After flying the friendly Canadian skies for the last 6 days, and as I sit 35,000 feet in the air writing this, I can say that on the ground, Canadians are very smart and really want to help their government.
I have been travelling with two Conservative MPs since July 23rd, I am now on my way back to Ottawa. We have been in Western Canada asking for advise, hearing about issues, letting solutions come to the surface and just plain listening. What we were travelling about may come out some other day in this blog, but this is about the fact that Canadians really do want to help their government. They see what is going on, everyday in their lives and the lives of their family and friends.
They want to speak out.
They want to be heard.
They want to be taken seriously.
That Canadians want to speak out is no surprise at all, we do it all the time, have you looked at Facebook recently? My goodness there are so many people that want to spew out their anger against the government, the opposition and yes, they still rail on Stephen Harper. What suggestions they make on social media is nothing that I care to or can repeat here, #RedHeartBlueSign is a family friendly place.
Where Canadians want to be heard are in community meetings, round table meetings, focus forums, coffee meet-ups and more. What you seem to want to say is “listen to us, we are experiencing good and bad things on the ground and we have ideas how to help improve or make things you (the government) do better.
In these meetings, the attendance is much less than the thousands that might comment about what either political leader did on whatever topic is hot for the day. In the meetings I attended this week, the most we had in ne meeting was 25, we listened and chatted for 90 minutes – it was manageable. Other meetings were as small as 6, but the average was 12 Canadians accepting our invitation to tell us what is on their minds and help us help them help the government. Simply put, we asked, ‘if you could, what would you do make things better?’
Our week resolved around one aspect of government services, so the Canadians we met had a vested interest in coming out to talk with us.
Yet, here is the challenging part, really getting down to listening and appreciating what Canucks have to say and putting these ideas into some plan of action to take to the government.
As part of the opposition, our intention to for the ideas Canadians told us, is to get them to the government. When we do that, we make a case for the serious consideration by the government of what we were told. I will be told that when Conservatives were in government they were not the best at listening. I am not to going to deny that. What I will advocate for going forward is and if I am part of a Conservative government in 2019, is that we really need to get to the Town halls, Legion Halls, Bingo Halls and Community Centres and sit down, listen and only speak when asked.
In the electoral reform meetings last year, much was said by the community, the majority of what was said was “change”. In the end the government did not offer any change. The government consulted, but did they listen?
There are so many great ideas out there waiting to be offered, really good simple solutions. The problem is that government is complex and those in government might believe simple cannot mix with complex. What I heard was that simple ideas can be implemented; Canadians have thought these things out.
There are two elections coming up. The Ontario Election will be held in June 2018 and the Federal election is set for October 2019. Ontarians and Canadians will be listening to all the parties; they will give a lot of advice and propose many, many, good ideas. Getting the political parties to listen and to include what they hear is the brave and right thing to do – listen and act even if it falls outside of normal party politics.
After listening for 6 days, I will take everything we heard; categorize it all, consider actions on the ideas and propose policy, simple policy and take it to the government or consider what would make great policy for a Conservative government in 2019.
So what is in your mind? When your local elected representative has a community forum, do not pass up on attending it. Go, listen, discuss and share. That is the only way that any current or future government can really act on your behalf. Canadians should speak up and leave the backroom strategists out in the cold of policy development.
So Canada, what is on your mind?
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