With the House now fully back in session, it has been another whirlwind week in Ottawa. Most notable was a special address to Parliament by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Although the media characterized this speech as being primarily focused on the world economy, there were other important and overlooked topics that are deserving of mention.
It is often said that as Canadians we are our own toughest critics. There are some days in the House of Commons where the discussion and debate does not acknowledge that ours is truly a great nation that continues to help make the world a better place. It was refreshing to hear David Cameron share a different perspective, some of the history of Canada’s contributions and sacrifices on the world stage for the betterment of others. Indeed sometimes in the heat of House of Commons debate we as Parliamentarians forget that Canada has in fact charted a course that other nations continue to struggle to set.
History aside though, we must also be mindful of the future. Prime Minister Cameron remarked on the importance that as countries we must keep our citizens safe and we must work hard to ensure there are jobs. To achieve these goals we will need to work together and recognize that debt is the crisis that can no longer be ignored. We must also prioritize our spending wisely and recognize that international aid and helping to educate the youth in developing countries are investments today than can yield long-term benefits down the road. Diplomacy and international investment must be measures not overlooked given the immense cost, on all levels, of military campaigns.
In order to tackle the debt crises we must stay focused and apply strong leadership. We cannot ignore today’s problems as they will surely become larger problems tomorrow. Tackling debt will not be easy but it is important that we demonstrate strong political will. There were those in attendance for the speech who clearly did not agree with the comments from the British Prime Minister. From my perspective I believe that David Cameron’s speech is an important one, and I say that both as a Member of Parliament and as a Canadian. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to hear and ponder some of the challenges that we will all face in keeping Canada and our allies strong. I am also thankful that the majority of those in the House of Commons are united to work in this regard. On a daily basis I meet many of my caucus colleagues from around Canada and am greatly impressed with the dedication and passion of those MPs with whom I am fortunate enough to work..
As David Cameron reminded us, during some of the world’s darkest times, Canada was there and continues to defend and uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law, the values that shaped this great nation. After hearing the British Prime Minister’s Speech I felt proud to be a Canadian.
This week in the House the debate will focus primarily on Bill C-4 Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act and Bill C10, The Safe Streets and Communities Act. Also this week will be debate on a motion to extend the mission in Libya for a further three months. If you would like further information on any of these or any other Bills please contact my office at 250-770-4480 or toll free at 1-800-665-8711
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week is a busy one back in Ottawa as the House resumed session on Monday morning. The House of Commons stood united as leaders from all parties marked the opening of Parliament with a tribute to the memory of Jack Layton. Question Period is often the most covered in the media however there are many parliamentary functions of lesser notoriety where Parliamentarians do indeed work together in a much more civil and constructive manner. The comments reserved in memory of Jack Layton served as a reminder that all members of parliament are elected to serve the public and though we may at times disagree on the means to achieve that goal we must always be mindful of the need to be respectful and constructive in our dealings.
The introduction of Government Bills will also be heavily on the agenda for this week including many Private Member’s Bills (PMB). It should be noted that PMB’s serve the public interest by giving rank and file MP’s the opportunity to propose legislative changes. Private Member’s Bills generally fall into two categories, the first category applies if a Bill calls for the expenditure of tax dollars, in such cases there is a constitutional requirement that a Royal recommendation would apply and this can only come from Government through a Minister. In other words a Private Member’s Bill cannot force a Government into a public spending commitment without the support of Government. The second and more common type of Private Member’s Bill may reduce a tax, or impose or increase an exemption from taxation, or suggest another action of government. There are currently roughly seventy Private Member’s Bills being proposed with topics as varied as “ An Act to establish Leif Erikson Day” to “An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against the transportation of oil by oil tankers on Canada’s Pacific North Coast)”.
There are far too many Bills to individually reference in this report, however if there is a specific bill you would like further information on please do not hesitate to contact me. I also follow your comments and email closely and if there is a specific Bill (such as the now defunct Bill 428) that attracts a significant amount of inquires I will reference it in my future MP reports. Aside from Bills, Members of Parliament may also introduce a Private Member’s Motion into the House. A motion can cover a wide range of different issues that typically attempt to propose an opinion or direction for a course of action to Government. Motions, unlike Bills, are generally less specific in details. It should be noted that Government is not bound to adopt a motion from a private member. That being said, a Private member may give notice of a motion requesting specific papers or documents be compiled or produced by the Government to be tabled into the House. If such a motion is adopted, the requested action can be carried forward.
PMB’s are but one of the many fascinating aspects to our Parliamentary system. PMB’s offers Members of Parliament the opportunity to build awareness around an issue or direct legislative change. While many are not passed, some are later adopted by government. Private Member’s Bills are as varied and diverse as the hundreds of ridings across Canada and represent the full spectrum of ideas from throughout our great country.
