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Foothills Focus, 3ed.

Hello everyone,

After some welcome time at home the winter session of Parliament resumed on Jan. 26 and it was a rude welcome back in Ottawa.

While the weather was balmy and beautiful at home in southern Alberta – friends and neighbours enjoying a mid-winter barbecue on the deck – Ottawa was engulfed in a deep freeze.

Flip-flops, T-shirts and tacky shorts were replaced by long underwear, a toque and fuzzy slippers.

Winter in southern Ontario is certainly not what I am used to in southern Alberta, but it was nice to get back to work in the House of Commons.

Before I talk about what transpired in the House this week I would like to touch on what occurred over the Christmas break in the riding.

Besides participating in Santa Claus parades, we toured throughout the riding to get our Christmas shopping done, and had a wonderful time enjoying the holiday season in our rural communities. I was reminded how critical it is to support our local businesses, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. It is our local businesses who support local initiatives, sponsor youth organizations and provide the bulk of local employment.

During the Christmas break we met with the Premier’s Office to discuss the Disaster Recovery Program and issues facing residents in High River and Bragg Creek. It was an excellent meeting as we discussed some of the obstacles facing the DRP program and offered some potential solutions. Additionally, I was pleased to see Premier Prentice in High River in January announcing changes to the DRP program to address the logjams and get funds to home and business owners as quickly as possible.

In late January, I was honoured to join a delegation of Canadian Parliamentarians on a week-long trip to Taiwan to meet with fellow officials in Taipei.

It was an excellent week meeting with President Ma as well as representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Energy and the chair of the Chinese Petroleum Corporation. We also met with Canada’s Trade Office and Alberta’s representative in Taiwan.

This provided an excellent opportunity for me to promote Alberta beef, our agri-foods and grains and encourage investment in our oil and gas industry. These meetings made it clear we have untapped trade potential in Taiwan, a country of 23 million people, and the importance of completing a western pipeline to get our natural resources to market. Taiwan lifted its ban on bone-in Canadian beef in 2014 and imports of our beef have quadrupled.

Although I look forward to building on our relationship with Taiwan, I do not look forward to some of the food. I was brave enough to try squid on a stick, but I was not brave enough to suck on pig knuckle soup or plug my nose long enough to try spicy stinky tofu. Although, I will give them credit, the Taiwanese know how to make beer!

(As an aside, the fatal plane crash in Taiwan earlier this week was the same airline and type of plane we flew on when travelling in Taiwan. Very frightening and my thoughts are with the family of those who died in the accident)

Upon returning home, I met with residents in Bragg Creek to discuss DRP and future mitigation for the community. These are both provincial issues, but I was happy to listen to their concerns and pass them on to the Province.

Later in the day, it was back to High River to meet with Prentice to discuss the changes to the DRP program.

There were a number of local events we attended as well including the Okotoks Rotary Club’s Robbie Burns dinner, Larry Kwong’s Chinese New Year celebration and the Friends of the Bar U Ranch annual Stockman’s dinner – congratulations to the families who were honoured.

Back in the Great White East of Ottawa we had several stakeholder meetings including Alberta milk producers, Alberta fire chiefs, and executives from Cargill to discuss the new Express Entry program and agreement with Alberta for a one-time Temporary Foreign Worker bridge program.

Also this week in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced the Anti-Terrorism Act to protect Canadians from the evolving threat of terrorism and to help keep our communities safe. This legislation will give our law enforcement and national security agencies the tools they need to protect Canadians against the ever evolving threat of jihadi terrorism.
These measures support law enforcement by:
• Stopping those who promote terror by creating a new Criminal Code offence that will criminalize the promotion of terrorist attacks on Canadians;
• Interfering with terrorist recruitment by giving our courts the authority to order the removal of terrorist propaganda online;
• Providing CSIS with the ability, under judicial authority, to intervene to prevent specific terror plots while they are still in the planning stages;
• Providing law enforcement agencies with enhanced ability to detect and prevent terrorism offences and terrorist activity;
• Preventing terrorists from travelling by enabling the sharing of relevant information across federal departments and agencies while also strengthening the Passenger Protect Program.
• Making it easier for law enforcement agencies to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians and toughening penalties for violating court ordered conditions on terror suspects;
• Enabling the sharing of relevant information across federal departments and agencies;
• Ensuring national security agencies are able to prevent foreigners who pose a threat to Canada from obtaining Canadian citizenship, or from coming to Canada;
• Providing witnesses with additional protection in national security proceedings and prosecutions.

I am looking forward to being back in the riding this week. I will be in Pincher Creek meeting with constituents on Monday as well as Pincher Creek town council. I will be meeting with residents throughout the week as well as participating in speaking engagements at Okotoks Chamber, High River Library and several local schools.

I am especially looking forward to attending a meeting of the new Okotoks Legion and the inaugural Spring Glen Park fundraiser in Glenwood.

If you have any feedback on the Anti-Terrorism Act please contact our office, I always appreciate hearing from my constituents.

Until next time,

John Barlow
Member of Parliament for Macleod