MP says Parliament let Canadians down by inviting former Nazi to House of Commons

MP wants review conducted

This week has been tumultuous in the House of Commons, leading to the resignation of House Speaker, Anthony Rota. An election for a new Speaker is scheduled for next Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Before moving forward, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to Rota for his dedicated service to Canadians and all Members of the House of Commons. Ultimately, the Speaker must always serve to maintain the integrity of the Office of the Speaker. By resigning, he fulfilled this responsibility.

For the record, I would also like to state I support his decision, considering the grave circumstances of the past week. A serious and unfortunate situation occurred during the address to our Canadian Parliament by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Sept. 22.

The controversy was a standing ovation given to an individual described as a war hero. The individual in question was later identified as a Ukrainian who served as a former member of a Nazi Waffen-SS unit, fighting for Hitler against the Soviet Army in World War II.

For those unfamiliar, during the height of the Nazi occupation of much of Europe, the Allies liberated many Western European countries, while the Soviet Army defeated the Nazis in many Eastern Bloc countries. All suffered significant losses while fighting against Hitler's forces to remove those countries from German control or occupation.

The standing ovation on Parliament Hill caused international embarrassment for Canada. Putin's Russian propaganda often attempts to use the alleged presence of Nazis in Ukraine as justification for his illegal war against the Ukrainian people.

Please accept my apology in advance for trying to summarize significant parts of history in such a brief manner. I want to clarify, I am not disrespecting the importance of this issue. Instead, I am providing some context to explain why the unfortunate situation in Ottawa is of significant concern.

Rota took responsibility for inviting the individual in question to Zelensky's address and resigned.
(Conservative Leader) Pierre Poilievre, and our caucus expressed a clear position. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should respect the requests from Jewish advocacy organizations and other affected communities and offer an official apology for this event.

Furthermore, we advocate for a Parliamentary review to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future. Unfortunately, thus far, the prime minister has (as of my writing this column) refused to show up in Parliament to be accountable for anything that has occurred, much less to offer an apology.

I sincerely hope he recognizes the error of his current approach and takes this situation more seriously and sincerely. In the absence of an apology from the prime minister, I would like to offer one. To my constituents and all Canadians, you deserve a Parliament that makes Canadians proud on the international stage. This week, our Canadian Parliament let you down, and you deserve better.

While I was not present in the House of Commons for the event, I offer my sincere apologies for its occurrence.
As members of the official Opposition, we will continue to demand an apology and a thorough review from the prime minister to ensure such incidents never happen again.

My question to you this week:

Are you concerned about this situation?

If you have any concerns or questions, please get in touch with me at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

(This column was written and submitted before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on behalf of Canada's Parliament on Wednesday.)

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Government tax break on construction of rentals 'positive step' says MP

Housing affordability ideas

This week marks the beginning of the fall sitting of the House of Commons.

However, the discussions in Ottawa differ significantly from what I hear from (constituents) in our riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

The most common concerns raised in the riding relate to rising interest rates and inflation. That is due to the recent announcement by Statistics Canada that Canada's inflation rate for August rose by 4% year over year, following a 3.3% increase in July.

Many are now experiencing severe anxiety as they fear further interest rate increases from the Bank of Canada. It has become a common concern to hear from those struggling to cover their bills at the end of each month.
In response to these concerns, the prime minister called a meeting with representatives from Canada's five largest grocery store chains. He requested grocery prices be stabilized by Thanksgiving (Oct. 9) or the stores would be subject to higher taxes.

However, experts—including stakeholders within the grocery industry—have pointed out that adding more costs to grocery stores through increased taxation will increase prices rather than decrease them. Some recent expert reports suggest grocery prices will likely stabilize independently in the coming months without government intervention. Those reports also highlight increased costs from farmers and grocery producers, such as higher transport costs, as a significant cause of grocery store price increases.

I'm not sure if the prime minister was sincere in his threat, as many have suggested this action was more for show to give the impression of taking action without actually doing so.

In a separate announcement, the prime minister also committed to removing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on new rental apartment construction. The removal of GST on rentals is not new in Canadian politics. Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative leader, has long called for a new approach.

While reaction to this announcement was mixed, from my point of view, it is a positive step as this issue is boiling over with very real impacts for people.

Given that higher interest rates have halted many large apartment projects, this may encourage some of those purpose-built rentals on the financial margins to proceed. New rental housing stock will be welcome, especially in the fast-growing municipalities of our area, where rents are highest and vacancies lowest. New rentals will also provide more choice and competition, particularly for new workers, which is crucial for employers trying to attract and retain workers.

However, there is no guarantee newly constructed rental housing will be offered at rates below the current market rates. Additionally, it is uncertain if these projects on the margins will be sufficient in quantity to slow down rapidly rising rental rates or increase local vacancy rates.

Poilievre has introduced proposed legislation, known as "The Build Homes, Not Bureaucracy Act," to address this issue and others. It allows for a GST rebate of up to 100%, depending on whether the rent offered is below the local market average for five years and (the project) must be built within three years to qualify. That is to ensure developers are incentivized to serve the immediate public need for more affordable rentals.

