Report from Parliament Hill:
Standing up for Northern Ontario
Eric Melillo - Kenora Riding MP
I hope you are all keeping well in these difficult times. I would like to once again thank the first responders and essential workers who are doing their part to keep Canadians safe and provide access to crucial goods and services.
I am continually grateful for the opportunity to represent you and to advocate for your needs in Parliament.
Demanding Action on Rural Internet
Since I was first elected, I’ve been calling on the government to take action to bring reliable, high-speed internet to rural areas.
Last week the Conservative Rural Internet Caucus released a policy document outlining how the government can bring connectivity to all areas of Canada. The policy document includes 14 recommendations, including government investment, changes to spectrum auctions, incentives for rural infrastructure, and rules to prevent big telcos from taking advantage of consumers.
Lack of internet access is an equality issue, as insufficient connectivity prevents rural Canadians from fully participating in society and the economy. This pandemic is underscoring just how urgent this issue is. Canadians are rightly being urged to practice social distancing – but that’s easier said than done when you are unable to work, take classes, or access services remotely.
Last year, I sponsored a petition calling on the government to take immediate action to improve rural broadband connectivity in all regions of Canada, which was signed by 920 Canadians.
The Conservative Rural Internet Caucus’s policy document provides an important road map for that, and I urge the government implement our recommendations as quickly as possible.
Hope for Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Last week, along with 59 other Conservative MPs, I signed an open letter to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, urging Health Canada to approve cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta.
Cystic fibrosis is a rare genetic disease that effects the lungs and other organs; effective treatments exist, but many are not currently available in Canada. Trikafta has been found to effectively treat 90% of cases, and the manufacturer has offered to supply it to Canadian patients for free while they negotiate a Price Listing Agreement with the Pan Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance.
I am urging the Health Minister to approve this life-saving drug.
Standing up for law-abiding gun owners
Like many Canadians, I was alarmed by the Liberal government’s recent move to ban certain firearms through an order-in-council, bypassing Parliamentary debate.
Many of my constituents use firearms responsibly to hunt and provide for their families. Earlier this year, I visited some of the most remote communities in Ontario and spoke with many residents who were concerned about their ability to maintain their traditional way of life if the government moved to restrict gun ownership.
Conservatives are dedicated to preventing violent crime, but we don’t believe that confiscating firearms from law-abiding Canadians will do anything to prevent gun violence. Criminals, by definition, do not obey gun laws, so the government’s new ban will only impact responsible, law-abiding hunters and sport shooters.
We believe it would be better to invest in support for police anti-gang and gun units, a CBSA Firearms Smuggling Task Force, youth prevention programs, and increased access to mental health and addictions treatment. We also support tougher sentences for violent offenders. In fact, I seconded Bill C-238 which would impose a mandatory minimum sentence on those found to be knowingly in possession of an unlawfully imported firearm.
The CBC has reported that 70-90% of all gun-related crimes in Canada are committed with illegally smuggled firearms from the US. Yet the government has no plan to crack down on cross-border smuggling.
That’s one of the reasons we wanted these new policies to be debated in the House of Commons – Conservatives want to have an evidence-based discussion on how to best prevent violence and combat crime. But instead of working with Parliament to find solutions, the government has decided to push through legislation without any debate or democratic accountability.
The government’s arbitrary new rules are not based in evidence, and rely instead on misleading and emotional terms like “military-style,” “assault-style,” and “military-grade,” which are not defined in law. This underscores how unscientific these rules are: The National Post recently reported that the restrictions don’t include a number of semi-automatic firearms used in military operations, but seem to ban a large number of hunting rifles.
I support measures to crack down on crime and keep Canadians safe – but arbitrary bans that don’t target criminals or smugglers are not the solution to gun violence.
I have been standing up for law-abiding gun owners since I was first elected, and rest assured, I will continue to do so. But everyday Canadians need to speak up as well. If you are also concerned about the Liberal government’s overreach on this issue, I urge you to write to the Prime Minister ([email protected]) and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair ([email protected]) to express your concerns.
I hope you are all staying healthy and safe. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at 807-468-2170 or by email at [email protected] if you require any assistance.
Member of Parliament - Kenora riding