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Dan Albas

Forced to relive a tragedy

One of many things I have learned in my time as a Member of Parliament is that when it comes to serious acts of senseless violence and the traumatic loss of loved ones is that while media attention is often very intense when these acts occur, they are more often than not short lived. Family and friends left behind from these brutal acts of violence never forget and even decades later are still impacted in ways that forever change their lives. In 1982 a disturbing act of violence took the lives of a loving family of six while on a camping trip in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The shock of losing a local family including two young girls devastating many in the community of Westbank. Friends, co-workers and classmates to this very day are still reminded of this tragedy as every two years they are forced to re-live their loss and this horrific event.

Why do I say they are forced? The individual responsible for taking the lives of this family: David Shearing (who has since changed his name to David Ennis), is due for yet another legislated review that could potentially lead to being paroled. For the family and friends left behind, this means another trip they must finance to travel a significant distance in order to appear at the review.

I believe we should all take a moment to reflect on this situation. September is a time of year when children and families are getting ready for a new school year. It should not be a time when families and friends are forced to travel a significant distance at great expense solely to relive a life-altering tragedy and face the individual who forever destroyed their families and friendships. The fact that the victims are forced to continually make this journey and relive this horror every few years is in my view unthinkable. It seldom makes the news these days but when I hear from the victims, friends and classmates this is a situation that continues to cause great pain and suffering for all of them. Many live in fear to this day in the event that parole is ever granted. As I shared in the House of Commons in June of last year, it should not have to be this way. No family should be forced to endure reliving such a horrific tragedy over and over at parole hearings. Many citizens I have heard from in Westbank/West Kelowna agree and currently a petition and other advocacy campaigns are underway to help gain support to take action in this situation.

I support the citizens of Westbank in these efforts and that is why I am also supporting Private Members Bill C-587 from Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes. Bill C-587 (formerly Bill C-478 from Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan) “Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act”. Bill C-587 is a very specific bill that is intended to impact only those individuals convicted of very serious criminal acts involving abduction, sexual assault and ultimately murder. Bill C-587 does not propose to alter the period of time a criminal convicted of these combined acts would spend in jail. What Bill C-587 does propose is to offer a judge the added discretionary ability of increasing the period of parole ineligibility from the current 25 year maximum up to a maximum of 40 years. The intent of this bill is solely to spare family’s and victims the trauma of having to appear at a parole hearing every two years as is currently the case for those in West Kelowna appearing at the Alberta located hearing for David Ennis. This Bill, if passed, would have also been of benefit to families who lost loved ones from other convicted murderers such as Clifford Olson (now deceased) Paul Bernardo, David James Dobson and others. This Bill is currently awaiting second reading debate.

If you would like further information on this or any bill before the House of Commons please contact me via email at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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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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