#784 Summary sent to Mme Robillard

Written by  //  March 12, 1997  //  Canada, People Meta, Politics, Sam Totah, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Dear Mme. Robillard:

At the Wednesday Night Salon, on March 12, in the residence of Westmounters David and Diana Nicholson, one of the topics was how your constituents could best communicate to you their, ideas, suggestions and reactions to policies, initiatives and positions of the Liberal Party of Canada/Federal Government as well as their particular personal concerns regarding the riding in which you represent them in Ottawa.
In attendance were university professors, professionals, economists,bankers, lawyers, architects, writers, public officials and students, some 35 people representing a cross section of the Westmount-Montreal spectrum. Your able and eloquent Mr. Simon Potter, President of the Westmount-Ville-Marie Liberal Riding Association was also among the guests.

The following points summarize the thinking of those present (although there was rarely a complete concensus!). Please note that these are not listed in any priority. These points were raised for discussion and in a number of cases, solutions were not found. We leave that up to the Honorable Members, like yourself, to find the solution in the context of the political agenda and of course the best timing.

The number one issue was of course: Canada. Our concern on the unity question was unequivocal. We stand behind the same goal and idea: the unity of the nation, i.e. one indivisible Canada. However, on this issue, our hope is that the federal government would and should take a more aggressive stand, making clear what Canadian citizenship means! In an era of constantly changing political agenda, it is necessary to state the facts and the legal content of the rights and obligations of Canadian citizenship.

Both in the legal sense and in any other Plan “A”/Plan “B” context, and in the question of another referendum, where exactly the federal position will be vis-à-vis all Canadian citizens whether they live in this province or not. This is not a question of whether or not a Canadian passport will be valid, but what is the exact value and right of the ordinary citizen in claiming his due for belonging and adhering to the state called “Canada”.

We find the existing communication lines between the local residents of Westmount-Ville Marie and their official representative in Ottawa need to be improved. At a time of instant communication lines available, specially on the Internet, there is a need for elected representatives to be more present in their Ridings throughout the duration of his/her tenure – not only during election campaigns. In the interest of all, more effort should be made to schedule timely “town hall meetings” between the local MP and your constituents.
Still on the issue of communications, a malaise that could be rectified very easily was brought to the personal attention of your Riding Association president. This being that calls to your offices were not handled in the friendliest manner possible by some staff. We are sure that this is a question of perception and understanding the sensitivity and efforts that constituents put into efforts to reach their MPs; we are sure this problem could be rectified very quickly.
On the question of the “unity of the nation” and of course the daily political concerns of all Quebec residents, people voiced their anxiety at the fact that the federal government did not address on a ” timely ” basis a number of irritants. For example that Mr. Bertrand’s case found itself on the political spectrum at the initiative of “one person” was of particular concern. A suggestion was made that the federal government should tackle the issues in a more vocal and aggressive manner. The current Wait and See attitude on a number of issues -particularly on the eve of the referendum – the laissez faire laissez passer attitude “until the last minute” was a costly mistake not to be repeated. Holding the country together is the price and no effort should be spared in that respect.
Re: The unemployment rate and government objectives. We applaud the government role and efforts to bring order to the fiscal house. However, the same consideration and same objective should be undertaken -vis-à-vis an acceptable unemployment figure and that objective should be attained within the mandate of the government. To let loose the canon of the unemployment rate to attain the double digit figure and state in the Budget Papers and elsewhere that “we are on the right track” is simply not acceptable as a policy, nor is it acceptable to the millions of unemployed in this country.
The often-quoted statement by the Hon. Prime Minister-“Canada is the best country in the world” should be applicable to both the employed and unemployed people of this great country.
There was considerable discussion of the state of the nation’s finances and particularly the dwindling of “city finances”. Of course, the provinces and, indirectly, the federal government relations with the provinces ultimately determine the end result in the city coffers. This being the case a more open and conciliatory approach is advocated to solve the “diminishing funds” issue -by working for a common objective. To sum up “the end justifies the means ” approach is advocated, and in this case the end is the benefit of the citizen at the most local political level. Municipal representatives who were present underlined these concerns and we are confident that a meeting of the minds would be a first step to rectify the problem.
In conclusion, Mme. Robillard, as you know, the Wednesday Night Salon has a tradition of addressing issues in order to arrive at helpful suggestions for those who are able to resolve problems. In the case of the March 12th Wednesday Night, problems were identified, but the solutions are more difficult to find! It is our hope that this account will help you to understand those issues which are uppermost in your constituents’ minds and will enable you to carry this message to your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. Of course, and with great pleasure, all guests present will be available for further consultation and contact via Mr. Simon Potter.

 

All of those present expressed the hope that – whenever your time permits – you will return for a Wednesday Night. We look forward to the opportunity to enlarge upon some of these points in direct conversation with you. Our concerns are your concerns and we wish you and your Party well in the forthcoming national elections.

 

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Wednesday Nighters of March 12, 1997 by
Sam Totah

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