Blaine Calkins

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Blaine Calkins
Portrait Crop P1010155.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Red Deer—Lacombe
Wetaskiwin (2006-2015)
Assumed office
January 23, 2006
Preceded byDale Johnston
Personal details
Born (1968-12-25) December 25, 1968 (age 54)
Lacombe, Alberta
Political partyConservative
SpouseBarbara Calkins
ResidenceLacombe, Alberta
Professioncomputer technician, park ranger, college instructor

Blaine F. Calkins MP (born December 25, 1968) is a Conservative Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada. He has represented the riding of Red Deer—Lacombe in Alberta since 2015, having previously represented its predecessor, Wetaskiwin, since 2006.[1]

Calkins was born and raised in the Lacombe, Alberta area. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science with specialization in zoology.[2] He later became a tenured faculty member at Red Deer College. He began his career in politics as a member of the Lacombe Town Council, and as such has been involved with the board of directors of the Lacombe Municipal Ambulance Society, the board of directors for Family and Community Support Services, The Municipal Planning Commission, David Thompson Tourist Council and the Disaster Services Committee.[3]

Blaine Calkins became a member of the Reform Party in 1996, and followed most of the party into the Canadian Alliance in 2000 and the Conservative Party in 2004. He served on the Candidate Nomination Committee for the Reform Party in Wetaskiwin riding in 1999, and joined the board of directors for the Alliance's riding nomination committee in 2000. Since then, he has held various board positions, including president, vice president and director of communications.

He was elected to Parliament for Wetaskiwin in 2006. The riding was abolished in 2015, and Calkins successfully ran in Red Deer—Lacombe, essentially the southern part of his old riding (including its largest city, Lacombe) combined with the northern half of the old Red Deer riding.

To date as a Parliamentarian, Calkins has served as the Deputy Shadow Minister for Parks and the Environment, Chair of the Alberta Conservative Caucus, Chair of the Legislative Committee for Bill C-18 (Ending the Canadian Wheat Board Monopoly), the Chair of the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee, the Chair of the Subcommittee of Finance for Bill C-38 (Jobs, Growth and Prosperity Act) which in part enabled the Harper government to approve pipeline projects, and served on numerous other standing committees including: Public Safety, National Defense, Justice, Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, Veterans Affairs, and currently sits at the Procedure and House Affairs.[4][5][6][7][8]

Calkins has been a strong advocate for rural issues throughout his time in office.[9][10][11] He has worked to support farmers, ranchers, and small business owners in his riding, and has been a vocal advocate for rural broadband access.[12][13][14] He has also been a strong supporter of Canada's oil and gas industry and has pushed for policies that promote its growth and development.[15][16]

In 2022, Calkins was appointed as the Chief Opposition Whip by the Interim Leader Candice Bergen.[17][18][19] As Chief Opposition Whip, Calkins was one of the key figures in the Conservative Party's efforts to hold the government accountable and ensure that the voices of Canadians were heard in Ottawa during the Canada Freedom Convoy and the Emergency Act.[20][21] Since October 2022, Calkins is the Shadow Minister for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation, serving in Pierre Poilievre’s Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet.[22]

Political career[edit]

CPC Alberta Caucus Chair[edit]

Blaine served as the Caucus Chair for the Alberta Caucus of the Conservative Party of Canada in both the 41st and 42nd Parliament.[23] As the Caucus Chair, Blaine has been responsible for facilitating dialogue between all of the Conservative MPs from Alberta and helping to coherently present issues effecting the province to Regional Ministers while in Government and directly to Conservative Leadership while in opposition. Given the size of the Alberta Conservative Caucus and the various Ministers and prominent Members of Parliament from Alberta, previously including former Premier Jason Kenney and former Interim Leader of the Official Opposition the Hon. Rona Ambrose, Alberta Caucus continues to be an important voice in the Conservative Parliamentary Caucus.

