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Dan-in-Ottawa

Laws, they are a'changing

This is the final week the House of Commons will sit for 2018 before resuming in late January. 

This week will also be the last time the current 42nd Parliament will sit in original House of Commons for at least 10 years. 

How will this impact our Canadian Parliament? 

First, a little background.

Although the House of Commons and the Peace Tower have become an internationally recognized landmarks, there are actually three buildings on Parliament Hill. 

What many Canadians refer to as the House of Commons is known as Centre Block.

It is called Centre Block because it is the centre building of the three large Victorian high gothic style buildings that form the core of the legislative precinct.

The East Block building is located to the immediate east of Centre Block and connected by underground tunnel, which was built in 1866 and contained the original office of Sir John A. Macdonald.

The West Block building, you guessed it, is located to the west of Centre Block. It was closed in 2011 to undergo a large scale refit and renovation. 

Part of that renovation project included substantial modifications so that the House of Commons chamber could be relocated into West Block while the Centre Block building is renovated.

When we return to Ottawa in January, we will call West Block home.

On a different subject, on Dec. 18, Canada’s new impaired driving laws will come into effect, creating significant changes from current regulations.  

For example, police will be able to compel a driver to provide an oral fluid sample on demand. 

This test can be used to determine THC level per millilitre (ml) of blood, not unlike current assessment related to blood alcohol content. 

There is also a new provision that will allow for mandatory roadside screening, even if an officer does not have a reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use. 

 

Fines are also being increased to a $1,000 minimum up to $2,000 for first time offenders.

Repeat offenders can face jail time and possible prohibitions from driving. There are also legislative changes that can restrict some types of legal defence arguments for those facing impaired driver charges. 

For the most part, I have heard strong support for these changes. 

However, some have stated opposition to mandatory roadside screening. 

Our current laws indicate that an officer must first have reasonable suspicion before requesting any roadside screening.

That will be my question for this week.

Do you support the requirement of “reasonable suspicion” being removed, as roadside screening will now become a mandatory requirement?

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



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Illegal or irregular?

There are unusual things happening in Canada right now.

This week, we learned that a song written in 1944, Baby It’s Cold Outside, will no longer be played during the holiday season by broadcasters such as CBC, Rogers and Bell media. 

Earlier this year, the City of Victoria removed the statue of John A. Macdonald in front of Victoria City Hall.

And soon I predict entering into Canada illegally from the United States to claim asylum will no longer be termed as "illegal.”

It will instead become an “irregular entry.”

Why?

In early October, CBC reported that our Liberal government quietly changed the Canadian immigration department website.

Where it once read “illegal crossings into Canada” it now reads “irregular crossing into Canada.”
The Liberal government is also set to sign the UN Compact on Migration.

Part of the compact text, clause 33(c), reads:

  • "educating media professionals on migration-related issues and terminology.”

In other words, this could be interpreted to mean reporting on irregular crossings into Canada is acceptable but reporting on “illegally crossing into Canada” may become unacceptable. 

How would this be enforced?

The UN Migration Compact is a non-binding agreement, however in Mr. Trudeau’s recent budget update,  a $595 million media subsidy fund was announced.

This media subsidy will inevitably have some terms and conditions that will be required to be met.

Possibly compliance with UN agreements could be one of them.

Canadians have always strongly supported legal immigration into Canada.

Many Canadians have endured a lengthy process, often considered to be “waiting in line” fairly, and following all of the rules and regulations.

This is why crossing a border between official border crossings is illegal and not irregular.

While there are some provisions to ensure those in a life or death situation can cross a border, these cases are quite rare. 

Canada has more than 38,0000 people who have entered Canada illegally since January 2017 and this has placed a huge backlog on the refugee process and taxes Provincial social services systems, such as is the case with Ontario and Quebec.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that illegal immigration, on average, costs taxpayers over $14,000 for each individual case.

It is estimated over $340 million was spent in fiscal 2017-18 and the costs are expected to increase by another 400 million in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The costs paid by provinces is not included in these figures.

Quebec has recently announced that it will accept nearly 8,000 fewer immigrants and refugees in 2019 compared to 2018.

These types of announcements impact all citizens trying to legally come to Canada who might desire to live in Quebec. 

From my perspective, supporting legal immigration is how one joins our Canadian family.

Suggesting that coming to Canada “irregularly” implies a very different meaning from entering illegally. 

I strongly support legal immigration as I believe all Canadians do. 

