One aspect that I enjoy most as a Member of Parliament is the great diversity of citizens and commentary that I hear throughout Okanagan-Coquihalla on an ongoing basis. One year ago I reflected on concerns I heard over the loss of both the Kamloops News and Merritt News; these concerns were not just local but in many cases national. As much as we live in an age of information citizens greatly value local media and the relationships they form with our communities.
Although we may not always agree with local editorial opinion it is important that we always respect free speech and the diversity of different points of view. As my weekly reports are often communicated to citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla through our local media I would like to take a moment to pass on my appreciation and thanks to those who work in community news publications be it in print, online or on air. Informed commentary from professional news organizations is a service that I believe we should not take for granted.
When looking back on this past year I would be remiss if I did not also mention that amount of new Mayors, councillors and regional district directors elected back in November. I have been in the process of working with local government to organize a number of elected officials forums so that members of the public can meet new representatives and also so that newly elected officials from different levels of government can meet each other. Although spats and disagreements between levels of government can make for great headlines it is also important that governments have the ability to work together in partnership to ensure infrastructure projects, services and other programs are carried out in an effective manner that is respectful to taxpayers. In Okanagan-Coquihalla we have a long standing history of successful partnership between the local, provincial and federal governments and based on the newly elected and re-elected officials I have met to date I believe this positive trend will continue.
This past year has also not been without tragedy. The disturbing deaths of two Canadian forces soldiers who were brutally executed combined with the shooting on Parliament Hill are all events that will forever be in the memory of Canadians. However in the days and weeks after these horrific events we also witnessed not just a united Parliament, but more importantly, a united Canada. Although our freedoms were attacked Canadians, responded with compassion, kindness and a resolve to continue to stand against tyranny for our values. While changes have been made around the House of Commons and Parliament Hill, the principle of accessibility has not been compromised. Each day Canadians come from far and wide to experience Parliament first hand through tours and walking through the precinct. It was once pointed out to me that our Canadian Parliament was one of the very few in the world that is openly accessible to Canadians and is not fenced off where it can only be viewed but never experienced. These things are all part of what makes us Canadian and why on this Christmas I hope that every citizen gives thanks for family, friends, neighbours and our fellow citizens who collectively are the fabric of our great country. As the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla I would like to sincerely wish all citizens a Merry Christmas and enjoyable holiday season. As always 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 for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.