Each week I look forward to hearing from dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of
different citizens on issues and concerns of importance to them. Although common
issues may often parallel events in the media, others may be unique or related
to an unreported matter that many citizens share a common interest with. One of
the more recent concerns I have heard about involves the CBC. If you have been
following some online websites, you may have heard of a diabolical plan where
the Government will secretly “take control” over the CBC and convert the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation into a political propaganda machine. Like most
rumours, speculation and innuendo, there is generally some factual validity at
the core of an issue that is often then stretched or otherwise exaggerated to
the extent that what is really occurring is at odds with the allegations. In
this case these concerns relate to Bill C-60, the Economic Action Plan for 2013.
Bill C-60 does not in any way compromise the journalistic independence of the
CBC, nor does this Bill enable the Government of Canada to actively engage in
the creative or political direction of the CBC. Let's start by pointing out that
this provision applies to all crown corporations and does not unfairly single
out the CBC. The provision requires each board of directors for these crown
corporations to have their labour mandate approved by Treasury Board. These
mandates currently are and will still be created independently by the crown
corporations. This is the same criteria that ministries follow to ensure
that there is responsible management. Crown corporations have either received,
or continue to receive billions of taxpayer dollars every year and the
shareholders are the Canadian public. If a crown corporation were not to be run
responsibly, it would be the taxpayer that would ultimately foot the bill.
Given these challenging fiscal times it would be irresponsible of Government
to not retain the ability to control costs that are shared by Canadian taxpayers
as a result of public sector labor agreements. While some may favour the “blank
cheque” approach with respect to Crown corporation labor agreements, it should
also be pointed out that the vast majority of Federal public sector workers are
already subject to Treasury Board oversight and this legislation will provide
greater parity within the public sector and will also protect the interests of
Canadian taxpayers. If you would like to read the actual text of the Bill
please do not hesitate to give me a call or send an email. Another concern that
I have heard from many citizens on is the billboard that I inherited and have
continued to use along Highway 97 (heading south) at the northern boundary of
our Okanagan-Coquihalla riding in West Kelowna. Many citizens have taken the
time to share concerns over this billboard and the dislike for billboard signs
I believe it is important to listen to the concerns of citizens and in this case there was a strong consensus opposed to this billboard sign. The challenge from my perspective is that this sign was extremely effective in relaying my contact information to citizens in West Kelowna, an important consideration as it is rare for a community that size to not have an MP office located directly within the municipality. Fortunately one of the
citizens who had expressed displeasure about the billboard sign also offered a constructive suggestion; that opening an office in West Kelowna would help negate the need for the sign. After much investigation this is precisely the course of action currently underway. The billboard sign contract has not been renewed and later this month I will have a new constituency office to assist West Kelowna and area residents with the many federal concerns that arise in the area. This office will also be more strategically located for citizens in Peachland, Merritt and Logan Lake who frequently travel through West Kelowna on a more regular basis. My existing Penticton office will continue to offer service to Penticton and the southern portion of Okanagan-Coquihalla as before.
It will also be another busy week on Parliament Hill as debate continues on Bill S-209 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code” (prize fights) Bill C-60 (second reading) along with private members bills S-213 “Korean War Veterans Day Act”,C-460 “Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act”, C-463 “Discover Your Canada Act”, and C-479 “An Act to Bring Fairness for the Victims of Violent Offenders”. For more information on these or any Bill before the House of Commons I can be reached at 1-800-665-8711 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.