COLUMN: A tale of two cabinet ministers

COLUMN: A tale of two cabinet ministers

To what degree do you believe a cabinet minister has a duty to be accountable to citizens of Canada?

In the spirit of the holiday season this I have decided to share a tale of two different cabinet ministers from my time as a Member of Parliament representing the concerns of local citizens here in the riding.

In my first year as a Member of Parliament, a man who was a citizen from another country and had a permit to live and work in Canada, decided to take a weekend trip to visit the United States, a common activity for those who live near the border.

Upon return to the Canadian border, the man in question experienced an unfortunate incident where he was ordered to be removed from Canada within seven days.

The removal order was based on claims that the man was not legally in Canada to begin with.

This occurred despite legal documents the man possessed that clearly indicated this was not the case.

It was evident that a mistake had been made but the wheels of Ottawa bureaucracy turn very slowly.

This issue in question was brought to my attention by a local MLA who reached out and advocated on behalf of the man, requesting he be allowed to stay according to the terms of his original admissibility documents.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Considering Canada’s relationship with China

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Forestry deserves to be discussed in Ottawa

Fortunately, the Minister of Immigration (at the time) was willing to hear the details of the case and ultimately corrected the error and restored faith in the fairness of our administrative process.

I respect this minister, who is no longer a MP, to this day for demonstrating the leadership necessary to right a wrong that could have easily been buried behind bureaucracy.

On a different note, more recently I was approached by a small business owner from the Okanagan.

This small business owner has been successfully importing goods for resale worldwide for close to two decades.

Over that time frame this business now employs over a dozen people full time and has invested significantly in a local Okanagan community.

Recently, and without warning, a federal agency refused entry to a shipment of goods destined for this small business.

These were the same goods imported to Canada for close to 20 years without incident.

To add insult to injury, no specific reasons have been provided to the small business to justify what was clearly an arbitrary decision made by this agency.

These unaccountable bureaucrats have refused to assist in any meaningful way to produce a solution or even a course of action to resolve whatever issue is ultimately at play.

They have stated that the products are not in compliance, yet will not offer any forward guidance as to which rules are being broken or how they can be brought into compliance, citing that it is the job of the small business and not the department in question.

This attitude stands diametrically opposed to the government’s rhetoric of encouraging small businesses to expand and export.

From my perspective, this is the type of situation that gives government bureaucracy a bad name.

I took this issue directly to the minister in question who sadly has sided with the department and will not offer any useful assistance.

This small business owner faces the potential of losing a significant amount of money that was invested in the inventory that was paid for prior to shipping.

There was a solution here.

Considering the same goods have entered Canada for close to two decades, this shipment could have been released with a directive that it would be the final shipment unless whatever corrective action deemed necessary is identified and undertaken. In the absence of that, the local small business suffers.

I will not be identifying either minister referenced in my report today but share this with you to ask one simple question.

To what degree of importance do you believe a cabinet minister has a duty to be accountable to the citizens of Canada they serve?

I would like to wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year in 2020.

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Hedley, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Repairs are planned for the Keremeos Community Pool. The work is expected to be completed by the time the pool is scheduled to open this spring. (File photo)
Repairs approved for Similkameen Pool

New liner will be installed at aging swimming pool in Keremeos

(Crime Stoppers South Okanagan Similkameen / Facebook)
Shred paper to help stop crime in Penticton

South Okanagan Crime Stoppers has partnered with UPS to raise funds during the pandemic

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Oliver police looking for man accused in robbery and assault at pot shop

The man allegedly assaulted an employee at the BC Cannabis Store

A protest has been planned for March 5, 2020 over Penticton council’s decision to reject an application from BC Housing to keep an emergency winter shelter open over a year longer than originally planned. (Jesse Day - Western News)
UPDATE: ‘Bring your tent’: Protest planned in Penticton’s Gyro Park over winter shelter closure

Protesters plan to show council ‘what the result of their decision will look like’

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
EDITORIAL: Heightened tension over face masks

Incidents of anger and conflicts over mandated masks happening too frequently

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Penticton RCMP will be attending Friday’s protest to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all gatherings. (File photo)
Penticton RCMP warn of potential fines for Friday’s protest in Gyro Park

Police will be there to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all organized gatherings

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: More road dust continues air quality advisory in Vernon

The advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Mountain caribou from an endangered herd have returned to an area adjacent to the area closed to snowmobiling on Queest Mountain. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Return of caribou herd prompts temporary snowmobiling closure near Sicamous

Lake Play area on Queest Mountain closed for the second time this year

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP stock. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)
Teen grabbed while jogging in Kelowna

18-year-old woman pulled free, running home and reporting incident to police

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Most Read