Recently I was asked how it is determined what subjects will be mentioned in my weekly MP reports. This is a great question and one that I have not covered previously. Since my first day elected as a city councillor I have always made a point of reading emails and returning phone calls from citizens. In my view hearing the concerns of people is a critically important part of being accountable and having a better understanding on issues of concern. Typically the issues that are more frequently raised in a given week will be the same issues I will reference in my weekly MP reports. From time to time I also get requests to cover a specific area of concern and in some weeks what I hear from citizens may be at odds with what are the major media events being reported by the news media.
This week I had anticipated much of the discussion would be on the recent announcement from Canada Post regarding door to door delivery changes and new stamp prices. To my surprise over the past week I have heard very little overall on these changes and of the comments I have heard the vast majority were understanding that changes in technology and societal trends create a need for Canada Post to respond. Over the past few weeks the single largest issue from a feedback perspective remains the subject of last weeks MP report– Bill C-559 “The Reform Act of 2013” introduced by my colleague Michael Chong. I greatly appreciate the response to last week's report and I have noted that many citizens have taken the time to send in some very detailed comments now that the full content of the Bill is publicly available. I continue to welcome your input on this very important subject that is clearly a concern of many citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Earlier this week I was honoured to represent the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Hon. Gerry Ritz for an announcement at a local business, a short drive away from the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland. The announcement was a funding contribution under the Growing Forward 2 agricultural innovation program. As many local citizens are well aware, there is a growing demand for natural plant extracts. Phytochemicals, such as antioxidants can be found in fruits, vegetables, as well as plant-based beverages like tea and wine. These natural chemicals not only help plants defend against environmental threats such as damage from pests or ultraviolet light, but can also assist against heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
One of the challenges is to find an efficient method to extract the phytochemicals from plants as currently the process involves the use of chemicals that often fall under the category of dangerous goods. The funding announced this week will support a new process that use uses pressurized water, rather than solvents and chemical agents to extract the phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables. Obviously the use of water rather than chemicals reduces health and environmental hazards and also ensures that extracted phytochemicals have a higher level of purity. The need to develop new and innovative value added agricultural products is an important one for our region. The new trade deal with the European Union proposes to eliminate up to ninety-five per cent of current tariffs when it comes into force. This in turn can create new markets and new opportunities for our region and ensure our valued agricultural sector remains a sustainable and important part of our future.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.