Published: November 8, 2017
Sarah Campbell has the honour of representing the people of Kenora-Rainy River in the Ontario Legislature. She is paid $116,500 per year, plus a housing allowance, to do so. And yet, it is increasingly apparent that she cannot be bothered to show up for work.
The recent process which led to the splitting of Kenora-Rainy River (Ontario’s largest riding) into the ridings of Kenora-Rainy River and Kiiwetinoong is a telling example of her absenteeism and ineffectiveness. Ms. Campbell is opposed to this initiative – an initiative that is squarely designed to improve the representation of our region at Queen’s Park and to strengthen our voice in government. Her protest is inexplicable – and frankly, lazy.
Earlier this fall, Ms. Campbell told the Dryden Observer that the process which recommended the new electoral map amounted to “gerrymandering”. Gerrymandering refers to manipulating the boundaries of a riding so as to favour a particular party. By installing the non-partisan Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission to undertake consultations, the government guaranteed the absence of undue political influence. Ms. Campbell clearly doesn’t know what gerrymandering is since her comment came at a time that the bill was before the Legislature – implying that it was the job of politicians to engage in extended consultation and rework the electoral map. Doing that is precisely how you open the door to gerrymandering.
The Commission’s recommendation was tabled as Bill 152, which is now passed and enacted, but for some reason, Ms. Campbell is continuing her protest. This is very bizarre, because the Legislature’s records show that she didn’t show up for the Committee meetings or the Legislature’s final vote – a vote on a bill conceived almost entirely for the benefit of her riding, that was supported by the rest of the NDP caucus.
It would seem to me that if you do not vote, you lose the right to complain. But Ms. Campbell also declined to participate in the process at other times as well. It does not appear that at any time during the spring and summer Ms. Campbell used her platform as an MPP to encourage the public to participate in the Commission’s consultations, and she did not participate in the Legislative Committee that reviewed the bill. The Committee’s planned visit to Kenora was cancelled because no one expressed interest in appearing. Being our voice on matters of local impact and engaging the electorate in locally-relevant public policy matters is the entire job of an MPP, and Ms. Campbell did nothing but complain after the ink was dry on the Royal Assent.
When Ms. Campbell was called out for this on Twitter, she replied, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good lambasting! #Whoneedstruth #PCsmakeitupastheygo #apparentlyyouCANmakeitup” – a petulant suggestion that Hansard, the Legislature’s record of her attendance – is ‘made up’.
It would seem that the only fact and truth we are faced with is that Sarah Campbell is nowhere to be found. As this episode illustrates, she is either incompetent or has no respect for the people of Kenora-Rainy River.
And this is not an isolated incident. A review of Hansard and voting records since the last election to the end of June 2017 shows that she has been active in the Legislature for about a quarter of sitting days. Most people would be fired if their attendance was that bad.
Locally, almost every community leader I have spoken to has indicated that she is missing in action, and that they never hear from her. Fellow MPPs often can’t recall the last time they saw her in Toronto. Her constituency offices are plagued with reduced hours and staff turnover. Her last social media posts that show any outreach in the riding are over a month old. While some may believe that she is hard at work in the far north, she has also stated that she only has budget to visit that region twice per year. So where is she?
Ms. Campbell has yet to indicate whether she intends to seek re-election, or which of our region’s new ridings she intends to run in. Pity the one she chooses, because both of these ridings require focused, conscientious representation at Queen’s Park – not a part-time MPP phoning it in on a six-figure salary.
Douglas W. Judson
Fort Frances, ON