Hold MP's to account: Open Parliament

As I write this week’s report to you it happens to be tax freedom day. This is the day where your combined tax bill from all levels of Government  is considered to be “paid” by the average Canadian and from that point on, any income can go towards paying for expenses, discretionary spending,  debt or directed to savings etc. I believe that we should never overlook  the fact that it takes roughly half a year to get to this point although the upside is that five years ago it took nearly 7 months to reach tax freedom day. In fact ,  today the federal tax burden on Canadians is at its lowest level in 50 years. Lowering of the GST rate from 7% to 5% and reducing income taxes are primary reasons for these changes however there have been  nearly 150 different types of tax reductions introduced by our Government overall in recent years. In addition over one million low income families, seniors and individuals have been removed from the tax rolls over this same time frame, to directly benefit those most in need. 

Ultimately these changes leave more money in your wallet where you can decide best how those funds can benefit you and your family. It is estimated that the burden on the  average family today  has been reduced by more than $3,000  per year in combined taxes. Often the debate within the House of Commons will focus around how best to grow jobs and the support the Canadian economy and if these objectives are best met through bigger government and more governmental spending or smaller government with taxpayers deciding where to best spend their hard earned money. This is to a large extent an ideological debate and while most agree with the need to balance taxation levels there is again disagreement on where the balance point should be. One point that is not in dispute is that last week Statistics Canada announced over 95,000 net new jobs were created all across Canada in the month of May-the majority being full-time, in the private sector. This was the second largest monthly job gain in Canadian history, and I was also pleased to see that youth employment was also up by over 54,000 jobs- the largest increase in youth employment in roughly thirty years. Since July of 2009 there are now over one million net new jobs in Canada as our job creation record is the best within the G7.

Odds are you may not have heard about Canada’s recent success in new jobs or our progress in moving tax freedom day earlier in the year. I have noted most of the recent media focus has been on a fellow backbench MP resigning from caucus as the principal news story dominating a large segment of our Parliamentary press gallery. Over the same time frame there have also been many important Bills that have moved forward but again are largely unreported as the focus  remains on the actions of a few and overlooks the work of many. If I sound somewhat jaded with how some of the Ottawa media cover  what we do in Ottawa,  it is in large part because I feel the positive work and many accomplishments are  constantly  ignored or overlooked. This past week I spoke in support of several different private members bills that are important to citizens in Okanagan-Coquihalla. I know from my experience with my own private members bill how much effort and compromise is required to bring a Bill though the House. The fact that so many of these bills are overlooked is disappointing.

Fortunately there is a solution: www.openparliament.ca is a volunteer run website that is the creation and  hard work of Mr. Michael Mulley. Open Parliament is an incredible resource and does an outstanding job in compiling what occurs within the House of Commons and presents that information in a very user friendly and informative manner. In short, Open Parliament allows you to “keep tabs” on what occurs in the House of Commons and most importantly it is a very effective tool for citizens to hold their elected Members of Parliament to account. I encourage citizens to visit Open Parliament to hold me to account. Speeches, member statements, voting records and even my twitter feed are aggregated and presented in an easy to follow manner and I encourage citizens to pay a visit to the site. If you have any comments, questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact me toll free at  1- 800-665-8711 or via email [email protected]

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

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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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