The House of Commons was scheduled to sit for three days this week before adjourning for the summer recess, however, the vote to adjourn took place last Friday. This allows all MPs to return to their Ridings and spend the summer working locally and being in touch with their constituents. As this was the first full spring session of the 42nd Parliament I thought I would take the opportunity to provide some statistics as they pertain to the work Parliament has done in the last 6 months.
By the numbers, the Government has now introduced 23 Bills. Of those 23, 4 have gone through the House and the Senate and are awaiting Royal Assent while 7 more are currently in the Senate, meaning there are still 12 Government Bills remaining in the House when debate resumes on September 19th.
As for Private Members Bills there are already 99 what we call PMB’s, that have received at least 1st reading in the House. Of these 99 only one bill, Bill C-210 “An Act to amend the National Anthem Act” (for gender) has passed through the house onto the Senate while just 4 bills have reached 2nd reading.
Meanwhile in the Senate there are currently just two Senate sponsored bills and a further 25 Senate Private Member Bills. In total there are currently almost 150 different legislative bills proposed to date between the Senate and the House of Commons.
I often like to mention the volume of Bills being brought forward because I believe it is an important factor when discussing any proposed reduction of the amount of sitting time in Ottawa.
Few take note that less time in Ottawa will result in fewer bills being scrutinized and debated.
It should also be pointed out that Opposition Day Debate and Motions, as well as Parliamentary Committee review and other events such as Question Period also consume our time in Ottawa in addition to time spent debating various bills. It is for these reasons that I continue to remain opposed to a shortened work week or any reduction to the amount of sitting time in the House of Commons.
Later this month the House will reconvene back in Ottawa to hear a speech from our special guest, President Obama before Members of Parliament return to their home ridings.
For many MPs, and certainly in my case with a geographically large riding, the summer months provide an excellent opportunity to travel to all parts of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola to meet with citizens and groups to hear concerns and ideas first hand. In some situations problems may be very specific and localized but in other cases I have found citizens often have good ideas that can be shared and in several cases even incorporated into government policy. This is part of what I consider “Democracy In Action” where citizens can directly share ideas that can be taken to Ottawa through a variety of different means.
It is extremely important and very much appreciated that citizens take the time to sit down and meet with their locally elected representative, and this applies to all levels of government. Getting information and feedback from constituents is an essential part of democratic representation. On that note I would encourage citizens to contact me directly so that I can hear your concerns and hopefully meet you in person over these next few months. I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.