LETHBRIDGE: As we near the end of the year, Country 95
continues the 2013 year-end review with local politicians.
Lethbridge MP Jim Hillyer noted that he was
very happy with 2013 as a whole, despite a serious skiing accident in April that
left him in the hospital for three weeks with a leg injury, one which he is
still recovering from.
Hillyer stated that in 2013 the economy was once again the focus of the
Federal government, noting that without a strong economy the government can't
support countless projects and programs across the country.
The most important step on that front according to Hillyer is the recent free
trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, "It triples our free
trade partners from 14 to 42 with a single agreement, we expect about a
$12-billion influx into our economy because of it, which translates into
thousands and thousands of jobs."
Another highlight of 2013 for Hillyer was the government taking steps to deal
with the Indian Act. He explained that Conservative MP Rob Clarke, a status Cree
from Saskatchewan, brought forward a private members bill to reform the act,
with plans to eventually repeal and replace it, "We've been talking about the
fact that the Indian Act is not the right act for decades, for like 50 years,
since the 60's we've been saying this needs to be replaced. That's the official
act that governs the relationship between the Canadian government and First
Nations, and it still talks about residential schools in it."
Hillyer continued that the government's attention to getting tougher on crime
and ensuring that we have a "Just justice system" was another major highlight of
the year. He pointed out that they're cracking down on violent crimes, with new
rules that say a sentence can not be reduced for someone convicted of a violent
crime. House arrest has also been taken off the table as a sentencing option for
Hillyer also discussed the Victims Bill of Rights, saying that there's been
an imbalance over the years, which almost gave criminals more consideration than
their victims. One example he provided is in a case where a criminal writes a
book, their victim will get the first claim on the proceeds from it. He also
noted that victims will be informed of where the person who committed a crime
against them is living after they're time behind bars is over, so they don't
have to live in fear that the individual is just down the block.