Late last week the House of Commons rose from the final sitting of the year and will resume again in late January of 2012.

There is much that can be said of this 41st session of Parliament and the many historic changes that have occurred over the past six months. Time spent in Ottawa and on Parliament Hill is a very humbling and rewarding experience. Like many Canadians I had long followed events in Ottawa for many years through various media sources and in discussion with our current and retired MP’s who now call the Okanagan home.

Being part of the daily regimes in Parliament firsthand adds a very different but important perspective. Often I find that how an event is portrayed or as is reported on in the media is somewhat different then what really occurred, or in other circumstances other important details may be left out of a media report. In large part this is why I greatly value the weekly newspaper opportunity to report to you on various matters occurring in Ottawa and sharing that information back home the the riding of Okanagan- Coquihalla.

That being said, I also believe it is very important that Ottawa hears firsthand of the events and concerns occurring here in our great region that so many of us are blessed to call home. We have much to be proud of in this region and we have many unique and extraordinary assets and important success stories that can be of benefit in other regions across Canada. However we also have challenges and those challenges require solutions and while I am proud of the fact that we are making great progress in many areas, we must not let up or become complacent.

As a new Member of Parliament, it has been a significant learning curve over the course of this year. However the feedback and support from so many of you has made a real difference. In fact, the amount of comments I hear from citizens across the riding on a daily basis is very encouraging. The diversity of opinion and the respectful manner in which such views are often expressed is also very refreshing.

Over the past six months, our government has fulfilled many of the commitments made during the last election. While many citizens have been applauding this, there are also those who are in strong disagreement.

If there is one singular thing that I have learned that stands out above all of the rest during my relatively brief time as an MP is that there is one very unique reason why Canada is the great country that we all know and love. It is the people who call Canada home that set us apart as Canadians.

In the House of Commons and on Parliament Hill I have met many people from all across this amazing country and in the process have come to really appreciate that as much as there is often geographic diversity there is also a unity of values and principles that we share.

As the holiday season approaches I believe we must be mindful of those who are less fortunate, not just here at home, but in other countries around the world. We only have to turn on the television to the nightly news to see that many of these people still struggle for many of the basic human rights and freedoms that we often can take for granted.

As Canadians we are truly blessed and fortunate for all that we have and have much to be thankful for. Let us not forget the many Canadians serving abroad and those who have paid the supreme sacrifice and are not able to join their families over the Holiday season. However you celebrate your holiday, from my family to yours, have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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