Thursday, October 23rd7.7°C
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Dan Albas

Issues at home and in Ottawa

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday this is a break week from the House of Commons before the House resumes again on Monday, October 20th, 2014. Also occurring in Ottawa this week is a case that is before the Supreme Court of Canada on assisted suicide. It is unknown at this point if this matter will come before the House of Commons or not in the immediate future however it is a subject that I know many citizens can have strong views on.  A related subject that has also arisen is the need for improved access to palliative care in Canada. Currently it is estimated that only 15% of Canadians have access to palliative care and while it is more common in Okanagan-Coquihalla there are many regions in Canada where it is unavailable. The 2013 Economic Action plan budget increased funding to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to increase palliative training for front line health care workers, however more work needs to be done in this area. From the many families I have heard from who have lost a loved one, palliative care can make some of life’s most challenging times more comfortable. This is a subject I will continue to support increased progress on in Ottawa.

Another subject that I remain actively involved with in Ottawa involves Federal regulations with respect to invasive freshwater species such as the Zebra and Quagga mussel. Although the 2014 boating season may be soon coming to an end, the need to have increased regulations in place at the border is of critical importance for the protection of our freshwater lakes and not just here in Okanagan-Coquihalla but across British Columbia. This will be a subject that not unlike my private member's bill, I will continue to pursue until such time these regulations are in effect. My thanks again to the work of the Okanagan Basin Water Board and many citizens who have also taken the time to share concerns on this important subject.

Recently the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy released the 2013-2014 Members Expenditures Report; this is the public document that forms part of my annual accountability report that I will be releasing in an MP report in the near future. As always if you have a comment, question or concern on matter before the House of Commons I can be reached at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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Intense debate in Ottawa

This week in the House of Commons, a majority of Members of Parliament including Government, Independents and one Green MPs voted in support of a Government motion to engage in a six month aerial combat mission against the terrorist group ISIL. As I believe in the significant importance of this motion I have included the full text for your review:

That this House (i) recognize that the leadership of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has called on its members to target Canada and Canadians at home and abroad, (ii) further recognize the clear and direct threat that ISIL poses to the people of the region, including members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority groups who have been subjected to a sustained campaign of brutal sexual violence, murder, and barbaric intimidation by ISIL, (iii) accept that, unless confronted with strong and direct force, the threat ISIL poses to international peace and security, including to Canadian communities, will continue to grow, (iv) affirm Canada’s desire, consistent with Canadian values and interests, to protect the vulnerable and innocent civilians of the region, including through urgent humanitarian assistance, (v) acknowledge the request from the Government of Iraq for military support against ISIL from members of the international community, including from the Government of Canada, (vi) further acknowledge the participation of Canada’s friends and allies, including numerous countries of the Middle East, in the broad international coalition committed to the fight against ISIL, (vii) note that the United Nations Security Council has become seized of the threat posed by international terrorism with the unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178, and, accordingly: (a) support the Government’s decision to contribute Canadian military assets to the fight against ISIL, and terrorists allied with ISIL, including air strike capability for a period of up to six months; (b) note that the Government of Canada will not deploy troops in ground combat operations; and (c) continue to offer its resolute and wholehearted support to the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who stand on guard for all of us.

For the purposes of accountability, I would like to share the reasons why I voted in support of this motion. In early October the United Nations issued a disturbing report that documented some very serious atrocities committed by the group ISIL. More specifically, and I quote from the UN report directly: “gross abuses of human rights perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups, including “attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children.”

This unprecedented level of savage brutality against innocent victims is disturbing but it is also a reality for innocent men, women and children in the region. It should not be overlooked that there have been individuals who have left Canada to join with ISIL in these savage killings– as I mentioned in a former MP report this is why our Government is revoking the passports of these individuals; an act opposed by the leader of the Liberal Party. The question on how best to respond to ISIL is one that has been the subject of much debate this week in Ottawa. The opposition has made it clear they oppose military action against ISIL terrorism and in many cases support increased humanitarian aid or the supply of weapons to local fighting against ISL. Our Government also supports increased humanitarian aid and will increase funding for victims of sexual violence in this region combined with other aid related measures. However we must also recognize that ISIL has demonstrated they will abduct and publicly behead international aid workers demonstrating the serious challenges in administering aid against a terror organization without military support.

