On Wednesday, Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented a speech from the throne on behalf of the Conservative government, outlining the goals of the next parliamentary session.
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks spoke to the Townsman from Ottawa after the speech, saying he was especially happy with the law and order aspect of those goals and priorities.
Wilks said his party’s priorities include jobs and ensuring that Canadians stay employed, but, as a former RCMP officer, it is the changes to the justice system that are close to his heart.
“For me personally I look at the justice side of it and I’m quite happy with a lot of the things that came out of there,” he said.
He noted the legislation change for those who commit the most grievous crimes.
“We’re going to introduce legislation where a life sentence is life. It doesn’t mean 25 years,” he said.
The Speech from the Throne also highlighted a victim bill of rights, which Wilks said would restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of the justice system. Wilks said they will also be ending the sentencing discounts for those that are convicted of child sex offences, and ending the practice of automatic release for serious repeat offenders.
With regards to prostitution laws, he said the government is committed to ensuring that it uphold the laws that are already in place.
“I personally see prostitution as a serious problem that we can’t allow further into our communities,” he said. “We have to ensure that the laws we have now are upheld.”
The Throne Speech noted that CETA, the Canada Europe Trade Agreement has been finalized.
“I think there are some great opportunities,” he said. “What people need to recognize from a federal component that we try to create opportunities for Canadians, then the provincial, municipal and regional governments will also try to expand upon what we were trying to do.”
On infrastructure, there will be $70 million invested over the next decade.
“I think that all communities in the Kootenay-Columbia will be able to take advantage of that opportunity and catch up on some of the infrastructure needs that are required in the community,” he said.
On the topic of small business and tourism, Wilks said he was quite happy being a small business person himself.
“We’ll cut the red tape and help businesses navigate through the tax system – it can be an arduous process for a small business,” he said.
The government will also introduce legislation to enshrine the one-for-one rule in law – for every new regulation added, one must be removed.
“It’s a simplifying thing. Some of the forms small business owners have to fill out are time consuming. From the perspective of that alone, we’re hoping that small business owners will be able to dedicate more time to their business.”
Wilks said there will be some great opportunities for the Kootenays in the mining sector.
“We’re going to be able to move forward with additional mining opportunities certainly in the Elk Valley through resource development,” he said. “I think from that there will be an opportunity for the trades which will be looking to create 80,000 new jobs.”