It has been a busy past two weeks for freshly elected Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas.
Sworn in as a member of Parliament May 26, in the last fortnight Albas has worked through his first throne speech, federal budget and opportunity to speak in Canada’s House of Parliament.
Albas said the speech from the throne, delivered by Governor General David Johnston, reminded him of the tremendous responsibility an MP is bestowed to represent his or her constituents.
“It certainly reminds all of us as Parliamentarians that we are here to do a job (important) to Canadians,” he said. “It is an honour to be here.”
Albas said the throne speech contained the basic ideas and themes the Conservative Party campaigned and won on during the last federal election.
“Things such as supporting jobs and growth; eliminating the deficit a year earlier; supporting hard-working families; helping seniors save for their retirement so that they can retire with dignity; and making sure that we’re supporting law-abiding citizens,” said Albas. “We as government intend to act upon those things and deliver for Canadians.”
And then on Monday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented the Conservative’s first budget since winning its majority.
“The budget itself is more or less what was presented in March,” assessed Albas. “There has been some economic updates that have been done and some new data that has been put in there. As well we have talked about democratic reform and the phasing out of political subsidies … But basically it’s the same budget.”
Indeed, but for two election-promise changes — eliminating the subsidies and handing over $2.2 billion to Quebec for instituting a harmonized sales tax with Ottawa back when there were no rewards for doing so — there is not a significant difference between the budget tabled before the election and the one now.
The 2011 budget is the first step in Flaherty’s plan to eliminate the federal deficit by 2015, a commitment that will see the government cut roughly $4 billion a year from the budget.
Albas said one of the important processes the Conservatives will initiate is a comprehensive review of all government spending.
Albas also highlighted the budget’s increased financial support to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors and new tax credits for families.
“Everything from eco-friendly retrofitting to seeing the parents who put their children in creative activities such as art and other cultural activities will be able to keep their taxes down with arts and culture tax credits,” he said.
After hearing from residents throughout the election campaign that people are tired of the partisan “bickering” in Ottawa that took place under the last Parliament, Albas said he has made a personal commitment to behave in a congenial positive manner — a pledge symbolized by the presence of a Steller’s jay pin on the label of the MP’s blazer.
Albas had the pin on when he rose for the first time to speak in the House to thank his constituency for electing him and to highlight the needs of students and seniors.
“People want to see a level of decorum that meets their needs as far as good policy debates so that they know that the policies adopted by the government are the best ones for the country at the time. But also, they want to see a level of decorum from their parliamentarians and see that things are getting done in a timely manner,” he said. “The Steller’s jay pin relates to some of our heritage as Canadians because you have the Steller’s jays on the West Coast and the blue jays on the East Coast.
“They may have some different habits and they may look a little different but all in all they are part of the same family.”