South Cariboo residents had the chance to bend the ear of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo recently, when he dropped into 100 Mile House for a constituency visit. The riding also includes Clinton and Loon Lake.
The biggest issues, he said, weren’t much different from the rest of the province. Local crime, cost of living, inflation, and affordable housing were top of mind among those he met during his time at Hot July Nights Sunday and in 100 Mile House and Forest Grove.
“It’s important I get out to be seen, but also see what’s happening, and to listen and meet people and hear their questions and concerns,” said Caputo.
Local crime, especially what he calls the “catch-and-release system”, has been on Caputo’s radar since he was elected. A former prosecutor, Caputo tabled Private Members Bill C-274 earlier this year. It aims to “reform the way we look at bail” for chronic offenders, he said, noting that the bill would ensure a judge presumes a person will be detained unless they show an “exceptional case”.
”This is aimed at really a small group of people,” he said, noting that a small number of chronic offenders are responsible for keeping police busy.
Caputo said he is also willing to support a petition in the House if residents wanted to pull one together. A petition requires 500 signatures online but only 25 on paper.
However, he acknowledged these measures aren’t expected to be a cure-all, noting crime was a result of many factors at play, such as drug addiction, health care, and a lack of housing. This means it will take a multi-faceted approach, involving municipalities and the provincial government as well.
This is particularly important when it comes to addressing housing, Caputo noted. He said the federal government must work with both the province and municipalities to streamline approvals and incentivize more supply, especially in urban centres, to take the pressure from rural areas.
“What happens in larger centres impacts the rural areas,” he said, noting many people are selling their homes in the Lower Mainland to move to rural areas like the South Cariboo. “You have to solve the problems in larger centres and then you will solve them nationally.”
He added he believes government should also reduce spending and try to give consumers a break at the gas pumps, either by suspending the carbon tax or the GST.
“We’ve got hundreds of billions of dollars in debt and deficit. Can you say you’re better off now?” he asked. “Maybe we need to start spending differently.”