Published: November 15, 2017
To the editor:
While I am not one to take part in premature electoral posturing at a local level, Mr. Douglas Judson, the PC nomination hopeful from Fort Frances, shared a number of inaccurate and/or incomplete details in his letter to the editor last week.
Unfortunately, Mr. Judson bases the bulk of his letter on the final paragraph of a story in the Nov. 1 issue of The Dryden Observer, which incorrectly identifies me as the federal representative for the riding and says I am opposed to the legislation concerning the creation of a new riding. I am, in fact, the provincial representative and have been unwavering in my support for the creation of a new riding, but am opposed to how the process was pushed through too quickly for proper public consultation. I contacted the editor of the Dryden Observer on Nov. 3 to have these mistakes corrected, but did not receive a response to my message. A mostly-correct version of my views on electoral boundaries was actually printed in the same paper on Oct. 4, should anyone be interested in reviewing them.
I support the creation of two new ridings for Ontario’s north. On the heels of the last election in 2014, I met with Ontario’s Chief Electoral officer and proposed increasing the number of northern ridings, particularly as it relates to the Far North. Both my assistant and I attended consultation meetings as part of the process of the FNEBC, I participated in debate at Queen’s Park on Bill 152, and I consistently raised this issue with constituents in person and through media. I have also joined northerners and First Nations leaders in expressing concern that, after a rushed process which limited public input and Indigenous consultation, the ridings have been divided in such a way that do not achieve a major goal we set out to achieve: to ensure more Franco-Ontarians and more Indigenous people are gathered together into ridings of common interest. When that happens, we’re more likely to see Indigenous and Francophone candidates run, and win. Sadly, that hasn’t happened here. Communities of common interest have been divided by the new boundary lines, and what’s more, communities which already lack essential resources are given an unrealistic timeline to ready themselves in advance of these changes taking effect in the upcoming election. I understand why people are disappointed, and I share their disappointment.
In addition to fighting for better riding boundaries, I‘ve had a busy year working on issues residents have told me are of utmost concern to them. In fact, due to the increase in the volume of emails and calls to my toll-free line, I have had to increase overall office hours and open up another constituency office. I have continued to battle astronomical hydro bills, and for better access to health care services, including significant reforms to the Northern Health Travel Grant program that will provide the coverage northerners need, where and when they need it most. I have advocated for greater availability of seniors housing units in each of our communities – housing that is accessible and available for seniors of all income levels, and I have called on the government to create a strategy specific to each northern community. I’ve fought for safer roads: including the twinning of Highway 17 and better road maintenance all year long.
This is only a small sampling of the issues I’ve raised on behalf of northerners. For more about the work I have been doing, I hope readers will please take the opportunity to look at my riding report when it arrives in the mail in the next couple of weeks. Inside is valuable information on topics constituents have expressed concerns about.
For those who have not actually held the office of MPP, it may be easy to assume that it is a position that can be quantified by hours spent at Queen’s Park, in a constituency office or at public events, taking part in all the photo opportunities. However, this would not account for the research, travel, letter writing, running four offices, and it would not account for what I consider a very important part of the job – listening to constituents and doing everything I can to help them with whatever problems they are experiencing. This part of the job could never be quantified, and I wouldn’t even want to try.
Sarah Campbell, MPP Kenora – Rainy River