MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). This letter is in response to a letter titled, 'Being MPP and cabinet minister not an easy job,' published Dec. 3.
It was interesting to read the recent letter of support for our MPP by the Honorable Doug Lewis. Doug and I have had our issues over the years, but we generally remain cordial. It is in this tone that I must respectfully disagree with his assessment of the performance of MPP Jill Dunlop, and of the signs carried by those young folk on the Dec. 2 rally.
Mr. Lewis notes “Elected members run their own office and staff, answer inquiries from the public, serve on committees, are required to attend in Parliament and legislatures, among other things.”
Well, I suppose some do. Some don’t.
I believe the issue with Ms. Dunlop has been that she does not, in fact, answer inquiries from her constituents. Instead she provides canned answers dictated by the PC staff — when she does respond. She evades open discussion on issues of concern to people her riding. It is as though she is incapable or afraid of formulating her own opinions and explanations without a prepared statement.
The issue here is leadership. An elected official is expected to demonstrate leadership. This means taking the initiative in meeting with, working with, and getting the feel for all constituents. It means going to the places in the riding that need attention and learning from the people on the street. It means being available for more than photo-ops and fly-by cheque handouts.
Being a representative means more than going to Queens Park and sitting on committees. It means being in your riding as much as possible. And if the workload of being a minister prohibits that, then you are not representing your riding.
Mr. Lewis also notes, “Being represented by a cabinet minister is an asset to a riding. Cabinet ministers have extra clout when their office requests assistance from the bureaucracy.” It is only an asset to a riding if that minister actually listens to all of the people in the riding and not a select few. It is only an asset if the representative uses that clout to help people beyond the party donors.
Ms. Dunlop has not been an asset to this riding — she has been absent. As Minister of Colleges and Universities she was handed a bill to introduce, as Mr. Lewis noted. Yet, she could not bring herself to participate in a student-developed discussion at Lakehead this past campaign. That’s not leadership — that’s avoidance — that’s close to rudeness.
I challenge Mr. Lewis to encourage Ms. Dunlop to meet with the people who are concerned about Bill 23, and other draconian moves by this government. Time and again people (old and young) have simply wanted to ask her why she has voted certain ways — to understand her position. People have simply wanted clear explanation of the purpose of legislation — not a form letter response from the PC staff.
Ms. Dunlop is the elected MPP for everyone in this riding. She should act like it, be a leader, and meet freely with all her constituents. Of course, that would require open, honest dialogue.