“This place is the moon,” said an experienced civil servant to a room full of rookie MPs, myself included, gathered on ‘the Hill’ in Ottawa. “Back home in your riding, that’s earth.”
As this column goes to print I’ve made my third lunar landing since May 2. My trips to date have been for the purpose of finding my footing on ‘the Hill’. An incredibly helpful House of Commons administration is running an unusually high number of first-time MPs through an orientation process covering member’s office budgets, parliamentary procedure and all points in between – including advice on how to hold family and personal relationships safe against the scrutiny and incredible demands of the job.
Along with other activities, on this particular trip I will be getting sworn-in, losing the qualifier ‘elect’ from my MP designation. I am left at last as simply, humbly and very proudly your Member of Parliament.
My thanks go, yes, to those who supported me on May 2, but also to all of those who engaged in the electoral process through my 15 months of candidacy.
My Ottawa orientation has enabled me to move forward as quickly and surely as possible with the process of finding and leasing a Constituency Office and staff to assist with the important work to be done here on ‘earth’. I expect to have an office and staff in place in the coming weeks. Until then, you can reach me at email@example.com or, effective June 1, 416-467-0860.
While we continue to get ourselves set-up here on earth, work will resume on the moon effective June 2 with the Speech from the Throne.
And while I take – and you’ll note, enjoy – the point of the earth/moon metaphor, I ran for election firm in the conviction that what happens in Ottawa affects life here in Beaches/ East York. That is to say, if we practice the politics that we should be practising, Ottawa won’t be seen to be so remote and politics will be seen to matter to those need it most to matter.
There are many, of course, who will swear that a space shuttle is required to get to Ottawa – and some are outright hostile to the suggestion that this is not so. Harper’s recent appointment of three failed Conservative candidates to the Senate would, I must confess, tend to bolster that case. But I am determined to uphold the faith you have placed in me – or, as the case may be, to establish your faith in me – to close the distance between Beaches/East York and Ottawa by moving this country forward on the issues that matter most to you.
This is of course a challenge from the benches of the Loyal Opposition. But from our side of the House we have always to – and will always – hold the government to account in all that they propose to do to – or fail to do for – this country. More than that, we will use as our measure of the government’s conduct a vision of a Canada organized for the common benefit and premised on the basic dignity and worth of every person. In Jack Layton’s terms, we will be doing “proposition, not just opposition.”
We have as the foundation of this vision the platform that we put forward in the election. But there is much more to do and a large and enthusiastic NDP caucus – including eight of us from Toronto who are committed to the success of our City – ready to embrace the challenges ahead. In this very early dispatch, I am happy to report back to earth that there are signs of life on the moon.
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