North Okanagan—Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. (Contributed)

North Okanagan—Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. (Contributed)

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP talks snap election, climate change and freedom of speech

Connecting with constituents remains top priority for Mel Arnold

While he may not support the timing, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold says he and the Conservative Party are ready should a snap election be called.

Prior to word hitting the press on Thursday, Aug. 12, of the likelihood that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be taking steps towards a Sept. 20 federal election, rumours of an impending snap election were already circulating, with some suggesting it would occur late August.

During an Aug. 11 Observer interview, Arnold said his constituents have not been supportive of the idea of having to go to the polls.

“We’re in a state of emergency with the wildfires – It’s going to be difficult and challenging for people to participate…,” said Arnold.

However, Arnold noted he and the minority Conservative Party would be ready if and when the writ is dropped.

“For me as the MP, the key thing, whether there’s an election coming or not, is to make sure I’m connecting with constituents,” said Arnold.

Since he was first elected in 2015, Arnold said much has changed about his job, including the pace at which information is shared and exchanged, be it via email or social media, as well as the volume of communications with constituents.

With ongoing wildfires and the release of a bleak report on climate change from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate has been on the minds of North Okanagan-Shuswap residents.

According to Arnold, it has also been on the minds of the Conservative Party, which he said has a plan that will help the country reach its commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 2030, but without risking jobs and the economy.

Electric and hydrogen vehicles would be a key piece of that plan, said Arnold. Canada would work with the Biden administration in the U.S. to make sure both countries are moving forward with zero-emission vehicles.

“We need to invest in our electrical infrastructure to make sure we can bring clean electrical energy to where it’s needed,” said Arnold. “We would invest billions of dollars in building electrical vehicle manufacturing in Canada, including battery production, parts manufacturing and so on.”

Arnold said carbon capture and storage and methane reduction are also part of the plan, through which a Conservative government would to incentivize large emitters in the industrial sector to curb methane emissions.

Asked about government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, Arnold said transitioning employees from traditional sectors is a key piece of keeping our economy rolling.

“Certainly the fossil fuel sector is getting better at maintaining or reducing their emissions and we would certainly want to incentivize any greater improvements there as well.”

Housing, labour shortages, the rising cost of living, the opioid crisis and mental health are among a large group interconnected issues that Arnold feels the current Liberal federal government isn’t doing enough to address.

Read more: MP Mel Arnold: Canada needs better COVID-19 plan

Read more: North Okanagan-Shuswap MP gives government failing grade on vaccine handling

Read more: Re-elected North Okanagan-Shuswap MP plans to be more effective in second term

“There are so many big issues and housing is certainly one of them,” said Arnold. “I’ve consistently worked with local and provincial colleagues to try and find solutions for this because it is going to take every level of government and the community.”

Arnold is a proponent of providing high speed internet access to rural communities, and staunchly opposed to the Liberal government’s revision of Bill C-10, to regulate social media and streaming.

“I’ve heard a lot from constituents on this and we want to make sure freedom of expression is not impeded in any way in Canada,” said Arnold, who believes Canadians’ freedom of speech and freedom of expression must be protected.

When questioned where he might draw the line on that, Arnold said no one should be putting out hate speech or anything that could harm or promote hatred towards another group. Asked about the spreading of misinformation that could be harmful to human health, Arnold sided with substantiated scientific evidence.

“We can’t control what everyone says, but hopefully people will take the time to investigate if what they’re reading on social media is actual fact,” said Arnold. “There are reliable sources out there. We rely on our public health agencies to provide reliable information and that’s where I get my information from.”

Arnold said his office deals with a great many issues on a daily basis, and they’re all of importance.

“I often talk about it being like reading a 1,000 page book and every page is a different story, not just a different chapter, and that’s the type of volume we get coming across our desks each day,” said Arnold. “But here in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, it’s such a beautiful place to live and the people are so good, we are blessed to be here.”
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