Monday, December 22nd7.0°C
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Dan Albas

Nine bills receive Royal Assent

Last Friday was the last sitting day of 2014 for the House of Commons as the House breaks for the holiday and allows Members of Parliament time to be back in home ridings before the session resumes in January of 2015. However as is often the case while the House of Commons rises the Canadian Senate continues to sit for a number of additional days and on Tuesday evening of this week nine Bills became law as Royal Assent was received on Bills C-45, S-211, S-5, C-483, C-442, C-428, C-43, C-525 and C-266.

What are these new laws? Bill C-45 is a Government Bill and in this instance is an Appropriations Act. Bill S-5 is a Senate Bill – An Act to amend the Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act. Bill C-43 is a Government Bill and also the Governments Economic Action Plan budget for 2014.

A number of Private Members Bills also received Royal Assent. Bill C-483 “An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act”. This act is an administrative one that transfers the authority to authorize a temporary escorted absence of a criminal convicted of first and second degree murder (within three years of full parole eligibility) to the Parole Board of Canada as opposed to a prison warden as is the current situation. Proponents of this Bill have suggested there is greater accountability to victims when the Parole Board of Canada is the authorizing authority in these types of situations.

Bill S-211 is “The National Health and Fitness Day Act” sponsored by BC Senator Nancy Greene-Raine; it is a Private Member’s bill first tabled in the Senate that designates the first Saturday in June as a day to promote increased participation in fitness and sports activities.

Bill C-442 was sponsored by BC MP and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and is the “Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Act” – this is a Bill I voted in support of and also heard strong support from a number of constituents across Okanagan-Coquihalla. Bill C-428 is the Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act– and is the first private members bill passed by a First Nations MP in the history of the House of Commons. I voted in support of this Bill and wrote about it in my December 30th MP report of last year.

The final two bills passed this week were both private members bill as well. Bill C-525 is the Employees' Voting Rights Act that provides for a democratic private ballot in matters of unionization and de-certification under federal jurisdiction. Finally Bill C-266, the “Pope John Paul II Day Act” designates that April 2 of each year be recognized as “Pope John Paul II Day”– this Bill does not propose that April 2nd would be a holiday rather a day to recognize some of the achievements of Pope John Paul II in promoting freedom and human rights.

Some of these Bill were strongly supported by all sides of the House of Commons while others were only supported by a small majority of votes. From my perspective while it is often disagreement that most defines the House of Commons the fact that a First Nations MP and also the leader of the Green Party with a caucus of just two Members of Parliament have introduced private members bills that have become law is evidence of the fact that diversity and debate remain healthy and vibrant in our Canadian Parliament. At times there will always be disagreement but across party lines there can also be consensus as Members of Parliament do work together in support on common areas of concern.

While it is often common to focus on the challenges and conflicts it should not be forgotten that collectively over the years our Parliamentary democracy, in spite of the many flaws and shortcomings has consistently helped to create the great country of Canada. It has been a privilege to represent the good people of Okanagan-Coquihalla over this past session that has also been a very productive one. As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on matters 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.



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New regulations & legislation introduced

 
Late last week I had the pleasure of sending out a news release – for those of you who may have missed it here is the opening few paragraphs:
 
“Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas welcomes new regulations to better protect BC freshwater lakes from invasive species.
 
Today Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea announced new proposed Invasive Species Regulations that create new regulatory tools that will help to prevent the spread of invasive species such as freshwater zebra and quagga mussels. The new regulations will create importation prohibitions at the border including other provisions relating to control and eradication.”
 
As I pointed out in the news release these new regulations are an important first step to better protect BC freshwater lakes from invasive species. We know here in southern BC that lakes such as Osoyoos, Okanagan and the Shuswap are very popular with destination boaters. We also know that there are now several lakes south of the border that are infested with invasive species such as freshwater mussels. Having regulations in place at the border is a critical first step towards prevention. In the event a major lake has been infested the potential to spread to other nearby lakes is significantly increased; with so many pristine freshwater lakes in British Columbia this is a matter that could have a serious impact on British Columbia. Although this announcement is encouraging other measures will also be required and this will be an issue I will continue to work on.
 
Another recent announcement from Government is the recent introduction of the Price Transparency Act. This Act proposes new regulatory powers for the Commissioner of Competition to investigate situations where retail practices result in pricing being significantly higher for the same item sold in Canada compared to a lower price in the United States.
 
Unequal pricing, often referred to as geographic price discrimination, can result in Canadian consumers facing significantly higher prices for similar goods than what can be purchased from across the border. There are other factors that can influence price that can include tariffs, transportation costs, variable exchange rate, market size and insufficient competition. The Price Transparency Act will allow the Commissioner of Competition an expanded mandate to investigate all of these factors to determine why a differential in pricing exists and what remedies may be available.
 
