MP for Cariboo-Prince George Todd Doherty. File photo

MP for Cariboo-Prince George Todd Doherty. File photo

OPINION: Canada’s best days are yet to come

There is light at the end of this dark tunnel

The final days of 2020 are upon us and I know most of you, like me, are anxious to close the chapter on what has been a year like no other.

As Canadians welcomed the start of a new decade last January, we learned through media reports of a rapidly spreading and increasingly deadly novel coronavirus.

In Ottawa, parliamentarians began questioning the Government on their plan to protect the health and safety of Canadians. I personally raised concerns on the security of passengers travelling through Canadian airports as early as January 27.

Unfortunately, the Liberals dismissed our concerns. It became apparent that they did not take the virus seriously in the early days, when it mattered the most.

Weeks passed and it became obvious that temporarily banning travel from certain countries would be a significant step towards mitigating the spread of this virus in Canada. Once again, our concerns were not only dismissed, but denounced as “fear mongering.”

By mid-March, the World Health Organization had declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Canadians were told to stay home, isolate and those abroad were instructed to return to Canada immediately. Schools were closed and businesses were ordered to shut down. Major league sports suspended their seasons. Concerts and events with large crowds were cancelled to comply with new physical distancing protocols.

Here in Cariboo-Prince George, that meant the cancellation of the Williams Lake Stampede, Billy Barker Days, the BC Northern Exhibition and the Vanderhoof Fall Fair – events that are all key economic drivers for our communities.

While the House of Commons suspended regular sittings, my constituency office remained open. As new federal benefits to assist out of work Canadians rolled out, we did our best to help constituents navigate these programs.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, we know that assistance came too little, too late for some. For many others who did not qualify for federal relief, health and safety protocols saw the closure of their businesses.

Like the wildfires of 2017 and 2018, 2020 also delivered a weather-related sucker punch in the form of wide-spread catastrophic flooding that stranded farms, residents and washed away critical infrastructure.

From the earliest days of the pandemic up to and including right now, our office received an overwhelming number of messages, phone calls and emails from Canadians stranded abroad in all corners of the world. Their stories were horrifying and heartbreaking. Through the chaos, we have been able to help repatriate hundreds of constituents back to our beautiful region.

Since the coronavirus crisis began, my Conservative colleagues and I worked with the Government in good faith to protect Canadians and deliver better results. Conservatives fought for and secured changes to the wage subsidy program (including an increase from 10 per cent to 75 per cent) to help more Canadians keep their jobs.

We secured changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help more small businesses keep their doors open; and we advocated for an increase to the Canada Child Benefit to help families who have been hit hard by this pandemic, which the Liberals finally agreed to in their Fall Economic Statement.

In September, I was named Special Advisor on Mental Health and Wellness to our new Conservative Leader, Erin O’Toole. Given that recent studies have shown Canada’s pre-existing mental health crisis has significantly worsened because of the pandemic, this new role was of crucial importance.

Sadly, with increased isolation and anxiety, we have watched alcohol and substance abuse also increase. Reports of domestic violence have gone up and more Canadians are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings. In my new role, I was able to work with national mental health stakeholders and my parliamentary colleagues to bring the 9-8-8 National Suicide Hotline initiative to the forefront here in Canada. It was a great day for Canadians when just two weeks ago, my motion to bring 9-8-8 to Canada passed with the unanimous consent of parliament. In the months ahead, we will continue working to ensure the timely implementation of this system.

READ MORE: Cariboo-Prince George MP’s suicide prevention hotline motion passes unanimously

As we chart a course for recovery, critical to our planning, is developing sound mental health policy.

While this year has been a mostly downhill rollercoaster, it has given us all an opportunity to reflect on what is truly important in life: family. In May, we moved my father in-law Stan into our home for palliative care. While it has been hard to watch someone you love and respect move towards their final days, we are blessed to have been able to spend this time with him.

Each day brings more stories of his years spent logging, living in the Cariboo and the friends he met along the way.

As you may know, I was so proud to be able to welcome my first granddaughter into this world just last month.

I was not aware that it was possible for my heart to swell with so much love. Baby Ren Kathleen was born Nov. 30. She has stolen our hearts and has made this Christmas so very special.

To the families and friends of our region, I wish you the very best this holiday season can bring; please be safe.

I believe there is light at the end of this dark tunnel and Canada’s best days are yet to come. I hope to see you all in person in the new year.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Todd Doherty is the MP for Cariboo-Prince George. Black Press Media asked him to submit a year-end column for our readers.

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC OpinionsCariboo

Just Posted

Talia McKay of Williams Lake is a burn survivor who remains grateful for the support she received from the Burn Fund (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
’You have to allow yourself the grace to heal’: B.C. burn survivor reflects on her recovery

Learning how to stand straight and walk again was a feat said Williams Lake resident Talia McKay

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Worth taking another look at hemp for paper production

Ninety years after being deemed illegal, few are afraid of marijauna

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Milking cows and strangers on the premises

Cows in a milking barn may get upset if a stranger comes

Lake City Secondary School Grade 12 students Haroop Sandhu, from left, Amrit Binning and Cleary Manning are members of the school’s horticulture club. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
LCSS horticulture club a growing success

Aspiring gardeners at a Williams Lake secondary school are earning scholarship dollars… Continue reading

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Tribune.
FOREST INK: Plenty of changes happening in forest industry

A new process produces a biodegradable plastic-like product from wood waste powder

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read