By Lorne Eckersley
Publisher Creston Valley Advance
New Kootenay-Columbia member of Parliament David Wilks has undergone “a steep learning curve” since the spring election, he told town council on Aug. 9.
In the Conservative Party’s first session since being elected with a majority a budget was presented, labour negotiations with Canada Post and Air Canada made national headlines and a “mega-trials” bill was introduced and passed, he said.
The mega-trials law bill will help cut down on lengthy, complex trials that require additional resources and support, and will minimize mistrials, he said. Designed especially for terrorism and organized crime, the Fair and Efficient Criminal Trials Act oversees so-called mega-trials, when several people stand trial on related or shared charges.
“Under the new law a trial involving many defendants can take 10 years and the charges won’t be thrown out for delay of process.”
Wilks, who said he plans to report to all town councils and regional directors on a regular basis, highlighted some of his recent activities as MP. He explained how he helped push through the designation of the Cranbrook Museum of Rail Travel as a national historical site, learning about the importance of getting cabinet ministers involved along the way.
He said that he is working with other MPs to promote the need for upgrades to Highway 1 between Revelstoke and Golden.
“The highway was closed for 29 days in 2010 and that isn’t acceptable for the people or the economy,” he said. “We need about $150 million a year for the next 10 years to complete the project.”
Wilks also announced that Telus has agreed to improve cellphone service along Highways 3 and 3A, and soon cellphones will be in service all along Highway 3 between Creston and Cranbrook.
Each government MP, he said, is required to introduce private member’s bills and he will be putting forward a bill to abolish the Indian Act, replacing it with new legislation.
“The current Indian Act is not fair to First Nations people and change is needed,” he said.
The former mayor of Sparwood and retired RCMP officer said he would work with town councils and regional directors to bring federal funds into the constituency.
“Please copy me with any applications that are made,” he said. “If I don’t know what you are doing I can’t help you.”