A voice for the people, not to the people - Denny Scott editorial
Last Wednesday evening, I was at the Brussels Four Winds Barn covering a special event. There, Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca was on hand to help bolster support for Huron-Bruce Libreal candidate Shelley Blackmore.
While Del Duca and Blackmore covered a great many subjects throughout the meeting and preceding media scrums, including Highway 413, the federal childcare deal, housing and education, one that Del Duca spoke about when he addressed the crowd of 60 or so people was something I’ve always felt was important: having a local voice at Queen’s Park.
You might say, as long as we have someone elected, we have a voice in both the provincial and the federal governments, however that’s not always the case, as Del Duca pointed out.
A successful politician - and by that I mean a politician who is thought well of by their constituents, regardless of what side of the spectrum they are on - is a voice for the people who put them in power, not a voice to the people who put them in power from the politician’s party leaders.
Before I get any further into this column, I’m not suggesting anyone vote for any specific political party or representative, nor am I demonizing any of our existing representatives. If a reader feels their representative doesn’t stand up for the reader, but to them, when it comes to policy and spending, then you know exactly what I’m talking about, though that’s not something I’m trying to impart here.
So, while the words came from Del Duca, that doesn’t mean it’s a Liberal ideology - or at least it shouldn’t be, if it is.
When we elect anyone, from a school board trustee to our local members of parliament, we need to know that they are going to represent constituents to the best of their ability. We need a voice at every decision-making table, from a local council’s chambers through to Ottawa. What we don’t need is someone only telling us about the great things that are happening because of their government.
Similarly, we also don’t need anyone telling us about the horrible moves their opponents are making, which is a lesson that some of the speakers at the Liberal event could’ve kept in mind a bit better.
Don’t get me wrong, if you feel that $6-$8 billion is too much to spend on a 53-kilometre highway, or feel that same highway isn’t a project worth tackling, like Del Duca does, there are ways to do say it without tying it to Premier Doug Ford, or claiming it’s being done to benefit Ford’s friends.
Huron-Bruce voters are no strangers to good politicians, those who stand their ground on important issues to their ratepayers even if it meant going against their party. Those strong rural voices are needed now more than ever. Why? Well because, as I’ve said before, we’ve got to the point where we’re not voting for people, but voting for binders. It sometimes feels like we might as well just put red, blue, green, other-blue, purple and other-green boxes on the ballot and choose our representatives that way.
That’s a problem because of where it gets us: with decisions being made without much thought being given to rural Ontario.
Rural Ontario can be easy for leaders to forget as, in my lifetime, we haven’t had a single premier who was raised on a farm (and with the appropriate level of common sense and decency that we rural Ontarians know comes with it).
Really: Ford was born in Etobicoke; Kathleen Wynne, Toronto; Dalton McGuinty, Ottawa; Ernie Eves, Windsor; Mike Harris, Toronto; Bob Rae, Ottawa and David Peterson, Toronto. That takes us back to 1985, the year they broke the mold with me.
The same could be said of our federal representation: Justin Trudeau was born in Ottawa while his father was Prime Minister; Stephen Harper, Toronto; Paul Martin, Windsor; Jean Chrétien, Shawinigan (a smaller city, but still a city) and Kim Campbell, Port Alberni (the smallest city, but still a city).
As a matter of fact, the only Prime Minister we’ve had who has anything close to a rural upbringing was Brian Mulroney, who served when I was born. He was born in Baie-Comeau which, as of 2016, has nearly 10,000 residents.
That’s why it’s so important that we, alongside other rural and agricultural ridings, get a voice worried about rural matters; the city concerns are always being represented in our provincial and federal leaders. So, when it comes time to vote, make sure we’re getting someone who will tell our premiers and prime ministers that, occasionally, rural issues need to come first. After all, you can’t grow crops or raise livestock on a new highway.