Shields presente the highlights of the last session at the House

·4 min read

With summer break, Parliament was dissolved as politicians take a break from governing until the fall. As Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, is back in Alberta from Ottawa, he was able to give us the highlights of the last session of government.

“There’s 65 bills in the senate and we got 121 in the session,” said Shields. “Sometimes there’s the belief out there that we don’t do things in a timely fashion, we can’t get anything done. Let me give you an example. The Supreme Court here a couple of weeks ago declared that a person in Calgary who had the defence of total intoxication from alcohol and drugs. He couldn’t be convicted of it (his crimes) because he was not in the right state of mind, and so the Supreme Court says, ‘look we’re going to rule this but you guys need to take a look at this legislation and see what you can do.’”

Shields then spoke on how swiftly the government can move when motivated and unified behind a single issue.

“Within a matter of a week’s time, the Minister of Justice (David Lametti) introduced a piece of legislation. It went through three readings — the House, the committee, the Senate, all three steps, and it was approved in about three days. Intoxication is not a grounds for defence — we need to make sure we change the law to match with this Supreme Court ruling because we can’t have everybody showing up saying, ‘I was drunk, so I can’t be convicted of this.’ Sometimes we can work very, very quickly and accomplish things that need to be done. People probably don’t see that very often, but we do, do it and we can do it.”

Shields also discussed a matter that wasn’t even related to legislation appearing within the house.

“There is what’s being said as a directive under Canada Health that we have a real problem with, and we debated that for long in the House,” said Shields. “I asked a lot of questions on it. It’s to do with the front of the labelling of ground beef and ground pork with a warning label. Didn’t put it on dairy, didn’t put it on a lot of things, didn’t put it on potato chips. This is a single food item and we believe that’s wrong. It’s not legislation, it’s something that they are going to direct under health to do it. That’s problematic.”

Shields then discussed his time working on committees within the last session of the government.

“Something came up in a committee under the agriculture committee,” said Shields. “They decided to do a quick study on hemp. Hemp is grown in this area — hemp is significant, but hemp is under the health department, and it has a whole lot of rules like marijuana. It’s not marijuana, but farmers in the last five years are growing less and less in Canada. They had about 140,000 acres five years ago — we’re down to 60,000 acres. It’s a phenomenal crop that you can do a lot of things with its parts. It sequesters carbon huge. It has got this huge root structure. It’s a big tall plant and then you can use the whole plant for all sorts of things. We had Keith Jones, who is in this riding and worked with Roland Farms for a long time and he was a witness.”

Shields also discussed how through this committee how impressed the other parties were at what hemp is capable of.

“We had the NDP and the Liberals going ‘we need to look at this. We need to study this to get it out of health and see what we can do to get it to agriculture.’ Now, it is a great rotational crop in agriculture and you can use all the parts for differ- ent things and that’s something else that’s happened and we’ve been work- ing on it for some time. It was great to see a committee there, the agriculture committee look at that and maybe something will come of that. It needs to. It’s got to get out of health and get into agriculture so farmers can grow it without the restrictions out there.”

Finally, Shields talked about how he had the opportunity to travel abroad and represent Alberta and Canada’s capabilities of supplying oil and gas.

“The oil and gas issue because of Ukraine,” said Shields. “I had the opportunity to travel to Berlin — meet with people from Berlin, Germany — government about oil and gas, and the Ukraine war. They really want our natural gas, they really need it. They again came back to Ottawa and they were meeting with all sorts of MPs all over (the country) — they really need liquified natural gas in Germany, their industry isn’t working without it and Russia shutting the taps off. That was really interesting that part.”

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times

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