Dan's final column, for now

Since the federal election has officially started, this will be my final MP report of the 42nd Parliament.

I am running for re-election and I am hopeful to resume my weekly MP reports once the 43rd Parliament is elected.

That is, however, a decision for the people of Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

I would like to thank you for reading my weekly reports and responding frequently with your comments, questions and concerns.

Your feedback has been invaluable to me in the work that I do as a member of Parliament.

I would like to share an example of that.

Over this past weekend, at an all candidates forum, I was asked my personal view on the medical assistance in dying legislation that was passed early in the 42nd Parliament. 

My answer was a simple one for me.

From my perspective, being a member of Parliament is not about imposing my own view, but expressing the will of my constituents who I represent.

When the topic of medical assistance in dying came before the House of Commons, I wrote several MP reports on that topic and provided information about the proposed legislation and how it would work.

Although many considered it to be a controversial issue, the feedback I heard locally from a diverse range of citizens was overwhelmingly in support of medical assistance in dying.

People shared many personal and heartfelt stories as to why and also some concerns.  

I voted in support of medical assistance in dying knowing that the most citizens I heard from were also in support of the proposed legislation.

I also heard from those who were opposed in principle or that felt the government’s legislation was too constraining in who could access it and under what terms.

More recently, I have heard concerns from citizens relating to some flaws with how the legislation was drafted and the challenges that has been created for those facing life’s most challenging situations.

As all of us will eventually face these situations, this new legislation is important and I am hopeful to have the opportunity to address these and other challenges when the legislation is reviewed in the 43rd Parliament, if I am re-elected. 

I would like to thank all local citizens for the great honour of being their member of Parliament for the past four years. 

I would also like to thank the various media organizations that  run my weekly reports that help citizens to engage with and hold me accountable.

I have one question as I close this week’s report.

  • Will you be voting in the upcoming October federal general election?

For more questions on the upcoming federal election, Elections Canada can be reached at 1-800-463-6868 or by visiting elections.ca.


Blizzard of politicians

The Prime Minister will present the Governor General with an instrument of advice this month recommending the House of Commons be dissolved. 

The Governor General will issue a proclamation dissolving the 42nd Parliament.

The Prime Minister then presents an order in council to the Chief Electoral Officer requesting the writ for the Oct. 21 federal election.

At this point, the writ is considered “dropped” and the formal “writ period” will start.

During the writ period, debates among party leaders as well as local candidates will occur.

One new change on the national level is the Trudeau Liberal government's creation of a Leaders’ Debates Commission.

In the past, the major televised debates between party leaders were organized by a consortium of media broadcasters.

More recently, leader’s debates have also been hosted by organizations such as Maclean’s magazine and the Aurea Foundation (Munk Debates).

The Leaders’ Debates Commission is still largely organized by a consortium of media broadcasters, however, this process is done independently working with an appointed Debates Commissioner.

The purpose of the Leaders’ Debates Commission is to organize two televised debates, one in English and the other in French, as was done previously.

Because the process has been finalized in a formal structure there are also rules on what leaders can and cannot participate in the debate. 

One of the rules states “At the time the general election in question is called, the party is represented in the House of Commons by a member of Parliament who was elected as a member of that party.”

This means a new political party, such as the People’s Party of Canada, does not meet this guideline.

There are other debates that will be occurring again such as the Munk Debate on foreign policy (as one example) that other major party leaders have agreed to attend.

It has now been reported that Prime Minister Trudeau has declined all other debate invitations and will only appear in the debates organized by the Leaders’ Debates Commission.

My question this week is:

  • Do you believe the Prime Minister only attending one English debate and one French debate is enough or would you like to see the Prime Minister participating in more debates?

Legislation could affect you

In 2013, when Justin Trudeau was the Leader of the Liberal Party, he made public comments on the use of omnibus legislation and stated:

“I wouldn’t use them, period.”

Since that time, despite this promise, the Trudeau Liberal government has continued to use omnibus legislation.

