SOUTH DUNDAS – As part of a continuing series, The Leader is running a weekly question of the week series to help inform readers about the candidates running for the October 21st federal election in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.
All candidates running to be the new Member of Parliament are given the question of the week, and are limited to approximately 225 words for their response.
Only responses received by the deadline given to candidates are published. The Leader has reserved the right to edit responses for journalistic-style and word count. Many of the questions will deal with specific issues in South Dundas, as decided by the editorial staff of the newspaper. Responses are listed by alphabetical order, by last name.
This week’s question: One of the most important roles of an MP is helping with constituency issues. If elected MP, what will you do to continue/expand the availability of constituency resources in the riding for its residents?
Conservative Party of Canada
One of the greatest work experiences that I have had is working for our outgoing Member of Parliament Guy Lauzon for 9 years (2007-2016) as his Executive Assistant on both Parliament Hill and constituency offices. I got to see firsthand Guy’s energy and commitment to his constituents. His staff operate one of the busiest constituency offices in all of Canada. Guy and his staff have set the bar high for excellent customer service and being the go-to place for federal issues. I plan to continue that with a full-time office and satellite offices in Morrisburg and Winchester and offer that exact same level of service. Whether it is a Canada Revenue Agency, CPP, Old Age Security or immigration file, I want to be the front line service for residents. I am also committed to hosting the volunteer income tax clinics for low-income seniors and residents to ensure their taxes are filed and they receive the benefits they are entitled to. Last year, the constituency office completed 6,000 returns with the volunteer teams. Passport clinics in local school gymnasiums have also been well received by the community as thousands of constituents have used the service over the years. I am committed to hosting several clinics per year in all parts of our riding to offer the service ‘close to home’.
Liberal Party of Canada
It is interesting to note that previous Liberal M.P.’s made significant precedents in delivering top notch constituency service. When the Hon. Ed Lumley was elected in the 1970’s, he was one of the first M.P.’s in the country to open a fulltime constituency office. Bob Kilger as M.P. held regularly scheduled constituency days in the communities of Morrisburg, Chesterville, Winchester, Berwick and Lancaster. It was not uncommon for either M.P. to meet with constituents after regular office hours and on weekends. While technology (email, text, websites, social media, etc) has no doubt changed the manner in which constituents contact their MPs, one thing that has not changed, that is the need to have bilingual, experienced, knowledgeable, capable individuals working in the constituency office(s). However there are times when constituents will want to meet in person with their MP and time will be made available in the MP’s schedule. As your M.P. I will continue to hold constituency days in Morrisburg, Winchester, and Lancaster. I will also hold regular policy forums in coffees houses around the riding. Constituents will no doubt agree that a good constituency office staff can be of vital assistance to the MP in dealing with their inquiries particularly in vetting the routine issues versus those of considerable substance. I will have a strong bilingual, experienced, knowledgeable and capable teams ready to service constituents needs.
Kelsey Catherine Schmitz
New Democratic Party of Canada
Across Canada, low voter turnout and apathy about Canadian politics are a concern. In our riding, I think many people feel like their lives and issues do not matter to politicians or the government. We need to ensure our communities feel involved in the political process. It is essential to the role of MP to keep our constituents well informed of decisions happening on major issues and policy in a more accessible way. I think the best way to do so is by holding townhalls and information sessions to keep voters, and use social media to engage with and inform the riding. Finally, with a large riding, constituents can sometimes be over a 45 minute drive from the constituency office. MPs offices also do a lot of casework support for constituents. On a trial basis, I would create a mobile office, where we would host space from community centres in various townships to allow more people to come to us with concerns and needs on a regular schedule. I would also seek to create a strong connection with our Service Canada office, and develop an approach with them to host monthly “mobile” hours for work within our region, supporting our constituents. We would use this opportunity to assess where in our region new supports should be created, whether its growing our Service Canada outreach, or developing alternative approaches to supporting the needs of our constituents.
People’s Party of Canada
Guy Lauzon is well loved by citizens of SDSG because of the excellent service his staff have provided over the years. They have listened to the needs of citizens and have taken all matters seriously, providing help for a variety of problems, big and small. People of this riding have come to rely on that level of service. It is unfortunate that Guy Lauzon is retiring but it is inevitable that someone will take over the task. I am the best person for this role because of my professional experience, management skills and passion for justice. I am tired of watching regulatory and governing authorities harass honest business owners, farmers and law-abiding property owners. I am passionate about defending the personal rights and freedoms of Canadians. I have seen an increasing lack of responsibility by big businesses to resolve complaints for consumers. Consumers’ rights have been eroding for years due to the negligence of both big businesses and government. I will be your voice in these matters. I will provide a constituency office in Stormont Dundas South Glengarry that has a dedicated staff and is well managed. The People’s Party is the only party that defends traditional conservative values such as respecting veterans, promoting business, fiscal responsibility and strong families. The Conservative Party is no longer a strong defender of these values because they have been wavering with their policies, trying to buy votes from a variety of special interest groups.
Green Party of Canada
No response was received from the candidate by press time.