Kevin Soren­son Re­ports

The Drumheller Mail - - CLASSIFIEDS - Kevin Soren­son M.P. Bat­tle River-Crow­foot Con­stituency

Mar­i­juana – Mi­nor vi­o­la­tion citations or full le­gal­iza­tion?

Con­stituents in Bat­tle River-Crow­foot are al­ready voic­ing their con­cerns should mar­i­juana be le­gal­ized. I will be bring­ing th­ese con­cerns to the com­ing de­bates in the House of Com­mons as the Lib­er­als pro­ceed.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is mis­man­ag­ing their elec­tion cam­paign prom­ise to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana to the ex­tent that some Cana­di­ans are treat­ing this “con­trolled drug”, as if it were al­ready le­gal. The Lib­er­als are not ad­dress­ing the cur­rent pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal, un­reg­u­lated mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries. In Van­cou­ver, there are al­ready more il­le­gal mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries than Star­bucks cof­fee lo­ca­tions.

So far, the Lib­er­als have cre­ated a task force to study the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. This panel has only 5 months to study the is­sue. How is this panel go­ing to thor­oughly as­sess the po­ten­tial le­gal, fi­nan­cial, moral and med­i­cal ram­i­fi­ca­tions of le­gal­iz­ing the drug?

How are the Lib­er­als go­ing to ad­dress the pub­lic safety is­sue of peo­ple driv­ing and op­er­at­ing heavy equip­ment while ine­bri­ated on mar­i­juana? Will the Lib­er­als try to pass a law that for­bids com­pa­nies from pe­nal­iz­ing work­ers who ar­rive at work with tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (THC) still in their sys­tems but not legally im­paired? How will we know, or con­firm the ex­tent to which that some­one is in­tox­i­cated by mar­i­juana? How will they en­sure work place safety when work­ers con­sume mar­i­juana on the week­end but yet the THC re­mains in their sys­tem for sev­eral days or even weeks af­ter?

How are the Lib­er­als go­ing to en­sure that mar­i­juana is go­ing to be kept out of the hands of chil­dren? We are just now start­ing to get a han­dle on youth smok­ing, go­ing from 6% in 2010 to 4% in 2013. There con­tin­ues to be ap­prox­i­mately 100,000 Cana­dian youth who reg­u­larly smoke cig­a­rettes.

If we ex­am­ine youth and al­co­hol use, the sta­tis­tics show that 70% of youth con­sume al­co­hol. Again, sta­tis­tics show that ap­prox­i­mately 20% of Cana­dian youth are try­ing mar­i­juana. That statis­tic is much higher than cig­a­rette con­sump­tion rate and yet cig­a­rettes are le­gal and much more eas­ily ob­tained than mar­i­juana.

At the re­cent Con­ser­va­tive Pol­icy Con­ven­tion, we passed a res­o­lu­tion stat­ing, “…in or­der to ex­pand the means which law en­force­ment author­i­ties have at their dis­posal to com­bat drugs and their neg­a­tive im­pacts, par­tic­u­larly among young peo­ple, and to re­duce the vol­ume of ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings, we rec­om­mend that peace of­fi­cers be en­abled to is­sue tick­ets for sim­ple pos­ses­sion of small quan­ti­ties of mar­i­juana.”

Our pol­icy res­o­lu­tion is in line with rec­om­men­da­tions from the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice on the mar­i­juana file. They sup­port pro­vid­ing front-line of­fi­cers the abil­ity to ticket in­di­vid­u­als found with 30 grams of mar­i­juana or less. The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice do not rec­om­mend the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana.

I am cer­tain that none of us want Cana­di­ans un­der the age of ma­jor­ity to be sad­dled with a life-long crim­i­nal record for min­i­mal use mar­i­juana, yet we want con­trols on this sub­stance. I would like to in­clude in my speeches in the House of Com­mons dur­ing the com­ing de­bates your views as well.

