One of the bombshell stories that is of significant concern is a leaked report from Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) documenting how Communist Chinese Government officials and their agents interfered in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
A quote from the National Post summarizes the concern, “According to CSIS documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) operatives orchestrated cash donations to political campaigns, had business owners hire “volunteers” for specific election campaigns and boasted that it’s “easy to influence Chinese immigrants to agree with the Peoples Republic of China's (PRC) stance.”
What was the goal of these efforts?
“To install a minority Liberal government.”
According to the documents, the support for Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada is due to the Communist Chinese Government viewing the Liberals as more pro-China in contrast to what a potential Conservative government would be.
The second goal of the CCP was a minority Parliament because it is said that Beijing “likes it when the parties in Parliament are fighting with each other, whereas if there is a majority, the party in power can easily implement policies that do not favour the PRC.”
Was this clandestine campaign successful in interfering in our Canadian democratic process?
China’s former Consul General stationed in Vancouver stated she “helped defeat two Conservative candidates in 2021.”
The Conservative Party of Canada believes that number is significantly higher and may have contributed to losing eight or nine electoral districts.
What is the Trudeau Liberal government doing about this? So far, basically nothing, aside from attempting to downplay the situation and express concern around the leaking of the documents.
I am not suggesting that Communist Chinese Government agents ‘stole the election,’ as I believe Canadian voters ultimately decided the outcome of the last election. However, I am deeply concerned about reports of a foreign government manipulating our democratic process.
If a single electoral district can be manipulated in an election due to foreign interference, we should all be concerned, and the government of the day has a responsibility to Canadians to ensure the proper authorities- like the Commissioner of Elections (that investigates violations) and the RCMP have the evidence they need to prosecute any violations.
As some may have diplomatic immunity, our government should expel any suspects at the very least.
How else can we prevent future violations?
The Leader of the Official Opposition, Hon. Pierre Poilievre, supports following the lead of Australia and the United States in creating a foreign agent registry. This would be similar to the domestic lobbyist registry Canada uses but would apply to individuals in Canada who foreign governments pay to influence our political processes.
For whatever reason, Prime Minister Trudeau has refused to substantially answer the questions from journalists and the opposition on this matter and whether he will immediately implement such a registry here in Canada.
Two questions this week:
Are you concerned about potential foreign influence in our elections? Do you support creating a foreign agent registry?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.
Where do you draw the line?
Riding boundaries are reviewed every ten years, and the changes can be significant depending on where you live.
Here in the southern interior, we will be receiving one new electoral district (often referred to as a riding), which, to accommodate this new riding, will have a domino effect as the non-partisan Federal BC Electoral Boundaries Commission recommends significant riding boundary adjustments.
After extensive hearings, the Commission has made extensive revisions to Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, the riding I represent.
This riding will essentially split into geographical regions that will end up in five different ridings, assuming these changes are adopted.
Given the status of our minority Parliament, we do not know exactly when our next federal election will be.
While Canada has a fixed-date election law that says the next scheduled election must occur on or before October 20, 2025; this does not stop a Prime Minister from calling a snap election, as we saw in 2021.
If there is a snap election, the existing riding boundaries will be in effect.
If it occurs after Spring 2024, these new boundaries will take effect.
One of the most significant changes is that communities such as Merritt and Logan Lake would be located in a proposed riding called "Kamloops-Thompson-Nicola," which, as the name implies, would include part of Kamloops.
Another significant change is that communities such as Princeton, Keremeos, Cawston and Hedley would join the proposed riding of "Similkameen-West Kootenay," which would also include the City of Penticton as well as the Penticton Indian Band.
What remains of my existing riding – the communities of Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, and parts of Kelowna will become part of a new proposed riding called "Okanagan Lake West– South Kelowna."
The existing Kelowna boundaries will be moved further south to include all of Southern Kelowna, such as Okanagan Mission.
They will extend east as far as the area around the McCulloch reservoir.
For Kelowna residents, the new proposed riding to be called "Kelowna" includes a much larger area of the City of Kelowna, including an eastern portion that also consists of the Big White ski resort area.
This riding will no longer have the communities of Lake Country or Okanagan Centre, which will join a new proposed riding called "Vernon Monashee."
In addition to this MP report, my office has arranged a separate mail out with a map for each affected region (Okanagan, Similkameen & Nicola Valleys) so that the residents I represent may review this proposal in more detail.
It is challenging for the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to balance population growth with the input of many community considerations.
This second report proposal, in this case, is significantly different from the first draft proposal submitted last fall, mainly because the Electoral Boundaries Commission listened to and attempted to accommodate many of the concerns they heard.
On the same theme, I sincerely thank the Federal BC Electoral Boundaries Commissioners and staff for all their work in submitting this report. I would also like to thank those who took the time to participate.
In my view, federal elected officials should avoid directly commenting on these changes to avoid any perception of attempting to influence boundary changes that may either enhance or work against partisan political interests.
I believe it is crucial for both local and regional government representatives and local citizens to be aware of these proposed changes and consider the accessibility of current electoral boundaries compared to what is proposed.
