Bow River Riding MP Martin Shields talks year in review

·3 min read

With 2021 drawing to a close, Bow River MP Martin Shields said it was a busy and interesting year.

For parliament, he specified, the House of Commons adopted a sort of hybridized system now that in-person meetings were allowed to resume, albeit with a smaller in-house capacity and the remainder of MP’s attending meetings from home.

“Back in 2020 in March, when the first COVID-19 stories (started appearing) … we said ‘okay, we’re going to go to a hybrid Parliament here and we’ll all be back in a month or so,’” said Shields.

“For 2021, the hybrid Parliament carried on, which was a very, very different scenario. We rotated to comply with Ontario’s guidelines for how many people could be there at a time, so we spent a lot of time on screens trying to do government business, House of Commons, Committees, etc. Which only works to a certain point.”

2021 also saw a federal election once again pass through, with the Conservative Party of Canada once again being voted to represent Canadians as the Official Opposition. Shields himself was re-elected into his seat.

“That’s a huge honour in the sense that there’s only 338 people who get elected in an election and to be one of those 338 and being elected by constituents in the Bow River Riding, it’s a real privilege,” said Shields. “The election campaign was shorter than the last one, but yet it was very busy – knocking on doors, doing forums, those kinds of things.”

Additionally, Shields was appointed as Deputy Shadow Minister for Indigenous Services – an opportunity he acknowledged as an honour to add to his portfolio, particularly as the second-largest Indigenous reserve in the country is located within the riding he represents.

“I’ve worked with people from (Siksika) as constituents, but here, I get to officially do it as a specific role. Following that, I’m also appointed to the Indigenous Committee, which we will be looking at studies when we get back after Christmas,” said Shields.

Among Shields’ priorities is to continue the development of infrastructure and high-speed internet in his constituency, so that it may better reach and service rural Albertans.

He added a very small margin of high-speed internet which urban centers enjoy reaches Indigenous populations, including the Siksika Nation. It’s something he wants to see addressed and remedied.

“You’ve probably heard a lot about broadband and high-speed internet. The beast is specific to both the constituents here because we’ve been working on this for years. The Indigenous high-speed internet of what we call 50-10, in Alberta it’s only 19 per cent of Indigenous have that level and rural Alberta only 33 per cent,” explained Shields.

“I’m tying it together in the sense of wanting to look at it as an Indigenous issue, but also rural … we need it and have for a long time. Now, there’s more awareness and more money on the table being committed by federal and provincial (governments).”

Shields concluded he looks forward to resuming discussions in Parliament and working to continue serving his constituents.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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