Libs must keep TRC promise

Last week, in the House of Commons, the NDP used their Opposition Day to table a motion that, in the words of South Okanagan-West Kootenay NDP MP Richard Cannings:

“called on the government to take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action seriously. It asked the government to finally fund the investigations that are needed to let us all know the truth. And it asked the government to stop fighting indigenous children in court.”

As MP Cannings went on to point out:

that motion was passed unanimously in the House of Commons, though, shamefully, a few cabinet ministers abstained and the rest of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, didn’t even show up to vote.”
I voted in support of this motion and participated in the emergency debate on this topic.

During the debate, one of the concerns that I shared is that we must be careful in Ottawa to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Many of the local Indigenous communities I have heard from are still in shock and others are holding community meetings. I am told there are many discussions underway.

I should also add that none of the Indigenous communities within my riding expressed support or opposition to this NDP motion, nor has other guidance been offered at this point.

This, in my view, raises a concern, when elected officials in Ottawa debate and vote on a motion with very little input or consultation with Indigenous leaders.

Some could rightfully call this an “Ottawa knows best approach.”

I believe we must recognize that this approach has historically not served our country well.

On balance, I supported this NDP motion as I believe the intentions were sincere.

However, I also believe we must take great caution when moving on a motion without proper direction from those Indigenous communities who will be most impacted by decisions made in Ottawa.

“Meaning well” and being “well intentioned” does not mean actual outcomes will unfold as hoped or intended.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stated:

“If it (true reconciliation) were only done by ministers, if it were only done by Ottawa, to solve these challenges, it might have been done long ago, but it would have been done wrong,”

My question this week:

  • While this NDP motion was well intended, do you believe Parliament should take greater caution in the future to receive direction and input from communities that will be impacted?

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


Federal gov't job changes

From time to time, I receive requests to cover specific topics in my weekly reports to local citizens.

Recently, my Summerland office received a request from an individual wanting to know how much employment has changed within the federal government during the pandemic.

Although the data for 2021 is not available, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat does have this information available for 2020, which can be compared to 2019.

In 2020, the total number of FTE (full time equivalent employees) working within the Public Service of Canada was 300,450.

This is an increase of more than 12,000 positions since 2019 when the total number of FTE positions was 287,983.

How do today’s number compare to historical trends?

In 2010, the furthest date back this information is publicly posted, there were 282,980 FTE positions.

Total FTE positions in the public service does not include paid consultants.

Recently, the Financial Post reported the growth of paid consultants in Ottawa.

As the Globe and Mail reported the “costs for “professional and special services” are expected to hit
$16.4 billion by 2022.

In 2015, the year this current government came to power, this amount was $9.5 billion.

Before I close, I would like to share a few words I believe most citizens in the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding share.

We are collectively shocked, saddened and outraged at the discovery of an unmarked grave site for
215 children at the former Indigenous residential school in Kamloops.

This discovery is difficult to put into words.

While we have had an emergency debate in Ottawa on this horrific discovery, the Prime Minister has also stated:

"Canada will be there to support Indigenous communities as we discover the extent of this trauma and trying to give opportunities for families and communities to heal."

For the record, I stand with the Prime Minister and, as the Official Opposition, we will be supporting the work of the government, working in partnerships with Indigenous communities, to help ensure they receive support and accountability for this dark part of our past.

I would in particular ask that we all think of the Tk’emlúps teSecwe?pemc First Nation that made this deeply disturbing discovery.

I would also ask that we remember many families in Indigenous communities throughout our region that had children in residential schools. Many of them did not return.

I don't have a question this week.

Please consider what we can do to support our local Indigenous communities that have been so deeply impacted by this loss.

Net neutrality threatened

It was roughly one month ago that I last wrote about Bill C-10, the Liberal government bill that aims to, among other things:

"provide the CRTC with new powers to regulate online audio and audio-visual services, allowing the CRTC to create conditions of service and other regulatory requirements under which these online broadcasters would operate in Canada."

If you have been following Bill C-10 closely, you will know that critics of this bill have raised some very serious concerns.

I continue to receive a growing number of calls and emails from local citizens who are strongly opposed to Bill C-10.

The concerns I hear locally are different from the concerns heard in Ottawa, where industry and cultural groups have lined up, depending on whether they win or lose more control over their revenues.

The concerns I hear locally are largely around freedom of expression, however, more and more I am also hearing about C-10’s impact to “net neutrality.”

Net neutrality is a principle that internet service providers should treat all internet data equally.

In other words, certain internet content should not be sped up or slowed down, censored, or blocked, based on discretionary criteria.

It is an important principle and one that PM Trudeau defended in 2017:

“digital technology and use of the internet is the lever to create economic growth and opportunities for citizens right across this country, we need to continue to defend net neutrality and I will.”

The concerns raised point to the fact that Bill C-10 enables unelected bureaucrats at the CRTC to have the power to regulate and force these online companies to put in place regimes or algorithms that may misplace or censor content posted online by Canadians.

The problem is much of the content on these social media sites is unique content created by Canadians, and posted to their social media accounts.

While the intent is to ensure Canadian content, the question is who decides these definitions for the CRTC?

Instead of you having the choice, your choices could be limited, based on a yet to be announced criteria set and enforced by the CRTC.

Further, if certain content is prioritized because it meets an arbitrary standard or other content is pushed so far back that it is difficult to find or censored, there is no question that would be in contrast with the principle of net neutrality.

This is the core concern that I am hearing from many local citizens.

People do not want unelected and accountable bureaucrats using an arbitrary process to decide what does and does not meet their objectives.

My question this week:

  • Do you want the CRTC to have the tools to regulate your internet content?

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


We need post-COVID plan

At the time I write this, British Columbia has received 2.93 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 85% has already been administered, meaning approximately 2.5 million citizens have now received a single dose of vaccine.

Just over 130,000 have now received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine

With the population of slightly over five million, this means B.C. has not reached the threshold where 50% of our population has at least one dose of vaccine.

Canada wide, this number is not far behind, with 46% of the population having received one dose of vaccine. In other words, almost one half of our population has been vaccinated.

The question that's increasingly being asked is, what comes next?

In the Unites States, the CDC has released guidelines that outlines many activities that are now considered safe and do not require mask wearing or social distancing.

In the U.K., there is now a four-stage roadmap that outlines the lifting of restrictions at each stage.

In Stage 3, for example, most businesses will be able to fully re-open.

This week, the U.K. intends to announce the country is now in Stage 3.

The EU is also creating a harmonized list of travel regulations and restrictions, as well as creating an electronic travel certificate.

Unfortunately, here in Canada, we still do not have a detailed re-opening plan from our federal government.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has recently posted some information but not to the level of detail needed by many Canadians.

As a result of this, the Business Council of Canada has written an open letter to the Prime Minister requesting a plan to reopen the Canadian economy.

This letter offers advice to the Prime Minister:

“Canadians also want to know when it will be safe to travel again to see friends and loved ones. To avoid rising levels of confusion and frustration, your government should collaborate with officials in the United States and other countries in setting benchmarks that would enable the easing of border restrictions and travel quarantines.
"A clear and predictable plan for a gradual and safe return to a more normal life would instil public confidence while demonstrating concern for the physical, mental and economic health of Canadians. As business and community leaders we stand ready to work with you to ensure a safe and sustainable recovery.”

The intent of my report this week is not to criticize the federal government for a lack of a plan, but rather to ask a question to the citizens of the Central Okanagan, Similkameen and Nicola.

  • When it comes to re-opening our local and national economy what are the concerns you would like to see addressed?

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 for Environment and Climate Change.

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.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

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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