With the House of Commons rising last Thursday, I have now completed my first full year of the parliamentary cycle.
Looking back on the past twelve months, it is surprising just how quickly one year can pass by and all that can occur in parliament during that time frame.
Although conventional political wisdom is to reflect on the accomplishments of what was achieved during the past parliamentary session and what promises were kept, I believe we should also not lose sight of the challenges that remain.
One of the bills introduced that was not passed was Bill C-30. For those of you unfamiliar with Bill C-30, it was commonly referred to as the ‘Internet spy bill’.
Why I raise this particular bill is due to the fact that much of Canada’s intellectual capacity, citizens’ finances and life savings, daily banking and household finances, even personal health information, is increasingly accessed and moving online. At the same time our laws that protect these important Canadian assets online are falling further and further behind.
I often used the analogy to explain that law enforcement can access more basic contact information in the real world from a simple hit and run accident then can be accessed in the cyber world from anonymous hackers who could steal the identity and life savings of a senior.
Government has a role to protect the interests of Canadians and when it comes to our online security Canada is increasingly being viewed as one of the most lax jurisdictions in the G-7 and that should be a concern to all Canadians. However we also must recognize that one of the primary reasons why Bill C-30 did not move forward was due to the fact that many Canadians opposed the bill, believing incorrectly that it would allow citizens to be spied on without any judicial overview.
This was of course patently false as the bill did not allow for surveillance without a judiciary process being involved. It is ironic that in the age of information it is often misinformation that increasingly creates confusion and can mislead Canadians.
As members of parliament we must also accept responsibility as we have an obligation to clearly explain not only what it is that a bill will and will not do, but also why we believe the bill is important.
Most citizens I have heard from support protecting our online resources and assets and clearly in the future we will need to do a more comprehensive job in discussions on this subject.
Given that one full year of the 41st Parliament has now concluded I had intended to provide what will be my annual accountability report to the taxpayer’s of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Unfortunately the Board of Internal Economy does not release member’s expenditure reports until later in the year when the Public Accounts of Canada report is released.
As soon as this information is available I will be providing a report in one of my weekly updates. On a personal level the past 12 months have certainly been a great learning experience for me and for the most part rewarding.
I greatly enjoy travelling around Okanagan-Coquihalla and meeting new people and hearing first hand from citizens. It is also exciting to learn of the many events, projects, festivals, attractions and other activities currently being planned in communities throughout our region.
As a member of parliament it is a great honour to represent this region in Ottawa and to share local events in the House of Commons during standing orders and also to report back to local taxpayers each week in these reports that help explain the goings on in Ottawa.
Over the next few months I will again visit every community within Okanagan-Coquihalla as part of my annual summer listening tour and as is always the case I welcome your input and am happy to meet with you during my travels. Please feel free to contact my office at 1-800-665-8711 to schedule an appointment or to have a call back.