Community

MP Report — Election hangups

Although I have not had a significant amount of local inquiries on the "Robo-Calls" issue I do believe it is an important subject and one that I would like to communicate my position on. For those of you unfamiliar with "robo-calls" it is the use of an advanced automated phone dialing system that has the capacity to contact hundreds if not thousands of citizens to deliver a pre-recorded message. Why this is a concern is that intentional misinformation can be passed on that is intended to misinform citizens. During the writ period of an election calls that suggest a polling station location has changed could potentially decrease voter participation or otherwise attempt to influence the outcome of an election.   What is an even greater concern is that it would seem possible that these types of calls, through the use of technology, may be possible to be completed in an anonymous manner. As there is currently an Elections Canada investigation into this case I am hopeful that those responsible are identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

From my perspective there can be zero tolerance for any effort that is made to attempt to unduly influence the outcome of an election or otherwise manipulate our cherished Canadian democratic process. While it is important for the investigation to be completed so that all facts can be made public, I also believe that we must be proactive to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to prevent these incidents form occurring again in the future. As your Member of Parliament I can confirm that I will support initiatives that can increase transparency and accountability in our elections laws and I will report on this matter again as more information is available. I have also commented on this matter further on mywww.DaninOttawa.com blog site.

This week the Ministry of Finance is announcing some changes that will increase the rights of consumers in areas such as banking and finance. Most notable is that the "hold" period that a federally regulated bank uses for funds deposited into your account to clear has been shortened to four days on deposits up to $1500.  In addition a customer can now also have immediate access to the first $100 of that deposit. Other changes include the banning of unsolicited credit card cheques and new service fee charges can no longer be imposed through negative "opt out" billing practices. The express consent of consumers will be required before new fees or services can be imposed.

There will also be changes made with respect to mortgages from federally regulated providers. These lenders will be required to provide more information to consumers regarding methods that will help to pay off a mortgage faster without having to pay a prepayment charge. There will be other more minor changes in this area to ensure that more information is provided to help educate consumers on all costs related to a mortgage including pre-payment penalties.

Canadians work hard to build a secure future and deserve clear information to make important decisions in building equity and reaching financial security.  Canadians also deserve more timely access to their own money and the announced changes today will help to meet these important goals. Our Government is continuing to take action to help citizens build a stronger Canada.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at dan.albas@parl.gc.ca.

 

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