Politicians are representatives of the people in the regions in which we are elected. I strongly believe as a young individual and a community-oriented person that we must work from the grassroots – build from the ground-level up. I believe in public consultation and involving my constituents in the process through regular public meetings, community/Town hall meetings, door-to-door discussions, availability at public events and also the forum of the social media to communicate. There is an expectation in today’s modern society that politicians be available to their constituents more than ever.
I had the privilege of meeting Alberta’s NDP Leader Brian Mason who believes that public engagement is critical to a more democratic society. The Alberta election is about three years away. However, the Opposition Wildrose Party (right-wing) and the New Democrats (left-wing) are working together to reach out to youth across Alberta to change the political landscape from the 40+ year reign of the governing Progressive Conservatives. They are participating in seven or eight debates across universities and colleges in major cities across the province.
On September 18th, 2013, I took public transportation (LRT) to University Station in Edmonton to the Lecture Hall at the University of Alberta. I was very surprised to see about 400 people, mainly youth gather at the event. It was refreshing as a youth and as a politician to see such interest as these two Leaders raised the bar and reached out though public debate of the issues and keeping it real. The Alberta New Democrats have been very vocal against the PC budget cuts of 7% to the education system. This campaign has garnered much support in their Edmonton base with currently four MLAs from the Capital and evident support from repeated cheers during much of the debate.
There were many issues brought to the forefront such as energy, pipelines, economy, post-secondary education, health care and public services. I enjoyed hearing the differing viewpoints of Leader Danielle Smith and Leader Brian Mason. The issues facing Alberta (a commodity economy) in many cases mirrors Newfoundland & Labrador on a smaller scale. We must conduct long-term planning and evaluate the impacts our aging demographics will have on program and service delivery.
On September 25, 26 and October 1st, I held a series of Public Meetings in St. Anthony, Sandy Cove and Roddickton. It was an excellent opportunity to hear concerns, issues and ideas of those living in the community. Meetings brought out about 150 people total and included those as young as 19 years of age. This is all very positive, as you can listen to the views of constituents and share information. It reduces barriers and builds trust. There is power in the voice of everyday people and commend you all for stepping up! Together we will build a stronger economy in the District of The Straits-White Bay North.
Public engagement is critical – rural NL certainly needs more of it!
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North NDP Office of Public Engagement critic
- MHA hosts Public Meetings in St. Anthony, The Straits & Roddickton-Bide Arm (christophermitchelmore.com)