Ethics[edit]

From February 4, 2016 to September 18, 2017 Calkins was the Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.[24] During his time as Chair the committee undertook important studies including a review of the Privacy Act,[25] the Access to Information Act and a review of the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act [26]

In January 2017, while Chair of the Ethics Committee, Calkins wrote a letter [27][28] to then Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, highlighting a number of concerns he had about a trip Prime Minister Trudeau had accepted to the Bahamas. On December 20, 2017 the Ethics Commissioner released her report,[29] finding that the Prime Minister had violated multiple sections of the Conflict of Interest Act, including sections that Calkins had raised in his letter.

Conservative Hunting and Angling Caucus[edit]

Blaine helped found and served as vice-chair and is currently the chair of the Conservative Hunting and Angling Caucus (CHAC). The CHAC was founded in order to help ensure that hunters, anglers, trappers and all those who participate in the outdoor way of life are robustly represented in the Conservative Party and in parliament. As a former Park Warden and avid outdoorsman, Blaine passionately defends the outdoor way of life, in order to ensure that future generations are able to continue this important way of life, and that Canadians have access to public lands to sustainably harvest wildlife resources as Canadians have since first contact, and First Nations people have since time immemorial.[30][31][32]

The caucus aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Canada's natural resources, including fish and wildlife populations, habitats, and ecosystems. It advocates for policies that support responsible hunting and angling, as well as other forms of outdoor recreation.

CHAC also seeks to raise awareness about the economic and cultural importance of hunting and angling in Canada, as well as the role that these activities play in the conservation of natural resources. CHAC works with various stakeholders, including conservation groups, industry associations, and individual hunters and anglers, to advance its goals and promote its message.[33]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Calkins promoted the benefits of outdoor activities to improve physical and mental health while adhering to social distancing measures. In collaboration with the Canadian Hunting and Angling Caucus (CHAC), Calkins initiated the Annual Fishing Contest, an annual competition for fishing enthusiasts.[34][35] Participants use fishing lures provided by participating MPs, catch a fish, take a photo with the lure, and submit their entry with personal information and a short story. The contest has grown in popularity, with Canadians of all ages participating from across the country.[36][37]

Chief Opposition Whip[edit]

Calkins served as the Chief Opposition Whip for the Conservative Party of Canada in 2022 during the tenure of the Interim Leader Candice Bergen. As the Chief Opposition Whip, Calkins was responsible for ensuring that members of his party attended parliamentary sessions, voted in accordance with the party's position on legislation, and maintained proper conduct within the House of Commons. Calkins’ role was to communicate party positions to members, coordinating the scheduling of parliamentary business, and facilitating communication between the party's leadership and its caucus members.

Calkins played an important role in ensuring that the Conservative Party of Canada was able to effectively hold the government to account while being in the transition due to the 2022 Conservative Leadership Election.  

Shadow Minister for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation[edit]

As Shadow Minister for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation, Calkins’ role is to stand up for the livelihoods and pastimes of millions of Canadians who hunt, fish and do other outdoor activities.[38]

Calkins is deeply concerned with issues such as the conservation of endangered species, sustainable hunting and fishing practices, and the preservation of Canada's natural habitats.[39] He is a strong advocate for the responsible use of Canada's natural resources, and is committed to ensuring that these resources are managed in a way that is both sustainable and environmentally sound. He recognizes that hunting and fishing are important cultural and economic activities in Canada, and believes that these activities must be balanced with the need to protect and conserve Canada's natural resources.[40] In his role, Calkins is actively engaging with stakeholders to develop policies that support these activities while also protecting the environment.[41]

Political views[edit]

Support for Labourers[edit]

In the 41st Parliament, Calkins passed a Private Members Bill called the Employees’ Voting Rights Act [42] to make union certification votes down by secret ballot, to help prevent intimidation tactics that have been reported during certification proceedings under the card-check system. The Act also set the threshold to trigger a certification or decertification vote at 45% of bargaining unit members indicating they wish to have a vote, and standardized the secret ballot threshold for the successful creation or continuation of a bargaining agent. While the Employees’ Voting Rights Act passed and became law under the Conservative Government, one of the first acts of the Trudeau Government was to repeal these protections for workers.[43]

Honouring Korean War Veterans[edit]

Calkins co-sponsored[44] legislation with Senator Yonah Martin to make the 27th of July each year known as “National Korean War Veterans Day.” The Korean War is also known as the Forgotten War, receiving much less attention than other conflicts in which Canada played a vital role. Calkins and Senator Martin believed Canadians have a duty to recognize the sacrifice of over 26,000 men and women who courageously defended the principles of peace, freedom and democracy in the Korean peninsula, in particular the 516 who made the ultimate sacrifice. Calkins continues to pay homage to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces both past and present who have given so much to preserve our freedom.

