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From Geoff’s Desk

M.P. Halifax West Geoff Regan, Quarterly Edition: No. 23-Spring 2010

Even thought parliament has been shut down, my work representing Halifax West has continued.

I’ve been busy meeting with people in the riding about issues like environmental programs, skills development and business and community projects in Halifax West.

I have also been helping constituents work through difficulties with immigration, student loans, employment insurance and Veterans Affairs.

The time I spend working with constituents is one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and it’s always good to have the opportunity to hear from residents of Halifax West at public meetings, community events and at my constituency office.

Liberal MPs returned to Ottawa on January 25th because we felt there was important work to be done.

We put our time to good use, consulting stakeholders on such topics as health care, homelessness, community safety, job creation and veterans issues.

As the critic for Natural Resources, I co-chaired a meeting with key players in forestry, agriculture and mining and on the medical isotopes shortage.

These sessions help our party shape its policies as we head into the next session of Parliament.

Whether I am in the riding or on Parliament Hill, I’d like to hear from you about what you think our priorities should be in the House of Commons as we move forward this spring.

Standing up for Parliamentary Democracy
Hundreds turnout for “No Prorogation” rally in Halifax

On January 23rd, I joined the hundreds of people, who braved the cold outside Province House, to send a message to Stephen Harper: Report to Parliament.

When Prime Minister Harper made the decision to shut down Parliament, he was betting that Canadians wouldn’t care.

But he bet wrong.

Thousands of people across the country came out to protest this affront to Canadian democracy. And more than 225,000 people have joined the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

This grassroots action shows that Canadians don’t take our democratic institutions for granted.

I felt inspired when I heard those hundreds of voices join together in singing out national anthem at the rally.

It was a reminder that the work MPs do matters to Canadians. Part of what makes us all proud to be Canadian is our representative democracy and the opportunity to open debate in Parliament.

When voter turnout was at an all-time low in the last federal election, with only 58.8 per cent of registered voters casting a ballot, it looked like Canadians were tuning out.

But in the last few months, Canadians have shown they aren’t willing to give up their voices in Parliament.

I hope we all remember how much we value our representation in the House of Commons and show up to vote, for whatever party, in the next election.

Let’s Talk Foreign Aid

International assistance has been at the front of Canadians’ minds lately. With the funding cut to KAIROS and the disaster in Haiti, people are wondering what are Canada’s priorities for foreign aid, and whether out money is being spent effectively.

We are all proud of Canada’s response to the earthquake in Haiti.

But I have received dozens of emails and letters from constituents concerned about the Canadian International Development Agency’s decision to cut funding to KAIROS, a multi-denominational faith-based aid organization that works to fight poverty and support human rights and social justice in the world’s poorest countries.

I have, and will continue, to urge the Conservative government to restore funding to KAIROS.

On Janurary 12th, I held my 90th Let’s Talk meeting on the topic of foreign aid. I was pleased to have a great turnout at the Bedford United Church that included representatives from non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross, KAIROS, Grandmothers to Grandmothers and the Nova Scotia Gambia Association, among others.

The meeting was also reported in the Bedford Beacon.

A common point raised  by participants at the meeting was that Canada needs to have a clear foreign aid policy and focused priorities for allocating resources that relate to Canada’s values and areas of expertise.

Participants were also concerned about political interference in CIDA’s funding decision-with KAIROS held up as an example of an organization that apparently had its funding cut because of its criticism of the Conservative government.

It was earlier the same day that I first became aware of he earthquake that devastated Haiti.

Canadians immediately responded to the disaster with an outpouring of support for the country, which had already been facing challenges with poverty and development.

Canadians’ response to this crisis shows that we care what happens in other parts of the world and is a demonstration of the compassion we are known for.

My Liberal colleagues and I had the opportunity to hear similar views expressed at a roundtable in Ottawa on February 2nd.

The Liberal caucus heard from representatives of non-governmental organizations, development groups and the academic community about how to define Canada’s international assistance role in the world and how to strengthen the effectiveness of Canada’s aid through accountability, transparency and limits on political interference.

Top 5 Immigration Tips

1. Keep Records-When applying for Permanent Resident Card renewals and your citizenship, you will need proof of residency, such as your lease, income tax statements and medical records.

2. Include Details-When you are writing a letter of invitation to sponsor a family member be specific about the purpose of the visit, length of stay, relation to visitor and financial commintments.

3. Watch for Deadline-Keep track of Visa expiration dates and deadlines for applications. Renew your permanent resident’s card well ahead of the expiry date as renewals take time to process.

4. Be Patient-Check processing times for applications and apply in advance if your application is time sensitive. Processing times at Citizenship and Immigration Canada can take between one and six months and are listed on the CIC website.

5. Know the Facts-Don’t be mislead by myths and misinformation. Consult the Citizenship and Immigration website at www.cic.gc.ca, or call CIC toll-free at 1-888-242-2100.

Did you know?

You can have your income tax returns and GST rebate deposited directly into your bank account. Visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

Keshen Goodman Library offers new wheelchair service to disabled guests

Keshen Goodman Library provides wonderful services to the communities in Halifax West, including Internet access, a cafe, education programs and, of course, book and audio loans.

The staff at the library wants everyone to enjoy these services. With the help of the Abilities Foundation of Nova Scotia, they’ve made the library more accessible for people with disabilities by providing a wheelchair for visitors.

The wheelchair can be booked in advance by calling 490-6410 or in person at the Information Desk.

For more information about the library visit www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca.

Do you need assistance with:

-Your PR Card, Visa or Citizenship application?
-Issues with your income tax?
-Student Loans?
-Canada Pension?
-Veterans Affairs?
-Other matters relating to the federal government?

Contact my constituency office at 426-2217 or email geoff@geoffregan.ca.

Constituency Office
222-1496 Bedford Highway
Bedford, NS B4A 1E5
Tel: 426-2217
Fax: 426-8339
Email: geoff@geoffregan.ca

Parliament Hill Office
Room 645, Confederation Bldg
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 996-3085
Fax: (613) 996-6988
Email: Regan.G@parl.gc.ca

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