MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.

Happy New Year 2009!

Typically, my ?New Year?s edition? of the MP Report includes a review of the year that was and a few hopes and predictions for the year to come.

This year, I?m not going to attempt the predictions for two reasons.

First, since no one could have ever predicted some of the bizarre political events of 2008, I can confidently say I can?t even begin to imagine what we could see in 2009.

As I noted in a recent column, I?ve seen many intriguing developments in Canada?s political scene during my time as your MP but 2008 was an eye-popper! We witnessed the spectacle of the official opposition refusing to vote repeatedly in the House of Commons over several weeks because it was in the midst of internal turmoil.

Canadians found themselves on the brink of an election with nauseating frequency throughout the year before finally going to the polls. Then, just five weeks after they voted to give the Conservative government a stronger mandate, they nearly ended up with an entirely different ?coalition? government that was never a choice on the ballot.

2008 did bring some good political news. We secured Parliamentary support to extend Canada?s mission to Afghanistan until 2011 as recommended by the non-partisan Manley panel. We passed laws to restore a measure of integrity to our justice system.

Canadians also saw unprecedented tax breaks, including our Conservative Government?s second GST cut and dozens of new income tax cuts. Tax Freedom Day 2008, the day symbolically marking when Canadians have paid their total tax bill to all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal), arrived 11 days earlier than when our government took office.

The second reason I?m not prepared to

make predictions for 2009 is that, like many Canadians, troubling world events have left me in a frame of mind that doesn?t lend itself to ?rosy? predictions.

The final days of 2008 have been difficult both here at home and around the world as we?ve just lost another three brave Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, as violence has once again broken out in the Gaza Strip, and as the global economy continues its decline. Economic predictions by others vary from a potential turnaround in 2009 to a very rough year ahead.

Regardless of what?s to come, the best we can do is to plan, prepare and work together. Locally, this means my ongoing relationships and discussions with mayors, councillors and directors and our area?s provincial MLAs.

I?m especially pleased that I will be working even more closely with long-time Peace River North MLA and provincial minister Richard Neufeld when he takes on his new role in the Senate in the new year.

As we prepare to table the federal budget in late January, his will be another voice to help us ensure that northern BC?s unique interests and perspective are strongly represented in Parliament. Despite all the challenges facing us, and our nation, we still have much to be thankful for. And that?s why I end by wishing you all the very best that 2009 can possibly provide for you and your family. Happy New Year!

Hill Says Neufeld in the Senate Is An ?Early Christmas Present? for Northern BC

OTTAWA ? The appointment of local MLA Richard Neufeld to the Senate of Canada is an early Christmas present for Northern British Columbia, local MP Jay Hill said today.

Hill, the Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, said, ?Northern BC?s representation in Parliament hasn?t been this strong since the first part of the last century. We now have an MP in the House of Commons sitting in the federal cabinet as well as a Senator who can bring his in-depth knowledge of local issues to the upper chamber.?

?Throughout my 15 years as an MP, I have enjoyed a supportive and collaborative working relationship with Richard Neufeld in his role as MLA for Peace River North and as BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,? added Hill. ?In his new role as Senator, I look forward to working with him as a colleague in Ottawa so that we may continue to ensure that northern BC?s unique interests and perspective are strongly represented in Parliament.?

Hill Says Neufeld in the Senate Is An ?Early Christmas Present? for Northern BC

?Minister Neufeld recognizes, as our government does, that the Senate is in urgent need of reform to make it democratic, accountable and effective. He has pledged to support eight-year term limits for Senators as well as our Conservative Government?s other Senate reform legislation.?

Hill concluded, ?I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Richard Neufeld, and his wife Montana. Richard?s vast political experience and knowledge of local, regional and national issues will serve as valuable assets in the Senate chamber.?