Keep the town halls coming

Broadband will be the topic this week at May 6 meeting

Joe McWilliams
For South Peace News

‘Virtual’ town hall meetings seem to be right up Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen’s alley.

How many people he’s reaching with them is a good question, but at least they are easy to participate in [via Zoom] and he doesn’t seem to be short of interesting topics or knowledgeable guests.

April 27, for example, Viersen welcomed Regina MP and former Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer for a chat.

This week, Thursday, May 6, he’ll have Dane Lloydin to talk about rural broadband service – a topic right up there with bad highways at the top of the minds of many northern Albertans.

Other Viersen town hall meetings over the past few months have covered such topics as rural and remote living, Alberta’s fiscal relationship with Ottawa and pipelines and market access.

At each meeting, he had a fellow member of the Conservative caucus with expertise in the field to speak and answer questions.

The April 27 town hall with Scheer was an exception, in that the topic was Scheer himself. Viersen prompted the former leader to talk about how and why he got into politics, and about his decision to step down as leader following the last federal election.

Scheer said it would have come down to a choice between being “a bad leader or a bad father,” and opted for his family. He said he’s enjoying his role as an ordinary MP these days. He serves as Opposition critic for infrastructure and communities and as such, so Viersen asked him to say a word or two on the topic.

Scheer spoke about 9,000 federally-funded infrastructure projects that there seems to be no record of having actually been done. He’s been pressing the government on that topic.

Another burr under his saddle is $655 million he said the feds have given to a large company to establish an electrical connection between Ontario and the U.S. – one he said “would have got built anyway.”

Scheer took the opportunity to praise Viersen for being an enthusiastic promoter of his riding. As if on cue, Viersen grabbed a container of Alberta honey [Hicks, from McLennan] off a shelf behind him and held it up to the camera.

About half of the honey exported from Canada comes from this province, Viersen said. It competes with what he called “fake honey” from China, which claims to be Canadian, but isn’t.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us,” he said.

Thursday, May 6 is the date for the next Viersen town hall meeting, as noted on rural broadband services. The guest will be Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Dane Lloyd, who is the Conservative’s shadow minister for rural economic development.

The meeting can be viewed live on Viersen’s Facebook page. Or sign up online at mparnold.ca

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