Morinville – Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth paid a visit to the Morinville Rotary Club July 25, an early morning stop on the heels of his town hall meeting in Fedorah July 24, a meeting that drew about 20 people to hear the MP speak on his private member’s bill to repeal Section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act.
Storseth’s Wednesday morning breakfast patter touched on the freedom of speech bill, but was largely focused on what the politician sees the government doing for Canadians in general and Albertans in particular. On the provincial side, the MP said recent changes in transfer payments will financially benefit the province. Storseth told Rotarians 10-year social and education transfers came due in 2007 and new agreements were of greater benefit to the province.
“For many years it was always heavily favourable to the eastern provinces and Alberta got far less than it deserved on a per capita basis,” Storseth said, adding his government came up with a system that was fairer to all concerned. “What we did with the social and education transfers is change it to per capita. It meant an increase of between $500 and $700 million per year to Alberta.” The federal politician said his government took the same approach when health care transfers came due, a measure that has resulted in a combined increase to Alberta in excess of $2 billion.
“We did that just by treating Albertans equal and fairly,” he said. “I think that is an important aspect of the things the prime minister has done and our government has done. We’ve tried to do things that treat everybody the same.”
Although federal measures have put more money in the province’s coffers, Storseth is proud of the $6 billion cut in government spending, austerity measures he feels will help his government deliver $200 billion in tax relief to Canadians. “What that number – $200 billion – means is $3,100 every year to the average family right here in Morinville in tax relief,” Storseth said. “That is one of the biggest legacies that we can pass on, ensuring that the burden the Government places on you as a Canadian citizen is equal to what you are getting for your money and the benefit you are receiving from the taxes you are paying. We felt Canadians were excessively overtaxed when we first got elected.”
Storseth said like business owners, the government needed to look at its own pocket book and expense ledger to see where they could do a better job with tax revenues. “We were able to reduce $6 billion in spending,” he said. “That’s not an easy task when you’re talking about sometimes eliminating jobs, sometimes programs that some people end up liking.”
Although some decisions have met with mixed reactions, Storseth defended the government’s decision to make changes to extending the age at which people will become eligible for Canada Pension down the road. The politician praised the prime minister for what he sees as courage in making the move. “This is something that when a lot of Canadians first heard about it they gritted their teeth a bit about it,” he said. “I have to give the prime minister the credit due to him for having the courage to expend that political capital to do the right thing today so that my generation still has the system in place when we grow old.”
Storseth said there are presently four or five tax payers for every person collecting old age security, a ratio that he predicts will reduce to two-to-one 15 years from now. “Our system would simply not be able to handle the burden on my generation to pay so that we could keep that system in place,” he said, adding the changes are far enough out that Canadians can save for the future. “It also gave my generation and my children’s generation an opportunity to have the same benefits here in Canada that we currently enjoy today.”
The politician has made six provincial stops this month to speak about his private member’s bill. He is planning to meet with Morinville and Sturgeon County Councils in the coming weeks to discuss municipal matters.
Above: Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth speaks to Morinville Rotary Club members during a July 25 breakfast meeting. – Stephen Dafoe Photo