Canada became stronger in 2014: Benoit

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December 30, 2014 9:01 AM

Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright, said despite the issues around national security, Canada has grown in the last year. - Christopher W. Brown Photo

"It was really heartwarming to see a nation stand behind the families that were affected by the occurrences that took place in Ottawa." – Leon Benoit, MP

For Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright, the last year for Canada has been a time for growth and strength from within.

“I think that it was actually an excellent year, we got key things done to help families, particularly families with young children,” Benoit said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source.

“It was certainly a good year from a federal government point of view.”

Looking back on the year, the federal government was surrounded in news of national defence and homeland security, with the escalating crisis in Ukraine, and the terrorist attacks on the nation’s capital.

Benoit said that the country has grown on national defence in 2014, but more work is still needed.

“We did a lot to make Canada more secure and in the process, safer,” he said. “The threat level is very high right now from terrorists who would like to do damage to Canadians, because of our stance against their radical groups

“But there is still more work to be done on it.”

While looking back on domestic issues in Canada, Benoit said that the federal government this year helped ease the burden to Canadian families by introducing measures to help Canadians economically.

“We still continue to focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, we have said that since we got into power in 2006,” said Benoit. “The economy can’t continue to go up forever, and it didn’t. We went through a recession and Canada has come through that better than most other countries.

“We have handled that well, but yet again the world economy is fragile and it’s been going up and down.”

Benoit said that Canada could potentially be heading for some tougher times in 2015.

“We have certainly done a lot to help Canada deal with the uncertain world economy.”

Looking back on 2014, Benoit said that numerous bills were passed to help with the daily lives of Canadian citizens.

“In the first years of the government, we reduced taxes and increased transfers to families by almost 34 per cent,” he said.

“Most recently, we have put in place income splitting for families with children. We have also expanded the universal child benefit tax.”

The biggest news story to hit Canada this year was the attack on Parliament Hill, when a gunman killed one Canadian soldier, and then ran through the Parliament building, before being gun downed by the Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.

Benoit said that all Canadians really reacted with compassion and a great deal of sadness by the death of the solider by the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

“It was really heartwarming to see a nation stand behind the families that were affected by the occurrences that took place in Ottawa,” he said.

“It was an attack on the very democratic process that Canada has, and it was certainly a difficult time, and a time that brought us home that made us rethink that we are not immune to threats like this.

“We knew that before,” Benoit added.

Benoit cautioned Canadians about being relaxed of another attack like the one in Ottawa ever happening again.

“The risk of an attack like that happening again is very high.”

As chair of the Committee on Natural Resources in Ottawa, Benoit said that the falling price of oil is a concern.

“Oil has always been a commodity that goes up and down,” said Benoit.

“When I was first elected, oil had dropped down to a level where everyone was said that it would never go below $60, and it went to below $20, for a short period of time.”

Benoit points to Saudi Arabia, and OPEC for manipulating the prices of oil heading into the new year.

“Their intentions are clear, they want to put on hold some of the added oil production that is happening in North America,” he said.

“If they are successful, in holding off some of those projects that are happening in North America and some companies are doing just that in saying they are putting on hold some oil projects that they had planned for the 2014 year,” Benoit said that he doubts that the oil industry has hit the bottom of its decline yet.

As for the future, Benoit, who has been an MP since 1993, and has made no mention if he would be seeking re-election in the scheduled 2015 general election.

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