September 21, 2011
Since Parliament recessed in late June, I have met many of you at events in the constituency. I have been working on issues like MS treatment, property rights issues and various agriculture issues on your behalf and have hosted an international NATO PA meeting to promote our sustainable development of the Oil sands and shale gas.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
For some time now I have been meeting with a local group of constituents and some individuals on issues relating to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This summer I was in discussions with sufferers and their families about a treatment called Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), a procedure to unblock veins in MS patients. Our Government is currently initiating clinical trials in Canada. I have been speaking with the Minister of Health and her staff on ways that we can speed up information gathering so better treatment can be made available in Alberta.
There continues to be very legitimate concerns raised by landowners as a result of the transfer of natural gas pipelines from the regulatory jurisdiction of the province of Alberta to the regulatory jurisdiction of the National Energy Board (NEB). I agree with these concerns, which is exactly why I’ve continued to work with Ministers and their staff and the NEB to fix these problems.
As you probably know, once a pipeline is abandoned under Alberta’s regulations the company is responsible “in perpetuity” whereas the NEB rules are different. When jurisdiction changes under the NEB, the company liability is there until the NEB signs off on it. This may in fact be the same result but with the way the regulations are written it may not be. This has to be fixed.
Personally, I think it’s simply wrong that the terms of an agreement signed between landowners and a company be changed when the regulator changes. That’s why I have been recommending to the NEB and the Ministers that changes to the NEB rules are necessary to ensure they either operate under the provincial regulations or at least do not in any way change the terms of the original agreement signed by farmers (or other landowners) and pipeline companies. I will continue to pursue this on behalf of landowners.
As previously mentioned, I had the honour of attending some important events throughout the riding. There are too many to list, but included great agriculture fairs, 100th anniversaries of churches, family farms and towns, and grand openings of much needed infrastructure like seniors’ living facilities and roads as well as a variety of other events.
Oil Sands Promotion
Another key event which I am particularly pleased about is the Oil Sands visit that I hosted as Chair of Canada’s NATO Parliamentary Association in mid-July. The tour, attended by international parliamentarians from NATO countries, took place in both Alberta and British Columbia and included detailed briefings by industry experts. It was a unique opportunity for international parliamentarians to explore Canada’s unconventional oil and gas industry and I was honoured to show them the beauty and innovation of western Canada. Many of the parliamentarians were surprised to learn the extent of the environmental precautions involved at every step of the process. Canada should be doing more to share our incredible accomplishments in this field, combined with what I believe are unparalleled environmental components, and I will do my best to ensure this happens.
On the Home Front
On a personal note, my second - and youngest - set of twins were both married over the summer, one in June and one in early September. All five of our children are now happily married and my wife Linda and I have already been blessed with five beautiful grandchildren…. so far… from our three children who were married over the past few years.
With the beginning of the fall session just around the corner I look forward to resuming parliament with a majority government, and to the upcoming parliamentary business we will be dealing with. As always, the Prime Minister has a very clear vision of what lies ahead and our Conservative Government will continue to fulfill the promises we made during the federal election.
Of course, the economy continues to be the most important issue both globally and among Canadians and our government is committed to completing the economic recovery. We will also be focusing on passing long overdue tough-on-crime legislation, working on more international trade deals to benefit our farmers and oil and gas sectors as well as following through on our pledges to provide marketing choice to western Canadian farmers and eliminating the costly and inefficient long-gun registry.
I am very excited to continue this work, and look forward to keeping you up-to-date on our progress.
Leon Benoit MP