The government’s new policy is to take 100% (of the) GST off all apartment rentals, meaning developers of luxury apartments, due to the higher cost per unit, will receive a higher rebate compared to the developer who creates more affordably priced apartments that are desperately needed. Unlike Polievre’s plan, it only applies to apartment purpose-built as rentals and not to smaller, affordable rentals offerings such as co-ops, duplexes, fourplexes and the like.

In conclusion, while removing GST on rental construction on apartment buildings is a positive step, it is not a silver bullet and I recommend the government look across the isle for more ideas about how to build more affordable rentals.

My question this week is:

Do you think that removing GST on rental construction, as the government has done, will be sufficient to increase rental affordability? Why or why not?

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Federal financial watchdog says subsidy recovery to be longer than minister let on

Longer term subsidy returns

In May, I wrote about the announcement from the federal government that Volkswagen would receive up to $13 billion in subsidies over the next decade to ensure the automaker builds its electric-vehicle battery plant in southern Ontario.

I also referred to the report by the business analyst firm Statista, that stated Volkswagen's operating profit in the 2022 fiscal year increased by approximately 14.78% from the previous year, reaching around 22.1 billion euros.

Shortly after news of the Volkswagen deal became public, Stellantis-LG Energy Solutions (LGES), another electric vehicle battery manufacturer, demanded similar treatment. Like Volkswagen, LGES obtained a subsidy deal of up to $15 billion (split) between the federal and Ontario provincial governments.

At the time, federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne defended the $13-billion subsidy with Volkswagen by stating, "The payback is five years. That's a very good investment."

This week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released a report scrutinizing the minister's claim that the subsidy from taxpayers would be fully recovered within five years. The PBO’s report, titled "Break-even analysis of production subsidies for Stellantis-LGES and Volkswagen," examined the combined subsidies for the two deals, totalling $28.2 billion.

The PBO concluded the break-even timeline for the $28.2 billion production subsidies announced for Stellantis-LGES and Volkswagen is estimated to be 20 years. It is deeply concerning that the minister would suggest a five-year timeline for recovering this investment when the actual timeline is much longer.

This seems to be part of a larger pattern with the current Liberal government and its continued subsidies for electric vehicles.

The CBC and the Canadian Press recently reported that the federal government has budgeted $768 million between 2016 and 2027 to purchase and install almost 90,000 electric vehicle chargers.

Two different federal programs were involved in the scenario. One of the programs, which has been in operation since 2016, funded 43,000 electric vehicle battery charging stations. However, data from that program shows fewer than one in five of them are operational.

The second program, launched in 2019, aims to install an additional 33,500 electric vehicle chargers by 2025. Currently, only 6,697 of those charging stations are operational.

It is important to note these federal programs are not fully funded and require financial contributions from private sector partners or other levels of government.

This week's question is:

What are your thoughts on federal subsidies for Canada's electric vehicle battery industry?

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

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Data on 'non-permanent' residents needed

Figuring out who's here

Recently, you may have seen a headline stating, “Non-permanent residents in Canada undercounted by one million: CIBC.”

My office received a few inquiries on this topic and some expressed concern.

For those unfamiliar with how the Canadian immigration process works, there is often confusion when a headline like this arises. People from all over the world come to Canada for various reasons. Some of the most common reasons include international students coming here to study, short-term visitors and temporary foreign workers who often work in agriculture on our local farms in our region.

Generally, these visitors to Canada are known as “non-permanent" residents, even though they may be visiting Canada under a different type of visa, permit or program. Refugees claiming asylum also fall into this category.

The recent headline arose due to the chief economist from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) stating Statistics Canada does not correctly count those with an expired visa. The statement from CIBC observes that when the original form for entering Canada expires, many non-permanent residents do not leave Canada and remain here. This is mainly because the federal government lacks an adequate system to track people with expired visas who stay in Canada.

This is a concern, as stated by the same CIBC chief economist, because undercounting the number of visitors remaining here in Canada may distort the actual demands on housing and other critical services like health care.

Recently, the leader of the (Conservative) Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, stated it is unacceptable for refugee claimants to be sleeping on streets in cities like Toronto due to a lack of shelter spaces.

The government is aware of this problem. Recently, the new federal housing minister, Sean Fraser, suggested there could be a cap on the roughly 900,000 international students who come to Canada to study each year. Some provinces opposed that idea, as did many universities and even some members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

The prime minister has not announced any plan to address this challenge.

Statistics Canada (as reported by CBC) says, it will publish new data tables next month estimating the number of non-permanent residents in the country in response to the recent concerns expressed by the chief economist at CIBC.

It is critically important we have this data so those in public office, civil servants and the private sector can make the most informed decisions possible.

We must also recognize housing challenges affect all Canadians, and the federal government must ensure it can provide clear and accurate data to help find solutions.

My question for you this week:

Are you concerned it was CIBC who pointed out this challenge and not our federal government? Why or why not?

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

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola and the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.

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.

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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