As Parliament prepares to adjourn for the summer, the Canadian Government focuses on a few "need to have" bills rather than its long list of "want to have" bills.
One of these bills is C-18, "An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada."
Online platforms like Facebook and Google have upended the traditional business models of news organizations, leading to a decline in revenue and the closure of many local newspapers in our riding and across the country.
C-18 is the Liberal legislation to force online companies such as Facebook and Google to pay eligible Canadian media organizations when a link to their online content is shared on these platforms. Most of these media organizations sell their own online advertising, so the added traffic from links on platforms such as Facebook and Google helps their advertising revenue.
Charging platforms for every link shared by their users, who often want to raise awareness and discussion among their social media groups, raises concerns about how this law would impact not only the platforms but also the online media companies and everyday users of these platforms.
In response to C-18's proposal for mandatory payments for such media links, large platforms like Facebook and Google have threatened to allow the practice no longer. If this bill were to become law, it would harm the bottom lines of large media organizations and make it extremely difficult for small and independent media to expand and build an audience.
In my experience, a government can have the best intentions, but it may inadvertently make the problem worse as it rushes to what it thinks are quick solutions. This is what is happening with this bill.
Bill C-18 is currently before the Senate, and my Conservative colleagues and I will continue to oppose it.
Much of the focus in Parliament remains on the serious topic of foreign interference in Canada by the Communist Government in Beijing.
This issue took a significant turn when Erin O'Toole, MP for Durham and the former leader of the Official Opposition, revealed that he was recently briefed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
According to the CSIS briefing, the Chinese Communist Party is suspected of paying funds "through the United Front Work Department (UFWD) to create specific products of misinformation" about Erin O'Toole as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
The briefing further alleges that the UFWD "supplied human resources, providing workers to campaign against Mr. O'Toole."
Mr. O'Toole is not the only Canadian Member of Parliament to receive such a briefing, that they were being targeted by Beijing, with fellow Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong and NDP Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan also receiving briefings.
While I am personally outraged that these briefings took years, after intelligence agencies and officials within the government were aware of them, I am also profoundly shocked that the government has only expelled one diplomat thus far.
I expect far more solidarity from our government.
Getting men and women of substance to run for office is difficult enough. While the House of Commons sets out its security protocols and tries to support all elected members to do their duties, when an MP or their family members are targeted, it should be the standard that the member in question is immediately apprised and that the government immediately respond accordingly.
So far, the vague assurances and promises to do better are not reassuring many of us in Parliament.
These are grave concerns.
With the ongoing stream of intelligence leaks that raise questions about the government's apparent lack of response to foreign interference, coupled with former top intelligence officials, several diaspora groups, and all of the opposition parties in the House of Commons calling for an independent public inquiry, one would expect the government to heed these calls and work on creating such an inquiry.
However, Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal caucus refuse such a process. Their continued evasiveness has raised considerable debate on their motivation for not supporting such an inquiry.
This week's question concerns foreign interference in Canada.
Do you support a fully independent public inquiry?
Contact me at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Fuel regulations will cost you more
Last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released their latest report, "A Distributional Analysis of the Clean Fuel Regulations."
These regulations require liquid fossil fuel (gasoline and diesel) suppliers to reduce the amount of pollution from the fuels they produce and sell for use in Canada over time.
The PBO issued this most recent report to calculate how much money these new fuel regulations will cost Canadians.
According to the PBO, at the national level, "in 2030, the cost of the Clean Fuel Regulations to households ranges from 0.62 percent of disposable income (or $231) for lower-income households to 0.35 percent of disposable income (or $1,008) for higher-income households."
The PBO also concludes that these regulations will significantly impact lower-income households, who spend a larger share of their income on transportation and other energy-intensive goods and services.
Concerns remain about how these regulations, along with the carbon tax, will penalize those who live in rural communities and who are forced to do more driving due to fewer local services like health care and limited public transit options.
Also back in Ottawa, the Prime Minister's appointed "special rapporteur," David Johnston, has recommended against a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian democracy.
The Prime Minister quickly accepted that there should be no public inquiry into foreign interference in our elections despite support for such an inquiry from all opposition parties.
Lastly, with Parliament set to rise in June, I will soon begin my annual summer listening tour.
Since I was elected the area MP -- every summer -- I have used this tour to hear citizens' concerns throughout the riding, which is home to a diverse set of communities and people.
If you would like to schedule a meeting during his summer listening tour, please get in touch with me by email or through my toll-free number below.
My question to you this week:
Do you support these new fuel regulations, considering the high cost of gasoline and the escalating carbon tax?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.
For many Canadians, the recent rise in interest rates has led to a significant increase in their monthly payments for variable mortgages, lines of credit, and personal debt.
This has caused great concern as families struggle to make ends meet.
In addition to the rise in interest rates, there have been significant increases in property taxes, insurance, groceries, gasoline, diesel, and home heating, such as natural gas or propane.
This has made it even more difficult for Canadian households to service their debt, with many finding it unsustainable.
The challenge of servicing debt is not limited to households but extends to different levels of government as well.
With higher borrowing costs, governments must divert funds from other critical services to pay off their debt.
This can significantly impact the lives of Canadians, particularly those in rural communities who rely on government funding to repair their infrastructure and maintain essential services.
Recently, during a visit from the Finance Minister to the Finance Committee in Ottawa, the topic of debt servicing arose.
