As 2012 comes to a close I would like to highlight some of the political milestones that occurred during the past year. While some of these events may not have received much media attention, they are in my view important to take note of and are presented in no particular order.
The House of Commons held debate in 10 out of 12 months in 2012. As much as there is often media and opposition claims about the lack of debate on Parliament Hill in reality here in Canada your elected Members of Parliament were in the House of Commons debating bills and participating in committee review for the vast majority of the year. At a time when some countries are engaged in unrest or deeply divided conflict the wheels of Government here in Canada continue to turn as MP’s collectively from all sides of the House work hard to keep Canada strong. With some Provincial legislatures across Canada currently shut down now is the time to continue to keep Canada moving forward in order to ensure that we can attract investment that keeps Canadians employed and support our regional economies. At the same time we must also protect Canadians from those who would do us harm and ensure that we create a regulatory environment that is firm but fair and promotes innovation and prosperity. In my view it would be difficult to achieve these things if the House of Commons were not in session and it is an honour to work collectively in the House with such a diverse group of Canadians who represent the great diversity of our nation.
While MP’s continue to work hard, I am also proud of the fact that we have shown leadership and finally unanimously voted in favor of changes to the MP pension plan that are more respectful to taxpayers. I know that many Canadians work hard and struggle at times to pay bills and provide for their family. The MP pension plan was not something that taxpayers in Okanagan-Coquihalla considered fair or equitable and that is why I was one of the first on Parliament Hill to publicly call for changes that I was pleased to vote in favor of late in the fall. As Members of Parliament we cannot expect Canadians to make sacrifices that we would not also be willing to share in.
Another highlight of this past year for me was my second annual summer listening tour. Traveling throughout Okanagan-Coquihalla and meeting with people first hand and hearing comments, questions and concerns is something I view as critically important in the work that I do as an MP. The bills we pass in Ottawa must help keep people working and at the same time we must continue to help fund and provide services that citizens depend upon and partner with local and provincial governments to build infrastructure. Having my own private members bill passed was also a great honor but we cannot overlook other challenges in other industries that also need attention. This is something that I am continuing to work on daily. As an example in one local community within Okanagan-Coquihalla is a large scale private employer who provides hundreds of very well paying jobs. These jobs are currently threatened in large part as a result of industry specific regulation. As much as some oppose foreign investment the reality is that there are situations and circumstances when there is no Canadian based investment ready or willing to invest within certain sectors of our economy. In this case, without foreign investment there are up to 600 workers who could be unemployed. I believe that we must not overlook the importance of well paying jobs in our communities and I will continue to fight for these jobs and if necessary will introduce another private members bill to propose regulatory changes in this sector. As the year comes to a close and this is my final report for 2102 I would like to wish all citizens a prosperous and healthy 2013 New Year.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.