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ALBAS: A year in review for the House of Commons

Dan Albas, member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Image Credit: Contributed
December 23, 2016 - 12:30 PM

 


OPINION


Editor,

Over the next few weeks most media organizations will feature year in review related articles and columns. On the same theme I believe it is also important to review the past year in the House of Commons from a legislative perspective. To be candid the last 12 months under the Trudeau Liberal government has resulted in one of the most unproductive Parliaments in recent history with only 14 bills to date receiving Royal Assent.  Of these 14 Bills, 6 were Appropriation related granting Government access to spending money meaning there has been just 8 Bills implemented by the Liberals thus far. A closer inspection of these 8 Bills reveals that 2 are directly related to the Budget and one was technically related to trade provisions and was left over from the previous Conservative Government. Thus in essence there have been 5 unique Bills passed by the Liberals as part of their broad agenda of real change.

Normally a Canadian Parliament under a majority Government at this point in the mandate would have passed between 40 to 45 Bills thus illustrating why this particular Liberal Government is being labelled by many in Ottawa as extremely unproductive. Should this be a concern to Canadians? Obviously the answer to this question is a matter of opinion and not fact however if one was expecting significant regulatory changes to date this has largely not occurred. To be fair the Liberal Government has continued to promise that it will introduce more legislation in the upcoming year pending the outcome of a large amount of different consultations currently underway, as one example is the current ongoing consultation on democratic reform that I discussed in last week’s report.

I should also add that not all changes made by a sitting Government have to be implemented through legislation. For example when the Trudeau Liberal Government decided to effectively abolish the First Nations Fiscal Transparency Act rather than use a Bill to repeal the legislation the Liberal Government instead announced it would not implement or enforce any penalties against a First Nation Band Council that does not comply with publicly disclosing expenditures.

From my perspective what is more concerning is that the Liberals continue to hint that they would like to eliminate Friday sittings in the House of Commons – meaning there would be one fewer day each week that the House sits available to debate legislation through the House.  A lack of a Friday sitting would also mean one less day for Question period which is alarming considering that Prime Minister Trudeau has missed more than half of all Question Periods to date. For the record I have spoken out in the House of Commons against shutting the House down on Fridays and will continue to oppose this measure.

Despite the lack of Liberal Legislation in the House of Commons one item that has not changed are the House of Commons operations including the costs of 338 MPs that came in just over $60 million for the first half of the current fiscal year. Once the full fiscal year has concluded I will once again release my annual fiscal accountability report and provide in detail what my expenses were for the period.  Some may welcome the lack of legislation as it supports the status quo and means that laws passed by previous Parliaments remains largely unchanged. As this is a subjective are of concern I welcome your views on this topic – is the significant lack of legislation under the current Government a concern or is this largely a non-issue?

As always I welcome your views on this or any subject before the House of Commons. I can be reached at dan.albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711. Alternatively, I will be holding town hall meetings and constituents are welcome Saturday, January 14 in West Kelowna at the Lions Community Hall 2466 Main Street; West Kelowna from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. or on Sunday, January 15 in Kelowna at A. S. Matheson Elementary - 2090 Gordon Drive, Kelowna from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to share their views. I look forward to hearing from you!


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