In light of the recent announcement that the BC Legislature would not hold a fall
session I wanted to take the opportunity to define what and how a “sitting”
functions on a weekly basis at the House of Commons in Ottawa. When the House of
Commons is sitting during a typical week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,
debate will begin at 11 AM and does not normally adjourn until 7 PM. On
Wednesday each caucus meets in the morning typically from 8 or 9 AM until noon
while debate in the House begins at 2 PM concluding again at 7 PM. On
Friday’s, debate is moved up and starts at 10 am and typically concludes at 2pm
allowing MP’s more time to return to their home ridings. Also occurring are
regular meetings Monday through Thursday for Parliamentary Committees. There are
currently 28 Parliamentary Committees (not including Senate or joint Senate
House of Commons committees) who will typically meet twice weekly for a 2 hour
session during each meeting. These meetings usually occur anywhere from
8:30-10:10:30 for the morning session and 3:30-5:30 for the afternoon
session and always on different days of the week.
Parliamentary committees are made up from MP’s representing all parties and typically most
MP’s (who are not in cabinet) will sit on two committees. Currently I am serving
on one of the two joint Senate and House of Commons Committees that in the case
of my committee, scrutinizes government regulations while the other joint
committee pertains to the Library of Parliament. I have also recently been
appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, prior
to this appointment I served on the standing committee on the Status of Women.
It is also not uncommon for Members of Parliament to have scheduling conflicts
from time to time so there are opportunities to cover other members committee
meetings. Generally when my schedule permits I volunteer to sit in on other
committees as it is a valuable experience to keep informed on some of the many
issues of importance that are before the House and are under study.
Often when I call constituents in order to discuss their concerns, they
regularly ask questions that are being examined in depth by committees and so I
find my time substituting for other members to be well spent as these
constituents are glad to hear that many of these complex issues are receiving
the in depth analysis they deserve.
This week in Ottawa there will be second reading debate on two Government Bills. Bill C43, the
Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act. It proposes to speed up the
process to remove convicted criminals from Canada by limiting appeals options
that can add as much as an additional 14 months or more before a criminal can
be deported. In addition there will also be increased penalties and greater
Ministerial discretion in dealing with those individuals who cheat the
immigration system. The other Bill up for debate this week is second reading of
Bill C-15 “Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act” This
Bill proposes a series of amendments to the National Defence Act that pertain
to the military justice system. There will also be two Senate sponsored Bills
up for second reading debate this week, Bill S-2 “Family Homes on Reserves and
Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act” and also Bill S-8 “Safe Drinking Water for
First Nations Act”. Aside from debate, there will also be votes on Private
Members Bills C-350 ”An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release
Act” and on Bill C-293 that also proposes to amend the “the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act” from vexatious complaints. Motion 312 will also be
voted on this week that pertains to “Studying Canada's 400 Year Old Definition
of Human Being”.
The topic of MP pension plan reform has also been widely discussed on Parliament Hill over the past few weeks and I would like to re-affirm my position that I will be voting in
support of changes to the MP pension plan that are more respectful of
taxpayers. I publicly voiced my support for these changes last year and while I
was one of the few to do so publicly at that time there are increasingly more
Members of Parliament who are now voicing similar support for these changes. If
you would like more information on any Bills or motions before Parliament or
would like to share your own views please do so at your convenience. Your input
is very much needed and appreciated.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at email@example.com or by phone 1(800) 665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.