This week will be a slightly shortened one in Ottawa as the House will be adjourned on Friday for Members of Parliament to attend National Day of Honour ceremonies to mark the end of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. For many Canadians, including families and friends here in Okanagan-Coquihalla, Canada’s service in Afghanistan was a life changing experience. There are times when words cannot properly reflect the magnitude of loss for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving in our armed forces. It is also important that we recognize the service of our non-military personnel who also volunteered to accept positions in Afghanistan at great personal risk to themselves. These brave Canadians had a commitment and a desire to help build a better country that protected the values of those more vulnerable citizens from tyranny and oppression. While there will always be debate on the success of these efforts, let us never question the sacrifice or the commitment of the many brave Canadians who served with dignity and respect.
Prior to Friday there will be a number of private members bills coming up in debate. Some of these bills include Bill C-560 An Act to amend the Divorce Act (equal parenting) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, Bill C-570—An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mandatory minimum sentences for rape) and Bill C-539— Promotion of Local Foods Act. Also debated will be the opposition day motion on temporary foreign workers along with votes on Bills C-479 An Act to Bring Fairness for the Victims of Violence, Bill C-208 An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act, Bill C-483 An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (escorted temporary absence) and Bill C-567- An Act to amend the Access to Information Act (transparency and duty to document).
On the topic of 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” that I referenced in my April 22, 2014 MP report, will come before the House of Commons on May 30, 2014.
I would like to pass on special thanks to many in Okanagan-Coquihalla for expressing strong support for this particular bill that will help prevent families of very serious crime from being re-victimized on an ongoing basis through the parole process. The Penticton Herald ran a poll on this bill and while not scientific, 86% of those who responded expressed support for Bill C-587. Locally I have also had a number of citizens come in to sign the petition that opposes parole for Mr. David Ennis (formerly known as David Shearing), the man responsible for taking the lives of the Johnson-Bentley family in August of 1982. This level of support is very helpful as it helps me to take a strong message to Ottawa: that the family and loved ones who are left behind should not be forced to relive these tragedies. The petition will continue to be available at both my Westbank and Penticton offices through the month of May and early June.
I would also like to express regret on the recently announced resignation of Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations. Chief Atleo is a British Columbia based aboriginal leader who worked tirelessly to further aboriginal education and other challenges at the national level. This is an incredibly demanding and difficult job and I am not alone in expressing appreciation for Chief Atleo’s efforts in this regard.
If you have a comment, question or concern on any matter before the House of Commons I can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla who writes a weekly report for his constituents and his website www.danalbas.com has an archive of previous reports.