Conservative candidate Marc Dalton hosted the party’s shadow minister of public safety Glen Motz last week, and they heard concerns from the Maple Ridge business community.
Motz, MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, retired as inspector and second in command of the Medicine Hat Police. He recently has been touring B.C. Interior cities and towns and hears fears about public safety.
In Maple Ridge, they met with business leaders, residents, and councillors Judy Dueck and Chelsa Meadus. Drug issues, addictions and mental health were all identified as key topics impacting public safety, said Motz.
He said senior governments need to be open to trying new approaches.
“We talked about policies and how the current governments, both provincially and federally, are not helping deal with some of the challenges that this community, Maple Ridge, is facing,” he said.
“There’s a singular focus on harm reduction that says we’re going to enable, as the only way to cure the problem and it is not solving the problem,” he said
“We’ve seen that across the country and the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is a prime example of keep enabling the addiction and we’re not helping people get better.
“That’s the frustration we heard from businesses today. That’s the frustration we heard from residents today. We don’t have the support services we need.”
Dalton said the challenge he is hearing locally is “provincial solutions are just being forced upon the community,” referring to a low-barrier shelter on Burnett Street.
“Many residents feel disturbed by that,” he said.
There have been rallies in Maple Ridge against the provincial government’s Burnett Street supportive housing complex. Earlier this year, city council asked other cities for support in their stand against a provincially enforced plan.
Dalton said there needs to be more funding for recovery, rather than “stop-gap solutions.”
The Conservatives were also critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was recently found to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act by using improper political influence in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
“The Canadian public should be very concerned that we’re dealing with the rule of law, and talking about holding people accountable for their actions, but we have the head of state, we have the leader of this country, involved in trying to interfere … for his own political gain,” said Motz.
Liberal MP Dan Ruimy said the problem of homelessness and addiction did not arrive with the Trudeau government.
“What were they doing?” he asked, noting the Conservative government cut funding for the Iron Horse youth shelter in Maple Ridge.
“When Dalton was an MLA for two terms with the provincial government, what did he do to keep this from happening?” he said of the homeless situation.
Ruimy said the federal government’s $40-billion National Housing Strategy could help build new homes for low-income residents, seniors and women’s shelters over the next 10 years.
The government has also created rental subsidies that can give qualifying renters $2,500 per year.
He added that when it renewed the health-care accords, the federal government earmarked an additional $5 billion over 10 years for mental health, to address longstanding gaps in funding.
“That’s the federal government taking a leadership role,” he said.
Ruimy also defended Trudeau’s role in the SNC-Lavalin controversy, saying he did not break any law.
He agreed with Trudeau, that the government should have been seeking a deferred prosecution agreement and a fine against the company.
“Why are you tearing down a company for something that happened years ago, and all the principals are not there anymore?”
He said a court action is uncertain for prosecutors.
“There is no guarantee they will win or lose. What is the end goal here? Are we trying to tear apart a Canadian company?”