By David F. Rooney
MP David Wilks rolled into town for pretty full day of speaking to Rotarians, presenting a commendation to Fire Rescue Service and Highway Rescue Society and talking with members RSS students.
Rotary Club members were treated to Wilks’ take on the Senate scandal and the harm that, as well as the House of Commons’ daily Question Period gong show, is doing to the public perception of Canada’s political leaders.
Despite all the hyperbole, it is unlikely that the Senate will ever be abolished; no matter what some people think it serves a useful purpose by providing some oversight on the bills introduced in the Commons. The real problem is ensuring that it functions with a better degree of transparency. Changing the way the Senate functions is also something that the provinces should be involved in, as Senators represent the provinces as well as their parties.
The Supreme Court of Canada is being asked to clarify some aspects of the Senate but its deliberations will take months to conclude and there is always the risk that whatever it decides may be at odds with both the government and the Opposition parties. The other route towards Senate change is through the Constitution and opening up that process will likely involve other, much larger issues, such as Quebec.
Wilks was very upbeat about recent discussions he and MLA Norm Macdonald and Revelstoke and Golden Mayors David Raven and Christina Benty had with the feds regarding the badly required Trans-Canada Highway improvements between Alberta and the Coast.
As most everybody probably knows, the Trans-Canada is twinned from the Alberta-BC border all the way to the East Coast.
Wilks said he talked about this issue with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and he appears to be interested in seeing what can be done.
The MP said he thinks Ottawa may commit money to improving those portions of the TCH that run through national parks. Those are the only stretches that Ottawa is directly responsible for. But direct spending by Ottawa may put some pressure on BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark to talk about a serious plan for fixing the rest of the highway over the coming years. But it won’t be cheap and it won’t swift.
“It’s going to take a boat-load of money,” Wilks said, adding that it may also take 20 years to complete.
Wilks also said the governing Conservatives are going to top up the Build Canada Fund and he will talk to Flaherty again about getting Ottawa to commit $500 million to the highway with matching funds from Victoria. We may hear something about that in mid-December.
Wilks also presented Revelstoke’s Fire Rescue Service and Highway Rescue Society personnel with a commendation from Ottawa for their contribution to the community and spent time talking with RSS students.
You can view the brief commendation ceremony below: