Member of Parliament for Peace River – Westlock
Arnold Viersen was born in Barrhead, Alberta and grew up nearby in the rural community of Neerlandia with his five siblings. Following high school, Arnold apprenticed as an auto service technician and attained his journeyman ticket from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Arnold also earned a business degree from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) while continuing his automotive career.
In 2010, Arnold married Melissa Bredenhof and they currently live in Westlock County, close to his childhood home in Neerlandia. Arnold and Melissa have five children: Aliyah, Seeley, Jillian, Daniel and Claire. As a family, they continue to enjoy the outdoors, adding snowmobiling, hiking, and gardening to their list of favourite activities. An avid outdoorsman, Arnold enjoys hunting, fishing, and 4x4ing.
In October 2015, Arnold was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Peace River—Westlock. With 105,095 sq. km., the riding is one of the largest districts in Canada and represents one third of Northern Alberta. Peace River—Westlock has a population of 108,095 and includes fourteen First Nations and three Metis Settlements. Arnold was re-elected in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
As a member of the Official Opposition, Arnold is passionate about advocating for the rights and concerns of rural families, farms and industries in Alberta and across Canada. Arnold is involved in a number of Parliamentary caucuses that help promote a better understanding of key issues including the Outdoor Caucus, and Pro-Life Caucus. Arnold is also a member of the Canada-Netherlands Parliamentary Friendship Group, Parliamentary Uyghur Friendship Group, Canadian Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds.
In January 2021, Arnold was appointed to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights (SDIR) of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The Subcommittee is different from most Parliamentary Committees and operates as a consensus committee. From 2015-2021, Arnold was a member of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Arnold has actively fought against online sexual violence and human trafficking. On March 8, 2016, Arnold introduced Motion M-47 that instructed the Health Committee to examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women, and men. Working across party lines, Arnold gained the support of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green parties and on December 8, 2016, Motion M-47 was unanimously adopted by the House of Commons. During the spring of 2017, the Health Committee studied the topic of Motion M-47 and tabled a report in the House of Commons on June 9, 2017. While the Committee Report failed to provide concrete recommendations, Arnold continues to advocate for meaningful age verification, opt-in tools and education for parents and youth.
In 2018, Arnold launched the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to End Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking to unite Parliamentarians across political lines. He serves as one of the four co-chairs. The APPG regularly holds briefings for Parliamentarians and actively moves policies forward including the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act by APPG co-chair Senator Julie Miville-Dechene. Most recently, on February 16, 2021, the APPG secured the adoption of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day every February 22 by unanimous consent in the House of Commons.
Having spoken with survivors, frontline workers and law enforcement, Arnold has introduced a number of Bills to increase protection of children online and secure more rights and supports for victims. In 2019, Arnold introduced Private Member’s Bill C-463, Putting Victims First Act, on June 19, 2019. C-463 takes aim at human trafficking by changing the age of protection from 15 to include ages 16 and 17. The bill will also allow victims to more easily remove publication bans if they wish to share their story. Thirdly, it calls for reverse onus bail which puts the onus on the accused to prove they should be allowed out on bail. Although the bill died with the 2019 federal election, Arnold continues to advocate for the policies in it.
Arnold has also worked across party lines to raise awareness about the harms of pornography on youth and the companies the profit off exploitation and abuse. He was actively involved in the Pornhub study by the Standing Committee on Ethics and continues to advocate that all 14 recommendations be implemented by the government.
In May 2021, Arnold introduced the Stopping Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (SISE) which would require the verification of the age and consent of each person portrayed in pornographic material made for a commercial purpose prior to creation and distribution. This was the second recommendation of the Ethics Committee Report. As the 2021 federal election ended all legislation including the SISE Act, Arnold plans to re-introduce the SISE Act in the new Parliament.