Order in Council, CN and CP Rail have together moved an average of more than 1 million tonnes of grain per week,” remarked Benoit. “I’m confident that this legislation will ensure that we avoid a repeat of last year’s problems and will prepare us for even bigger yields in the future.”
The measures within Bill C-30 take effect immediately and include:
·The passing of an OIC, which sets out the minimum grain volumes that Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) are each required to move from August 3, 2014 to November 29, 2014.
·Regulations requiring CN and CP to provide additional data on grain movement to better monitor the overall performance of the rail-based supply chain.
·Regulations to clarify the operational terms in a service level agreement that can be arbitrated by the Canadian Transportation Agency, to support commercial negotiations between shippers and railways. These newly defined rail service obligations will increase predictability for all shippers.
·An amendment to the Railway Interswitching Regulations extending the limit for rail interswitching from 30 kilometres to 160 kilometres in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for all commodities to increase competition among railway companies and give shippers access to alternative rail services.
·Regulations to provide farmers with better protection through more accountability for grain companies in contracts.
Benoit noted that the long term goal of the legislation is for carryover stocks to return to normal levels by the end of July 2015. “For the immediate future, these regulations will maximize the amount of grain moved by rail before the winter season and will allow our Government to re-assess the situation faced by farmers later in the fall,” concluded Benoit.
OTTAWA (8 August 2014)– “As we progress through summer, it’s important to remember how valuable our natural heritage is to all Canadians,” said Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright. “That’s why I’m proud to stand behind the National Conservation Plan. It follows through on a commitment made in the October 2013 Speech from the Throne to further protect our nation’s greatest resources.”
Announced on May 15th by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the National Conservation Plan (NCP) will commit $252 million over five years to ensure a more national and coordinated approach to conservation efforts across Canada. The Plan will safeguard ecologically-sensitive lands, encourage voluntary environmental stewardship among Canadians and strengthen marine and coastal conservation. In addition, the NCP will implement new initiatives to restore our wetlands and bring nature closer to Canadians through the protection of green spaces in or around urban areas. Specifically, the NCP commits:
$100 million over five years to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to secure ecologically sensitive lands;
$37 million over five years to strengthen marine and coastal conservation;
$3.2 million over five years to support the development of a complete national inventory of Canadian conservation areas;
$50 million over five years to restore wetlands;
$50 million over five years to support voluntary actions to restore and conserve species and their habitats;
$9.2 million over five years to connect urban Canadians to nature; and
$3 million over three years to Earth Rangers to expand family-oriented conservation programming.
Progress under the NCP will be measured against a set of outcomes related to land and ocean conservation, restoration of lands and shorelines, opportunities for Canadians to connect to nature, and improved access to information about Canada’s natural environment. “This Plan will expand opportunities for landowners, hunters and anglers, municipalities, environmental interest groups, and community groups,” continued Benoit. “It recognizes their efforts and provides practical actions on how to conserve ecosystems, restore ecosystems, and connect Canadians to our rich natural heritage.”
Going forward, the NCP will make a practical contribution to Canada’s commitment to the proposed 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada, as part of Canada’s participation in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. “It’s a proud addition to our Government’s world-class conservation record,” concluded Benoit. “This includes the creation of new parks, the protection of environmentally sensitive lands and reserves, protecting sensitive species, improving water quality and engaging Canadians in direct environmental activities.”
OTTAWA (7 August, 2014)– Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, today announced that negotiators have reached a complete text of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), allowing translation and legal review to commence. “I’m pleased that both Canada and the EU have committed to bringing this Agreement into force as quickly as possible,” said Benoit. “Businesses and workers on both sides of the Atlantic will clearly benefit from increased trade, opportunities and job creation.”
Last October, Canada, with the unanimous endorsement of all Provinces and Territories, as well as businesspeople, reached a historic Agreement-in-Principle on the Canada-EU CETA. The EU is the world’s largest integrated economy, with more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of $17 trillion. A joint study concluded that the trade agreement with the European Union would be of significant benefit to Canada, resulting in a 20 percent boost in bilateral trade and a $12 billion increase in Canada’s annual income (GDP) – the equivalent to creating almost 80,000 new jobs or increasing the average Canadian household’s annual income by $1,000. Going forward, consent for the Agreement must be obtained from the European Parliament. There are also plans for a visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the United Kingdom in September, as well as to hold a Canada-EU summit – events which will strengthen Canada’s working relationship with the EU.
“Albertans will benefit directly from this CETA,” continued Benoit. “Throughout Alberta, hard-working people will reap benefits, especially in key sectors of the local economy such as agriculture, metal and mineral products, machinery and equipment as well as chemical and plastic products. Albertans will enjoy more jobs, higher wages and greater long-term prosperity.”
Benoit also highlighted the progress our Conservative Government has made in connecting Canadians to overseas markets. Since coming to office in 2006, the Government of Canada has put into force trade deals with Panama, Jordan, Colombia, Peru, the European Free Trade Association, and has singed historic agreements with South Korea and Honduras.
“This doesn’t include the trade initiatives that are still being negotiated,” concluded Benoit. “Talks are ongoing with the Caribbean Community, Central America Four, Dominican Republic, India, Japan, Morocco, Singapore, Ukraine, and the Asia-Pacific region through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are also pursuing exploratory discussions with Turkey, Thailand and MERCOSUR. Our Government understands the importance of free trade to Canada in a global marketplace.”