MP report — Duties of public life

Elected representatives shouldn't abstain from voting on controversial matters

Although I still have much to learn about life in public office, there are a few unwritten rules that I have become aware of. One of those rules is that it is generally considered ill-advised to comment publicly on the actions of other levels of government, and by extension other elected officials. That being said some recent actions within local and regional government are from my perspective, a cause for concern. As elected officials one of our primary responsibilities is to collectively vote and make decisions on behalf of those whom we are elected to represent. At times this can be a difficult process as some decisions can be controversial and as is always the case in every healthy democratic environment there are always those who are in agreement and those who oppose.

Currently I am in support of further changes to the MP pension plan that are more respectful to taxpayers. My position on this is one that is not popular with some colleagues in Ottawa. Conversely I am also supportive of Budget 2012, my position on this is opposed by some citizens within Okanagan-Coquihalla who do not believe that Government should consolidate or eliminate programs and Budget 2012 does call for a reduction in the spending of your tax dollars. My vote in support of eliminating the long gun registry was supported by most citizens I heard from, however it was strongly opposed by others. From my perspective, part of being accountable to taxpayers is to not only to take a position on issues of importance and vote accordingly, but also to explain that position in a timely manner that citizens can be aware of.

 

Where my concerns arises is that recently I have noted several circumstances where some elected officials have basically abstained from having to take a vote on controversial decisions. There are legitimate situations arising around a conflict of interest when an elected official can state the reasons for absenting from a vote however in several recent vote abstentions no public reason for not voting was provided to taxpayers and from my perspective that is wrong. Over the past weekend I have consulted with many former elected officials who served in variety of roles on this subject and have learned that my concerns are not alone. As this has not been an issue raised though the local media I have instead decided somewhat reluctantly to raise this issue in my weekly MP report to you.

 

I believe that as members of the public you deserve to know where your elected representatives stand on issues of importance. If we allow the practice of abstaining from a difficult vote in public to become more common I believe that it will result in more decisions being made behind closed doors and in private. When elected officials of any level remove themselves from discussions for any other reason than a perceived or real conflict of interest, this lack of representation lessens the eventual decision as not all constituencies have their views presented.  This is not a partisan issue and not one that I take any enjoyment in raising but I firmly believe that a fundamental obligation of public office is that we make our views known through discussion and debate. Decisions can at times be unpopular and challenging however as public officials we must make these decisions publicly and be held to account for them at election time, that is the very essence of our democratic system. I welcome your views on this or any subject.

 

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

 

Just Posted

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read