The newly-elected MP for Portage-Lisgar has been moving around his constituency, reaching out to every city, town, and RM council to find out what they want him to fight for in Ottawa.

Branden Leslie stopped in at the RM of Portage meeting on Tuesday morning to get to know each councillor and their priorities. One issue brought up was infrastructure.

"Whether that be water or physical infrastructure, it is aging. We all recognize that, and frankly, the federal government needs to start stepping up to fill the needs of our communities, as we have a need for our growing economy, growing populations," says Leslie. "We need to make sure that we're making the necessary investments to protect from overland flooding, that we have the water resources for irrigation, and that we have the water and sewer to grow our economy and continue to thrive."

Another issue is crime. Leslie wasn't surprised to hear it brought up first, as Portage has had their battles with crime.

"Unfortunately, they all stem back to some decisions from the current Liberal government," adds Leslie. "A number of years ago, changes on bail reform, on sentencing -- we've went back to a catch-and-release system, that criminals are out. I feel terrible because our frontline police officers are doing their absolute, very best to try to keep crime under control in communities like Portage right across this country."

Leslie says tools have been taken away from officers, which makes their lives more difficult. He wants to make a push to have some decisions reversed so police have the tools to keep streets safe.

Councillors also brought up the topics of transparency, education in the trades, and roads.

Reeve of the RM, Kam Blight, was very pleased with our new MP.

"It's all about building relationships. It was great that he came to introduce himself and have some open dialogue with our council. We spoke very openly about some of the concerns and the challenges that our municipality is facing," says Blight. "Every councillor had an opportunity to speak up and I think it was great for him to hear what we feel matters most to our municipality and hear his perspective on things."

Reeve Kam BlightReeve Kam Blight

Blight believes the federal government needs to determine the definition of rural, noting not every rural municipality is the same.

"We kept saying that there needs to be a rural lens put on things. Manitoba is different than Ontario. It's different than Alberta. It's different than Quebec. We have different needs," stresses Blight. "The geographical layout of our province, the way the population is set up -- the majority of our municipalities are under 100 thousand, all of them except for one. The true definition of rural by the federal government is a population of 100 thousand and under."

Leslie says he had four meetings scheduled for Tuesday with more on the horizon. His goal is to set up a meeting with every council in the constituency.