My summer listening tour is once again proving to be very valuable in allowing me to hear concerns from many of the taxpayers in our beautiful Okanagan-Coquihalla region.

I am often surprised that what I hear in coffee shops, at community events and BBQ’s, is often very different from the issues in the media or on the local letters to the editor page. Often I find that issues of importance to taxpayers may be ones that the government is taking action on in Ottawa, however we may not have communicated that very well.

In other cases there are some bills that generate far more media and opposition attention than others.

One area of concern that I frequently hear about pertains to the pay and the expenses for politicians in local, provincial, federal and aboriginal government including a desire for more transparency and accountability. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation publicly posted information regarding aboriginal politicians that included 50 earning more than the prime minister, 160 more than a respective provincial premier and over 600 in excess of $100,000 per year or more. Much of this information was acquired with significant difficulty. As a result our government introduced Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. The intent of this legislation is to provide public disclosure by requiring chiefs and councillors to publish salaries and expenses as well as the audited consolidated financial statements for the First Nation in question. While some First Nations governments do provide this information, others currently do not and there can be a lack of consistency in how this information is posted. Bill C-27 is currently at committee stage review as part of the second reading debate.

Another bill that you may not have heard about is Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act. It is well known that Canada has one of the most generous immigration systems in the world. By the same theme, it is also one of the easiest to manipulate by criminals on account of the virtually endless appeals that allow criminals to delay deportation by many years. As an example, one foreign criminal who sexually assaulted a senior was able to delay the deportation process for close to four years. In another example a foreign criminal convicted of trafficking drugs and assaulting victims with a dangerous weapon along with other offences took close to six years to deport. This proposed bill will allow the deportation of criminals in a far timelier manner and will help to ensure that Canadians can be better protected.

Bill C-42 is by contrast legislation that many citizens have commented on the need for. This is the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act. It is important to recognize that the majority of our RCMP do an outstanding job in keeping our communities safe. However, in any organization you can find those few who do not meet the expectations and standards. To date, the RCMP has not always had the administrative ability to deal with these officers in an expedient or appropriate manner. Bill C-42 proposes new legislation to rectify these challenges and also proposes to create a modern and independent civilian review and complaints commission.

The above bills are part of the 43 introduced by our government so far in this 41st Parliament in response to hearing the concerns from Canadian taxpayers and the need to keep Canada strong.

Aside from these 43 government bills, there are also in excess of 240 private members bills currently proposed along with just over a dozen from the Senate. When it comes to bills and legislation, there is no shortage of ideas and debate from your elected representatives.

When I am on my listening tour throughout the riding, I too learn and become aware about a number of local issues that have a Federal component. Suggestions and ideas on how we can create more opportunity, employment and understanding are many particularly in our riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla. From my perspective, this is a healthy but daunting task, particularly when you think about the scale and diversity of our great country. If you would like to participate and share your ideas, please contact me at 1-800-665-8711 or at the email below.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached directly at [email protected].