Most common are Budget Implementation Bills, often referred to as BIAs.

It was within a BIA that changes were made to the Canada Labour Code that impacts federally regulated workplaces.

Some examples of federally regulated workplaces include banking, the telecommunications sector as well as much of the air, rail and marine transportation industries.

The changes will come into force next week, on Sept. 1, and propose significant changes.

Here are a few examples:

Shift changes: Employers will need to provide 24 hours’ notice of a change or addition to a work period or shift. Subject to exemptions for emergencies.

Overtime refusal: Employees will have the right to refuse overtime. Subject to exemptions for emergencies.

Notice of schedule: Employers will be required to provide 96 hours’ notice of an employee’s work schedule. Employees may refuse shifts starting less than 96 hours after the schedule is received.

Leave for Aboriginal practices: Aboriginal employees, who have at least three consecutive months of continuous employment, may take up to five days unpaid leave each calendar year to participate in traditional Aboriginal practices.

Personal leave: Employees will be entitled to personal leave of up to five days per calendar year, including three days with pay, after three consecutive months of continuous employment.

Holiday pay: The 30-day length of employment requirement for holiday pay will be eliminated. All employees will now be entitled to holiday pay.

Although this is just a summary of some of the many changes, I am certain most would agree that these changes are undeniably employee friendly.

This fact should not be surprising, given that we are on the eve of a federal election.

However, breaking news out of Ottawa this week from “The Logic” has revealed “that some companies have already been granted temporary exemptions, effective Sept. 1." 

It has been further reported that other exemptions may be pending.

In other words, some federally regulated employees expecting these new changes to be in effect on Sept. 1 will be disappointed.

As to what employers have been exempted and why remains a subject without answers.

I believe it is everyone’s interests, regardless of their thoughts on these new laws, that we protect our legislative processes to ensure that special favours are not seen to advance the cause of some, at the expense of others.

This leads to my question for this week. 

  • Should the Trudeau Government publish a list of all of the exempted employers, including any related lobbying efforts by said employers, and provide the rationale for these exemptions?


Libs block ethics committee

An unusual event occurred this week as the Ethics Committee convened in Ottawa to vote on calling Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to appear before the committee.

He will be asked to appear in relation to the his recent ethics report that concluded:

  • "The Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould. The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown's chief law officer,"

At this ethics committee meeting Green Party leader Elizabeth May stated:

“This is really scandalous, the Prime Minister is guilty here of the kind of offence in which resignation is appropriate.” 

She also clarified that she was not making a direct request for a resignation.

Despite the Green party, NDP, Conservatives and even one Liberal MP voted for the Ethics Commissioner to appear before the Committee, the Liberal majority blocked this from occurring.

The fact that a non-partisan, independent officer, who was appointed by the Prime Minister, is now blocked by the Liberal majority from appearing at an all-party Parliamentary Committee is deeply troubling and raises serious concerns. 

We know that the Ethics Commissioner has publicly stated that he was also blocked from receiving required information to view “the entire body of evidence” when preparing his latest report.

We also know that claims from the Trudeau Liberals that the improper pressure applied to the former Attorney General was “all about jobs” is patently false.  

The report from Mr. Dion, titled Trudeau II, confirmed that Finance Minister Bill Morneau admitted that no study was ever undertaken to validate any potential job losses that have been repeatedly claimed by the Government.

It also known that while Mr. Trudeau has stated publicly that the “buck stops with him,” the report reveals privately that:

  • “Mr. Trudeau's counsel argued that even if his ministerial staff and the Clerk of the Privy Council act on behalf of the Prime Minister when engaging with other ministers or their representatives, Mr. Trudeau cannot be vicariously liable for the actions of his staff…”

This suggests that if whatever information the Ethics Commissioner has been denied by government officials becomes public, the Prime Minister could potentially attempt to place blame on his staff.

In other words, this smells like a cover-up.

My question for this week: 

  • Does the Liberal's blocking Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion from appearing before the Ethics Committee concern you?

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

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

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories