Wilks on Cabinet minister’s visit, C-51, addiction

Kootenay-Columbia MP talks about James Moore's visit, criticisms of Conservative anti-terror bill and his recent statement in the House.

  • Mar. 20, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Moore than a big deal

It’s not everyday that a federal Cabinet minister comes to town.

However, Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks has been trying to get James Moore out to Cranbrook for the last year.

“I think he was well received and it was great to have him out and about,” said Wilks, who spent the day with Moore meeting with different groups all day, including addressing members of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce for lunch on Wednesday.

“We met with the Columbia Basin Trust and another group of people regarding broadband,” said Wilks. “Broadband’s a significant issue in this area, especially to those people who still don’t have access to high-speed Internet and we’re working toward making that happen.”

The day also included a presentation by the CBT to put a proposal forward with the Digital 150 grant application for broadband funding.

Addressing C-51

There were protests across the country last weekend as people gathered in a national day of action to take a stand against Bill C-51, an anti-terrorism bill that is currently being proposed by the Conservative government.

Critics of the bill believe it hands too much power to government authorities and has vague and ambiguous language that can be used beyond the scope of anti-terrorism.

Responding to the criticism of the bill, Wilks, as a former RCMP officer, said the most important part of the bill is the information-sharing aspect of it.

“Most people won’t realize that CSIS, RCMP, CBSA—all of those agencies don’t share information and never have.

This bill allows them to share information on individuals or an individual of interest and allows for a better flow of information.”

Drawing on his former career, Wilks said he’s authored affidavits for wiretaps and warrants.

“It’s no walk in the park. It’s a long, arduous process that is extremely vetted and scrutinized by a Supreme Court justice and they ensure that every (i) is dotted and every (t) is crossed,” Wilks said.

“And if it isn’t, you don’t get your warrant. Or you don’t get your wiretap. It’s just that simple.”

He encourages people to read the bill itself to understand how it is applied.

“It says at the bottom of Section Two, for better certainty, it doesn’t not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression. It’s pretty clear to me, maybe it’s not clear to other people, but it’s pretty clear to me that it means if you want to have a lawful protest, you may.

“And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

On overcoming addiction

Wilks recently opened up a more personal side in the House of Commons, acknowledging his past addiction with alcohol and the recent work that came out of a summit from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse at the end of January.

“Mr. Speaker, I bring this to your attention because just over 26 years ago, I took my last drink,” said Wilks, in his statement. “My life had spiralled out of control. But by the grace of God, I stand before you and all Canadians to give hope to all those who still suffer with addiction, that they can find a path which will provide them with a daily reprieve from their addiction.

“Today, I can tell you that I would not trade my best day drunk for my worst day sober. Today I reach my hand out to help anyone in need, rather than pushing them away.”

Wilks said he made his statement because it was important to him and although he wished to make it closer to the CCSA summit date of January 27-28, it wasn’t his allotted time to make a statement.

Wilks noted that recovery is a long hard road, but he doesn’t agree with programs like Insite, covered under legislation from Bill C-2.

“I don’t think it’s a wise idea to be looking at safe injection sites across Canada when the fact of the matter is that those addicted to drugs and alcohol for that matter, opening these sites enables them to continue to do what they want to do,” Wilks said. “We shouldn’t be enabling them. We should be encouraging them into recovery, not enabling them to continue with the drug of choice.”