This week, more than two months since the September federal election, finally the House of Commons is back in session again.
The first order of business is always to elect a new Speaker, which is a democratic process voted on by all Members of Parliament.
This year there were seven different candidates for Speaker before the MP from Nipissing—Timiskaming Ontario, Anthony Rota, was re-elected to this same role he had in the previous Parliament.
With the Speaker elected, the next order of business was the throne speech, that was for the first time since her appointment as Governor General, read by Mary Simon in three different languages.
The title of this year’s throne speech was “Building a resilient economy” and contained many of the same promises that the Liberals made in the recent election.
Over the next week in the House there will be debate on the throne speech from both government and the opposition.
There are also some ongoing procedural debates occurring in Ottawa this week.
Topics such as how vaccination and medical exemptions are regulated within the House of Commons is one active topic of discussion.
Another is the ongoing debate between in person Parliament and a hybrid Parliament where MPs do not have to physically be in the House of Commons to participate in votes or debate.
The Liberal Government is also expected to be tabling some Government bills that they expect to be passed before the House rises in mid-December.
When these bills are tabled I will provide more information on them in future weekly reports.
Finally, this week I have joined with other opposition MPs from British Columbia and have requested an emergency debate regarding the disastrous flooding situation in parts of British Columbia including the communities of Merritt and Princeton in my riding.
At the time of writing my report this week I can announce that the request for the emergency debate has been granted and will occur during the evening hours of Wednesday, November 24th,2021.
I have been in regular contact with elected leaders and members of both Princeton and Merritt and have serious concerns that adequate levels of provincial and federal government resources can be delivered in the manner requested and as needed.
This will be a topic I will raise both Provincially and Federally to ensure communities such as Merritt and Princeton receive the supports, they need.
My question this week relates to hybrid versus in person parliament. Is it your preference that MPs show up to work in Ottawa to participate in votes and debate or are your supportive of the hybrid model where debate and votes can occur with MPs back in their home riding?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
There is a saying in social media…” I can’t un-see that”…often associated with online posts the depict some sort of rarely seen, almost impossible to comprehend act or event conveniently captured in a manner that generates “likes” for viewers.
Sadly, here in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, Fraser Valley and in parts of Vancouver Island this past week, we cannot and will not ever un-see the devastation and destruction caused by record levels of rainfall and resulting flooding.
Merritt, a community over 7,000 people strong, is currently evacuated.
Motorists are still stranded in various places throughout the central and southern regions of B.C.
Many grocery stores are running low on some basic groceries. Supply chains, for the moment, are stressed.
For the people in Merritt and Princeton, B.C. they are experiencing devastation on a level never before encountered.
Both of these communities have also suffered break downs in local infrastructure, with basic community services such as water and sewer being threatened.
As an added challenge, in Princeton, a natural gas line has been compromised and many residents are without heat with a predicted low forecast of -8 overnight.
At the time of writing this report this week from Ottawa, I have just concluded a meeting with our Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair and a number of my colleagues who represent ridings in the Fraser Valley that are also threatened with flooding and evacuation orders.
I would like to publicly thank Minister Blair who has consistently reached out and made himself available through this ongoing disaster.
We have had assurances, both from Minister Blair and the Prime Minister, that the Federal Government will stand by to assist regions of British Columbia severely impacted by these floods and related mud slides.
To the good people of Merritt and Princeton, as well as the surrounding areas, please know that federally we will do everything possible to assist in the days, weeks and months ahead.
My phone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every effort will be made to ensure you are called back as promptly as possible.
There is no question that our region has experienced a challenging six months, between wildfire threats and now serious flooding and mudslides.
The resulting damage is yet to be assessed but it will on a massive scale.
Aside from damage to homes, properties, community, and provincial infrastructure, there is also the serious toll on the people who call these areas home and the most impacted.
The reality is that as our climate increasingly changes, we are not as prepared as we need to be for these resulting disasters.
My question this week:
What solutions do you believe would most enhance our emergency preparedness?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call free 1-800-665-8711.
This week it was the Leader of the Official Opposition's turn to announce his appointments of shadow cabinet critics in the new Parliament.
I was honoured to be returned to the role of Shadow Minister for Environment & Climate Change.
This news arrived to me as I was attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
As I mentioned in my report last week, it was earlier at this conference where PM Trudeau announced that:
“Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector”.
An announcement that provoked much discussion given that the exact details of this announcement to get emissions to net zero by 2050 within this Canadian industry remain unknown.
I also raised the concern that other countries such as Saudi Arabia and USA, who import oil & gas into Canada, are not following this policy of setting emissions caps or a “price on pollution”.
My weekly question was “How do you think the Government should deal with oil and gas imports from other countries that are not subject to these same types of policies?”.
There was a significant amount of well thought out responses to this question and I would like to sincerely thank those who took the time to share their ideas.
One other challenge has also since emerged.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has stated that at no time did the Prime Minister or the Minister for Environment & Climate Change ever pick up the phone to consult with, or otherwise communicate, about the policy promise to cap Canadian oil & gas emissions.
This is problematic because oil and gas regulation in Canada remains an area of provincial jurisdiction.
It is also my concern that actions to reduce our emissions here in Canada are important.
Likewise, the need for the federal government to work with the Provinces is critical.
Taking action on our environment should not be done divisively in a manner that pits regions of Canada against each other.
I believe strongly that the Prime Minister has an obligation to work with the Premiers and that includes consultation and communication on policies that are within Provincial jurisdiction.
My question this week is:
Do you agree?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
In last week’s report I referenced the closure of the Kelowna International airport (YLW) to international flights and asked:
“Do you support the Kelowna Airport being re-opened to International flights as have been many other airports in Canada?"
I would like to thank all of those who took the time to respond and can state the responses were both overwhelming and almost unanimous in support of international flights returning to YLW.
Fortunately, we had some excellent news this week as Transport Canada announced eight more Canadian airports will, as of November 30th, 2021, again be open to international arrivals and departures.
The list of these eight airports St. John’s, Hamilton, Waterloo, Regina, Saskatoon, Kelowna, Abbotsford and Victoria.
I would like to sincerely thank all of those who worked in support of this announcement.
On the topic of International travel, currently over 39,000 delegates have registered to attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, making this the largest attended COP climate conference in history.
Blacklock’s, a journalism organization out of Ottawa, reports that the official Canadian delegation at the COP26 conference is 277 delegates, 30 Environment Canada staff, 17 press aides as well as a videographer & speechwriter for the Prime Minister and 4 CBC reporters.
In the interests of full disclosure, members of the opposition also attend this conference.
I am attending on behalf of the Official Opposition as the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, as is the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, Bloc MP Kristina Michaud and Green Party MP's Elizabeth May and Mike Morrice.
Several government ministers including Prime Minister Trudeau are also attending this conference and the prime minister has made several announcements of behalf of Canada.
One of the more noteworthy announcements was a promise that “Canada will impose a hard cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector”
At the moment the exact details of this announcement are unknown however the goal is to get emissions to net zero by 2050 within this Canadian industry.
One of the challenges is that other countries who produce oil and gas are not following Canada in setting emissions caps, nor are they setting a “price on pollution” when it comes to oil and gas.
A further complication is that different regions of Canada use oil and gas that is imported from these countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United States.
That leads to my question for this week:
How do you think the Government should deal with oil and gas imports from other countries that are not subject to these same types of policies?
I can be reached 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.