As a result the Government of Canada will be joining our allies, including countries such as United States, France, United Kingdom, Denmark and others in doing our part to provide military support against ISIL. The stated goal of our Canadian support is not to defeat ISIL per se but to diminish their capacity while national and regional Iraqi ground forces in the region become better prepared to deal with this serious threat. We do this not just to alleviate the suffering of others and to restore order; ISIL has made direct threats against Canada and we must negate their ability to train, fund and carry out missions against our country. Of our fleet of 79 CF-18 aircraft, 6 will be deployed including 1 Polaris air-to-air refueling aircraft and 2 Aurora surveillance aircraft including required pilots and ground personnel to support these aircraft. As mentioned in the motion, this will not be a ground combat mission involving Canada and is subject to review in six months.

The decision to support this mission in my view is supporting long established Canadian values to stand up and protect those who are innocent and most vulnerable from oppression and terror. Canada as a country has always answered the call to stand with our allies in the fight for democracy and for freedom. Turning our back and expecting others to answer the call to serve has never been attributes that define Canada. I appreciate that my views on this subject may not sit well with some citizens and I welcome all views on this matter if you support or oppose our mission against the terror group ISIL. My email is [email protected] or you can reach my office at 1(800) 665-8711. Let us never forget the sacrifices we have made to live in a free and democratic society where we can debate and discuss how we build a better Canada and best help those in need in other countries.



House of Commons and elected office

It was my intention this week to provide a further update on Canada’s current non-combat deployment in Iraq, a subject last referenced in my September 10th report. However at the time of my writing this report there is not yet a significant update to provide. What I can pass on is that should there be a decision to engage in any type of combat– including aerial assault that any combat role involving Canadian forces will be brought before Parliament for a debate and ultimately a vote.

As some will know this was not past practice when the former Government made the decision to engage in Afghanistan, nor is it a requirement or obligation for Government to provide Parliament with an opportunity to vote. Ultimately the commitment to potentially bring this matter before Parliament should a combat aspect be contemplated is a decision by Government to involve our democratically elected members of Parliament to have a voice in what remains a very serious subject. This remains a matter that I believe is of concern to all Canadians and I welcome comments and question in this or any area. While Canada has a long and proud history of standing up for innocent victims against tyranny and oppression, these kind of decisions should never be taken lightly nor for granted.

Another subject that has come up recently is question period in large part because of a questionable exchange last week between a Parliamentary Secretary and the Leader of the Official Opposition. The episode in question led to a subsequent apology from the Parliamentary Secretary in question and a motion this week to potentially change part of how question period works with respect to the ability of the Speaker to engage in interventions during question period. This is a subject that could easily fill many reports however to focus on the positive aftermath there has been a noticeable change in tone on both sides of the House as questions and answers have become far more focused towards what most would agree is the original purpose of question period. It is also fair to say that this episode has served as a reminder that elected officials are ultimately held to account by the citizens who elect us. If Members of the House engage in the use of profanity or otherwise make comments that demean the House in turn we demean those whom we represent. I believe that all elected officials should be mindful of the need to take responsibility for our own behaviour and conduct ourselves in a manner that honours the good people we represent.

While on the subject of elected officials as the nomination period for candidates in local elections is soon to close I would like to sincerely thank mayors, councillors, regional district directors and school district trustees who are not seeking re-election for their past service. Local Government, as it is often called, is a huge commitment and often a thankless one – overall we enjoy a high quality of life in our region and this is in large part for the ongoing efforts of local government to provide amenities and services that we depend upon. I would also like to welcome those citizens who are putting their name forward to run in the upcoming election to serve. Win or lose, having the courage to make a difference is ultimately how we all succeed. Thank you.

I can be reached at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.