Since becoming your Member of Parliament in Ottawa I have come to accept that travelling has become a large part of my life. Travelling around the riding and of course flying back and forth between Ottawa and Okanagan-Coquihalla are weekly and sometimes daily occurrences. That is what made this past September 11th such a thought provoking day for me. I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like to have been a passenger aboard United Airlines flight 93, who had been hijacked and learned in short order that the hijackers intended to use the plane as a weapon of death and destruction to kill hundreds and possibly thousands of innocent people. Those passengers decided that as members of a free and democratic society they would fight back and ultimately sacrificed their own lives in order to save the lives of others.
This past Sunday I attended a memorial service at Penticton’s restored Veterans Memorial Park beside the Penticton courthouse. Veterans and first responders attended to dedicate a First Responder Cairn, out of respect for the sacrifice of the many RCMP, fire fighters and paramedics who gave their lives so that others might live. My visit to the park reminded me that it was not just on September 11th that lives were lost in the fight against tyranny and oppression in the defence of a free and democratic society. Veterans Memorial Park, and others like it, are a reminder of our proud Canadian history for standing up to fight for our great country and the values we all share as Canadians. I realize that it may not be Remembrance Day, but I believe it is important that we are always mindful of the immense sacrifices that came before us and that we never forget the past and the need to work together for our future.
Last week I was back in Ottawa for our government caucus retreat and much of our discussion revolved around legislation and policy that will be on the agenda for the upcoming fall sitting of the House of Commons. The retreat also provided an opportunity to meet with several ministers directly and share concerns that have been relayed to me by constituents. I was very encouraged to learn that in spite of the vast size of the Government of Canada, the Ministers I spoke with were very approachable and well briefed on the issues I brought forward on your behalf. In the coming weeks I will be able to share further information on some of the issues currently being worked on in Ottawa. Once the House of Commons resumes I will also work hard to share with you details and information on new Bills that are introduced into the House and will be available to respond to any questions or enquiries that you may have. I believe that communication is very important and that taxpayers deserve timely information to stay informed on issues that are of importance.
This week I will be back in Ottawa in preparation for the fall sitting of the House of Commons that will formally resume on Monday, September 19th. With me will be the book of condolences, cards and other mementos that many of you took the time to share in the memory of Jack Layton. I consider it an honour to deliver these condolences to his family. Many citizens have remarked to me that they are glad to see so many of their fellow Canadians across the country set aside partisan differences during this time of reflection and recognize Mr. Layton's life of public service. I would like to thank those of you who dropped by my office with a card or note and also who took the time to sign the book of condolences as it travelled around the area.
Also travelling back to Ottawa with me this week are the many responses and suggestions I received from citizens as part of my summer listening tour. I would like to thank those that offered kind words of encouragement and warm wishes for my new position working on your behalf in Ottawa, and also for telling me what you think are issues of importance to you. Issues that were mentioned most often were crime and the justice system, the need to control government spending, gas prices, the environment and employment. Many citizens also voiced their support for senate reform as well as the removal of the long gun registry. Concerns with other levels of Government were also common as was immigration policy. I welcome your input and will share your concerns with my colleagues in the weeks and months ahead.
One serious item of concern that did arise last week was the prospect of an NDP motion being put forward by MP Libby Davies that would have resurrected much of former Bill- 428 in seriously reducing residency requirements in order to collect OAS and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Fortunately the NDP quickly withdrew the motion referring to it as an error in submission. Rest assured in the event that this motion or a similar one is introduced, I will be proud to represent the citizens from Okanagan- Coquihalla and stand with my Conservative Government colleagues in opposition to such a costly and irresponsible assault on taxpaying Canadians. I believe that those citizens who have worked hard for ten years or more paying taxes and contributing to Canadian society should be entitled to receive Old Age Security and a Guaranteed Income Supplement and cannot support this residency requirement being removed or reduced for newly arrived citizens. This is one issue that I have heard overwhelming on from many citizens all across the riding of Okanagan- Coquihalla and all comments I have received have been in strong opposition to any reduction in the residency requirement to qualify for taxpayer funded requirement benefits.
As the House of Commons will soon be in session I intend on keeping taxpayers up to date on new bills before the House. If there is a particular bill that you would like further information on, or to be covered in one of my MP reports please do not hesitate to let me know. Once I am back in Ottawa I will also be more active again on my daninottawa.com blog site. As your elected Member of Parliament it is important to me that you can keep track of my activities on your behalf. My email address is Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca and I welcome your comments.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at email@example.com
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.