Rob Morrison, MP for Kootenay-Columbia looking for common sense on rapid testing, quarantine rules. The Kootenay parliamentarian also discusses a recent firarms bill that was defeated. (Submitted)

Rob Morrison, MP for Kootenay-Columbia looking for common sense on rapid testing, quarantine rules. The Kootenay parliamentarian also discusses a recent firarms bill that was defeated. (Submitted)

MP Morrison looking for ‘common sense’ in quarantine rules, rapid testing

Kootenay-Columbia MP speaks on defeated Tory firearms bill, Columbia River Treaty talks

As Canada hits a logistics snag with COVID-19 vaccine supply, Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison says he is continuing to push for a rapid testing regime at the international border and airports.

The federal government recently implemented further travel-related restrictions, requiring travellers to reserve a room in a government-approved hotel room for three days while awaiting a COVID-19 molecular test result, both at their own cost, as well as conducting a 14-day quarantine afterwards.

Morrison cited the case of a young man in Alberta who was whisked away by officials to a hotel for quarantine after arriving in Calgary from the United States on a flight, despite his mother being on hand to take him home.

“I think we just need to get back into some common sense here,” Morrison said.

As part of updated travel restrictions, four major Canadian airlines have voluntarily suspended flights to sun destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30.

“We’re stuck in this travel ban situation because we haven’t had the opportunity or the government has not opened the door to having these rapid tests out so we can get people in and out,” said Morrison.

“If someone tests negative, why would you 14-day quarantine? Yet, we’re still in this quarantine process because we haven’t rolled out these tools in our toolbox.”

Morrison also said it was “odd” that Canadian airlines are voluntarily suspending flights to sun destinations, while American air carriers are still able to operate at Canadian airports and fly travellers to those same destinations.

Despite issues with vaccine procurement and supply, Morrison says rapid testing can serve as an important tool towards easing restrictions even if vaccinating an increasingly larger percentage of the Canadian population takes more time.

“I think the rapid testing will take care of that, in that, now we’ll know if you are, in fact, positive or not,” Morrison said. “So to me, the rapid testing is the process for us to get our businesses and our tourism and get the energy sector back going again, things that are so important for Kootenay-Columbia.”

On Jan. 29, a federal minister issued a statement that Canada was only going to receive 78 per cent of the forecasted Moderna vaccine that week, as the company and other pharmaceuticals ramp up capacity to meet a huge global demand.

Seeking observer status for Columbia River Treaty talks

Morrison rose in the House of Commons last week to voice the significance of the Columbia River Treaty to the region, while also noting that he’s requested observer status in the negotiations between Canada and the United States.

The treaty, ratified in 1964, is a water management agreement between the two countries, providing flood control downstream of the Columbia River in the United States.

Under the terms of the agreement, Canada built the Mica Dam, Duncan Dam and Keenleyside Dam in British Columbia, while the Americans built the Libby Dam in Montana.

The treaty flooded over 110,000 hectares of land, displacing rural and indigenous communities, as well as impacting ecosystems and farm land.

The Ktunaxa, the Secwepemc and the Syilx-Okanagan First Nations joined the talks in 2019 as observers, participating in negotiation preparations and have made presentations during treaty discussions.

Morrison said any renegotiated terms should include compensation to those who lost their lands to flooded reservoirs, a re-introduction of salmon into the upper Columbia River, stable water levels at Lake Koocanusa and fair compensation for power generation.

His priorities also included addressing low water levels at Lake Koocansua for tourism values and summer recreation.

“Recreation, number one,” Morrison said. “Also compensation for those who lost their ranch or lands or grasslands. A lot of people have not been compensated, and I think water levels — lets just take a look at [Lake] Koocanusa. Having Koocanusa water levels to where they can actually have water by the dock instead of 40 feet away from the dock.”

Morrison said it’s been three months since he last heard an update from the federal government on the state of the talks, which is still in preliminary stages after 10 rounds of discussions.

Liberals, NDP defeat Tory firearms bill on illegal guns

A Conservative private members bill, with Bloc Quebecois support, was shot down by Liberal and NDP parliamentarians last week, legislation that would have proposed stiffer penalties for smuggling and trafficking illegal guns.

Morrison said the Tory bill would have punished possession and trafficking of illegal guns without targeting law-abiding gun owners, who are properly licensed with legal firearms.

“Of course, we know that organized crime and gangs don’t have any legal guns, because they can’t get a Possession and Acquisition license because they’re criminals …,” said Morrison. “They can’t get one, our process is so strict, they wouldn’t get one.”

The Tory proposal included mandatory minimum penalties for possession of unlawfully imported firearms.

During the debate, both Liberal and NDP members voiced their opposition to the bill by citing concerns about constitutionality of mandatory minimum penalties.

The bill was defeated in a vote of 171-150.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An artist’s rendering of the new fire hall and ambulance station for the Town of Creston, which announced the purchase of land on Jan. 14, 2020. (Photo: Town of Creston)
Town of Creston recommends increasing budget for emergency services building project from $5.4 million to $7 million

The town has cited rising construction costs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant factor in driving the surge in the budget

A soldier walks along the outside of a crater formed through a demolition. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Military exercises assist with restoration of Lower Kootenay Band wetlands

A total of nine craters were created through demolitions, where the goal is to have them serve as future habitats for ducks and geese.

Al Garrecht holds up a plaque acknowledging his “service above self” from the Creston Valley Rotary Club during a tribute meeting on Feb. 9, 2021. Photo: Dave Handy
Creston Valley Rotary Club bids farewell to longtime member Al Garrecht

“Thank you, Al Garrecht. You leave an incredible legacy of service with CVRC. You live our motto, ‘Service Above Self’. Thank You.”

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
Kootenay-Columbia MP supports motion condemning Uighur genocide

Rob Morrison says labelling Uighur persecution as a genocide sends a message to Chinese government

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read