Input matters

As a week can go in Ottawa, this has been a very interesting one on Parliament Hill but as is often the case, some issues are widely reported over in favour of others. Based on questions, concerns and feedback I have heard from many citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla here are some updates on a few events this week:

Back in my July 10th MP report I mentioned a proposal submitted to the CRTC that could potentially create a tax on Netflix subscribers; this was in response to many citizens who had taken the time to voice opposition to such a taxation proposal. This week representatives from Netflix participated in a public hearing with the CRTC. As you may have heard, this hearing resulted in Netflix being ordered to produce specific proprietary information to the CRTC that ultimately in some cases was not provided. Having read the transcripts of this hearing it is clear that Netflix was willing to provide the requested information provided an assurance of confidentiality could be secured from the CRTC. Ultimately an inability to reach an agreement with respect to confidentiality has resulted in this matter still pending. It should also be noted that our Government is on record opposing a Netflix tax, a view similar to what I have heard locally. I will provide a further update on this subject as it becomes available.

On the ISIL terrorism threats to Canadians we have seen in recent media reports, there has been a number of cases where citizens with a Canadian passport have left Canada to join the terrorist group ISIL. In order to protect Canadians our Government has listed ISIL as an official terrorist group, making it a criminal offence to assist their operations and begun revoking passports of those individuals who leave Canada to join ISIS or other Jihadi terror groups. The leader of the Liberal party has publicly stated his opposition to revoking passports of individuals who join ISIL or other terror organizations, meaning these individuals are free to return to Canada or travel to other destinations under a Canadian passport. As a result this is a subject I would invite further comment on. Is the revoking of passports of individuals who leave Canada to join terror organizations reasonable or should these individuals be free to return to Canada as suggested by the leader of the Liberal party?

In last week’s report I discussed in greater detail some aspects of the Reform Act and invited further comments. Many citizens took the time to respond and while some have voiced serious concern and strong opposition to the bill, the majority of citizens I have heard from are supportive for a variety of different reasons. I would also like to credit and recognize individuals who presented unique points that encourage support in areas that I voiced concern over in my report. Based largely on the feedback I have heard from a majority of citizens and pending amendments to the Reform Act I can confirm I will be voting in support of the Bill as it comes up for a vote this week in the House of Commons. The feedback from so many citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla on this bill was very much appreciated.

 

On the subject of feedback a reminder that I can be reached at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



Read more Dan in Ottawa articles

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About the Author

Dan Albas has been a Penticton resident since 1981. After attending Okanagan University College, Dan choose to move into small business where his company Kick City Martial Arts has flourished, training hundreds of men, women and children to bring out their best. For his work on child safety and awareness, Dan was the recipient Penticton’s “2005 Young Entrepreneur of the Year” award.

Dan and his wife Tara reside in West Kelowna, where they raise their four daughters.

Dan has served as campaign chair for the United Way of the South Okanagan-Similkameen in 2006-7 and 2010-11, both times surpassing their fundraising goals.

As a community leader, Dan was elected to Penticton City Council in the 2008 municipal elections, where as a first time candidate he won with 5656 votes, topping the polls. Through his work as a city councillor, Dan has proven himself to be a strong constituency worker delivering results and standing up for what he believes in. Dan took a leading role on public safety by proposing aggressive panhandling and dog control bylaws; he proposed a review that greatly helped his community to balance the books and to focus on core services by eliminating wasteful or unnecessary spending. His Penticton Politics website blog has offered new ways for constituents to communicate on important issues.

On June 28 of 2012 Dan became one of the first MP’s in recent history to have a Private Members Bill (Bill 311) C-311 become law with the unanimous all party support of both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.  Bill C-311 “An Act to amend the Importation of intoxicating liquors Act” amended a prohibition era law to prevented the free trade of wine over provincial boarders.

Dan is honoured to serve the residents of Okanagan-Coquihalla as their Member of Parliament. He has made good on his commitment to establish a personal blog with his www.DaninOttawa.com site, where he chronicles his activities as the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Dan welcomes your input, so please contact him by e-mail, phone or mail. He can be reached at:

Okanagan- Coquihalla’s MP office
Suite 202-301 Main Street
Penticton, BC V2A 5B7
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 250-770-4480
Fax: 250-770-4484
Toll Free: 1-800-665-8711




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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