Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo intends to make a two-day listening tour of the South Cariboo an annual commitment.
The Conservative MP visited 100 Mile House, 108 Mile Ranch, Clinton, Forest Grove and Lone Butte last Friday and Saturday. He said the people of the South Cariboo were welcoming and friendly and eager to share their feedback with him.
“It’s great to meet people. I try to be as accessible as possible and get out to as many communities as I can,” Caputo said. “This is my first year in office so I didn’t know what to expect but most of my meetings, if not all, exceeded my expectations.”
Crime, the economy and funding for healthcare were both major issues that residents talked to Caputo about. While this isn’t the first time he’s heard those concerns, being on the ground helped reinforce the impact these issues have on the local community.
Caputo returns to parliament Sept. 19 when the government’s summer adjournment ends. Caputo said his main focus, next to voicing the concerns of his constituents, will be duties relating to his role as shadow minister for veteran affairs.
He will push for an investigation into the case of a veteran who was offered medical assistance in dying unprompted when they sought help from Veteran Affairs Canada. Caputo said the veteran was looking for help to deal with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury and was shocked to receive such a suggestion.
“So far the government has said they’re correcting the situation so it never happens again but I’d like to know what led up to that decision.”
Trying to get his private member bills passed will be another priority. This includes Caputo’s bill reclassifying child pornography as child sexual abuse material and a bill that would change bail laws so that suspects who are alleged to have committed three indictable offences will not be released back into the community. These offences include assault, robbery and theft of motor vehicles.
“The point is that a very narrow minority is committing most of the crimes, they’re called prolific offenders, and the goal of this bill is to target that narrow subset,” Caputo said. “That’s something the community and constituents have been asking for, so that bill was a direct response.”
In early September, Caputo intends to introduce a brand new bill that addresses the sentencing of those convicted of sexual offences. He said that he wants to see the sentence for those who commit sexual assault raised to match other crimes.
“When you look at robbery, robbery is the taking of property by force, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. If you take somebody’s consent, the sentence is only 10 years,” Caputo said. “So we take the taking of property by force more seriously than the taking of consent by force and I think that needs to change.”
Caputo said he also intends to join his fellow Conservatives in examining and if necessary opposing Bill C-21 and its accompanying hand gun ban. Caputo said that while he supports keeping guns out of the hands of the people who abuse them, he does not believe the government’s current approach is geared towards that. He said that focusing on illegal guns, not legal guns, is what’s needed to help the victims of gun violence.
“Guns are a scourge on our society and generally it is illegal guns being used in gun crime. Either the gun itself is illegal, the person isn’t licensed, the gun wasn’t stored properly, they’re all sorts of issues that go along with this,” Caputo said. “During my time as a prosecutor, I can say it was illegal guns that were generally hurting people.”