Looking ahead to 2017: MP says Albertans should examine Liberal electoral reform plan

Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP Mike Lake says low point of 2016 is Liberal deficit

Mike Lake visiting the Central Alberta Railway Museum last summer.

Mike Lake visiting the Central Alberta Railway Museum last summer.

An upbeat Edmonton-Wetaskiwin Member of Parliament said 2016 had its ups and downs, but 2017 is looking like a year to remember.

Mike Lake, Conservative Party of Canada MP for this riding, said 2016 wasn’t that bad of a year for the Official Opposition, a year that actually “went well.”

Speaking by phone to the Pipestone Flyer Jan. 11, Lake said one bright highlight of 2016 was the leadership in the House of Commons of Opposition leader and CPC interim leader Rona Ambrose. “Rona has done a phenomenal job,” said Lake.

Lake said Ambrose, leader since former Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigned after the 2015 election, is a fantastic leader in the House, and she gives a strong, enthusiastic tone to her party.

There were plenty of other positive highlights to the year that just ended too, noted the Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP. On a personal level, Lake said just getting to know the new riding eh represents was a high point. Of course, that means getting to know the people of the riding. During the election in the fall of 2015, Lake said one day of campaigning included 13 events in 14 hours. ‘It was a busy day, but it was probably one of the most fun days we had,” said the MP.

He stated that the Edmonton-Wetaskiwin riding is a new one that didn’t exist before the last election, and while he doesn’t feel it’s “too big,” he said it is sort of a hybrid of large city and rural farm area.

“I love to drive,” said Lake. I love to get out and do the road trips through the constituency.”

Lake said he’s spent a year holding roundtables and just getting to know people in the riding and what concerns them. He said even though it was a difficult year for the people of Alberta, he said most of the people he met seemed resilient, firm and dedicated to getting through the economic difficulties right now. He said Albertans just need to maintain that attitude.

He noted the Conservative Party MP’s that Albertans elected are committed to ensuring that the governing Liberal Party hears Alberta’s concerns about the decisions being made on Parliament Hill.

Another major event coming up in 2017 for the Conservative Party, and for the people of Canada, is the CPC leadership campaign. Lake said he’s excited about it, and also excited to see so many candidates throw their hat in the ring.

The leadership vote will be held May 27.

Lake said he wants to hear more from candidates before he makes up his mind, although he hinted that he feels there are several candidates who could beat Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next federal election.

Low points of 2016

Lake said the main thing to feel bad about when it comes to the past year are the decisions made by the governing Liberal Party, and the negative effects those decisions will have on his constituents.

While he said the previous CPC party under Harper had a clear, stable plan, the Liberals don’t. He said the Liberals’ alarming ability to balloon the deficit into the mid-30 billions of dollars will have “Very significant and quite honestly quite devastating effect on Canadians down the road.”

Lake said Trudeau’s actions are reminding him of really bad governance in Canada during the 1970’s where massive deficits took generations to repair with no apparent benefit to the Canadian taxpayer. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.

Another area of concern for the MP is what the Liberal government is calling “democratic reform.” Lake said the Liberals seem interested in a new philosophy and formula for conducting elections rather than the current “first past the post.”

He said it looks like the Liberals plan to push through a system that will benefit their party and haven’t committed to anything like a referendum on whether or not Canadians are in favour of changing the system. Lake stated it’s traditional in Canada to do that.

The MP noted intense criticism about the Liberals’’ “mydemocracy.ca” website that conducted a poll on electoral reform last year. Lake said the website and survey were so disjointed it was laughable. “It was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen,” he said, adding that not only was the minister responsible for the department sacked, it gives Canadians a reason to doubt the Liberals’ decision-making process.

Another low point of the year was how the Liberals handled petroleum pipeline applications. He said the federal government doesn’t seem to have a plan for them despite the fact that Energy east is a no-brainer, and pipelines in general benefit all of Canada, not just Alberta. He said it would be nice to hear the Liberals say that. “I don’t think that there’s that public recognition,” said Lake.

In addition, pipelines are almost universally accepted as safer than other petroleum transport systems such as rail.

Lake stated that opposition to pipeline projects usually seems to be politically motivated, rather than scientifically or economically and that’s why necessary regulatory reviews should be conducted in an open and transparent fashion to ensure transparency.

However, as the U.S. recently elected a Republican president, Donald Trump, there will probably be a swing to a more business-friendly atmosphere than under outgoing Democrat Barack Obama.


Committee work

Lake is critic for the Global Maternal, Newborn and Child Health committee. Lake stated that in 2010 Prime Minister Stephen Harper made this committee his signature initiative. The committee was specifically to address the mortality rate of women in childbirth and mortality of children under 5.

The MP said Canada’s committee seeks to make global governments stand by the commitments they make in this area. He pointed out reductions in these mortality rates have already been made in a few years. “My role is to make sure we continue that momentum,” said Lake.

Lake said he plans to watch the government closely to ensure solutions continue, and he also stated the solutions are not complicated or expensive. Things like birth mats, clean razors and vitamin A pills shouldn’t be a problem.

The Edmonton-Wetaskiwin MP said another highlight of the year was attending WE Day in Saskatoon, Sask. With his 21 year old autistic son Jaden. Lake said the father and son spoke to 15,000 students at once and was “a very cool opportunity.”

The MP said he wants to continue to build strong relationships with Edmonton-Wetaskiwin residents, and to that end has a number or round table meetings planned across the riding.

The round tables include 16 residents meeting with Lake at the same time and giving him feedback about various issues and topics. Eight such meetings are scheduled before the end of February. Those interested in participating can call Lake’s office at 780-495-2149.