In her first week in Ottawa, South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts didn’t step back on the commitment to fight ISIS that featured prominently in her campaign literature.
In her inaugural speech in the Commons last week, Watts supported a tabled Opposition motion to keep Canada’s CF-18s in the international military coalition against ISIS, urging a “multi-faceted approach” that also includes humanitarian aid and refugee assistance.
Watts told Peace Arch News Wednesday that she considers it important that Canada continues to employ the aircraft in strikes against ISIS.
“The Kurdistan regional government has asked us to continue because it helps them in their fight against ISIS,” she said. “The strikes are against targeted areas – things like weapons caches.”
Noting that the Conservative government started humanitarian aid in the area in 2012, which subsequently placed 12,000 refugees in Canada, Watts said military missions should still be part of Canada’s plan.
“We have to go on working with our allies,” she said. “We have to help people who are stranded in Syria and Iraq – a lot of these people don’t want to leave their homes, but under the rule of ISIS that’s not possible.”
Watts said she had also supported the Opposition’s failed fight against the Liberals’ new personal income tax legislation – in part because she had heard from her constituents concerned that, starting in January, it cuts in half allowable contributions to tax-free savings accounts (TSFAs).
Seniors, in particular, told her how important TFSAs are to their retirement and savings plans, she said.
“It’s unfortunate,” Watts said. “I heard loud and clear that this was something our seniors wanted to take advantage of.”
As critic for Infrastructure and Communities, Watts noted that while a number of infrastructure amenities have been announced in the East, she is waiting for more details of federal government plans for improving transportation infrastructure in the West, particularly in the Lower Mainland.
More clarity on federal intentions is important in light of the B.C. government’s current priority of a replacement for the Massey Tunnel, which puts it at odds with Metro Vancouver communities’ continued calls for improved transportation, including much-needed rapid transit expansion in Surrey, Watts added.
Watts also said that while “everybody is on the same page about taking better care of the planet,” she said she would have preferred, following the Paris summit on climate change, an approach that emphasized regulatory control and encouraged companies that helped developing countries reduce emissions, rather than imposition of a new national carbon tax.
She said she feels individual cities should be much more involved in climate-change issues, because “flooding happens in cities and other problems, such as power outages, that are associated with changing weather patterns.”