Survey set to go out

I hope everyone has had a great summer so far, and that Mother Nature has a few more sunny days saved for our rapidly-approaching Labour Day long weekend.
This week I wish to provide details on two items that may be interest of to you—the federal NDP’s convention, which was held just over a week ago, and a riding-wide survey I am sending out in the next few weeks.
First, though, you’ve probably noticed I’ve scaled back the number of columns this summer. While my column is a great way to keep you informed about what is going on in Ottawa when I am there working on your behalf, the summer has allowed us to stay in touch in a far better way: in person.
I’ve spent most of the summer break attending numerous pow-wows, fairs, fishing derbies, and barbecues, as well as holding several public and private meetings on a variety of issues.
I’ve also been knocking on doors and making a number of phone calls when I get the chance.
In short, it’s been easy to stay in touch with one and other over the summer, but my column will start up again once I return to Ottawa in a few weeks.
Since most of us are pretty tuned into local events already, I thought I would share my thoughts on the most important event I attended outside of the riding this summer—namely, the New Democratic Party of Canada’s biannual convention that was held recently in Halifax.
Because Thunder Bay-Rainy River and six other ridings in Northern Ontario elected New Democrats to be their MPs, our regional contingent carried quite a bit of clout, which we used to pass a series of policy resolutions we think will benefit our region down the road.
For instance, we successfully introduced a resolution to create a stand-alone federal development agency for Northern Ontario so our economic interests finally stop taking a back seat to those of southern Ontario and Western Canada.
Another policy requires future NDP governments convene a national forestry summit every three years, which would include other levels of government, business, labour, and other interested groups, to more effectively deal with problems in the forestry sector and as they arise.
These two proposals are now official NDP policy, and ensure that northern and rural Ontario will continue to have a strong voice in the policy and objectives of at least one of our federal parties.
While our local events and the convention have made for an exciting summer, I’ve now started to shift my attention to the future and to the fall session of Parliament. This is where I will need your help.
In a few weeks, your household will receive a survey from my office that will ask for your input and opinions on a variety of issues that likely are to dominate our work in Ottawa during the fall session.
I’m sending the survey out in advance of the coming session because we’ve all seen how easy it has been for some of our elected officials to lose touch with the people they represent.
I’m determined not to let that happen so while I have done my absolute best to seek out your advice in private meetings, town halls, and mailings thus far, I think a somewhat more detailed questionnaire is in order to ensure I stay focused on the issues that matter the most to you as we all work to end this recession and find a prosperous new way forward for Northwestern Ontario.
I’ll wrap up this week’s edition up by saying “thank you” to all of you who allowed me to participate in your exciting and fun events over the summer and to others for just saying “hi” and giving me feedback when we run into one and other on the street or in a coffee shop.
With autumn and the new session of Parliament in sight, we’ll have to find other ways again to stay in touch, so I hope you’ll write, call, e-mail, and complete the forthcoming survey to let me know if I am focusing on your issues and, as always, to put me straight if I am not.

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