It is estimated that Canadians frequently pay prices that are between 10% to 25% higher for goods in Canada compared to the United States. The intent of the Price Transparency Act is to help lower these price differentials and extend the purchasing power for Canadian consumers.
 
 
For further information on this or any Bill before the House of Commons please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or via phone 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.


Bills & motions before House of Commons

This week is another busy one in Ottawa with large a number of Bills up for debate or votes as well as a motion from the NDP. Thalidomide was a drug briefly approved by Health Canada in 1961 that was intended to provide relief from nausea and other morning sickness related symptoms among pregnant women. Unfortunately this drug turned out to have very catastrophic consequences– even death. For those surviving babies some commonly occurring birth defects include deafness, blindness, disfigurement, cleft palate, and many other internal disabilities. Today there are fewer than 100 survivors in Canada.

The NDP motions on Thalidomide read as follows:

“That, in the opinion of the House: (a) full support should be offered to survivors of Thalidomide; (b) the urgent need to defend the rights and dignity of those affected by Thalidomide should be recognized; and (c) the government should provide support to survivors, as requested by the Thalidomide Survivors Taskforce.”

This was a motion that I supported and in fact was supported by all Members of Parliament that will ensure survivors of Thalidomide are provided much needed supports for the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Also occurring this week is continued debate on Bill C-43 The Economic Action Plan budget bill for 2014 and a number of private members bills including Bill C-628— An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the National Energy Board Act (oil transportation and pipeline certificate) Bill and Bill C-524 — An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (election advertising) there will also be a private bill from the Senate Bill S-213— An Act respecting Lincoln Alexander Day.

On a local note I would like to thank the citizens who came out for our Penticton Elected officials forum. This was a worthwhile venue and I appreciated the opportunity to hear concerns and also to meet some of our newly elected members of council. I am currently in the process of organizing more of these events in other parts of Okanagan-Coquihalla. As next week will be the final week in Ottawa before the house breaks for the holidays I will soon be back in the riding and available for meetings. To arrange an appointment or to pass on other comments or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.





A busy week in Ottawa

There have been a number of items occurring in Ottawa this week that are deserving of mention. Most important I believe is a report from Canada’s Auditor General Michael Ferguson describing challenges that some veterans encounter in obtaining mental health services and benefits. I believe all Canadians agree strongly that lengthy delays for veterans services and benefits are unacceptable and more so in an important area such as mental health. While it is true that Canada currently has 415 full time mental workers and a ratio of soldiers to mental health support professionals that is one of the highest in NATO these services are of limited value if they cannot be readily accessible by those who need them.
One of the challenges in providing specialized government services is ensuring that the services are provided to those intended to receive them. Recently many citizens in Ottawa were shocked and disturbed to discover an individual who is not a member of our armed forces wearing a decorated uniform on Remembrance Day. The end result of this unfortunate incitement has resulted in death threats and an official police investigation.  While it is obviously important to have a process the can identify veterans in need of services from those who have not served, we must also ensure this process is timely and can be navigated easily by veterans and their family members. From all accounts this is a process that needs improvement and I am certain I speak on behalf of all citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla in supporting further measures that simplify and expedite this process.
Also occurring in Ottawa this week is the ongoing fallout over two members of the Liberal caucus being suspended for alleged personal misconduct involving two unidentified members of the NDP caucus. Although I have been asked about this particular issue it is generally my rule not to comment on the actions of others within and outside the House of Commons. This issue has been the focus of many in Ottawa media circles and in my view that can take away from other items of importance also occurring on Parliament Hill. I do believe it is important to send a strong message that violence of any kind against women is unacceptable and the past few weeks in Ottawa should serve as a reminder of the need for respectful relations within and outside of the workplace and always erring on the side of caution.
Also occurring in Ottawa this week is debate on Government Bills C-42- Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act and Bill C-18- Agricultural Growth Act.  There is also a number of Private Members Bills such as Bill C-583- An Act to amend the Criminal Code (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder); Bill C-585– An Act to Amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (Period of Residence) and Bill C-574- An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood) For further information on these or any Bill before the House of Commons please do not hesitate to contact me.
Before I close this week I would like to acknowledge and thank the many municipal leaders who participated in their final council, regional district or school board meeting. Your past service to your community is appreciated and it has been a pleasure to work with many of you over the past few years. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to those newly elected and re-elected for what will be a first ever 4 year term. I am currently in the process of working with local MLAs and Mayors to organize a series of elected officials forums where citizens can meet your elected representatives in a casual format to exchange ideas and discuss items of concern firsthand. The first of these will be held this Saturday in Penticton between 10 AM and noon at the Penticton Trade & Convention Center.   No reservations are required and I hope to see many citizens take the time to stop in for a coffee to say hello.
For more information I can be reached at [email protected]
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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







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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