● Cycling issues and the new Liberal government.

Now that the new cabinet has been sworn in and the commotion surrounding the election has started to settle down, it may be time to take stock of what all this could mean for cycling.

(1) The surprise victory of Liberal Catherine McKenna over NDP incumbent Paul Dewar in the Ottawa-Centre riding could help highlight cycling issues in the new government. Ms. McKenna describes herself as an “avid cyclist”, and her statements and campaign literature indicate that she plans to be a strong advocate for improving cycling facilities in Ottawa. And she is going to enjoy a high profile now that she is a member of Trudeau’s cabinet.

(Click here and here for her campaign material relating to cycling).

(2) Hopefully, the new government will do away with the 4.5% tariff increase (on top of existing tariffs) on most of the bicycles imported into Canada which took effect on January 1st of this year. The Globe and Mail estimates this increase will cost Canadian cyclists between $5 million and $6 million a year. What makes this tariff increase so frustrating is that it was introduced at the very same time that tariffs were being eliminated on a wide variety of sports and recreational gear, including various hockey, ski, fitness, and water sports equipment.

(3) Although the new Liberal government will have a lot of priorities to deal with in the coming months (attending an international conference on climate change, amending anti-terror laws, bringing in thousands of Syrian refugees, providing tax relief for middle-class Canadians, etc), hopefully they will find time later on in their mandate to develop the beginnings of a national cycling strategy. A good first step in this direction would be to ensure that some of the infrastructure money the Liberals have promised will be spent on improving cycling facilities.

(4) And finally, we’ll be rid of the subtle anti-bicycle stance that the Conservative government seems to have latched onto in many of their initiatives (e.g. the aforementioned tariffs increase on bicycles while eliminating them for other sporting equipment, providing money for snowmobile trails while ignoring bicycle paths, and so on).

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