Foothills Focus, 4ed.
After a long wait the much anticipated report regarding the gun seizures in High River was released by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission to the RCMP on Feb. 12.
Myself and fellow parliamentarians, including MP Scott Reid, have been working hard and using every means possible, such as tabling Order Paper Questions, to ensure this report was completed.
The report is extensive and although it states the first responders, Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP acted heroically during and in the days after the 2013 flood, it also brings to light critical failures by the RCMP, most notably the fact that some of the seizures of guns were illegal.
The commission’s report states clearly the RCMP contravened the Criminal Code when it seized firearms stored safely and legally. It also overstepped its authority when officers entered and re-entered homes two and three times conducting what were warrantless searches of homes in High River.
The actions of the RCMP in these cases were simply unacceptable.
The commission’s report outlines a number of recommendations for the RCMP to address its lack of communication, data collection, training, a clear emergency response plan, and leadership which led to confusion among officers in their roles and responsibilities in the wake of one of Canada’s most devastating natural disasters.
I am looking forward to the RCMP following through on these recommendations because this cannot happen again. As the report stated, the state cannot violate the sanctity of one’s home and property and our Government will always stand up for the rights of law abiding firearms owners. I will be asking the Minister of Public Safety to hold the RCMP accountable for its actions in High River and ensure they implement the recommendations outlined in the report.
For High River, it is my hope, this brings closure to this issue and our community can continue with the rebuilding process. Everyone has worked tirelessly to help the communities in Macleod – Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows, Fort Macleod, Crowsnest Pass and High River – recover from the 2013 flood. I cannot express my thanks enough for the volunteers, organizations and dedicated people who have committed hours to the rebuilding process over the past 18 months.
To be sure, the progress has been impressive; however, there is still work to do. We must continue to work to rebuild confidence in the local economy by attracting small businesses back, we must get those families still displaced or with unresolved DRP files back in their homes and work with all three levels of government to put infrastructure in place so our rural communities do not just survive this flood, but come back stronger than ever and thrive long-term.
There is great enthusiasm in Macleod and I will continue to meet with elected officials and bureaucrats at the municipal and provincial level regularly to discuss issues facing Macleod and help to remove obstacles paving the way for renewal and growth.
It was a busy week in the riding last week, but first let me express how nice it was to be home.
Not only was the balmy weather in the Foothills refreshing, but the sight of the rolling prairies and majestic Rocky Mountains was awe-inspiring. It was certainly nice to be home in the riding and I was lucky enough to tour most of it over the past week.
Below is a list of some of the events and meetings I attended over the past week:
• Meeting students at Dr. Morris Gibson and Big Rock School
• Claresholm Trade Fair
• Invited to speak at High River Public Library
• Toured Rowan House Emergency Shelter and spoke at the One Billion Rising Walk
• Bow Valley College Venture Quest
• Okotoks Legion meeting
• Spring Glen Park Fundraiser in Glenwood
• Pincher Creek council meeting re: New Building Canada Plan, Enabling Accessibility Grant
• I also met with numerous residents at our constituency office in High River and spent a day meeting with residents in Pincher Creek
• Spoke to large crowd at Okotoks and District Chamber of Commerce on the new Express Entry program, TFW agreement with Alberta government, the Family Prosperity Plan (Family Tax Credit) and new programs for small business such as apprenticeship loans and Small Business Job Tax Credit.
I would like to expand on some of the essential commitments our Government has made to help small and medium sized businesses. Macleod is a rural riding and the success of our small and medium sized business is critical to our communities.
Some of the programs we have implemented over the past few months include:
• One of these initiatives is the Business Innovation Access Program, a current pilot program providing $20 million in funding to small and medium sized enterprises (SME) to help them access business services or technical assistance at Canada’s learning institutions and publically-funded research organizations.
• The Canada Apprentice Loan will provide apprentices in Red Seal trades across Canada with access to interest-free loans. Apprentices registered in a Red Seal trade apprenticeship will be able to apply for loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. The loans are interest-free until after loan recipients complete or leave their apprenticeship training program, up to a maximum of six years. It is estimated that at least 26,000 apprentices a year will benefit from over $100 million in Canada Apprentice Loans.
• The New Small Business Job Credit will, over the next two years, lower Employment Insurance premiums for small businesses. Employment Insurance premiums will be lowered from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any firm that pays employer EI premiums equal to or less than $15,000 in those years will be eligible for this credit.
• Canada Small Business Financing Program will make loans available to more firms by increasing the revenue threshold under which a small business can apply for the program. It will also support business start-up and growth by increasing the maximum loan amount and the maximum term length for loans financing the purchase or improvement of land and buildings.
• Futurpreneur Canada, an organization that helps young entrepreneurs launch and sustain businesses. Futurpreneur Canada will provide mentoring, expert advice, learning resources, and start up financing to young entrepreneurs to help them get on their feet and become the business leaders we need in the next generation.
• “Go Global” workshops run by the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast were put together by the department of International Trade to assist SME’s take advantage of international business opportunities. These workshops bring together Canadian trade, export, development and commercial agencies in one session so that SME’s have access to resources and can better understand how these partners work together to support them. Over 20 workshops were scheduled across the country from last fall and into this spring. If there is enough interest from Macleod business, I can look into requesting a workshop take place here in the near future.
This week I am back in Ottawa for the next two weeks and I realized I forgot something at home – a pair of longjohns!
Until next time,
John Barlow, M.P.