BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins had some words of frustration to share at his recent open house where he welcomed guests to his new constituency office in Blackfalds.
Calkins said he’s been actively working within the House of Commons to engage Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the issue of so-called ‘cash-for-access’ events.
“It is mind-boggling to me in the fact that people are charged $1,500 per person, sometimes with events of 50 to 80 people, and the Liberal government is taking away upwards of $100,000 to $120,000 and people are admitting the are paying these prices to buy access to the government and Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers,” Calkins said.
There has been controversy with the fundraisers but the controversy isn’t new or limited to the Trudeau government.
Events such as these have been seen across governments and state lines, however, Calkins said he will continue to investigate and question the Prime Minister during House of Commons discussions.
“We’ve been going after the cash-for-access program for months now. They’ve had over 80 events, with the PM having been in attendance for at least 16 that we know of. I’ve been holding them to account almost daily in Ottawa during question period,” Calkins said.
“These kinds of things have become an embarrassment to the government, whether we consider the Democratic Reform and how that issue’s being handled or this cash-for-access program. Canadians can see right through what the government is trying to do, and the government is being rightly criticized for it.”
In addition to his role as an ethics critic, Calkins has been talking with members of his constituency to find out what other matters are on their minds. One of the most prevalent is the issue of carbon taxes at both provincial and federal levels.
“In the constituency, I’m hearing about the potential for negative impacts of the carbon tax, especially at a time when Albertans can least afford it and our energy sector can least cope with it,” Calkins said.
He said that most of our everyday conveniences and resources come from rural communities, and that the carbon tax will negatively impact industries such as agriculture, energy and transportation.
“There are no oil wells in downtown Toronto, and we don’t harvest wood in the middle of Calgary. We’re not growing massive quantities of our food here – that’s happening in rural communities. When you pass on a carbon tax that covers everything necessary for the quality of life we have, it’s obviously going to come at a great cost and a great impact.”
Calkins added that municipalities, school boards and hospitals will also take a financial hit with higher costs associated to heat and energy.
He said every Albertan will be paying more for the food we eat and for getting anywhere but especially those people who live in rural areas and have to drive tens or hundreds of kilometers for services and recreation.
“It’s just not a helpful policy at all. The claim is that it’s to buy social license for pipeline approvals and then we see pipelines rejected, so it just doesn’t add up,” Calkins said.
His new constituency office is located at #2, 5025 Parkwood Drive.