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Posted: May 28, 2015

MacKay visit a blown opportunity: Stetski

By Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

Canada’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay, one of the key authors of the recently passed Bill C-51 (the Anti-Terrorism Act), was in Cranbrook last weekend.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay

Unfortunately, that is all e-KNOW can tell you about the visit, other than MacKay and his visit host, Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks, met with Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce board of directors on May 23, as well as with some city officials.

The visit from one of Canada’s top-level politicians did not include any time spent with local media. However, judging from a story in the Creston Valley Advance, one media member from that town was part of MacKay’s tour.

The visit wasn’t secret. 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.

Additionally, the meeting with chamber members was planned three weeks in advance.

Considering the recently passed and extremely controversial Bill C-51, it shouldn’t have just been local media getting a chance to hear MacKay speak, but all residents, says NDP candidate for Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski, noting the carefully orchestrated visit as emblematic of how the Stephen Harper government only works with those who support it.

NDP candidate Wayne Stetski
NDP candidate Wayne Stetski

“One of the biggest issues for Canadians leading up to the next election will be the government’s actions on Bill C-51, and the people of the Kootenays just missed their opportunity to speak with Justice Minister Peter MacKay. I was very surprised to discover that Minister MacKay came to Cranbrook supposedly to discuss Bill C-51 with constituents, but it appears virtually no one in Cranbrook knew he was coming,” Stetski stated in a press release.

“If Mr. Wilks is so sure that Bill C-51 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,” Stetski said.

“I don’t think that the citizens of this region believe that this kind of politicking is acceptable. Mr. Wilks has utterly failed to represent the people of the Kootenays in this matter.”

Bill C-51 is one of the most contentious pieces of legislation passed by the Conservative government this year, Stetski continued, noting in his press release “experts have said that this legislation will seriously erode the rights and freedoms of Canadians.”

Should the NDP form government in the fall, Tom Mulcair has committed to the full repeal of all aspects of C51, Stetski’s release concluded.

In a press release issued late Tuesday (May 26), Wilks stated, “I was pleased to host Minister MacKay in Cranbrook this past Saturday, to meet with constituents on matters of importance to our community. The safety and protection of my constituents has always been a driving force for my involvement in the community, and I am particularly proud of our government’s tough-on-crime policies and our economic initiatives that will provide growth opportunities for all residents of Kootenay-Columbia. I am grateful that Minister MacKay took time out of his busy schedule to meet with community leaders – to hear their thoughts and provide valuable input on our Conservative Government’s policies. Only this government stands up for the values of Kootenay-Columbia.”

Also included in the press release was this statement from MacKay.

“National security; the economy and the safety of our communities are key priorities for Canadians. This is also the case in Kootenay-Columbia, where I had the opportunity to discuss the important measures our Conservative Government has brought in to ensure the protection of Canadians and to create jobs and stimulate growth. In light of ever-present threats from abroad, it was a privilege to discuss with community members the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, a Bill I am proud of, and which strikes the right balance between individual freedoms and national security.

David Wilks, Bob Graham with his memorial carving and Peter MacKay. Photo submitted
David Wilks, Bob Graham with his memorial carving and Peter MacKay. Photo submitted

“I also wish to commend Bob Graham for his thoughtfulness and impressive work to honour the brave RCMP officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. It’s with dedicated MPs like David, that our government can continue the important work we do, to ensure Canada remains the country where we want to raise our families,” said MacKay.

During the visit, Wilks took the opportunity to introduce Minister MacKay to Creston’s Bob Graham, who following the terrifying events in Moncton almost a year ago, made a carving of a RCMP officer on a horse, on a moose antler. Mr. Graham explained that his work was intended to honour the fallen officers who made the ultimate sacrifice doing their jobs protecting fellow Canadians.

MacKay also visited Fort Steele Heritage Town, which provided the perfect opportunity to highlight the Canada 150 funding available through Canadian Heritage and included in Economic Action Plan 2015, Wilks said.

Lead image: City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, City of Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick and Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area E Director Jane Walters with Minister MacKay. Photos courtesy Wesly Graham

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