Local and regional government officials got the chance to hear from Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski late last week, who provided an update on a number of federal issues to the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors.
Stetski’s presentation covered topics that included firearms, environmental protections of navigable waters, Columbia River Treaty negotiations, and immigration, as well as a list of specific issues that had been requested by RDEK directors.
The Kootenay-Columbia NDP MP opened with an update on Bill C-71, which proposes amendments to to acts and regulations concerning firearms, including mandatory sales record-keeping for business that sell firearms, as well as ensuring customers have a valid firearms license.
“With that piece of legislation, in essence, what that does is allow RCMP to go back further than five years, in terms of checking on individuals,” Stetski said. “There are concerns around potentially people who might have had mental health issues or issues relating to not behaving very well prior to five years and this law would allow RCMP to go back and check further than five years.”
Other amendments include removing federal Cabinet’s authority to override RCMP decisions on how it classifies different types of firearms.
Stetski noted that the three major federal parties agree the legislation is not bringing back a long-gun registry, reiterating his support for hunters by pointing to his time as a regional manager with the B.C. government.
“I will always stand by our hunters and our ranchers, in terms of the right to have those firearms and to use them appropriately,” said Stetski, in response to questioning from Director Stan Doehle.
Bill C-69 is proposed legislation that will make amendments around navigable protections and energy regulations.
Stetski noted the former Conservative government reduced protections for navigable waters to roughly 159 lakes and rivers in 2012, adding that the proposed changes from the Liberal government will not restore those protections.
“Some of the things it [C-69] didn’t do, it didn’t deliver on government’s promise to restore protection to all rivers and lakes in Canada,” Stetski said. “]It] maintains the schedule of 159 protected lakes and rivers and includes a narrow definition of navigable waters, so as a result, the water bodies may not regain the protection that they had prior to 2012.”
Going forward, anyone can request an addition to the schedule of protected water bodies, however, Bill-69 focuses on human navigation rather than environmental, social or cultural values of the waters, continued Stetski.
Another bill with an environmental focus is Bill C-68, which will restore habitat protection provisions for fish, and defining fisheries as all fish. It also includes the rebuilding of fish stocks in the Fisheries Act, with details to be forthcoming in pending regulations.
Stetski also told the board he is keeping up-to-date on Columbia River Treaty negotiations, having spoken about the importance of the agreement in parliament and meeting with Sylvian Fabi, Canada’s lead negotiator on the file.
Increasing cellular service availability in Kootenay National Park and allowing applicants to travel to Calgary instead of Vancouver are also items that Steski said he has been advocating for in Ottawa.
After the presentation, further items raised from directors included creating a national health record-keeping system to avoid duplication from provincial systems, as well as employer troubles in accessing temporary foreign workers for agriculture, seasonal tourism and retail operations.