Albas: Constituents can comment on riding change

There could be some major changes to federal riding boundaries before the next election.

Although Canada’s next general election is not scheduled to occur until 2015, there could potentially be some major changes that may be of interest to citizens living in many areas of the province including Okanagan-Coquihalla.

These changes are not related directly to politics but rather the riding boundaries that separate one electoral district from another.

In some instances the changes may be relatively minor and in other cases the proposed changes may be more significant.

For example as the current proposal stands, Summerland and Penticton would end up in different riding boundaries whereas Merritt and Princeton, currently in separate ridings, would end up in the same electoral district.

Conversely, Keremeos would no longer be in the same riding as Princeton, but would join Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos in an expanded South Okanagan riding.

Over in the Kootenays there would also be some significant changes as Salmo and Nelson would be separated however Nelson would end up in the same riding as Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

From a political perspective these boundary proposals are also noteworthy given that currently the southern riding is represented federally by an NDP MP and in Okanagan-Coquihalla, I was elected as a Conservative MP.

From my perspective I believe it is important, as federally elected officials, we avoid commenting on these changes and avoid any perception of attempting to influence boundary changes that may either enhance or work against partisan political interests.

That being said, I do believe it is important for both local and regional government representatives and more importantly citizens to be aware of these proposed changes and give consideration on accessibility of current electoral boundaries and those that are being proposed.

To learn more about how your community may be impacted by these changes I encourage citizens to visit the 2012 federal electoral redistribution website or to call the commission at 1-855-747-7236.

If you would like to submit your comments or make a submission to the commission, your application to do so should be filed no later than Aug. 30, 2012.

The commission can also be emailed directly at bc-cb@rfed-rcf.ca

While these proposed changes to the boundaries of our riding are top of my list for this year’s summer listening tour, it is far from the only item of discussion.

With roughly three weeks left on my annual summer listening tour I had a chance over the weekend to compare notes I compiled from last year’s tour.

It is a very worthwhile exercise to learn what concerns remain, what new topics are arising and what subjects are either less often mentioned, or no longer a topic that I am hearing about.

One topic that was far more frequently raised last year when compared to this year is gas prices.

Although not a topic I am hearing extensively about recently, it was a dominant topic last year and one that I covered in a previous report and as a result have been researching and investigating gas prices over the past months.

Why I am hearing fewer concerns expressed about gas prices this year compared to last may be somewhat related to fuel pricing being more stable over the past 12 months than the previous 12-month period.

As an example this year gas prices have fluctuated in a range roughly within 12 cents per litre whereas the previous year there was an increase in excess of 20 cents per litre.

My research to date confirms that there are many variables that contribute to the final price of fuel at the pumps and I could compose several more reports on this subject from that perspective alone.

However the question I am most commonly asked is why gas prices are significantly higher in some communities in Okanagan-Coquihalla compared with others.

This is a more complex question and the one that I have focused on for many months now, and more so as the answers I have received to date do not adequately, in my view, address that question.

Fortunately I have recently received information and more importantly documentation that I believe will be of benefit in taking this matter forward.

I look forward to reporting back to you again in the very near future on this topic.

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