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Dan Albas

International relationships

This week Canada hosted Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India for an official visit. For many Canadians this was a rare and exciting opportunity to see a world leader visit several parts of Canada where large crowds turned out with greetings. Prime Minister Modi’s visit is also a reminder on the importance of positive international relationships between Canada and other countries. One announcement made during this visit is that roughly seven million pounds of uranium concentrate from Saskatchewan will be sold to India for electricity generation over the next five years. Canada is the second largest uranium exporter in the world, with annual exports exceeding $1 billion from an industry that support roughly 5,000 direct mining related jobs.

Also on a similar theme of international relations, Canada announced this week that a contingent of roughly 200 Canadian Armed Forces training personnel will be deployed to Ukraine to assist with military training of Ukrainian forces. The training activities relate to explosive ordinance including dealing with improvised explosive device disposal, military police training and medical training. Flight safety and logistical assistance will also be provided to the Ukrainian National Guard. Many of these efforts will also be coordinated with the United States, who is also providing assistance to help ensure that Ukraine can better defend, maintain its sovereignty and provide for more stability in the region. This fulfills a request for assistance from the Government of Ukraine and will not be a combat role.

On a different subject, these past two weeks have been a welcome break from Parliament Hill. I have been meeting directly in different parts of the Okanagan-Coquihalla with many citizens, groups and even a class of middle school students. On Thursday of last week I received an email from a concerned citizen that I believe is deserving of mention. The issue raised in the email was the subject of teenage suicide. It is not an issue often discussed and in fact it has been a long standing tradition that suicide is often reported in a way that intentionally does not disclose the means of death. While there are those who continue to support suicide being reported on in this manner, it has also been suggested that doing so fails to reveal the true extent that the incidence of suicide and attempted suicide occur in our communities. The purpose of why I mention this subject today is to ask citizens for your input and experience on this topic. Has youth suicide or attempted suicide impacted you or someone you know? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has experiences on this subject. All responses will be treated as strictly confidential and as mentioned in a previous report, communications shared with elected Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies are exempt from freedom of information legislation requests.

Next week the House of Commons will again be in session, with the 2015 Budget set to be introduced along with the tabling of balanced budget legislation. Your comments and questions are welcome and can be sent to [email protected] or 1-800-665-8711.

 

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents. His website is www.danalbas.com and has an archive of previous reports.



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Canada's Student Grants

For this week and next the House of Commons will not be sitting as MPs have two weeks to spend back in home ridings prior to the final stretch that save for one week, will see the House of Commons sitting until late June. It is more than simply the weather that serves as a stark contrast to subjects of importance in Okanagan-Coquihalla compared to those that tend to dominate discussion in Ottawa. One subject that is of importance and is also widely supported beyond partisan interests is the importance of education and skills training to enter the workforce. The subject of skills shortages is an ongoing one much as is the need for jobs and employers who require skilled workers.
 
Earlier this week I was honoured to join our Prime Minister at an announcement to expand and increase student grants programs. For those who are unfamiliar with student grants, this is direct, non repayable financial assistance available to low and middle income students who are enrolled in an educational program. The program announced this week will be available in 2016 and will provide grant assistance to programs with a minimum duration of 34 weeks.  Currently to qualify a program must be a minimum duration of 60 weeks. Including shorter duration programs that are often accessed by those seeking to upgrade skills can help eliminate a barrier to entering the workforce. Shorter term educational programs may also appeal to some younger workers who require specific skills to enter more lucrative work environments.
 
Closer to home this week I also attended an announcement with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart in Princeton to announce long overdue safety upgrades to Highway 3 just west of Princeton. The project in question will eliminate two very sharp curves over a five km section of Highway 3. This important project is estimated to cost roughly $10.3 million and is funded through the Building Canada Major Infrastructure fund. The Similkameen Valley is an emerging and growing destination in southern B.C. and improved infrastructure that is safer will benefit local residents, industry and small business along with a growing tourism sector.
 
As there is still one more week remaining before the House is back in session I would like to invite citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla to give me a call. As always I welcome your comments and questions and can be reached via email at [email protected]  or 1-800-665-8711. Also a reminder that occurring later this month on April 21 our Canadian Minister of Finance, the Hon. Joe Oliver, will introduce our Government’s 2015 budget, a subject I will cover in a future MP report.


Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents. His website is www.danalbas.com and has an archive of previous reports.



Update from Parliament Hill

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 focused 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 [email protected]  or 1-800-665-8711.



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The mission against ISIL

The topic of my October 8th MP report from last year was outlining the Government of Canada's intention (subject to a vote in Parliament) to implement a six month deployment in Iraq to join many of our allies engaged in an aerial combat mission against the terrorist organization ISIL. As the initial six month time frame is soon to expire, earlier this week in the House of Commons our Prime Minister provided a report on the evolution of the situation along with a proposal that Canada renew its commitment to the international coalition and its mission against ISIL.

The Prime Minister stated that the good news is the alarming territorial spread of ISIL has been more or less halted and in some ways even pushed back. In large part this has been achieved in coordination with allied aerial bombing efforts that Canada is part of and from other response actions from the roughly 60 other members of the United Nations who have taken a stand against ISIL terrorism.

Aside from the military action against ISIL, Canada has also had success in helping to deliver humanitarian aid that includes help feeding 1.7 million people in Iraq, providing shelter and relief supplies to 1.25 million people and providing education to at least half a million children. Canada has also helped to support more than 200,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq with food, water, shelter and protection as it is well known ISIL will capture and murder aid workers, reporters and other humanitarian workers if not securely protected.

For these reasons it is proposed that Canada renew the mission against ISIL for a further 12 months similar to the initial terms with a few notable changes. Like the original mission, this would also require a vote in Parliament. The current commitment of six CF-18 fighter jets, one Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft and two Aurora surveillance aircraft including required pilots and ground personnel to support these aircraft including ground forces already in the region is proposed to remain the same. The most notable change is the proposal to join President Obama and US Forces in also bombing ISIL terrorists in regions of Syria, something that was not proposed in the original six month mission. The reason Canada proposes to join the United States in this effort is due to the fact that ISIL has frequently retreated forces and equipment into Syria as a safe haven from allied aerial attack. The Prime Minister has also stated clearly that any action against ISIL within Syria will be done without the “the express consent of the Syrian government”. Some have asked on the legalities of aerial bombing within Syria without the consent of the Syrian Government. The United States Government, our lead ally in this mission, has presented legal grounds to the United Nations and in turn the Judge Advocate General legal analysis indicates these operations in Syria are legal and justifiable.

Much as was the situation previously both opposition parties have indicated they will continue to oppose military efforts against ISIL terrorism. I will continue to provide updates on this important matter as they become available. Also occurring this week in Ottawa has been ongoing committee review of Bill C-51 the Anti-Terrorism Act. Here the situation is different where the NDP continue to oppose the anti-terrorism bill while the Liberals have continued to vote with our Government in support of Bill C-51 as it moves through Parliament. As a reminder for further information on Bill C-51 please see my February 6th MP report.

As always I welcome your comments and question on any subject before the House of Commons. I can be reached at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

 

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents. His website is www.danalbas.com and has an archive of previous reports.



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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