This promises to be an exciting week on Parliament Hill as the House of Commons will again resume after a one week hiatus for spring break. Monday will be the first official day in the House for new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who represents the Montreal, Quebec riding of Outremont.
Mulcair ran a strong campaign and will no doubt set a new tone as the leader of the Official Opposition.
On Tuesday my private member’s bill (C-311) that proposes to put an end to wine prohibition in Canada will reach committee stage as review begins by the standing committee on finance.
Review stage is a technical process where expert witnesses have an opportunity to discuss proposed legislation with an all party panel of Parliamentarians. It has been very rewarding to have opposition support for my bill thus far and the passionate interest from the emerging wine industry of Nova Scotia has also been very much appreciated.
The review process is scheduled for the next two weeks and following that process potentially would be reported back to the House of Commons for third reading debate. If there is passage from the third reading debate the bill would be referred to the Senate, the final process before royal assent can be granted.
Wednesdays are traditionally the busiest in Ottawa as it is caucus day where the various caucuses will meet to discuss the current parliamentary agenda and other issues of importance.
For the opposition this will likely be a very busy week as changes will be made to accommodate the transition to the new leader.
Thursday of this week will be a very unique one as this will also be budget day in Ottawa. This will be one of the more anticipated budgets in recent years largely on account of the need to reduce spending in light of the current economic situation. It will also be the first budget in recent memory from a majority government.
As an observer of past federal budgets I noted there was often a trend where spending was increased in a variety of different areas in order to secure support for the budget passage in a minority government. In my report next week I will provide more information regarding the budget and I also encourage taxpayers with questions to contact me if there is an area of spending you would like more information on.
On Friday the budget debate will begin and I expect it will be a vigorous if not voracious debate, and more so as the debate will not be tempered by potential for a confidence vote as was the case in previous budgets during minority governments.
On Saturday I will be back in Okanagan-Coquihalla country and in the community of West Kelowna to celebrate the municipality in being named as one of the five finalists in the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville competition. As one of Canada’s newest municipalities winning the Kraft Hockeyville contest would be a great way to lay a foundation for a future hockey legacy that the Okanagan is becoming well known for.
Congratulations to co-chairs Adam Less and Andrew Dean and all of the volunteers and community members from West Kelowna who have shown great community spirit in reaching the top five final. On Sunday, I will fly back to Ottawa to continue to advance the work being done on these items.
As we can see, there are a number of issues on the agenda in Ottawa that are important to Okanagan-Coquihalla, that directly affect the quality of life for our residents.
Whether we are talking about opening up the market for B.C.’s wine industry through lifting long standing interprovincial trade barriers, increasing funding to important social programs like health care or ensuring that we return to balanced budgets in the medium term.
These are important issues and I appreciate the input I receive on regular basis from taxpayers who want to see these and other issues addressed.
Dan Albas is the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla and be reached at email@example.com