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.
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.
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Read more Dan in Ottawa articles
- Third Annual Accountability Report Nov 20
- Honour and reflect Nov 12
- How to support Canadian families Nov 6
- Standing for our values Oct 30
- Parliament unified Oct 24
- Issues at home and in Ottawa Oct 16
- Intense debate in Ottawa Oct 9
- House of Commons and elected office Oct 2
- Input matters Sep 25
- Debate resumes in Parliament Sep 18
- Parliament set to resume next week Sep 11
- Criticism and government Sep 4
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