Live Rural NL Blogger reflects on his first year in office
On October 11, 2011 – I was elected by the people of the Straits-White Bay North as their representative in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland & Labrador. I have to express a sincere thank-you to the district association, volunteers, family and friends who worked tirelessly on the campaign and believed in me and my ability to represent the people of the District. A thank you to those who took the time to vote in the past election, no matter which candidate you marked your “x”. I hope in 2015 more people participate in the democratic process and have your voices heard.
First of all, it has been an honour and privilege to work on your behalf these past 365 days. There will be much to do in the remaining years of my term and I look forward to working with you as we work to find co-operative solutions to your issues, ideas and concerns.
Over the past 12 months, I have held Town Hall meetings in each municipality, community meetings and engaged many citizens both in the District and across Newfoundland & Labrador. I’ve been to Municipalities Newfoundland & Labrador’s Convention, Federation of Labour Conference, Combined Council of Labrador AGM, Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committee National Conference and an International Fisheries Symposium.
In Winter, Gerry Rogers, MHA (St. John’s Centre) and I held a Housing Roadshow taking us from St. Anthony, Norris Point, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Grand Falls-Windsor, Clarenville, St. John’s, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Marystown. Spring brought the opening of the House of Assembly. It was my first sitting of the Legislature and I was the youngest member at 26 years old. I raised issues repeatedly calling for the removal and remediation of the Englee Fish Plant, improvements to Hemo-dialysis service, queries into the Air Ambulance re-location, pressed for roads upgrades, infrastructure, cellular coverage and broadband Internet. Questions were raised about the fishery, forestry, agriculture, Regional Economic Development Boards and other topics. I also travelled to Placentia and Trinity Bay North. As well as, participated in the Federal NDP Leadership Convention in Toronto where I was a delegate for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, The Leader of the Official Opposition. Come Home Year Celebrations in St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet/Gunner’s Cove, Main Brook & Anchor Point/Deadman’s Cove brought thousands of visitors to the District. It was a pleasure to be joined by Dale Kirby, MHA (St. John’s North) during the St. Anthony Come Home Year celebrations, his tour of the College of North Atlantic and Public Library.
Prior to being elected I called upon the Government to remove and re-mediate the Englee fish plant, questioned Government, presented petitions to the House of Assembly, raised the issue in the media and repeatedly used the social media. I can happily report that the Englee Fish Plant is being demolished and site re-mediated. The people spoke loudly and Government listened. I encourage citizens to continue to bring your issues to my office as your Representative.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi-Vidi) toured fish plants, attended Main Brook & St. Barbe-Forrester’s Point-Black Duck Cove – Pigeon Cove Come Home Year and was guest speaker at our District Association meeting with more than 60 in attendance. Certainly a feeling of growth from the 15 we had in attendance in 2011. George Murphy, MHA (St. John’s East) visited Englee, Roddickton-Bide Arm, St. Anthony and The Straits in September.
I enjoyed the Orange Tent Tour, which kicked off with a fisheries presentation at Humber Elementary, Corner Brook and then visits to Norris Point, Fogo Island, St. Alban’s, Harbour Breton, Grand Falls-Windsor, Old Perlican, Labrador’s south coast, St. Anthony, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Main Brook & Anchor Point. I’ve spoken to fishers, plant workers, union reps, processors, aquaculture specialists, operators, industry association reps and Government officials. As a critic for Fisheries & Aquaculture, I certainly have much to learn. It led me to take a personal vacation to Iceland to learn more about their fishery. It included tours of fish plants, fish markets, manufacturing facilities of equipment, advanced systems & services for the industry as well as conversations with locals. I was intrigued by the auction system and how capital is real time, ensuring the fisher always gets paid and the advanced transportation network they have for purchasing and shipping fish. However, I was less enthused by ITQs and how small processors are losing much ground to larger corporations. We can not just look to countries like Iceland and Norway and tout their models, it is not that simplistic. I do believe there are models for change, strength in co-ops, royalty regimes and community-ownership of public resource. We have to begin the dialogue of what we will do to empower rural communities, to enable us to thrive in a modern world.
Today, I knocked doors in Pine’s Cove. It was a pleasure to speak to my constituents at the door step, living room and kitchen table. I look forward to continuing the conversation…we have much to do!
Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done
I still have a strong passion for sharing my stories, photos and rural experiences from the Great Northern Peninsula with you on my blog. Since elected I’ve posted only 76 times to Live Rural NL for a total of 319. Yet, I am astounded to have more than 125,000 readers since the humble start in June 2010. I’d also like to report that my piece “Family – The Cornerstone of Our Lives and Society” has received top billing with 12,934 views. Here’s the link if you’d like to read it yourself: https://liveruralnl.com/2011/07/24/family-the-cornerstone-of-our-lives-society/.
Just last night, my aunt called and said my younger counsin wanted to come in for a visit. I was watching the NTV News, was home alone and could have easily said “no, I’m really not up for company tonight, but instead said yes”. He came in and we played the Game of Life. He started out as a hair stylist straight out of high school earning $30,000 and I earned a college degree as an Accountant earning $70,000. My cousin ended up switching careers and became an athlete, which had a higher salary – but I think for my young cousin the fact that he could imagine being an NHL hockey player was more than satisfactory. I have to say we enjoyed the game immensely – he found buried treasure, wrote a best selling book (which he says was about his career) and won money on a game show. Meanwhile, I ended up in a car accident, with Twins and two other children and travelled to Florida. It was quite a laugh and he ended up with $2.7 Million at retirement, much richer than me. However, playing the game with him was such a reward and reignited the importance of spending time with your family. We later played a couple games of darts before calling it a night.
My blog will continue its focus on the Great Northern Peninsula, it’s people, businesses, landscapes and experiences. I look forward to sharing with you the next post.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North