Bill C-51 (SECURITY OF CANADA INFORMATION SHARING ACT, or the Anti-Terrorism Act) should never have been introduced, Sheldon Clare, independent candidate in Cariboo-Prince George, said Saturday.
“It’s an attempt to copy the American system,” Clare told reporters during a campaign kick-off event at his campaign headquarters in Redwood Square near downtown Prince George. “There seems to be a desire in this government to have a perception of security, but that’s not the same as genuine security.
“We have to be concerned about any government that wants to over-control its own people.”
About 30 people attended the event.
An independent candidate provides a real alternative for the people of Cariboo-Prince George, someone not controlled by a party whip, he said. “We should send strong voices to Ottawa who will effectively represent their constituents’ interests.”
Clare said he believed in what he called flexible coalitions. “You can make temporary arrangements with people who agree with your interests on a certain issue,” he explained.
He criticized the introduction of too many omnibus bills in the House of Commons without enough notice or opportunities for debate. “Legislation should be examined critically before it’s passed.”
Clare, a past president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43, said the closure of Veterans’ Affairs offices in Prince George and other regional centres was a big mistake. “Veterans’ issues are at the forefront for me. Veterans should get service in the communities where they live.
“PTSD is a serious concern for many of these veterans,” he elaborated. “There’s a problem when they can’t get people who can deal with the specifics of that condition. If it’s too expensive to re-open a Veterans’ Affairs office here, there should be at least some staff dedicated to veterans’ issues sufficiently trained to deal with their concerns in the local Service Canada office.”
Clare also criticized the Government’s cutbacks to the Coast Guard. “We have one of the longest coastlines in the world,” he said. “Our ability to look after coastlines is in need of upgrading.”
“Canada needs to assert its sovereignty over its northern coastline in particular and be sure it’s maintained.”
Clare said he had recently visited a lighthouse in Cape Scott on northern Vancouver Island and got a better idea of the impact of the cutbacks. “An automatic beacon can’t rescue people. We need someone who can get out in the surf and save people. If we are to have increased shipping along our coastlines, we need to better service and police them.”
Poor decisions in cutting back Canada Post and its services are harming the fabric of the community and this decision hurts seniors, such as his own elderly parents. Getting rid of home delivery is a big error, he contended. Clare said he knew of a senior who had fallen on ice twice last winter while making the trek to a distant community mailbox, or Superbox.
“What is a post office for?” Clare said. “Mail has to get to people’s homes. Seniors need door-to-door service. That’s part of the social contract.”
Cutbacks in services and income supports for seniors are also wrong, he commented.
“We must be certain our seniors don’t retire into poverty. They paid their taxes and made their contributions. They should be allowed to live in dignity.”
Clare said the current recession is proof that the current government put all its eggs in one basket — that being the petroleum exports.
“We should not send all our raw resources off shore,” he said. “Commodities should be processed in Canada before they are exported.”
“The economy is a huge issue,” Clare said. “In the north many companies have closed and people are out of work. That must change.”
Paul Strickland — in his 28 years as a full-time journalist and 6.5 years as a free lance journalist, Paul has worked for newspapers in Nevada, Medicine Hat and Prince George. Besides being an investigative reporter, he is a poet, a short story writer and an essayist. He presently resides in Prince George.