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Dan-in-Ottawa

Immigration fuels frustration

“a separate data set from the Canada Border Services Agency shows that only a handful of those who have been denied refugee status have been deported.”

The report states that of the 32,173 people who crossed into Canada illegally since April, 2017, only 398  have been deported. 

Of those, 146 were sent back to the United States.

The remainder to 53 other countries including Haiti (53), Colombia (24), Turkey (19) and Iraq (15).

As the National Post has reported, under the previous Conservative government in 2012-13, the number of failed claimants that were returned to their country of origin was 14,490. 

In 2016-17, under the Liberal government, that number has declined to just 3,892.

The Liberals like to suggest that pointing out this growing problem is “stoking fears on immigration,” an accusation I will continue to categorically reject.

As I have stated in the past, supporting legal immigration to Canada is how we ensure fairness for those citizens who are making every effort to fully comply with Canadian law. 

My question this week:

  • Do you believe that those who make every effort to legally comply with our immigration system are being treated fairly as their application wait times continue to grow?

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





PM's effort came up short

Early last week, the federal minister of natural resources stated his Liberal government had “done extensive consultation” and had  gone "beyond what the NEB (National Energy Board) has done.

"We took six months extra to consult with Indigenous communities and affected communities on the route.”

Why?

To get the Trans-Mountain pipeline project approved.

In other words, the Trudeau Liberals were so confident that they spent $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy the existing pipeline from U.S.-based Kinder Morgan, to be followed by the much more expensive expansion project (estimated cost to be between $7-$9 billion) 

Late last week, we heard the Federal Court of Appeal disagree with the Liberal government by ruling that consultation had not been adequate. 

This ruling, at least for now, has brought the Trans-Mountain project to a standstill and layoff notices for many crews working on different aspects of the project are expected shortly. 

As a result of this Trudeau government failure, the Alberta NDP government announced it would be withdrawing from the Liberal national carbon tax plan until such time that the Trans-Mountain pipeline project is completed.

These negative developments, along with ongoing NAFTA negotiations challenges that resulted in Mexico reaching its own agreement with the U.S. and Canada sitting on the sidelines, resulted in many media referring to this as “Trudeau’s horrible, no good, very bad week."

So this week, during an emergency meeting of the Natural Resources Committee in Ottawa, a simple request was made to have the finance minister and minister of natural resources appear before the committee and explain what the Liberal plan was to build the Trans Mountain pipeline, in light of the court ruling.

That request was blocked by the Liberal members of the committee. 

To recap, the Liberal have spent $4.5 billion buying a pipeline that requires another $7-$9 billion for an expansion and they refuse to disclose how they will actually complete it.

Many experts are suggesting that the Liberals have created a regulatory environment that not even they can successfully navigate. 

From my perspective, whether you support the pipeline or not, a democratically elected government should be able to see projects deemed to be in the national interest completed. 

Instead, we have a situation where it appears that activists, some of whom are foreign funded, may usurp the will of a democratically elected government. 

While some may view the prospect of foreign interference in our elections with skepticism, this is now a mainstream issue with the Liberal government suggesting current federal election laws do not fully take these activities into account and suggesting some legislative fixes are warranted.

I suspect the reason Mr. Trudeau refuses to disclose how he will break this self-created regulatory quagmire is due to the fact that an election is approaching and it is politically more convenient to “rag the puck” when it comes to a controversial subject such as building pipelines. 

I hope that I am mistaken and that the Prime Minister will reveal a concrete plan that supports a project he has defined as being in our national interest. 

My question this week:

  • Given that the Trudeau Liberals define the Trans Mountain project as in Canada’s national interest, do you believe they will complete it?

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



PM playing games?

If you have been following Ottawa-based politics, you may have heard speculation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might prorogue the House of Commons, as the fall session is soon set to return.

This poses the more obvious question: what does that mean? 

As I have written previously , prorogation is one of the more interesting parliamentary procedures. In essence, each “session” of Parliament is not unlike a chapter in a book. 

As much as each chapter will have a beginning and an end, so too will a session of Parliament.

Prorogation is officially defined as the ending of a session of Parliament.

In this case, the first session of this Parliament (the 42nd), would come to a close if is officially prorogued by a proclamation of the Governor General at the request of the Prime Minister.

Why request prorogation? 

There can be a number of different reasons, but the most common is that the next session of Parliament would open with a throne speech. Many consider this akin to hitting the reset button as it allows the sitting government to outline a new or different direction.

Considering the next federal election is fast approaching, many believe there is political value in outlining a new agenda, hence the speculation that the House may be prorogued in the near future.

Is it unusual for the house to be prorogued? 

Looking back at previous Parliaments including the last one, there have been only five Parliaments that did not have two or more sessions.

In fact, many Parliaments had three or more sessions with some having as many as five, six and even seven sessions within the duration of an elected Parliament. 

Part of the reason for this is that prior to having a fixed calendar, prorogation was the only way the House could adjourn for a period of time.

One other interesting aspect of prorogation is that it can be used at the discretion of government without the consent of the opposition (that would normally be required to adjourn the House). 

Because prorogation is a tool of government that does not require the consent of the opposition, it tends to be quite heavily opposed when it is used because it allows the government to defer debate or change the channel onto a different subject. 

I do not often engage in speculation, however, I believe this session of the House will likely end up being prorogued. 

My question this week now that you know more about prorogation is: 

  • Do you think it is an acceptable political tool for the government to use?


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Invasion of the mussels

I have often said that the wheels of Ottawa turn quite slowly. 

One of the issues I worked on in the last Parliament was the need to establish a regulatory framework related to invasive species legislation.  

This was and remains a serious concern locally given the growing threat of invasive freshwater mussels to our region.

After considerable delay and much prodding, we were able to have the new regulations in place for the 2015 boating season, however that was only the first of many steps required to protect the Okanagan and other freshwater lakes in British Columbia and Western Canada.

The concern now is funding. 

Recently, when the Prime Minister visited the Okanagan, he and members of his caucus were touting “$500,000 in research, education and outreach to help prevent invasive mussels from reaching local waterways."

In turn, I have recognized the Liberal government for listening to our concerns and taking some action on this file. 

Unfortunately, the funding announced recently is spread over a three-to-four-year time frame, meaning the actual impact is roughly $158,000 annually.

As Mel Arnold, my Opposition colleague from North Okanagan-Shuswap, pointed out, along with Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), and more recently the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, this funding is nowhere near adequate to prevent invasive mussels from reaching our local waterways.

Make no mistake, the risks are very real. 

It is estimated that an invasive mussel infestation could create economic loss of $42 million annually in direct costs and lost revenue to the Okanagan region. 

More concerning is that invasive zebra and quaggamussels could destroy critically needed habitat that would further threaten or even destroy our local Pacific salmon population.

The OBWB has issued a comprehensive multi-point plan that will better protect our region from invasive mussels. The annual operating cost of this plan is roughly $2 million.

To put that number into perspective, the current federal government’s annual Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) funding is close to $19 million. At the moment, 86 per cent of the annual AIS funding is spent in Ontario.

Here in the Okanagan, this recently announced funding from the Liberal government is less than one per cent of that.

I believe our Pacific salmon habitat deserves more protection from the Liberals then less than one per cent of the AIS funding. 

My question this week: 

  • Do you agree with me that the Federal Liberal Government should fully fund the request from the Okanagan Basin Water Board to better protect our region from invasive freshwater mussels?

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



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.

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