What Goes On In A Constituency Office

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It's hard to believe that September is already upon us. Back to school and
another signal that the start of Parliament's fall session is rapidly approaching. For most of the year geography ensures that I can spend only a limited amount of time in the constituency when the House of Commons is sitting. While I fly home every weekend to work out of the constituency office, this summer recess afforded me a much greater opportunity to stay connected with the constituents of Kelowna-Lake Country than when during the spring months. As your Member of Parliament, this enabled me to get back to the political grassroots and spend more time addressing the concerns and interests of my constituents.

While I spent most of the summer in Kelowna-Lake Country, I have been back to Ontario a couple times as well. The first time was for the Conservative National Caucus in Cornwall, Ontario from August 2-4, and more recently, in Ottawa for an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on International Trade pertaining to the Softwood Lumber Agreement. This Agreement now has the support of the BC, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Provincial Governments as well as the majority of the industry. A vote in the House is proposed to take place later this month.

Of course, there are always a lot of questions that arise regarding what goes on in the Constituency offices in the summer. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to elucidate my devoted readers (RE: my wife and staff) with what I've been up to since Parliament recessed the last week of June.

As a Kelowna City Councilor for 9 years, I feel it is important to stay 'tapped in' to our region at a municipal level and be aware of the various community concerns. That's one reason why I enjoy working out of the Constituency Office so much - there is an increased ability to learn and help out my constituents at an interpersonal level. In addition, to keep on top of local government concerns, over the summer I had meetings and good discussions with Kelowna Mayor Shepherd, Regional District Board Chairman Robert Hobson, MLA's Horning and Hawkins and recently a dinner meeting with Lake Country Mayor Baker and his Council to discuss the needs to upgrade Highway 97.

Typically, most of my days were spent speaking with constituents. Whether knocking on the doors of residents and business owners or dropping in at coffee shops, my main goal is to keep in touch with the community . If I wasn't in a meeting, I was generally on the phone or the blackberry. Summer recess did not mean a summer break and with a community as dynamic and active as ours, there was always some sort of activity going on in Kelowna-Lake Country.

There are many things your MP office can help you with. In fact, if so inclined, you can read all about what the federal government is responsible for in the Constitution Act of 1867, which outlines a division of powers between the federal and provincial governments. Amongst the better-known powers of the federal government are defense, foreign policy, criminal law, employment insurance, and immigration. On the other hand, the provincial government is responsible for health, education, and property rights. Arguably, the most common inquiry my office receives deals with immigration.

If you are having a problem with immigration, I encourage you to contact my office in the Capri Mall. While our powers are somewhat limited, your MP can play a key role in resolving immigration related disputes. Visas are issued at the applicants domestic Canadian Embassy and are not reviewed in Canada.

However, our office does have the capacity to help find a "common sense" solution.

The second most common type of casework our office works on involves taxation. If you have any questions or feel that you have been unduly wronged by a federal tax system, my office has the power to inquire to the CCRA on your behalf and attempt to find a reasonable resolution.

So, in 600 words or less, that is a brief (and rudimentary) outline of what a typical day in my office consists of. An exciting summer it has been as I have had the opportunity to formally (and informally) meet and speak with hundreds of constituents through out the riding. A great deal has happened this summer, which should make for an interesting fall session of parliament.

Thanks again for the opportunity to be your Member of Parliament. I am humbled and honored to be your Kelowna Lake Country voice in Ottawa.

Please feel free to contact my office at 470-5075 or email [email protected] if there is anything that you think I or my dedicated staff might be able to help you with or you think will help our country to be an even better place to call home.

September is one of the nicest months of the year. Please enjoy and remember to slow down in the school zones.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

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

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