Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced his resignation Friday, May 29, prompting MP David Wilks to say he was honoured that one of his last acts was to visit Kootenay-Columbia riding.
McKay engineered the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada’s merger with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. His is a lawyer and a former Crown attorney who was first elected to the House on Commons in 1997 for the Nova Scotia riding of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. He is descended from James Alexander, 3rd Earl of Caledon and James Grimston, 1st Earl of Verulam. His father, Elmer, was a prominent and long-serving Progressive Conservative Party MP from 1971 until 1983 (Central Nova). He resigned from office to permit the subsequent election of Brian Mulroney in that riding through a byelection and sought re-election in Central Nova in 1984. He served in various Mulroney-era cabinet posts until 1993.
“We had no idea that the Justice Minister was going to be leaving politics and therefore I am doubly honoured that he chose to visit Kootenay Columbia as one of his last political stops before he retires from politics,” Wilks said in a statement. “I extend my sincere best wishes to Peter, his wife and family as they embark on their future.”
McKay visited Cranbrook last weekend and spoke to members of that city’s Council, Chamber of Commerce and, at a dinner, members of the local Conservative Party organization.
“I accepted David Wilks invitation to visit Kootenay Columbia because of my high esteem for David and his tireless efforts on behalf of his constituents and all Canadians,” MacKay said. “David makes a significant contribution to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
“However, what’s really remarkable is David’s private members bill that enables protection of children across Canada. It’s outstanding that for a private member’s bill to pass, but almost unheard of to achieve that in the first term of a Member of Parliament.”
Wilks’ new law protects children and holds criminals accountable. It amends the Criminal Code (kidnapping of a young person) by ensuring that cases involving the kidnapping of children by strangers are treated with the severity they deserve. It imposes a mandatory minimum penalty of five years imprisonment on those convicted of kidnapping a child under the age of 16.
The government supported the legislation because it was in keeping with the Conservative’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister. Their plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
“I was very proud that my bill became law. The protection of children across Canada is paramount,” Wilks said.
MacKay’s visit to Cranbrook was criticized by NDP candidate Wayne Stetski.
“I was very surprised to discover that Minister MacKay came to Cranbrook supposedly to discuss Bill C51 with constituents, but it appears virtually no one in Cranbrook knew he was coming,” Stetski said.
MacKay posted the following on Twitter: MinPeterMacKay 6:18am via Twitter for BlackBerry. Informative meeting with MP @DavidJohnWilks and constituents on Justice matters & Bill c-51 in #Cranbrook Saturday
“If Mr. Wilks is so sure that Bill C51 is the right thing to do, and if he thinks that it was defensible for him to vote in favour of the bill even when so many people in this area do not support it, having the justice minister in town would have been a great opportunity for Mr. Wilks to hold a public meeting and address his constituents’ concerns. But that’s not what Mr. Wilks did. Instead he held a meeting with only a handpicked group of individuals, to give Minister MacKay a photo-op and something to tweet about.”