While the overnight temperature in Ottawa continues to be well below zero, the temperature inside the house has been steadily rising with vigorous debate on a number of bills and on Monday the vote to extend Canada`s mission against the ISIL terrorist organization. As was the case previously with the initial six month mission the vote to extend for a further 12 months was passed. For more information on this topic please see my MP report from last week.
Another hot topic on Parliament Hill has been the ongoing committee stage review of Bill C-51, otherwise known as the anti-terror bill. With most of the witnesses having now presented their views, the committee finished the clause by clause review where a small number of clarifying amendments were approved. As has been the case since literally before Bill C-51 was introduced it remains opposed by the NDP and supported by both the Liberals and Government. For more information on Bill C-51 please see my February 6th MP report.
Also being debated or voted on this week is a number of private members bills and motions that include: motion M-533 “Citizen consultation preceding natural resource development”, Bill C-628 “An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the National Energy Board Act”, Bill C-613 “An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Access to Information Act“, Bill C-642 “An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act”, Motion -550 “Rail service” and Bill C-644 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act”.
In late October of 2013, I covered the topic of MP and Senator expenses and mentioned that the Auditor-General would be performing an audit of all Senator related expenses. While that audit is not yet complete it has been suggested it will be released prior to the end of June. Expenses of Members of Parliament are governed by the House of Commons through the Board of Internal Economy and published annually. MP expenses are also a subject I cover as part of my yearly accountability report, my last yearly report was released in November of 2014. In my view the expenses of elected officials should always be subject to scrutiny and I will continue to provide updates on this subject as they become available.
One item that was not well covered by Ottawa media this week but is very good news for Canada is a recent announcement from Honda Canada. Honda currently owns and operates a factory in Alliston, Ontario that will begin producing the next generation Honda CR-V. What is exciting about this announcement is that these next generations Honda CR-V’s built here in Canada will be built for export to the European market. This if the first time in history that Honda will build vehicles in Canada for export to Europe and this is made possible by the Canada– EU free trade agreement that will eliminate a tariff of 10%. Although this particular announcement is largely to the benefit of Ontario here in Okanagan-Coquihalla and in British Columbia we have many high quality manufacturers who can also benefit from free trade access to the roughly 500 million consumers in the European market. While some have focussed on the recent oil price drop and resulting revenue shortfalls we should not ignore the importance of trade and the opportunity of new markets that can create jobs and support our local economies. If you have questions or comments on these or other Federal issues, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.