Emo councillors off to Ottawa

Local MP Robert Nault, also the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, has invited district municipal councillors to spend several days in Ottawa in order to gain an inside look at how the federal government operates.
“We’ve been thinking about how to get the leadership engaged in federal issues and how to resolve these issues,” Nault said Tuesday while attending the World Health Organization conference in Fort Frances.
Couns. Gary Judson and Doug Hodge will go representing Emo, accompanied by Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon and Kenora Mayor David Canfield.
“All councils were invited basically just to see where we fit into the scheme of things and to see what the feds can do for us,” said Coun. Hodge.
“We’ll be leaving June 2 and return on June 6,” he added.
This trip marks the first time municipal leaders in Canada have been invited to Parliament Hill. The U.S. congress already stages a similar “Week in Washington.”
“We had heard that they do that in the United States,” noted Nault. “They have a week where municipal politicians descend on Washington and they get meetings set up with all the legislators, all the congressman, House of Representatives, and they set up programs to get some opportunities to talk to the public service.
“It’s not just politicians, it’s talking to deputy ministers, directors on particular programming—if you want to understand a program and how it works.
“So, we’ve set up a program for when they’re there. They’re going to talk to FedNor, they’re going to talk to Natural Resources, they’re going to talk to some of the public servants . . . to give them a sense of how the process works—how we get from talking about an issue to bringing it forward.
“That’s the whole objective of their visit,” Nault stressed.
Nault added it would beneficial for him to spend time with the municipal leaders so they can see what he does. He’d also like to see his Northern Ontario colleagues follow suit and perhaps even lengthen the time the municipal leaders spend in Ottawa.
The itinerary for the trip next month includes a meeting with Andy Mitchell, secretary of state for rural development and FedNor, dinner with Nault, lunch at the Parliamentary dining room, a tour of various federal offices, and a chance to observe Question Period in the Commons.
An important aspect of the trip is the chance to meet with officials working on specific projects that affect the district. As well, municipal leaders will get to see how the system works, make contacts, and learn how to lobby more effectively.
Other business discussed at the Emo council meeting last Wednesday (May 1) included:
•approval for a Donald Young School request for money for the “community pitch-in” cleanup May 17;
•an update on the municipal discussion group in the Rainy River First Nations land claim negotiations;
•an appreciation dinner May 16 for Rupert Hunter, who is retiring from the Emo Volunteer Ambulance service after 25,000 hours of service in Emo, Manitou, and surrounding areas;
•Reeve Russ Fortier confirmed he will be trying to grow a giant pumpkin and will enter the pumpkin seed-spitting contest at the annual pumpkin festival in Rainy River this fall;
•the use of soda ash for coagulation purposes and the necessity of the water intake funding at the water treatment plant;
•acceptance of a challenge from the “Wheels to Meals” carpet bowlers on May 16 at the Emo Legion; and
•a skateboarding park to be located at the proposed sportsfield site.