The Minister was asked how much the federal government is projected to spend on interest on the debt for the upcoming fiscal year.
However, the Minister refused to provide a number and called the question "fiscal fear-mongering by the Conservatives."
This response is troubling, as Canadians have the right to know how much is spent on debt servicing.
The federal government debt servicing charges for the current fiscal year are estimated to be $43.9 billion.
This means significant monies are unavailable to fund critical services such as healthcare or support rural communities.
The fiscal year 2021-2022 public debt servicing costs $20.4 billion.
Since this Minister took over the responsibility for finance, our debt servicing has effectively doubled and lacks any projection for a return to balance, which only makes the situation worse.
This issue will continue to be the elephant in the room for this government.
As a concerned Canadian, I urge the Finance Minister to take this matter seriously and provide clear answers regarding our country's fiscal issues.
Canadians deserve to know the truth about our finances and how our tax dollars are spent.
My question this week:
How concerned are you about federal government debt and the apparent lack of seriousness on this subject from our Finance Minister?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Rural communities are ignored
I want to begin by sharing an unfortunate event from 2016.
That year, a rockslide damaged the regional irrigation canal located in the community of Oliver.
This canal runs from north of Oliver, down south to Osoyoos and is critical infrastructure serving many South Okanagan farming communities.
When it came time to fund the repairs, the local government budgeted to invest its fair share in the project. Likewise, the provincial government of the day also stepped up to cover its share.
Unfortunately, the answer was no from the federal government. The bureaucrats said that the project did not fit into any established grant programs and washed its hands of the problem.
This was not in my riding; however, the Member of Parliament who represented this region did raise the issue many times in Parliament but was ignored by the current Trudeau Liberal Government.
What was even more infuriating from my perspective was two years later, in 2019, the same Trudeau Liberal Government gave the mega-grocery corporation Loblaws over $12 million to help buy more energy-efficient refrigeration.
The net earnings of Loblaw Companies Limited reached approximately 1.99 billion Canadian dollars in the financial year ending December 31, 2022. For some context, the cost to repair the Oliver irrigation canal was estimated at $11.4 million.
Why do I mention this?
In 2021, communities such as Princeton and Merritt, BC, as well as the surrounding unincorporated areas, were devastated by flooding.
At the time, there was national media attention on this situation; Prime Minister Trudeau promised the citizens of these communities that he "had their backs" and "he would be there for them."
The Mayor of Princeton was given a special number to contact his office– yet when he tried to use this number, he was told to go speak with the province.
You may have heard recently that the Trudeau Liberal Government announced they were giving Volkswagen "up to $13 billion in subsidies over the next decade as part of a deal to ensure the automaker builds its electric-vehicle battery plant in southern Ontario."
According to Statista, Volkswagen's operating profit in the 2022 fiscal year increased by some 14.78 percent from the previous year and stood at roughly 22.1 Billion Euros.
What you may not have heard is that there are still citizens in Merritt and Princeton who cannot return home.
Likewise, there are many badly needed infrastructure projects required that these small communities need help to afford.
People in Merritt and Princeton pay taxes to Ottawa like anywhere else and all too often, rural Canada is ignored by this Liberal Government.
It is crucial that Ottawa hears directly from rural Mayors of these hard hit communities to understand better the struggles they face as they try to rebuild.
Last week, I invited Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne and Merritt Mayor Michael Goetz to appear in Ottawa at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
I want to thank both of these Mayors for attending and sharing the experiences of their communities and the many challenges they face.
This week's question: Do you think the Federal Government is properly supporting rural communities?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
Foreign power targets MP
This week, a leaked document revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had briefed the Trudeau Liberal government two years ago about a foreign influence operation targeting a Canadian MP and his family.
This Conservative Member of Parliament was Michael Chong, who represents the Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills, and his family in Hong Kong were the targets of an orchestrated intimidation campaign by a diplomat representing the Beijing communist government posted in Canada.
The reason for the campaign was MP Michael Chong's criticism of Beijing's human rights record- particularly his motion calling on the Government of Canada to recognize that a genocide was being carried out by the Beijing communist government against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.
Despite the shock of a foreign government targeting a Canadian MP and his family, the Trudeau Liberal Government did nothing about it.
MP Michael Chong was not previously notified of the intimidation campaign, nor was the diplomat representing the Beijing communist government expelled.
When questions arose in the House of Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau and his Public Safety Minister refused to admit when they became aware of the situation and what they had done about it.
On Tuesday, both the Prime Minister and Minister claimed they were unaware of the situation until it was raised in the media.
This raises the question of why they did not simply say so on Monday when the questions first arose and what action Prime Minister Trudeau will take in response to this latest information.
This report is the latest in a series of leaks from CSIS indicating interference in Canadian democracy by operatives related to the Beijing communist government.
These include reports of "Chinese" state-run police stations in several Canadian cities, a questionable Beijing communist government donation to the Trudeau Foundation, its meddling in various ridings in the last election, and a former Liberal MP, now an independent MP, raising concerns.
Despite these mounting concerns, the Prime Minister continues to avoid answering what he knew and when or denies having knowledge of such actions and events.
My question this week:
Are you concerned about growing interference in our Canadian democratic institutions?
I am interested in hearing what you think.
Please let me know at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll-free at 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