Kamloops-Thompson Cariboo MP Frank Caputo recently stopped in at the Barriere Seniors Hall to speak with members and a number of other area residents who were in attendance.
“It’s been a huge honour to be serving the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo,” said Caputo, “I wasn’t a traditional politician – this has been the first time I have run for anything. It’s been a straight uphill learning curve, and I am now also the Shadow Minister for Veteran’s Affairs. This is a portfolio that had a lot of action recently because of a former soldier who was offered medical assistance in dying when he went to Veteran’s asking for help with a traumatic brain injury. I wrote to the minister on that, and held six interviews within three to four days about it.”
Caputo was asked if he found being an MP for the region to be what he expected of the position after serving in Kamloops on Crown Council for a number of years?
”I always pictured being an MP would be similar to being on Crown Council,” said Caputo, “When you went to the court house nobody really liked being there. People would come as a witness, and generally people don’t want to be a witness to a crime. If you are an accused person you really don’t want to be there. But being in the job of MP I find meeting people is the best part, you meet people even when they come to you with problems. Maybe I can’t solve their problem because it is something I have no control over, but I can listen and then encourage them to go to their MLA if that is the person they need to speak with. Just meeting people and talking with them – people are so welcoming. I have no regrets in becoming an MP.”
Caputo added he “loves being in the North Thompson, working with the communities and the people who live there”.
“Barriere is a vibrant community, and I hear how the community bands together when needed,” said the MP, “I’ve never lived in a community this small, it’s really refreshing and I feel very comfortable here. I often came here as a young man with youth groups, or to visit family members who had property in the area, and I’ve only had good experiences here.”
He added when meeting with area residents last October during the federal election he was told priorities for the area were natural gas and improved Internet service.
“If I could get natural gas and better Internet it would make the area more appealing for business and create potential for development, which also contributes to community vitality. We are working very hard towards better Internet coverage as it actually becomes a safety concern if you don’t have accurate cell coverage. Wouldn’t it be great if we could improve Internet service and bring in natural gas at the same time because their may be an overlap of infrastructure there?” said the MP.
“The likelihood of this happening quickly though is probably minimum because these are huge projects. The difficulty will always be the cost of installation versus the customer base.”
Caputo says he’s dedicated to trying to get the conversation started.
“Once we do that we can start talking about how much is it going to cost, how much is each municipality prepared to bear based on what the customer base wants, and then are there any federal or provincial grants available I’m mindful that it’s probably going to take a long time for me to deal with this, but if you don’t shoot you don’t score.”
The Kamloops-North Thompson-Cariboo MP has already put forward two Private Members Bills and a third is to be tabled in September, while at the time of this interview he was working on a fourth.
”My goal is to get three Private Members Bills a year. I wasn’t elected to be a wall flower. If I wanted to just sit around I would have stayed in my job. We’ve had some good reception to these and I am optimistic on one of them. That one is to change the terminology from ‘child pornography’ to ‘child sexual abuse’,” said Caputo, who was a prosecutor for sexual offences, and Internet offences against children before becoming an MP.
“The way the Private Members Bill goes is it’s a lottery system, so your name comes out and we get Order of Precedence. The member from Vernon has decided to pick up my Private Members Bill as he has precedence,” said Caputo, “I wrote it, he’s sponsoring it, and I’m seconding it, and we are hoping it will be tabled in October or November. I think it has a really good shot at passing.”
In the position of Shadow Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, the MP says back in April he experienced “one of the most meaningful weeks of my life going to France”.
”I’ve always had a place for veterans,” said Caputo, “But seeing where they fought, and seeing Vimy Ridge last spring – I don’t know that I have ever been so proud to be a Canadian as when I walked to that Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial for the first time. You don’t realize until you have seen it, that in Canada sometimes its easy to get to a mentality where we remember November first through the twelfth. One thing that I found in Europe when we were in Belgium at the Menin Gate Memorial [in Ypres], they have continued to hold a service every single day since World War I that is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown. We went by bus stops where they had poppies for sale, and there were many Canadian flags flying. The people have not forgotten Canada’s sacrifice of 105 years ago.
“The entire experience filled my heart and took my pride in being Canadian to a whole new level.”