Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Our riding’s Liberal Member of Parliament, Will Amos, has brought a breath of fresh air to our riding. Within a year, he has organized consultations on climate change (and the mis-named “urber economy”), our socio-economic future, Canada Post, high-speed internet, our softwood lumber industry and exports, and the vital electoral reform project. Within the next few months will be added consultations on regional economy, EI benefits, and agriculture. Quite the menu!
All this in comparison to our past two MPs – representing no less than the Conservative cabinet, plus the NDP, both showed much less energy and less appetite for these topics (or problems). Amos’ public meetings were scattered across the riding from Gatineau and Hull to Chapeau, Fort Coulonge, Otter Lake, Luskville, to Maniwaki, Cantley, Chelsea, Wakefield, La Péche, Val des Monts, Gracefield, and Grand Remous.
The list continues. Mr Amos has set up a Constituency Youth Council to assist him in youth-important topics and a similar project for local arts & culture.
How encouraging it is to have a political leader listening to his/her constituency and organizing get-togethers where citizens talk to each other and bring their own perspectives on these important topics. So many politicians show up only to tell us what they think and what they are going to do – on our behalf. The fact that we rarely hear from them again, or find their proposals buried in a parliamentary agenda much too busy for rural matters, has led to the sort of dissatisfaction with politics and leadership that led to Trump’s victory in the US.
This is re-enforced by Mr Amos’ often mention of “open democracy” and his signature under, “Democractically yours”. However, these very goals and commitments can lead to this same disillusionment here if there are only words, and not the actions they require. All this activity of Mr Amos has, so far, been mostly conversation. We have yet to see follow-up legislation or government actions that create the solutions that all these meetings have handed Mr Amos and his party.
Talk is not action.
In politics, talk is often the opposite of action.
Most of us in the Pontiac already know these problems – we live them – and we know some solutions. What we need is government action. Merely revisiting our old problems for Mr Amos’ enlightenment is not solving those problems.
But we must recognize the importance of bringing people together around these problems. This is one of our big needs – mobilizing our population and mobilizing around very specific and real problems. We have long waited for our MRC to lead this sort of public mobilization . . . besides the rail line, the banks leaving. So good on Mr Amos! This is the good side of charisma, its necessary side: mobilizing and inspiring people.
If anyone wonders about the riding’s (and nation’s) attentiveness to next steps, consider the widespread popular disappointment with the Liberal Party’s backing away from genuine voting reform and a review of C-51, or its embrace
of unpopular pipelines, dams, and shipping terminals on BC’s sensitive coast. These were Mr Trudeau and his party’s promises, especially voting reform.
Many observers have noted a decline in popular support for the “new” government. Mr Trudeau’s refreshing alternative to Mr Harper will continue to buoy him, but memories of Harper’s intransigence, obscurantism, and hostility to open government are growing dimmer the further he fades into history. We’re facing the future.
We’re waiting – and eager to participate in – the legislative and funding follow-up, now that these first steps have been so well taken by