As a continuation of our previous story on the House of Commons wrapping up for the summer, Martin Shields MP for Bow River, also spoke on some other pieces of legislation that interested him.
“There was a piece of legislation passed C-23,” said Shields. “It was to do with the national historical sites. Now that might sound really good and sim- ple — it died in the last session, came back in the session, and the concern that I have is that the powers are broad under it. They listed national historic sites, and they put canals under it. I’m going, ‘geez we got a lot of canals in this area.’”
Shields then began to discuss the history of an old forgotten canal within Alberta.
“You can’t have those declared as national sites — although down here between Milk River and Coutts, I know where it is and if you know what you’re looking for you can find the remnants of an old canal that was built in 1919 era. There was a dispute over the Milk River, how much of the water would stay in Canada and how much of the water would go to the U.S. Well, the U.S. was saying it all belongs to them, so at that time, the Canadian government said, ‘OK, we’ll divert all north and none of it’s going south across the border.’ That’s when they got over the fighting and got them to agree. Now, if they want to declare that a national site out there because of that, I don’t have a problem.”
Shields circled back and discussed the problems that this small piece of legislation could have.
“We have a lot of canals out here, I get a little concerned, but that’s just a very small piece of legislation, and you need to pay attention to where the intentions are coming from. There are big pieces but sometimes there are little ones that come through that you’ve got to know what they’re talking about, and hopefully, they’re not talking about canals that are running irrigation water. I don’t want them declared national historic sites because then you can’t do anything to them. You pay attention to some of the legislation at times you need to do it.”
He also discussed how Parliament is aware of annoying issues Canadians are facing.
“A lot of issues with passports,” said Shields. “That’s been a huge issue, the backlog is huge. At airports it’s a huge problem — we talked a lot about that.”
Then Shields discussed his disagree- ment with Parliament running as a hybrid system again for another year.
“We will be in a hybrid parliament for another year. If you want to not go to Ottawa, then don’t run to be a member of parliament, run to be a city councillor, mayor, whatever where you stay home and don’t go to Ottawa. Hybrid means you can stay home and not ever have to go to Ottawa, and we don’t think that’s what the job is. They said it will last another year unless we change our mind during that year, but it’s set up to last till the end of next June. I don’t agree with it. The problem with hybrid is we don’t see each other and it’s very hard to have those informal conversations, whether you’re in committees or you’re in parliament. The ministers (that are there), I talk to a lot of ministers about things we need to do, but if you’re not there, you don’t do that. Hybrid is just not a functioning form (of parliament). I very much dislike it, we just don’t like it as Conservatives but the NDP/Liberal government says that we’re going to be hybrid for another year and they got more votes, but that was passed right near the end.”
Finally, Shields briefly discussed why it looks like so many bills were introduced into parliament.
“There were other pieces of legis- lation —one to do with the judges, Judges Act, training of judges that has been around for a while and it finally got passed,” said Shields. “I think that’s a good one. Like I said, there were 61 pieces of legislation that are mostly still in the Senate and haven’t come through yet — it takes a while for some of them. House of Commons, there were 121 introduced. Now a lot of those were private member’s bills. I didn’t introduce a private member‘s bill because my number was way down the list, but a lot of those were private member bills so when you see the big number a lot of them a private mem- ber bills in both the Senate and in the House.”
Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times