This week our Government will introduce Legislation with an intent to put an end to the current Canada Post impasse. This will likely also create my first opportunity to vote on an important issue that I know people within Okanagan-Coquihalla have different and in some cases strong views about. I would like to say that I value Canada Post and believe it is an important service for all Canadians to depend upon. However, I also recognize that a major service disruption would not only adversely impact many Canadians, it can also harm the long term viability of Canada Post as many citizens increasingly look for paperless alternatives in their day to day lives. I believe that as elected decision makers we must make take action to protect our Canadian institutions such as Canada Post and we must also protect the greater interest of all Canadians.
I am mindful that my position on this will not sit well with some members of the public, and in particular many within organized labour. There are legitimate concerns about the right to strike. As Canadians we have many rights afforded to us and these rights also provide entitlements for us but we must also be mindful of not just of our own rights, but also of our responsibilities. Our responsibilities to our country and to our fellow Canadians. In this case, I have heard from involved workers on both sides of this debate including those who are in support and those who are opposed to this legislation. I have also heard concerns from many citizens ranging from delays in financial assistance payments to important medical lab test results being delayed. Hearing these concerns and also believing in the importance of the long term viability of Canada Post I do intend to vote in support of legislation that will put our national postal service back to work serving the interests of Canadians.
Late last week I had an opportunity to witness our Canada Action Plan in action at ribbon cutting events both in Okanagan Falls and with Chief Johnathan Kruger at the Penticton Indian Band. In Okanagan Falls we helped open a new cross laminated timber manufacturing plant. This is an exciting and innovative product that will not only create more jobs in Okanagan Falls, it will also help revitalize our forest industry. Initial demand for cross laminated timber is already sufficient that plant expansion is now a topic of discussion. That is good news for job creation in Okanagan Falls and elsewhere. The second event was the opening of the new Outma Sqilxw Cultural School at the Penticton Indian Band. This is simply put an amazing new school and one that I know band elders, children and families can be immensely proud of. This will be an important legacy asset for future generations.
As the House of Commons is soon to adjourn it is my goal this summer to visit every community and region within the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla. If you would like to meet me with me at your home, business, coffee shop or wherever else please send me an email to help prepare a schedule of when I will be in your community. Emails can be sent to Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca
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I believe it is important that as members of Parliament we not only listen to the concerns of the citizens who elect us, but also that we share those concerns in Ottawa as well. Over this past week my office has received a number of questions and concerns regarding the census that has been taken place over the past several weeks. Much of the concerns relate to reminder notices being sent out to households that have already submitted their census, sometimes even multiple times. This in turn creates a concern that either their census submission has not been received and processed or that there is waste of taxpayer resources in sending out these reminders. My family has also received such a reminder note even though it was sent in close to a month ago. I have raised this issue with the Minister responsible to ensure that there is awareness about them.
Another area of concern for many citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla is gas prices. While we have seen some good things over the past few years in terms of reducing the government’s share of gas taxes through the reduction of the GST from seven to five percent and beefed up enforcement measures of faulty scales at the pump, it is still a growing concern. The Hon. Tony Clement recently shared these same concerns and as a result has invited refiners, distributors and retailers to appear in Ottawa to answer question on this very subject. I will be reporting back to you with the information and answers that arise from this upcoming meeting.
I was glad to be in Ottawa on Friday evening to hear a speech from my predecessor, the Hon. Stockwell Day. Stock, as he is affectionately known by many on Parliament Hill, spoke about a number of important points:
Living in a country of free speech and the importance of showing respect for others and their views
The rise of China and need for to work on our competitiveness as a country through education, productivity and innovation
And the three people who most influenced his political career, to the surprise of many they were not former politicians or world leaders, but rather constituents he met along his journey in Provincial and Federal politics. Stockwell`s lasting point was to recognize his biggest supporter, his wife Valorie.
In my travels around Ottawa I have come to realize and appreciate what a popular and significant influence that Stockwell had with many colleagues and staff here on Parliament Hill. The parting thought that Stockwell left with me is to never forget that it is serving the hard working people who have made this country one of the freest, most prosperous and peaceful places on Earth that we should never take for granted.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.