As a first time Member of Parliament I often wonder how the role of being a Parliamentarian has changed since the advent of the internet. Although I am active electronically and communicate through mediums such as Twitter, a website and blog along with email I am often amazed that in the era of information just how much misinformation and even fabrication exists online. I have also noted that people in person are generally civil and respectful of others whereas some of the language and tone contained in certain emails is at times well over the top and even alarming in some cases. For whatever reason the most nasty of comments are largely restricted to online emails and anonymous commentary. I have noticed that while one cannot deny that email is superior in terms of speed and immediacy, you cannot beat a phone call or a face to face meeting in terms of interaction and mutual understanding & respect. I certainly appreciate it when people also include their phone number with their email or letter- a good conversation will often cover more ground than a dozen letters!
More recently I have noted a trend of online urban myths where a picture of a fancy jail or a photo of politicians playing electronic solitaire in a democratic chamber is suggested as to be Canadian in origin. In both circumstances these online photographs were taken outside of Canada and are from other countries. While it is unusual to comment on something so trivial the amount of inquires I have received on these two particular photographs has been very significant.
One other area I have received a number of inquiries pertains to MP pensions on account of some media reports that had wrongly suggested that MP pensions would continue to be protected. Budget 2012 contains provisions that will see changes being made towards MP pension plans that will ultimately result in a 50/50 contribution. As I have stated previously I am in full support of changes to the MP pension plan that will be more respectful to taxpayers and as such I will be voting in favor of this proposal. I will also stand on record in support of further changes to MP pension plans that continue to be more respectful to taxpayers. I have heard from a majority of citizens who understand that our Government must make some challenging decisions with respect to reducing spending and in some cases consolidating or changing programs but there is also an expectation that as Members of Parliament we should also be involved in this process. Citizens may often disagree on the decisions of Government, however this is one area where I have heard a strong consensus and I appreciate the time many of you have taken in sharing your views with me on this and other topics.
I have also received a surprising number of inquiries regarding the phasing out of the penny. Beginning this fall, the Royal Canadian Mint will no longer be distributing the penny. Although the penny will retain its value indefinitely, our Government encourages Canadians to either redeem them at financial institutions or to consider donating them to charity. In the absence of the penny a process of rounding up or down will be implemented as follows. For transaction between $1.01 and $ 1.02 cents the total would be rounded down to $ 1.00 For amounts of $ 1.03 - $ 1.04 the total would be rounded up to $ 1.05 while conversely amounts of $ 1.06-$ 1.07 would also be rounded down to $ 1.05 and an amount of $ 1.08 or $ 1.09 would be rounded to $ 1.10. If you are a business owner or an interested citizen who would like to have further information on this change please contact me at the email address below. Alternatively, if you have a further question on this or any topic please give my office a call at 1(800) 665-8711 or local (250) 770-4480.
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.