December 1, 2016
MLA, Calgary-Fish Creek
December is a busy and joyous time of year. The Fall Legislative session is set to conclude by mid-December and I will be grateful to return to my family and constituency! The Government was planning debate on 17 pieces of legislation in a short time, so it will be interesting to see what Bills become law and which ones die on the order paper.
A highlight for me is visiting Grade 6 classes. In Grade 6 the curriculum has a section on democracy and government. Here is a “Coles notes” version of the stages a Bill goes through to become law. For a Bill to come into legislation it must first be presented in the Legislature by an MLA (Member). This is called first reading. It is during second reading that the merits and principles of the Bill are debated. This is the opposition’s time to bring forward questions. The Speaker of the House’s job is to make sure that the debate is controlled and behaviour is civil. Once debate has been closed a vote is taken and the Bill goes to committee. It is here that amendments may be made to improve the legislation in the Legislature. Once the committee work is complete, the Bill is brought before the Legislature again for a third reading. Again members of all parties are able to speak to the Bill either in the positive or negative. This is why your feedback helps me to better represent you in the Legislature. Once complete, a vote is taken, the majority rules, and new law is enacted!
In Canada we practice a Westminster system of government, which has been adopted due to our British colonial roots. I mention this as I have often been asked why MLA’s tend to vote primarily along party lines. The other interesting feature is votes of confidence. A vote of non-confidence is when the Government is deemed no longer fit to govern. Therefore, if a party wishes to remain in Government, it must have the confidence of the majority of the House on budgetary bills. Votes of non-confidence are not common in majority governments but have happened frequently in minority governments when the two party coalition required breaks down, usually on the introduction of a Budget.
As many of you know, the holiday season can be a time of joy and difficulty. I hope that as we go forward this Christmas season we do so remembering that it is not the gifts under the tree that matter most, rather the gifts of the heart. When we give of ourselves in the service of others we discover ourselves and what matters most, people. I constantly remind myself that in Government we are in the business of people. Stephen R. Covey said that “selfless service has always been one of the most powerful methods of influence.” Treating others with kindness costs nothing and yet its influence permeates our homes, communities, province, and country. Let us remember tolerance, kindness, and respect for others this holiday season.
Please come by my office on December 19th for seasonal celebration from 4-7pm. We will have good food and share some holiday cheer in thanks of your support. A reminder my office will be closed from Dec 23 – Jan 2 with an emergency number on the answering machine and on the door with emails being checked for urgency. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!