The following is an interview conducted between Revelstoke Review Staff and Conservative MP Rob Morrison, currently representing Kootenay-Columbia. The interview was conducted Friday, Aug. 13.
It has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: What are the biggest issues facing the riding and how has that changed since your campaign in 2019?
A: I think the biggest issue is the rural and urban divide. Urban people have a hard time understanding how we operate in the country so unity between the two is difficult. The priorities in an urban setting are different from ours, we struggle with transportation needs, we struggle with costs for medical, for any kind of serious medical attention we have to travel long ways. For them, it’s like they’ve got the biggest the best of everything and we don’t have that. I think the real challenge on the federal side is to try and prioritize what’s important for rural people. It’s a big issue I want to take up, to close the gap so that we are seen in the same light as urban people.
Q: Did you anticipate that divide before you were elected or is that something you learned since?
A: I knew it from my policing background because I was always rural, I never worked urban. As a senior officer, I was responsible for B.C., but I never worked specifically in a large city detachment. So I knew it on that scale but I feel, when I’m in Parliament, that the rural is left behind. Rural priorities are not being addressed, I feel it’s all about the cities.
Infrastructure, for example, I’ve been looking for infrastructure money to work on an electric train through the Nelson and Cranbrook area. The government just doesn’t seem to be giving funding to rural infrastructure. We have serious transportation needs in our communities.
Another thing when comparing rural and urban is the gun legislation, which is a real bur in my bonnet. I’m a legal gun owner, I find that in rural areas we store our guns safely, a lot of our parents taught us to do everything safely. It seems that in urban areas, to them, they don’t understand why anybody would have a gun. In my experience, I’ve never arrested a gangster or an organized crime person that showed me a legal gun, yet this whole legislation is geared toward taking guns from legal owners.
I think it’s an education thing, a lot of people don’t understand. It’s easy to say let’s take all the guns away but if the purpose is to target organized crime and gangsters, then target them.
We introduced legislation in the House of Commons to increase jail time if you use a gun while committing an offence, so if you’re robbing a 7-Eleven and you pull a gun out it’s an extra 10 years. We lost that because the NDP and the Liberals voted against it.
Q: This town depends heavily on traditional industry, forestry for example, and tourism, they tend to have different needs. when considering policy how do you ensure all constituents are represented fairly?
A: Well, I do find in our area that, the logging and hospitality, tourism, they work hand-in-hand here. I’ve talked to lots of different groups and they understand that each has their needs, for example, your tourism side with heli-skiing, they work with logging groups and that. I think they do work together.
Q: How did you vote when your party voted no to adding climate-friendly statements to the party policy book at the national policy convention?
A: What happened there was, that was a media event. The media threw that out of proportion. The policy that was brought up said ‘we have to address climate change’, ‘climate change is a crisis’ and ‘we need to identify climate change’. It was in there three times and on one they said let’s delete that line where it says ‘climate change is a crisis’ and the media took that and said ‘well the conservatives don’t believe in climate change’. It was in three times in that same paragraph and they took it out once. It didn’t make sense having it in there that many times, we all agree, climate change is real, climate change has been real since the beginning of the earth, it was just out of context that’s all. I’ve said it a lot, I’m understanding of climate change.
Q: Tell us about your decision to not vote in favour of Bill C-6 to ban LGBT conversion therapy.
A: I’m glad you brought that up, I voted in favour of C-6 in the first reading, I voted in favour of C-6 in the second meeting, I do not support conversion therapy in any way shape or form, I’m adamant about that.
The reason I voted against it in the third meeting was they were rushing this bill, which did not properly identify the criminal code requirements for those that should be charged and convicted. It would never have held any water it would have been appealed and we would have lost it and had to start again.
So after the second reading, I said, ‘let’s just tighten up the wording of the criminal code so that we make it rock solid that somebody who’s involved in conversion therapy is convicted’. I don’t think the bill did that, I don’t think the government spent enough time researching with lawyers to identify what was needed in the criminal code.
Now, where is that bill? it’s gone to the senate, and they haven’t passed it.
So, just to be clear, I am against conversion therapy, 100 per cent.
Q: What have you achieved over the last through years, while representing Kootenay-Columbia?
A: Well as Opposition it’s difficult to receive funding, but I’ve been fighting the fight.
With firearms issues, working with rod and gun clubs on trying to bring some common sense into legislation I’ve also been working, when I was on the public safety comity, on road placing and how to better address some of the road placing issues we have in smaller communities. As well as working with the RCMP to hire the right people, the people that want to be here. In my opinion, you want people coming to your town that want to live in Revelstoke, some people might have the idea they want to be in a city, so I’ve been working with the RCMP to get staff that want to live and be part of the community, which is really important. I’m also hard on the Columbia river treaty, because that affects just about everyone in our riding. I get briefings from the federal government regarding the treaty and I’m meeting with different groups to get an idea of, what the priorities are and what people would like to see when the treaty is signed again. And, I’ve been working with different communities on increasing broadband, I’ve been successful in getting some funding for that. So I’m working on getting people the bandwidth they need.