Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins visited Lacombe City Council Chambers on Monday night to touch base with the municipality and discuss some issues the City is currently facing.
Calkins began by telling councillors that a lot has happened since the federal election this past fall.
“This is new and exciting,” he said. “As you know, I now sit at the lefthand of the speaker, which is a different role for me.”
Calkins said he is adjusting to his role as an official opposition MP and he was recently reelected as Alberta caucus chair for the Conservative Party. He was also elected as chair of the Ethics Committee for the House of Commons, which is a significant appointment for the longtime MP.
“I’m looking forward to doing that and I appreciate the trust all of my colleagues from all sides of the House have put in me on that endeavour,” he said.
Moving forward, Calkins said he will be working on a number of issues in the riding, which now includes residents in Sylvan Lake and the northside of Red Deer.
Council asked Calkins about federal support for current wastewater treatment standards, accessing federal grant programs and if there would be any further grant support in relation to Canada’s 150th birthday, set for 2017.
Councillor Wayne Armishaw asked Calkins if there was any progress with Howse Pass, a proposed transportation corridor leading from Hwy. 11 west, past Rocky Mountain House, through to Donald B.C., following Howse Pass. The proposed transportation route is said to allow shorter trips through the mountains and would open up Central Alberta communities to more commerce opportunities.
“It makes sense in every aspect of it, other than politically, it can’t get done,” said Calkins. “That’s what it will take. It’s a political decision at this point.”
Finally, Mayor Steve Christie asked how the municipality and the MP will work together in the future.
“I think it’s going to be a case-by-case basis, depending on what the issue actually is and depending on the relationship with my colleagues in the House of Commons,” said Calkins.
He noted that he looks forward to being an effective official opposition MP.
“While we are political opponents, I don’t have a problem reaching across the aisle when that’s the most effective thing to do,” he said. “When one of the most effective things to do is to be critical across the aisle, then I will do that as well. I’m a collaborator first and foremost. That’s how I like to get things done.”