Dan Albas

Dan Albas

COLUMN: Help during challenging circumstances

Earlier this week many saw the media headline “Trudeau announces Boycott of Beijing Olympics”

This early headline led to some confusion before subsequent media headlines clarified: “Canada announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics, athletes will still compete.”

There was only a brief period of time where some confusion existed, however what was interesting, is that when athletes were thought to be part of this boycott, many citizens had strong views and were keen to share them.

When it was later clarified the boycott was only diplomatic in nature and did not include athletes, the comments quieted down significantly.

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The few comments I have now heard back locally range from “what is a diplomatic boycott” to “why does anyone care if diplomats attend or not?’

While this remains a significant topic of discussion in Ottawa it is not one I am hearing locally.

If anything, this serves as a reminder just how quickly the focus of Ottawa can change from day to day.

My focus remains back on communities like Princeton and Merritt as well as the surrounding rural and Indigenous communities.

With winter conditions now in effect, the clean up and rebuilding is much more challenging. The impacts of flood damage to our highway system has resulted in significant commercial truck traffic on Highway 3, which in turn has led to more accidents on this highway which leads to additional emergency road closures.

At this time it is still unknown if regular traffic will be allowed on this route that is currently restricted to essential travelling only. That is also having an impact on families as connected communities are no longer connected. This is also not an ideal situation for truckers.

For many who could make a trip from the coast to the interior and return in a single shift, that is no longer possible. Overnight trips are now normal in many cases and that can be increased if an accident results in further delays.

Those travelling via air, for a variety of different reasons, are finding higher fees as well as new and significant restrictions that are changing frequently and with little notice because of the new omicron covid variant.

To make this situation more challenging, the border staff are sometimes not up to speed on government policy changes resulting in many unfortunate and unfair incidents.

I appreciate the efforts of ministers and their staff who have been assisting my office on behalf of local citizens who have found themselves in demanding circumstances.

I also know that there is anger out there. As an elected official I hear frequently from citizens who are unhappy with how government services at different levels have responded to these various situations.

In my view, it is appropriate that elected officials hear your concerns when government services are not meeting your expectations. I mention this because it is critically important that frustration and anger should not be taken out on front line staff who are doing the best that they can in very challenging situations.

Let us not forget that many front-line service providers and emergency responders are also facing some of the very same challenges in their personal lives.

My question this week: What is your greatest local concern at this time?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola and the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.

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ColumnistFederal Politics