This week I am back in Ottawa attending a number of briefings and meetings related to Okanagan-Coquihalla and also my new duties as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of Treasury Board. When I’m in Ottawa one of the ways I stay in touch with the Okanagan is through reading various online editions of local news outlets. One recent trend that I have noted in some letters to the editor is an increase of personal attacks directed against elected officials. In any democratic society there will always be disagreement from time to time on issues and likewise there is merit in constructive criticism and debate, however mean spirited personal attacks in my view have no standing and add little constructive value to a discussion. I know many Mayors, councillors, MLA’s and MP’s who work hard on a range of challenges and generally throughout the Okanagan we have a good track record of our different levels of government working together in successful partnerships. While it is understandable that some of the projects and administrative decisions will be disagreeable to some the reaction to insult and attack the decision makers as opposed to questioning the decisions made is counterproductive and lowers the level of debate.
Fortunately there is an alternative. If you disagree with the decision of an elected official rather than engaging in a personal attack, why not take the time to first contact the individual(s) directly to share your concerns and at the same time ask why a particular policy or decision was made.
A meaningful two way discussion can better inform both party’s and that in turn can lead to a better understanding on an issue. There may not be a mutual agreement however at the very least there will always be a benefit to respectful dialogue that focuses on the issues and not the personality’s involved.
On a different subject recently a few people have asked some questions on my weekly MP reports and it occurred to me that I have not in the past provided information on my weekly reports. It may surprise some to learn that there is no formal requirement for a Member of Parliament to issue regular reports to constituents. From my own observations I have noted that some MP’s do weekly reports as I have done since being elected while others prefer bi-weekly or monthly and some take a more sporadic approach depending on events the MP believes are of interest to local constituents.
As far as content of an MP report this is entirely at the discretion of the Member of Parliament. While some make allegations that MP reports are written or are otherwise directed by the Prime Minister’s Office (or elsewhere) these claims are completely untrue. In my case I compose my own reports each week no differently then how I respond personally to emails and return citizens phone calls. For the record my reports are not “vetted” or “approved” and each week are sent directly from my office to local media and citizens that can sign up for an automatic email subscription. If you are interested to receive my MP reports via email you can do so at my website. I try in each report to cover topics that may be of interest to local citizens and to communicate on bills and other aspects of Parliamentary affairs to increase awareness of what occurs in Ottawa here locally.
Each week I typically receive a number of responses to a MP report that can range from being positive and encouraging and at other times can be quite critical of Government or asking for additional information. I greatly value all comments and concerns including criticisms; this input is greatly valued and hopefully with continued respectful dialogue we can continue to build a stronger Canada.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.