If you have any ques­tions or con­cerns re­gard­ing this or pre­vi­ous col­umns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Cam­rose, Al­berta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Soren­son.C1@parl.gc.ca.

Lib­er­als Slam Work­ing Mid­dle Class with Canada Pen­sion Plan Tax Hike

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment and eight pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments have signed an agree­ment in prin­ci­ple to ex­pand the Canada Pen­sion Plan (CPP). If the plan goes ahead, the CPP pre­mium rate will start ris­ing in 2019 and the max­i­mum level of pen­sion­able earn­ings will go up from $54,900 this year to $82,700 in 2025. All sig­na­to­ries must ap­prove the deal by July 15th,, 2016. Que­bec and Man­i­toba did not sign.

Why would I not be sup­port­ive of an en­hanced CPP? The CPP tax hike will take money from the pay­checks of hard­work­ing Cana­di­ans and place hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs at risk be­cause em­ploy­ers in a tough econ­omy may not be able to pay their share of a CPP pre­mium hike. The en­hance­ment will not de­liver max­i­mum ben­e­fits for 40 years (2019-2059). A se­nior cit­i­zen to­day will see no in­crease in their ben­e­fits, yet those ap­proach­ing re­tire­ment will see an in­crease in their pay­roll de­duc­tions.

The Lib­er­als are sali­vat­ing at get­ting their hands on the more than $220 bil­lion CPP fund and force it to in­vest in their gov­ern­ment’s in­fra­struc­ture projects. Un­til now, the fund it­self has al­ways been free to seek the most lu­cra­tive re­turns whether th­ese investments are in Canada or abroad. So, the Lib­er­als are politi­ciz­ing the CPP fund – us­ing it and its on-go­ing in­creased rev­enues pro­vided by em­ploy­ers and work­ers to fi­nance their in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Cana­dian em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees are go­ing to pay $250 mil­lion per year for the Lib­eral’s CPP ‘ en­hance­ment’ mea­sures. . From 2019-23, em­ployee and em­ployer pre­mi­ums will each in­crease to 5.95 per cent from 4.95 per cent this year. New grad­u­ates en­ter­ing the work­force and all younger work­ers will have their in­comes re­duced. It will be harder for them to start sav­ing money im­me­di­ately and over the course of their work­ing lives. Com­pa­nies will cre­ate fewer jobs, re­duce shifts, hours, and have dif­fi­culty of­fer­ing raises for work­ers.

Forc­ing em­ploy­ees and em­ploy­ers to pay more now for a prom­ise of a pay-out in 2025 is a poor way of help­ing Cana­di­ans in their re­tire­ment years. The de­mo­graph­ics of our pop­u­la­tion and fac­tual data on our in­comes and re­tire­ment ben­e­fits do not sup­port a hike in CPP pre­mi­ums that will hurt Cana­di­ans in the low- and mid­dle-in­come groups.

The CPP was in­tro­duced in 1966 to ad­dress poverty among se­niors and has been so suc­cess­ful that to­day, poverty rates among el­derly Cana­di­ans has dropped to 3.7%. One-fifth of Cana­di­ans have higher in­comes af­ter they re­tire than they were able to earn in the work force due to the to­tal amount they re­ceive an­nu­ally from the CPP and Old Age Se­cu­rity (OAS).

Cana­di­ans should be al­lowed to man­age their own money. Our pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment helped Cana­di­ans save through tax-free sav­ings ac­counts (TFSAs) and op­por­tu­ni­ties to make vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions to the CPP. The vast ma­jor­ity (over 80%) of Cana­dian house­holds are on track to main­tain their cur­rent liv­ing stan­dards in re­tire­ment. Cana­di­ans would rather save their own money for re­tire­ment than leave it to the gov­ern­ment to do it for them.

If you have any ques­tions or con­cerns re­gard­ing this or pre­vi­ous col­umns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Cam­rose, Al­berta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Soren­son.C1@parl.gc.ca.

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