Some Central Albertans favour legalization of marijuana but there are concerns like not wanting a dispensary near their homes. File photo.

Illegal border crossings and legalization of marijuana concerning to Central Albertans

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins heard concerns over the summer

Legalization of marijuana, illegal border crossings and local economy are some of the concerns on Central Albertans’ minds, says Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins.

With the House of Commons fall session starting up on Sept. 18, these issues will come up in Ottawa.

Over the summer, Calkins has heard various concerns from Central Albertans regarding asylum seekers at Canadian border crossings. He said Central Alberta is far enough that the region probably won’t see asylum seekers but the concern is how much the issue is costing Canadian tax payers.

“People who do not have legitimate refugee claims are entitled to health and dental benefits that ordinary Canadians are not entitled to and there’s the cost of processing refugee claims,” he said.

Calkins is not against immigration or legal refugees coming into Canada. He is concerned about the lack of scrutiny, which means, in some cases people with previous convictions and criminal records are entering the country.

“They are not fleeing persecution, they are fleeing prosecution,” he said.

Calkins who is not in favour of marijuana legalization said although some Central Albertans are not opposed to legalization, concerns include not wanting a dispensary in their backyard.

On the law enforcement side, Calkins said, there is no technology currently available that will assist police officers with roadside marijuana testing like in the case of alcohol.

“The only way to test, for sure, is a blood sample that requires a medical facility and our medical system is burdened enough,” he said.

Crime — especially in the rural parts is another concern for Central Albertans.

Calkins said there are enough resources on the enforcement side but there is a backlog in court proceedings with a criminal justice system that’s currently underfunded.

Calkins wants to look at finding new ways to deal with repeat offenders in the next year’s time.

Central Albertans are also wanting to see a further boost in the the local economy. He has heard concerns from constituents about importing oil from overseas when there’s enough oil in the country for both domestic and international market.

mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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