Rural Crime[edit]

Calkins has been actively working on addressing the rural crime issue in Canada. In Fall of 2017 Calkins co-chaired the CPC Alberta MP Rural Crime Taskforce.[45] This was in partnership with United Conservative Party MLAs who conducted a similar study. The task force met with residents from rural Alberta, including community groups and law enforcement to hear about concerns of residents province-wide and compiled a report[46][47] making recommendations to the government of Canada to address the issue of rural crime. The report was submitted as a brief to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness during their study on M-167 [48] about rural crime. The Liberals on the committee rejected all of the recommendations, causing the Conservative Members to submit a dissenting report.

Calkins put forward a Private Members Bill, C-458,[49] which seeks to make remoteness an aggravating factor at sentencing, in response to what he called an “insulting” report from the Committee on Public Safety. While the bill was unable to be advanced past first reading in the 42nd Parliament, Calkins committed to reintroducing it if re-elected. Alberta Justice Minister Dough Schweitzer wrote a letter supporting Calkins PMB.[50]

Carbon tax[edit]

According to a December 14, 2018 recording by a Radio-Canada reporter of a talk given by Calkins to students in grades 7 and 8 in Red Deer, Calkins responded to a question about the carbon tax by saying that he was a biologist and that CO2 was plant food not pollution. He told students that he understood there was an impact on the environment from burning fossil fuels but he questioned whether burning fossil fuels "caused extreme weather events".[51] Calkins told them, "There's just more people now than there was before. So, when we have a major weather event, more people get affected, because the chances of it affecting people are that much higher."

In a follow-up article on December 18, Conseil Scolaire Centre-Nord's (CSCN) superintendent, Robert Lessard, responded by saying that these comments were Calkins' own personal opinions, whereas in CSCN, they teach facts about the "biological cycle of carbon", and "ecological impacts [of environment on the planet] that need to be taken care of."[51]

Shawn Marshall, who is a University of Calgary Geography professor as well as a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Climate Change, said that Calkins' "half truths" without context, are typical examples of "climate misinformation" used by politicians who oppose the carbon tax, "to paralyze us a little bit". His concern was that they were introduced to junior youth. Marshall said that Calkins failed to add that humans are generating more CO2 than plants can take up, and that while we do have a larger population vulnerable to extreme weather events, "there's also this huge overprint of climate change on these extreme weather events."[51]

Commitment and Leadership to the Hobbema Community Cadet Program[edit]

Calkins has been a long-time advocate for youth programs and initiatives in his community. One such program that has benefited from his commitment and leadership is the Hobbema Community Cadet Program.

The Hobbema Community Cadet Program was established in 2001 to provide positive role models and mentoring for at-risk youth in the community of Hobbema, located on the Maskwacis Cree Nation in central Alberta.[52] The program is run by the Hobbema Cadet Corps and aims to instill leadership, discipline, and respect in its cadets.

Blaine Calkins has been a strong supporter of the Hobbema Community Cadet Program since its inception. As a Member of Parliament, he has advocated for funding to support the program and has spoken about its importance in the House of Commons. In a parliamentary debate in 2009, Blaine Calkins highlighted the positive impact that the program has had on the youth in Hobbema.[53] He noted that the program has helped to reduce crime rates and improve academic performance among its participants. He also spoke about the dedication and hard work of the program's volunteers, who serve as role models and mentors for the cadets.[54]

Blaine Calkins' commitment and leadership to the Hobbema Community Cadet Program has helped to ensure its continued success. In recognition of his dedication and leadership to the program, MP Calkins was honored with a Certificate of Appreciation by the Wetaskiwin Honorary Colonel on November 22, 2009. This award served as a testament to his unwavering commitment to supporting the community and his passion for initiatives that empower and uplift young people, helping to build a stronger and more resilient future for all.

