Parliament Hill was rocked last week with the devastating news of the unexpected loss of our colleague, the Hon. Jim Flaherty. Media coverage on events in Ottawa tends to be focused on those moments that are most controversial or in many cases out of the norm. Unfortunately as the “out of the norm” scenes are most frequently shown many believe there is a strong dislike between Members of Parliament on different sides of the House. In reality for many MPs, more so those in the west with greater travel distances, we collectively spend as much time if not more time with our colleagues than in some cases we spend with our families. In many ways the House of Commons, while adversarial and intense, is still like a second family for many of us. To lose someone so unexpectedly is shocking and more so when it is an individual who behind the scenes always took a great deal of time and interest in the well being of others. I will always recall taking an issue forward from a constituent in Summerland to Minister Flaherty who not only took the time to hear the suggestion, within six months took action. Service to others with a smile was a hallmark of Minister Flaherty’s career and I would like to thank the many citizens who have taken the time to share a kind word during this difficult time. For those who have expressed an interest, there will be a book of condolences for Minister Flaherty’s family at both my Penticton and West Kelowna offices from now until the 25th of April.
Recently you may have heard that the Canada Revenue Agency website was potentially compromised by a computer virus known as the “Heartbleed Bug”. It has been suggested that it is possible a limited amount of personal information, more specifically SIN numbers, may have been wrongfully accessed. ESDC, Service Canada and CRA staff is currently taking actions to identify those individuals who may have had personal information breached as a result of this virus. All individuals who may be impacted by this “Heartbleed virus” will receive notification from the Canada Revenue Agency that will provide a special contact number and additional information on this matter. Although it has been suggested the breach affected roughly 900 individuals if you or anyone you know believes they may have been impacted by this event and have not been contacted by CRA please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Currently there are a number of issues that I am hearing about. The subject of temporary foreign workers remains an issue of concern for many citizens although it should be pointed out while most are very concerned over misuse of the program there are also those who are strongly supportive of it, as was recently the case in Merritt. I have also have had a few citizens drop in and share their concerns on Canada Post. Another area of more recent concern is a campaign from poultry farmers who have illustrated the importance of timely grain feed shipment to local farms. Recently I have also been contacted by citizens both for and against changes to the Elections Act as proposed in the Fair Elections Act, otherwise known as Bill C-23. Currently this act is being reviewed both in the House of Commons and the Senate where it has been suggested that amendments will be proposed. It is my personal view that Bill C-23 will likely see some revisions before potentially moving onto third reading debate. Once a more finalized version of the Bill has been put forward I will speak further on this particular subject as I believe it is of importance. On the subject of amendments, recently the Reform Act of 2013 from my colleague Michael Chong has also been amended into a new Bill (now the recently tabled Reform Act of 2014) that I will be asking for more input on in future report.
As the House of Commons is currently on the Easter break I am available for the next ten days to meet with you to discuss areas of concern and to answer questions that you may have. Please contact me at email@example.com or via phone at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.