My question this week:

  • Do you believe that crossing a border between official border crossings is illegal or should it be termed as irregular?


Another broken Lib promise

During the 2015 election campaign Justin Trudeau made a promise, and I quote directly:

  • "In 2019/20, we will balance the budget.”

Last Thursday, the Liberal government introduced a budget update that confirms this is yet another broken promise from Mr. Trudeau.

The Liberal fall fiscal update announced that the annual federal budget deficit is projected to increase by nearly $2 billion to $19.6 billion next year.

The debt to GDP ratio that Mr. Trudeau had promised — and again I quote directly "In 2019/20, we will reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 27 per cent — will actually hit 30.9 per cent

Canada's federal debt is projected to hit $688 billion in the current fiscal year and the most recent projections indicate that it will increase to $765 billion by 2023-2024.

Depending on interest rates the cost of servicing, that level of debt would be roughly $34 billion a year.

To put $34 billion in debt service fees into perspective, the government of Canada transferred just over $37 billion to Canadian provinces and territories in fiscal 2017-18 to help provide for health care costs.

So where is the majority of this new spending going in the fall fiscal update?

As former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has commented "We're deficit-financing the corporate sector.”

The Liberals have introduced an accelerated tax write-off program allowing manufacturers to immediately recover the full cost of machinery and equipment.

The NDP have categorized this program as a $14 billion "giveaway for Canada's richest corporations, and offering nothing to Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet and facing record levels of household debt."

To be fair to the Liberal government, there are other measures announced in the fall fiscal update not related to the accelerated machinery and equipment write off.

One of those is a new $595 million fund to subsidize some Canadian media organizations.

This particular announcement has raised serious concerns from many prominent journalists on the important role of journalistic independence from government.

The Liberals have indicated they will appoint a panel to decide who is and who is not eligible for funding under this program.

From my perspective this raises concerns.

If a media organization is denied funding, what recourse does it have?

  • Should it change the style or tone of reporting?
  • Cover different stories?
  • Hire a lobbyist?

The fact that the Liberals introduced this media subsidy in an election year raises many  more concerns.

My question this week:

  • Are you concerned by this government's introduction of an arbitrary media subsidy fund going into an election year?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-888-665-8711.



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Report a game changer?

I hosted a community town hall in West Kelowna, last Friday.

I host these forums so citizens can hold me to account and so I can hear what concerns are on people’s minds.

Often concerns raised locally may be very different from the major subjects of debate in Ottawa.

One such local concern, raised by a number of people, was the United Nations (UN) Migration Compact.

This is a subject that has received very little, if any, attention in Ottawa.

What is the UN Migration compact? 

Technically, it is called the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

It is a 34-page agreement that contains 54 points under 23 stated objectives.

Created in July of 2018, it is scheduled for ratification from signatory countries, including Canada, in a meeting hosted by Morocco on Dec.10-11.

Already this document has proven to be controversial.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted:

"Israel will not accede to, and will not sign, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. We are committed to guarding our borders against illegal migrants. This is what we have done and this is what we will continue to do."

It has been reported that the Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has said:

“Migration is not and cannot become a human right,” and that Austria would not be a signatory to this agreement. 

Countries such as Australia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland and the United States have also stated they will not be signing the agreement.

MP Michelle Rempel,our Conservative Immigration shadow minister, stated:

“By allowing nearly 38,000 people to enter Canada illegally from the safety of upstate New York then claim asylum, Trudeau has undermined the integrity of Canada’s borders. Canada’s borders should not be compromised by abuses of our asylum system, and should not sign this compact.”

The Liberal Minister for Immigration has co-authored a report that indicates Canada was actively involved in the drafting of the Compact and that “Canada is committed to the task of leading and encouraging other partners to realize its ambitious goals, to ensure that action breathes life into the words of the Compact.”

Supporters of the compact on migration contend The UN’s global compact on refugees could be a game-changer — and Canada is well-placed to help make it a reality. 

Critics are concerned that many countries, including Canada, have immigration systems that are not working well in dealing with illegal immigration and that the UN compact offers no technical solutions to this problem.

From my perspective, it is worth noting that the UN compact on migration is a non-legally binding, co-operative framework of the signatory states.  

For those who would like to read the agreement it can be found here.

My question this week:

  • Considering this is a non-binding agreement, do you support or oppose Canada signing on to the UN Migration Compact?

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



More Dan in Ottawa articles

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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.



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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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