Guns and gangs are one of the issues on the mind of Tako van Popta, Conservative MP for Langley-Aldergrove, as he prepares for the two months remaining of the current Parliamentary schedule.
Crime is something on his mind right now due to a murder in Langley.
“It’s quite shocking when it hits so close to home,” van Popta said of the shooting death last month in front of the Langley Sportsplex.
While van Popta opposes the current Liberal gun bill, which among other things bans a number of assault-style rifles and calls for a buyback of most of those currently owned by Canadians, he said he isn’t opposed to any and all gun legislation.
Legislation should make people safer, not criminalize gun owners who are following the laws, van Popta said.
However, he agrees that the importation of illegal guns from the United States needs to be cracked down on.
“This is where we agree with the Liberals,” van Popta said.
More resources for Canada Border Services Agency, both human and financial, are needed to stem the flow of guns across the border to gangs here, he said.
Another major issue is SkyTrain to Langley. The funding to complete the third leg of the line, from Fleetwood to Langley City, is in the recent NDP provincial budget, but there was not a firm commitment in the federal budget.
It’s something local mayors have been pressing Ottawa for, and van Popta said he’s been raising it frequently, including pointing out to federal Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna that the other levels of funding are in place.
“Everybody agrees that it needs to be done,” he said.
Other infrastructure projects locally include the widening of Highway 1 to the east – currently work is set to start on the widening to 264th Street in Aldergrove – and the Massey Tunnel replacement linking Delta to Richmond.
Much federal debate still revolves around the COVID-19 pandemic, including on why Canada was caught without the ability to manufacture any vaccines.
“What happened?” van Popta said. “We don’t even produce our own vaccines? I think Canadians are shocked at that.”
The lack of vaccine production capacity led to the dry spell through much of February when few vaccines arrived due to international production issues, and Canada temporarily fell behind many of its G-20 peers in mass vaccination efforts.
Canadians are still creating many innovations and start ups, whether in biotech or other fields, van Popta said, but what they’re not doing is turning those ideas into full-sized industrial companies, creating products and jobs.
“Canada needs to be much more self-sustaining, self-supporting, when it comes to high tech industrial development,” van Popta said.
That applies to vaccines as well as other fields, he said.
One thing van Popta won’t be doing during this session of Parliament is putting forward a private members bill.
Every session, a lottery gives members a number listing their priority to present private bills to the Parliament. This time, van Popta’s number put him near the back of the list, meaning he won’t get a chance. He’s considering possible private number bills if his number puts him closer to the front in the next session of Parliament.
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