THUNDER BAY – Why is it that so many people feel that they are not being heard or that our MPs and government don’t do anything about their issues? Why do we sometimes feel that Government goes out of its way to implement programs and policies in ways designed to be as frustrating as humanly possible? What is happening today is not working for us. We need to bring some different ideas to the job of representing the people of Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
One consequence of our geography is that decision makers in Ottawa are far away from those of us here who have the expertise relevant to the issues that matter to us. One of the realties we face is that it is difficult (and expensive) to travel to Ottawa – particularly if an issue requires more than one trip.
Thunder Bay – Superior North has an incredibly rich pool of talent – experienced and knowledgeable people who know the issues that affect our lives, inside and out. An important part of my job as your MP will be to tap that expertise and bring the knowledge and passion of Northwestern Ontario to the decision making table in Ottawa. Technology today allows us to ensure that local experts can speak directly and as often as necessary with federal policy and decision makers without having to travel. Something as simple as setting up my office here and in Ottawa with modern video and communications technology can make a real difference. It allows us to bring people together – conveniently and inexpensively – in ways that will allow true participation in the decision-making process.
Sadly, even finding out about issues that affect us is sometimes difficult. I believe that the ideas behind the Liberal party’s “open government” initiative, which entitles citizens to full access to information and citizen question periods, can also be applied at the riding level and I will do that. “Town halls” and surveys serve a purpose, but what we do with that input is even more critical. That is where the MP owes his constituents a true and regular report card.
I have lived and worked in Northwestern Ontario for most of my life. As part of that work I have been involved for many years in trade related negotiations in Washington, Ottawa and throughout Canada. I know what it takes to tackle complex issues that involve all levels of government. If we want to cut through the roadblocks that always seem to be put in our way, we need to bring everyone involved in our issues to the table – at the same time. By looking at the job differently and by focusing on those who we serve and their needs – allows that to happen.
One of the most important things an MP from this riding can do is to bring people from here together with those in Ottawa who make decisions. As your MP, I will do that in a different way so that the issues that will shape our future will get the attention and input they deserve. Effective political representation is not about the MP; it is about making sure constituents are able to participate in the decisions affecting them. We are not being heard today in the way we should be. That needs to be fixed and I am committed to making that happen.
Liberal candidate for the federal riding of Thunder Bay – Superior North