As of 10:05p.m., Albas is up more than 10,000 votes over Liberal challenger Sarah Eves with over 80 per cent of the polls reporting, according to Elections Canada. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

COLUMN: Still waiting for the return of Parliament

New federal cabinet has 39 members

This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally announced his new cabinet, after waiting more than one month since the September election.

Not unlike what occurred under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the new cabinet announced yesterday by Trudeau is significantly larger with 39 members, one less than the 40 members, the largest appointed by Harper in 2015.

For contrast, the first cabinet announced by Harper in 2006 was just 26 members, likewise Trudeau’s first cabinet announced in 2015 was 31 members.

In total there are eight rookies in this new cabinet, and one former minister returning, while two current Liberal MPs were dropped from the cabinet.

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Unfortunately, we still must wait until Nov. 22 before Trudeau recalls Parliament.

On a personal note, I am frustrated by the long wait for Parliament to return. One reason for this relates to the expiry of Canada’s pandemic response benefit programs that occurred on Oct. 23.

By now you have likely heard that the Liberals will not be renewing these programs as they previously existed, but instead have announced new assistance programs that will be more targeted. The Liberals have further announced that these new programs will be more focused on incentivizing a return to work.

For the record I fully support the stated goal of the government in this regard, however I believe this same principle should apply to Parliament and getting MPs back to work in Ottawa as well.

As is often the case with government programs reading the fine print is always the key to ensuring the programs are working as intended and are accessible to those in need. In this case the details of many of these programs require clarification and proper Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight is an important part of this process.

Another challenge with Parliament not sitting is that it limits the ability to raise issues of concern within the House of Commons.

One example of this is the continued closure of direct to the Kelowna Airport (YLW) international flights, in particular from the United States.

Recently I have heard from several in the accommodation and tourism sector who are literally losing tens of thousands of dollars of revenue as frequent customers from U.S. destinations who are instead booking direct trips to other Canadian airports that have had their international flight status restored.

As one small business owner recently vented in frustration – they do not want government handouts. They simply want the opportunity to host their guests again.

They have also correctly pointed out this can save the government from providing expensive support programs.

My question this week: Do you support the Kelowna Airport being re-opened to International flights as have been many other airports in Canada?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament-elect for the riding of Central Okanagan — Similkameen — Nicola.

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ColumnistFederal Politics