Never let it be said that democratic diversity is not alive and well in Okanagan-Coquihalla. Each week I am fortunate to receive a significant amount of feedback from many of the good people who live in our amazing region. I appreciate all the phone calls, in-person meetings, chance encounters at a coffee shop or at community events; these are all venues where meaningful comments and feedback can be exchanged. It should be recognized that there is a huge variety of differing opinions on many issues, however at times there can also be a relatively widespread consensus. One of these issues is the topic on the need for MP pension reform. Much like the opposition to former Liberal Private Members Bill C-428 (a bill that died at the call of the last election and has no standing in this Parliament), the Pension issue has strongly united an overwhelming majority of Canadians.
When I was first elected last year one of the first comments I heard was "congratulations" often followed by "something needs to be done about those MP pensions". It was a message I heard loud and clear and was one that I publicly committed to support both here and in Ottawa and can now say that action has finally been taken. Last week, changes to the MP pension plan were voted on and approved that will be more respectful of Canadian taxpayers; these changes will also apply to Senators and ultimately to the public service. The Jobs and Growth Act of 2012 will see the pension contributions for the above groups begin to move towards an equal 50/50 cost sharing model. In addition the retirement age to collect those benefits for MP's, Senators and newly hired public servants will also be increased to age 65. These changes will ultimately save taxpayers some $2.6 Billion over the next five years.
This week in Ottawa there will be continued debate on two bills originating from the Senate. Bills S-7 "Combating Terrorism Act" proposes that holding investigative hearings when required would allow the Courts to compel a witness who may have information regarding a terrorism offence to appear in court and provide that information. It is also proposes the creation of new offences that would apply to those leaving Canada, or attempting to leave Canada, to commit an act of terrorism. This legislation is intended to deter persons from leaving Canada to attend terrorist training camps or engage in other terrorist activity abroad. The other Senate Bill is S-11 "Safe Food For Canadians Act". This act proposes a number of actions that include instituting a more consistent inspection regime across all food commodities, implementing tougher penalties for activities that put the health and safety of Canadians at risk, providing better control over imports and exports, and strengthening food traceability. Increased fines are also proposed raising the current maximum fines amount from $ 250,000 up to $ 5 million. Later in the week debate will begin on the second budget bill, C-45. If you have any comments, questions or concerns on these or any other Bills before the House of Commons please do not hesitate to give me a call.
On a more personal note, I would like to thank everyone who has extended their kind wishes on the birth of my daughter. My wife, kids and I are thrilled with our newest addition to the family and we are grateful for all of your supportive calls, emails and cards that we have received.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at [email protected] or by phone 1(800) 665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.