April 23, 2014

It is nice to see that spring is finally on the way in Central Alberta, even with a few hiccups along the way. We certainly had a long, cold winter but spring and summer in Alberta cannot be beat. I have spent much of the last month in Ottawa where my colleagues and I have been hard at work implementing the mandate that voters gave us in 2011. I would like to take a moment to update you on some of the more recent legislation we are working on.

Victims Bill of Rights

Victims of crime deserve to have a stronger, more effective voice in the criminal justice system. For far too long, the scales of justice tipped in favor of criminals and neglected those who had been affected by their crimes. That’s why our Conservative Government has made it a priority to rebalance those scales and help ensure the rights of victims are respected throughout the criminal justice system.

This legislation will help ensure victims have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system by establishing a victims’ right to information, protection, participation and restitution. This includes their right to information about victim’s services, to protect their identity from public disclosure, to present a victim impact statement in court, and to financial compensation in certain circumstances.

This landmark document builds on our Government’s strong record of supporting victims of crime, including creating the Federal Victims Strategy and establishing the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

Fair Rail for Grain Farmers

On March 7, 2014, I was on-hand in Winnipeg when Minister Raitt and Minister Ritz announced immediate and concrete action to get grain moving more efficiently in Western Canada with an Order in Council that obligates Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) to increase their capacity to each carry a minimum of 500,000 metric tonnes of grain per week and for them to report on the volume of grain moved each week.

In addition, legislation was introduced on March 26, 2014. This legislation, entitled the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, amends the Canada Transportation Act and the Canada Grain Act, providing additional measures designed to help the entire grain transportation system reach the goal of getting product to market quickly and more efficiently following a record crop year for Canadian farmers.

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, concrete action to get grain moving faster through legislation and regulations designed to:

  • Increase supply chain transparency;
  • Strengthen contracts between producers and shippers; and,
  • Help ensure the entire grain handling and transportation system is working efficiently at the top of its capacity.

The Government of Canada is also taking steps to address the medium and long-term implications of higher crop yields and extreme cold weather. Going forward, railways will be required to deliver more timely data on grain movements to better monitor the overall performance of the supply chain. The Canadian Transportation Agency will also gather information from all grain supply chain partners on shipping capacities and plans prior to each new crop year, and will advise the Minister of Transport whether specific grain volumes should be mandated for the coming year.

This legislation creates the necessary tools to help ensure Canadian shippers have access to a world-class logistics system that gets their commodities to market in a predictable and timely way. Farmers and our economy need a system that works today and tomorrow, with the capacity to move what is grown.

Veterans Hiring Act

Canada’s men and women in uniform have courageously served our country in many ways over the years. Our Conservative Government is deeply committed to supporting Canada’s Armed Force members during their service and in their transition to civilian life.

Building on our existing initiatives to help Canada’s Veterans build meaningful second careers, like the Hire a Veteran program and the Helmets to Hardhats program, we are proud to have introduced the Veterans Hiring Act.

Meaningful employment is a key factor in a successful transition to civilian life, and this legislation will give Canadian Armed Forces personnel and honourably-released Veterans priority access to employment opportunities within the federal public service.

Since coming into office, our Conservative Government has made it a priority to improve and expand Veterans benefits, increasing investment in Veterans by nearly $5 billion. We will continue to serve Canada’s Veterans, just as they have courageously served Canada.

Bill C-444, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Personation of a Peace Officer or Other Officer)

My Private Members Bill continues to work its way through the process and took another step forward this past month. On April 3, 2014, Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs studied the bill and heard from witnesses including myself. Bill C-444 was met with positive reviews and seems to have the support of the Senate Committee members.

The next stage will see the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs discuss the bill clause by clause. If approved, it will return to the Senate for 3rd reading and be ready for Royal Assent. At that point, Bill C-444 would be one of a select few Private Member’s Bills in history to change the Criminal Code of Canada.

I look forward to all the discussion and debates that will take place in this session of Parliament. As always, I encourage all constituents to continue letting myself and my office know of any concerns or questions with our Government and the legislation in the House of Commons. I would like to thank you all for your continued support and I look forward to continuing to serve you in Ottawa.

Until next time

Earl Dreeshen,

MP Red Deer