Wilks returns to work

Parliament began with a controversial debate on when life begins.

Kootenay Columbia MP David Wilks in the House.

It’s been a controversial few weeks in the House of Commons for Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks as members from across the country debated passing a motion to study when life begins.

The private member’s motion, put forward by Kitchener-Centre MP Stephen Woodworth, asked Parliament to set up a committee that would study when life begins as it relates to the Criminal Code of Canada. Currently in Canada life officially begins when the infant emerges from a mother’s womb.

Wilks, who was not in the House when the debate took place on Friday, September 21, said it was an interesting vote on September 26.

“That was probably the quietest I’ve ever heard it in the House,” he said, explaining that often debate and conversation continues into the voting period. “It was a serious vote.”

Wilks said his position was clear from the moment the motion was put forward. He voted nay on the motion, along with 203 other MPs, while 91 voted in favour.

“The Prime Minister made it very clear that he was not interested in re-opening the abortion issue,” he said, adding that he stands with PM Stephen Harper on the issue. “It is an emotional issue.”

Harper voted against the motion, and during initial debate said the motion was “unfortunate.”

Voting for the committee to go ahead was Minister for the Status for Women, Rona Ambrose along with nine other Conservative cabinet ministers.

Besides Woodworth’s motion, it’s been a busy few weeks after Parliament officially began its 41st sitting on September 17. Wilks said there’s been a number of private members bills on the slab including his own and other initiatives.

“It’s been an interesting couple weeks,” he said. “Everyone’s just getting back into the routine.”

Wilks’ private members bill seeks a minimum sentence of five years for any person convicted of kidnapping a young person under the age of 16. The bill has been met with criticism by the NDP and Liberal oppositions, both of which oppose mandatory sentencing.

But Wilks, a former RCMP officer, disagrees. He said the NDP filibustered the debate when it was brought up on September 24 so it did not go to a vote. The vote was originally slated for October 29, but Wilks was happy to say it had been moved forward to October 5. Wilks said a mandatory sentence for a crime against a child absolutely warrants a mandatory minimum sentence, saying it is a fitting penalty.

This fall also marks a slight shuffling of committees in the House of Commons. Wilks remains on the Aboriginal and Northern Affairs committee, but has also been added to the Official Languages committee.

“I’m coming along with my French as best as I can,” he said.

The new committee will be a great opportunity for Wilks to fully grasp the language, as he said the majority of the meetings are held in French. Right now the Official Languages committee is working on the Roadmap to Canada’s Linguistic Duality which seeks to promote official languages in Canada.

Looking forward, Wilks said he is excited about the 2013 budget and hopes to welcome the mayors of Revelstoke and Golden to talk about improvements to the Trans Canada Highway, an issue Wilks said is long overdue.

“We really, really need to get on it,” he said.

Wilks also looks forward to strengthening his relationships with all the communities in the Kootenay-Columbia riding and further talks about infrastructure improvements and concerns in each community.

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