Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on May 10, 2012.
In a recent weekly report to the citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla I expressed concern that some local government elected officials had decided that instead of taking a vote on a controversial issue, they instead chose to walk out of the room instead of voting. As much as I was reluctant to publicly express my concern on this practice, I also believe that there are times as elected officials that we must hold each other to account. If we continue to turn a blind eye and allow elected officials to duck a vote this practice is likely to increase and that I submit will result in less representation, accountability and oversight over decision-making. Taking a position on issues on behalf of the citizens who elect us is one of the fundamental responsibilities of public office. It can at times also be one of the greatest challenges to elected officials because some votes can be controversial and may even anger a significant number of citizens.
In my brief time as a Member of Parliament I have voted on issues of importance that not all citizens are in support of. That being said I also believe that while we may not always agree with decisions that are made in a healthy democratic environment as elected officials, part of being accountable to taxpayers is to not only take a position on issues but also to explain that position. Recently I encountered a situation that I had not run into before. Although I often hear from citizens on a regular basis and communicate my position on issues and receive input and feedback in return, in this instance an opposition MP took an entirely different tactic. Rather than question why I had voted against a motion introduced by the opposition member in question, the MP instead decided to accuse me of “not caring” about the issue and suggested that I was “blocking progress” and even went so far as to accuse me of “marginalizing” the issue at hand. As a former city councillor, I can recall many heated debates where my fellow council members and I disagreed, but never to the point of writing letters categorically dismissing the other elected officials views or accusing them of less than honourable intentions. Maybe it is my newness to Parliament however I took offence to these accusations. I believe that every Member of Parliament cares deeply about the citizens they represent. Being a Member of Parliament is a serious commitment and one that I believe all members of the house take very seriously.
We certainly exercise our duties in different ways as is expected but it never occurred to me to suggest that someone does not care about an issue simply because they disagree with the best means to resolve a challenge. However as I was reminded in the world of Twitter, the opposition MP who attacked me is a “seasoned” veteran and I am clearly a thinly skinned rookie still sensitive to these types of political maneuvers. While I view this as yet another learning opportunity I still believe in the great importance of communicating to the citizens of Okanagan- Coquihalla my position on issues and explaining why I voted either for or against the subject in question. On the same theme I have also recently located an independent website that provides some information at a glance on our activities as MP’s. It is an interesting site and one that provides more light on this subject. The web site can be located at:
In addition to his weekly MP Report. the Dan in Ottawa blog is another resource for residents of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Chronicling Dan’s personal experiences as he travels to Ottawa and throughout the riding as your MP.
For more information about Dan Albas, click here.