Candidates dust it up over MacKay visit

Peter MacKay comes to Kootenay Columbia but not too many people knew about it, say opponents

  • May. 29, 2015 9:00 a.m.


Kootenay Columbia MP David Wilks was pleased to host Justice Minister Peter MacKay on a visit to the riding last weekend, but his riding opponents in the upcoming federal election have a question — why didn’t anyone know about it in advance?

According to a press release from Wilks’ office, the events included meetings and discussions on some important Justice-led initiatives that both Minister MacKay and MP Wilks have worked hard on and supported in the House of Commons and through MP Wilks’ work on the Justice Committee.

“One such example, is the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, which will provide law enforcement with the tools they need to keep Canadians safe from the threats of terrorists, while ensuring that fundamental rights are protected, through judicial over-sight.

“I was pleased to host Minister MacKay in Cranbrook this past Saturday, to meet with constituents on matters of importance to our community,” Wilks said. “The safety and protection of my constituents has always been a driving force for my involvement in the community.

“I am particularly proud of our Government’s tough on crime policies and our economic initiatives that will provide growth opportunities for all residents of Kootenay-Columbia. I am grateful that Minister MacKay took time out of his busy schedule to meet with community leaders – to hear their thoughts and provide valuable input on our Conservative Government’s policies.  Only this Government stands up for the values of Kootenay-Columbia”, said MP Wilks.

NDP candidate Wayne Stetski questions the meetings with constituents. The people of the Kootenays in fact missed their opportunity to speak with Justice Minister Peter MacKay at a meeting held in Cranbrook this weekend, says Stetski.

“I was very surprised to discover that Minister MacKay came to Cranbrook supposedly to discuss Bill C51 with constituents, but it appears virtually no one in Cranbrook knew he was coming,” said Stetski.

“If Mr. Wilks is so sure that Bill C51 is the right thing to do, and if he thinks that it was defensible for him to vote in favour of the bill even when so many people in this area do not support it, having the Justice Minister in town would have been a great opportunity for Mr. Wilks to hold a public meeting and address his constituents’ concerns.

“But that’s not what Mr. Wilks did. Instead he held a meeting with only a handpicked group of individuals, to give Minister MacKay a photo-op and something to tweet about.

“I don’t think that the citizens of this region believe that this kind of politicking is acceptable. Mr. Wilks has utterly failed to represent the people of the Kootenays in this matter.”

Green Party candidate Bill Green says he had to rely on Google searches to get any information on Minister MacKay’s visit.

“It is very disappointing that no opportunities were arranged for Minister Mackay to speak to the general public about the wide range of justice issues that are of concern to people in this riding,”Green said. “From my door-to-door campaigning, I have learned that many people are concerned about the erosion of our democratic rights that will result from Bill C-51. I’m convinced that people in this riding are going to vote for a candidate and a party that will be transparent and open to dialogue and different perspectives.”

And Liberal candidate Don Johnston can’t believe Minister MacKay did make himself available.

“I am amazed and disappointed that a Minister of the Crown would visit the riding, at some considerable cost, and not make themselves available to the public and the media. It is, unfortunately totally consistent with the Conservative obsession to control the message and stage events where they don’t need to worry about bothersome citizens or media who might ask unscripted messages. It’s another example of how disconnected this government is from the people it governs.”