May 25, 2011

As this is my first ‘In Touch’ since the election, I would like to begin by thanking everyone who came out and voted on May 2nd and for placing your trust in me for a second term. I am honoured to continue as your Member of Parliament and look forward to continuing to work on your behalf.

The 41st Parliament will begin on June 2, 2011, with the election of a new Speaker. There will then be the Speech from the Throne on June 3. We can expect new legislation and the Budget to be introduced shortly afterwards, with a Budget that looks very similar to the one our government introduced in March. In addition, as a key component of the election campaign, our government will be packaging up a series of crime bills and introducing them early in the session. I am excited and optimistic about what our government will be able to accomplish with the mandate we have received from the Canadian people.

Despite the excitement of the upcoming session, I have a heavy heart for the thousands of our fellow Albertans in the Slave Lake region. I was deeply saddened to hear of the devastation to the town and so many homes. Natural disasters can be unpredictable and destructive; but fortunately, nobody was killed and injuries were kept to a minimum. As fellow Canadians, I assure you the situation has impacted all of my colleagues in Ottawa and our neighbours in Northern Alberta are in their thoughts and prayers. It was encouraging to see our Prime Minister, the Honourable Stephen Harper, make a trip to Slave Lake to see the effects first hand and speak with many of those who have seen their home destroyed.

I was greatly impressed by the support shown from all across the province in response to this tragedy. On Friday May 20th, I had the opportunity to visit the Jo Dumont Fitness Centre in Red Deer, which acted as a hub for donations to the displaced citizens of Slave Lake. I was greatly encouraged by the dozens of volunteers who were there accepting donations and sorting clothes that had come in from Airdrie, Ponoka and everywhere in between. They had loaded up several trucks, which left from the Ponoka arena on Saturday May 21st. Thank you to the Jo Dumont Fitness Centre and Shelley Boston for organizing this tremendous effort. The resiliency and kind hearted character of Albertans continues to inspire me.

The families who have been affected by the wildfires in Slave Lake and the surrounding area continue to weigh heavily on my thoughts and I hope they are able to return to some semblance of normalcy in the near future. The rebuilding effort will be a long one, but with cooperation between the town, the varying levels of government and the undeniable Alberta spirit – I have no doubt that the Town of Slave Lake will be restored.

Yours Truly,

Earl Dreeshen, MP

Red Deer