KENORA – POLITICS – Today, MP Eric Melillo delivered his Maiden Speech in the House of Commons, bringing attention to the unique opportunities and challenges facing the Kenora riding.
MP Melillo’s remarks came in response to the Trudeau government’s Speech from the Throne.
Melillo pointed out that the Speech from the Throne contained no plan to support the mining and forestry sectors: “There’s no hope provided to miners in Red Lake and across my region and there is absolutely no mention of softwood lumber or our forestry industry – in fact, Madame Speaker, there’s actually a plan that will restrict forest access even further.”
Melillo was also disappointed that the Speech contained no mention of the need for reliable internet connectivity in rural areas.
“A lack of reliable, high-speed internet hinders the ability of rural Canadians to access information, receive services, and compete in the Canadian economy,” Melillo stated. “Rural broadband access must be prioritized so that our students, workers, and business owners can participate equally in society.”
Additionally, Melillo called on the government to fund the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway through Kenora and spoke out about the need for investments in healthcare, social services, and infrastructure in First Nation communities.
“First Nations and northern communities in my riding are underfunded; they are under-resourced,” Melillo explained. “The people in these communities need access to health and social services; they need infrastructure investments to fix water systems and mold-infested homes; and they need access to medical, mental health and addictions treatments.” He went on to thank Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller for being open to collaboration on these shared priorities.
He also highlighted the importance of firearms to his constituents, who are worried that the government’s proposed “blanket ban and confiscation of firearms” may threaten their way of life: “Whether it’s law-abiding sport shooters belonging to a gun club, or hunters that rely on their firearms to feed their families – this is an issue that unites people from all walks of life in my riding.”
Melillo spoke of his recent visit to Fort Severn First Nation, the most northern community in Ontario, where residents frequently use firearms to defend themselves from bears and other dangerous wild animals. “I have spoken with these residents directly…and they are worried that the ambiguous term ‘military-style firearm’ may lead to them losing their guns, and actually jeopardize their way of life and their safety,” he recalled.
Melillo added that the government must provide their definition of “military-style” firearm: “Canadians deserve to know exactly what that is, so we can know what the government’s intentions are and have a thoughtful, fact-based debate about how we can best combat gun violence.”
Melillo concluded his speech by calling for greater attention to the issues facing Northern Ontario.
“My riding and my region have great potential, but this Parliament must be able to work constructively to deliver the necessary support and investment to get this region moving.”