Coffee with Dave

A local Member of Parliament met with residents to address comments and concerns.

Dave Epp, Conservative MP for Chatham-Kent--Leamington, was recently at Pinnells in Ridgetown for one of his community meetings.

“This is a listening tour,” said the local MP. “I could talk probably the whole hour, but that would defeat the point. I want to hear more of what’s on your mind.”

Epp said all caucuses currently have planning sessions to figure out how to serve best the needs of the Canadians they represent. He asked the local residents what issues they would like him to bring up at the national meeting at the month’s end.

At the start of the community meeting, Epp was asked about Bill C-21, a measure to ban handguns.

Epp explained that at the 11th hour, now hunting rifles and a whole host of other guns and firearms that are used for sport shooting are now on the list.

“Basically, you have some Airsoft, you’ve got some paint guns that are being captured by the legislature, and our Olympic sport shooters are being captured by the legislature. You also got regular hunting rifles,” said Epp.

Local residents expressed their concerns and asked why the process to purchase a gun doesn’t include more measures, such as a criminal background check.

“You’re not infringing on your human rights when they’re asking you to buy a gun,” said a resident in attendance.

Another resident said currently; it’s okay for hunters.

“It’s the guys that you could go out and in a half hour buy a gun,” he said.

Epp said the Liberals are taking one approach and trying to conflate it into something else.

“I mean, quite frankly, that last set of amendments that they introduced, I think, is going to end up being a gift for us as Conservatives,” he said.

Epp clarified it’s a tough issue because the vast majority of city violence comes from smite.

“That’s where the government resources should go, to our border agents to our to other technologies that intercept that,” he said.

One resident in attendance was Marlee Robinson, who asked Epp about Bill C-23, a bill related to the protection of federally owned heritage buildings.

“We’re the only G7 country that does not have this protection,” said Robinson. “At this stage, Bill C-23 has gone through two readings.”

Epp admitted he was not as familiar with the Bill but said he would look into it.

Another resident asked if something could be done to cut the funding of CBC.

“It was one and a half billion dollars we are giving those idiots,” he said. “All they do is talk about the social injustice of everybody in the whole country. Can’t you cut their budget by 50 percent or at least get rid of them?”

Epp said CBC is a wide, big organization that takes about one and a half million dollars but highlighted they also provide northern radio services and French language.

“In general, you’ve heard the conservative position,” he said.

The local MP said the Conservatives are more in listening mode at the moment, looking at specific pieces of legislation the government will bring forward with the public perspective in mind.

“Rest assured, whenever we have an election, you will know what the Conservative Party and my positions will be on all these issues,” said Epp. “Right now, we are not under obligation, and neither is it a particularly good idea to completely lay out our positions on a whole host of issues. In general, you should be able to understand through our critique of existing legislation where we stand.”

Other topics of discussion included healthcare.

Epp highlighted the fact that healthcare has always been delivered provincially. He asked the residents in attendance to question whether or not the decision-making for health care be universal across the country.

Another topic of discussion was redistribution.

“None of us MPs particularly like the proposal that was put forward by the commission that’s in charge of drawing up the new maps based on population changes,” said Epp.

He said he met with the five local MPs to discuss their response.

“So the five of us sat down to meet, and we agreed on a position that we put forward to the committee,” he said. “I’m going to be looking forward to February 7 when the second map comes out.”

Other topics of discussion included the carbon tax, fertilizer tariffs, immigration in Canada and who has power in the country.

To wrap up the meeting, residents had a chance to voice their opinions and concerns.

“We ended up going back to the old ways. It shouldn’t matter who you vote for. This is where it has to go back. In the House, everybody works together,” said a resident.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News