An Attack on Hunters[edit]

In November 2022, during the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, the Liberal government, led by Justin Trudeau, introduced G-4 and G-46 amendments to Bill C-21.[55]

These amendments were met with strong opposition from Calkins, who argued that the ban would result in putting rural Canadians at risk by prohibiting firearms that are necessary for protecting those working alongside wildlife.[56] At the committee hearing, he argued that C-21 in its amended form would “break the social contract” in Canada.[57] In the subsequent committee hearing, he reiterated that “Guns are not weapons of war…but an essential harvesting tool used for hunters to feed their families”.[58]

In his speech to the House of Commons, Calkins criticized the Liberal government for repealing mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes with Bill C-5 and making it easier to obtain bail with C-75.[59][60] He also pointed out the government's failure to prevent the flow of illegal crime guns across the US border.[61]

Calkins, along with his Conservative Party colleagues, opposed G-4 and G-46 amendments, asserting that they were an attack on Canadian cultural heritage. Due to the resistance from the hunting community and many Canadians, the Liberal government withdrew the proposed amendments to Bill C-21.[62] The Conservative Party and Canadian hunting community celebrated the announcement as a victory, while Calkins maintained his stance that any legislation unfairly penalizing law-abiding firearms owners while doing nothing to address the problem of illegal crime guns was unacceptable.[63]

Electoral record[edit]

2019 Canadian federal election: Red Deer—Lacombe
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Blaine Calkins 53,843 79.8 +9.09 $98,245.70
New Democratic Lauren Pezzella 6,012 8.9 -2.54 none listed
Liberal Tiffany Rose 3,540 5.2 -9.78 none listed
People's Laura Lynn Thompson 2,453 3.6 - none listed
Green Sarah Palmer 1,596 2.4 -0.48 $0.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 67,444 100.0
Total rejected ballots 325
Turnout 67,769 72.8
Eligible voters 93,050
Conservative hold Swing +5.82
Source: Elections Canada[64][65]
2015 Canadian federal election: Red Deer-Lacombe
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Blaine Calkins 43,599 70.7 -6.73
Liberal Jeff Rock 9,235 15.0 +11.44
New Democratic Doug Hart 7,055 11.4 -2.89
Green Les Kuzyk 1,773 2.9 -1.82
Total valid votes/Expense limit 61,662 100.0     $221,802.13
Total rejected ballots 176
Turnout 61,838 71.3%
Eligible voters 86,609
Conservative hold Swing -9.08
Source: Elections Canada[66][67]
2011 Canadian federal election: Wetaskiwin
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Blaine Calkins 37,756 81.44 +4.31 $23,700
New Democratic Tim Robson 5,281 11.39 +2.77 $1,718
Green Robert Johnston 1,978 4.27 -3.78
Liberal Christopher Anderson 1,348 2.91 -2.69 $5,920
Total valid votes/Expense limit 46,363 100.00
Total rejected ballots 122 0.26 +0.01
Turnout 46,485 58.90 +5.96
Eligible voters 78,925
2008 Canadian federal election: Wetaskiwin
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Blaine Calkins 32,528 77.13 +1.98 $32,626
New Democratic Tim Robson 3,636 8.62 -0.70 $6,371
Green Les Parsons 3,395 8.05 +1.72 $388
Liberal Rita Katherine Dillon 2,362 5.60 -3.58 $8,762
Canadian Action Shawn Mann 249 0.59
Total valid votes/Expense limit 42,170 100.00 $90,704
Total rejected ballots 105
Turnout 42,275 52.94
2006 Canadian federal election: Wetaskiwin
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Blaine Calkins 35,776 75.15 +1.6 $38,612
New Democratic Jim Graves 4,441 9.32 +2.1
Liberal Peter Crossley 4,371 9.18 -2.7 $9,976
Green Tom Lampman 3,016 6.33 +0.1 $500
Total valid votes 47,604 100.00
Total rejected ballots 105 0.22
Turnout 47,709 62.86

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External links[edit]