Albas: Complaints about senators coming in

I have heard from an overwhelming number of constituents sharing their strong opposition to unaccountable Senators.

With the provincial election now concluded and the respective campaigns left to reflect and ponder the past thirty or so days I was reminded of the campaign I was involved with when running for Parliament two years ago.

One of the messages I heard loudly and clearly from a wide variety of citizens was the need to take immediate action on the MP pension plan, which was widely seen as grossly unfair to taxpayers. It was a message I shared in Ottawa as one of the first MPs to publicly call for changes to the MP pension plan that would make it more respectful to taxpayers.

It was rewarding to have the chance to vote in favour of those changes in the last budget implementation bill which will ensure the MP pension plan moves towards equal contributions and also eliminates early retirement provisions.

These are changes Canadians expected and asked for and the government delivered on that request.

It is for this reason that I am particularly disappointed by some recent events that I know a number of citizens are concerned about as well.

In fact, I have heard from an overwhelming number of constituents this past week who are united in sharing their strong opposition to unaccountable Senators who engaged in actions that are unbecoming of public officials and that concern is justified, in my view.

Although the Senate has proven difficult to reform, this is not from the lack of desire from a significant portion of the Canadian public nor from the want of trying by  the government.

It comes largely from particular provinces arguing through the courts, that the constitution requires their consent to make much needed changes. While Canadians await further clarification from the Supreme Court of Canada on the legal basis by which Senate reform or abolishment can occur, that delay should not be an excuse to engage in actions that are offensive to taxpayers. As I have in the past, I will continue to support changes that increase accountability to taxpayers.

Ottawa is also very busy this week as a result of  the government introducing a motion to extend the sitting hours of the House of Commons into the evenings. Some of the bills coming before the House from government this week include continued debate on Bill C-48, the Technical Tax Amendments Act, first debate on Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Act, and report stage for Bill C-51, the Safer Witnesses Act. Senate Bill S9, the  Nuclear Terrorism Act, will also come before the House for third reading debate. Private members business will include the first debate on Bill C-489, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (restrictions on offenders). Business of Supply will also come before the House as will a number of votes.

Although I have discussed the majority of these bills in previous MP reports if there is a bill coming before the House you would like further information on, or would like to comment or share a concern please do not hesitate to contact my office at your convenience. I can be reached via email at dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

Before this week’s report comes to a close, I would like to congratulate those newly elected and re-elected MLAs who will be representing our region in Victoria.

I would also like to thank retiring MLAs, such as Bill Barisoff and Harry Lali, who gave many years of service to citizens in their respective communities. Finally I would also like to recognize all of those who ran for the office of MLA but who were not successful.

It takes great courage to run for public office and requires a significant personal commitment during the writ period. A special thank-you to the many volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes helping candidates in their respective campaigns. I look forward to working with our new and re-elected MLAs, along with the dedicated representatives in local government, to ensure we take action on issues of concern for the citizens we collectively represent.

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