Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for the Battle River-Crowfoot Riding, Damien Kurek, was in Stettler on Thu, June 6. Kurek was hosting one of three Town Halls that day, with the second being in Galahad and the last in Halkirk.
The three stops were part of Kurek’s continuing efforts to meet with as many people as he can in his riding of approximately 53,000 km2, which is nearly the size of Nova Scotia. The three stops for the day were picked by Kurek and his team in hopes of increasing the chances that people can attend. Last year, he had 22 similar forums that he attended, but they were often in different parts of the riding and in either evening or daytime. Kurek hopes that the new arrangement means that if someone is unable to attend the morning forum, they can travel to one of the other two later on in the day.
Kurek started off the Town Hall forum by stating he understands that some topics can be polarizing and that everyone in the room may have different feelings on topics that are discussed. All he asked from those in attendance was that they are respectful of their neighbours.
Several topics were addressed by Kurek, such as universal income, a subject he has been openly against. He notes that he does understand the growing conversation on the subject, but he uses the recent support during COVID as an example. The cost of COVID support has left a lasting problem in the Canadian Economy, the most notable of which has been reduced productivity.
On the subject of voting on bills, Kurek explained that he does try in many cases, to work on modifying proposed bills in ways he feels will help his constituents first and foremost. He is also happy to discuss the reasoning for how he votes or feels about certain bills and the subjects that are brought up. He notes that after his vote on a conversion therapy bill, he met with a group of people that wanted to better understand why he was against it. Kurek says he looks forward to discussing such things with people, not so much to change his views but instead to hear other perspectives and learn more about the subject.
One thing Kurek says that he has been a part of, that often doesn’t get reported on, is that he is often able to work with members of other parties on various things. He says it was a good experience during his time on the environmental committee. Although he also compared debates in Parliament to boxing matches, he says there have been several other instances where he has been able to have good conversations with members of other parties.
On the subject of transfer payments, Kurek expressed his shared frustration with many people. He understands and agrees that it seems like the prairies are doing all the work but the money is going elsewhere. The formula, Kurek says, is a complex one as it often involves money for Treaty agreements. However, he says the biggest problem lately has been that despite promising to consult with the provinces on possible changes to the formula, the federal government renewed it in 2017 without any changes or consultation.
Tom Danyk posed a question on the Conservative party and their stance on Treaty Strategy. Danyk said that he has worked in B.C. for many years, often trying to work with First Nations in B.C. who do not have a lot of the same agreements they have in Alberta. Kurek explained that the Conservatives did not necessarily have a platform on the subject, but that they did feel it was important and that they handled such things with the utmost respect.
One thing that Kurek did say was that the Conservatives were cautious to use the word “consult.” They felt that it was a word that has lost its meaning in government; specifically due to the Liberals who have gone against the advice and information given to them on several subjects they claimed to have ‘consulted’ on, such as the $13 billion dollar deal with Volkswagen that they were told does not show the value of the investment.
Kurek says that meetings between the Conservative party and First Nations leaders have seemed to have positive results and that he hopes that they can help the government to see them more as partners, or, as it was described to him: Less as stakeholders, and more as shareholders.
When asked about how the Liberals seem to be above the law, Kurek agreed it was a shameful display from the party. He said that there needed to be a show of accountability in Canadian leadership and that it was going to be a priority to rebuild trust.
Kurek discussed the environment with those in attendance, repeating the Conservatives’ pledge to repeal the Carbon Tax. He also spoke about the frustration felt by himself and others that things like windmills for energy were built in places like China, despite Canada being capable of building them. The frustration came that despite having the resources, and the ability to make them ourselves, there were too many hurdles for investors to face so they went to China to make it easier.
Spending was addressed in both housing and the national deficit. Kurek noted that a lot of money spent on COVID didn’t go towards COVID and that despite the Liberals spending large sums on housing, they were getting very little results. It was also noted that this was the first time in history that the Bank of Canada was running a deficit.
The Liberals’ use of the Emergency Act and the ongoing detainment of the four men at the Coutts border crossing were also topics of concern for those in attendance. Kurek says that he and his party are upset with how the Emergencies Act was improperly used. He says that although there were some issues during the trucker convoy in Ottawa, what was shown on national news was very different from what he saw while actually there himself.
Kurek said it was also hard to understand why the four being detained in Coutts continue to be held while so many dangerous offenders have been released from prisons across the country. He said that the hardest part for him was that there had been a chance for the Liberal government to make changes and fix the problem before things boiled over, and they did not.
Near the end of the forum, which lasted for two hours, Kurek said that it was important for people to get involved. He said that he believed we still have one of the best electoral systems in the world and that it does work, but that people need to get out and vote. They also need to get others to vote as well.
Before leaving, Kurek also said it was important to keep the conversation going, to keep discussing the issues, and to be willing to hear the other sides of things as well.