My question this week is:
Are you satisfied with these proposed changes?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
This week Canada's premiers are in Ottawa for what has often been reported as "negotiations" with Prime Minister Trudeau for a new agreement on the Canada Health Transfer.
The "Canada Health Transfer" (CHT) transfers a portion of the federal taxes you send to Ottawa back to provinces and territories to help cover the costs of providing healthcare.
I use the term 'negotiations' loosely because, in reality, the federal government typically sets out what the increase will be to the CHT.
Provinces have little choice but to accept whatever amount of money the federal government establishes as reasonable.
The CHT is estimated to be $45.2 Billion for the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced that over the next ten years, the increase to the CHT will be $196.1 billion, which represents $46.2 billion in new funding on top of what was previously budgeted.
There is also $25 billion set aside for bilateral deals and some other "top-ups" in specific areas.
Overall, the new funding agreement will lead to an increase of 5% in the CHT over the next five years.
The agreement also includes some "strings" like data sharing between the provinces and the federal government and upholding the Canada Health Act to protect Canadians' "access to health care based on need and not ability to pay."
Recently the Province of Ontario announced intentions to increase the use of private clinics to help clear surgical waitlists.
In a media interview with the Toronto Star, the plan by the Province of Ontario was called "innovative" by PM Trudeau.
As a result of the PM's praise for increased involvement of private healthcare, many, including some Liberal MPs, have expressed concern and, in some cases, condemnation of the PM's comments.
The leader of the NDP has accused Prime Minister Trudeau of placing Canada's universal health care system under threat.
Earlier this week, Global News reported on an Ipsos poll that suggested 59% of adults surveyed expressed support for the private delivery of publicly funded health services, adding further fuel to this discussion.
The CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs said: "...in the 30 years he has studied public opinion in Canada, he has never seen such a shift in support toward privatization."
Getting back to the CHT announcement, as is often the case, the premiers unanimously expressed disappointment noting that the increase in funding was insufficient to address the severe challenges facing provincial healthcare systems.
Here in BC, as reported by the Vancouver Sun, our share of this increased funding over the next ten years works out to $600 million a year.
The BC provincial budget for healthcare spending was $23.8 billion in 2021-2022.
The provinces were asking for an annual increase to the CHT of $28 Billion.
What PM Trudeau announced this week is, on average, less than $5 billion in new funding a year.
My question this week:
Do you think PM Trudeau should have further increased the Canada Health Transfer, or do you view the announced increase as reasonable?
I can be reached by email at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call me toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
A waste of your money
This week the House of Commons is back in session for the first time in 2023.
As it would happen, this week was also the same week several opposition MPs received written answers to order paper questions on Parliament Hill.
What are order paper questions?
Unlike the short rapid-fire format of Question Period, which often results in either a non-answer or an answer to a different question, an order paper question is a written question from a Member of Parliament that, after 48 hours notice, will be posted on the “Order Paper” with the intent that the responsible Minister will provide a substantive answer within 45 House Sitting days.
However, that is not always the case.
Each Member of Parliament is allowed a maximum of 4 questions on the order paper at any time. This week I received a reply to one of my order paper questions asking the federal government how many cancelled contracts were between January 1st, 2019 and December 12th, 2022 and what, if any, cancellation fees taxpayers must bear.
The answer I received back was an incomplete accounting as some departments still need to give a number; however, from those that did, there are over half a million dollars in penalties paid out for over 300 cancelled contracts.
Some cancelled contracts were up to $11.7 million, which seemed low compared to other expenses now coming to light.
My Conservative colleague from Calgary Nose Hill, Michelle Rempel-Garner, had a different question.
During the pandemic, the Trudeau Liberal Government created “quarantine hotels” where travellers entering Canada via air between February 21st, 2021, and August 9th, 2021, were forced to stay in to meet the then-in-place requirement for a mandatory three-night stay as they awaited their Day 1 COVID test results.
MP Rempel Garner discovered that between the two hotels contracted for this service at the Calgary airport in fiscal 2022 (which was after the Federal government had lifted travel restrictions), they still paid out $6,790,717.46 to the operators of these two hotels.
MP Rempel Garner further learned that during this same time frame, only 15 people stayed at these hotels under this program. That amounts to over $452,000 per person!
Only more shocking is the admission that the government could have cancelled these contracts by giving their 30-day notice, but they only bothered to do so sometime late in the fall of 2022.
So what we have learned from these two order paper questions is that it is far more economical for the Government of Canada to cancel contracts where they are not needed.
At the same time, from my own order paper experience, this particular federal government does not cancel contracts often, meaning taxpayers will continue to pay more for services that are no longer needed.
From my perspective, what is most alarming is that when Conservatives question the Ministers responsible for spending $6,790,717.46 to provide a quarantine hotel for just 15 people, they offer no resignation or apology, only a shrug.
My question to you this week:
There was a time when there was strong public opposition to careless spending by any level of government, regardless of political stripe.
Are those days over, or are the taxpayers of Canada owed an apology from Prime Minister Trudeau over this poorly managed program?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola