Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks made the rounds on a Jan. 10 visit to Revelstoke, meeting with a number of community organizations. The Times Review took in his presentations to the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce and Revelstoke city council, and followed up with an interview. Here are some highlights:
Possible second round of infrastructure stimulus
It was a big ‘if,’ but an if that could make municipal politicians drool harder than a leaky water main. The financial crisis amongst Euro zone economies has left several national economies teetering on the edge. Wilks said a collapse of Italian government finance could lead to a domino effect amongst other struggling Euro economies such as Portugal and Spain. This would likely drag the world economy into another recession. Wilks told Revelstoke city council that could possibly lead to a federal stimulus package. “There may have to be another economic stimulus project,” Wilks told council.
The last federal stimulus package helped push through several big ticket infrastructure items in Revelstoke. When asked after the meeting, Wilks said that stimulus could also be used to fund projects to improve the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and the Alberta border. However, Wilks emphasized any possible infrastructure stimulus depended on the state of the global economic picture.
Mandatory minimum sentencing for child abductors
Following the Kienan Heibert kidnapping in 2011, MP Wilks introduced a private member’s bill that would introduce mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment for those found guilty of kidnapping youth under the age of 16. Wilks said the Criminal Code amendment was progressing through the process. He has agreed to a friendly amendment that clarified the wording to make it clearer that the law is directed at “stranger” kidnappings, as opposed to abductions by a parent who doesn’t have custody rights. Will the amendment be successful? “I believe it will,” Wilks said. The former RCMP officer again expressed his support for other new mandatory minimum sentences legislation that was introduced by the Conservative government in 2011. Wilks said in his experience as a police officer, the amended mandatory minimum sentences would have been appropriate in all cases he dealt with during his career. “And especially in the sections that we’re targeting. We’re targeting sexual offences, online pornography, kidnapping and frauds over a million dollars. They’re major crimes,” Wilks said. “We’re not talking shoplifting and mischief.”
Wilks also alluded to other mandatory minimum sentencing initiatives in the future. Wilks said drunk driving repeat offenders were on the radar for future mandatory minimum sentences. “When someone’s caught for the sixth time, maybe we should send them to jail,” he said. There’s nothing formal yet, Wilks said: “It’s something I wouldn’t mind looking at, because it makes sense.”
He recalled an incident from the 1980s while he was stationed in Golden: “A person makes a mistake once, oh well,” he said. “But when you’re in your fifth or sixth one – I remember arresting a guy who was [on his] twenty-second – from Revelstoke… You’ve got to send a message at some point in time.”