August 25, 2021
As we continue to talk about how we can improve our politics. I want to shed some more light on some of the better parts of it.
One of the greatest revelations of serving as a first term MP, is the realization of how much of the work takes place outside of the House of Commons. We see Question Period, speeches, and committee hearings, but so much of the meaningful work of an MP ties back directly to the people we serve.
MPs serve two core functions: one is the public facing role that we all see, to be the voice for your community in Ottawa. The other is to be the conduit for constituents in accessing government services, especially when other avenues fail. Much of this work goes unnoticed, but I can say with four years worth of conviction that the role of going to bat for fellow residents is what makes it all worth it. The long flights, the frustrating and distracting political games, the late nights and long hours all feel more worthwhile when you have the chance to channel the power of the office to help somebody in need.
I would like to share the stories of two people with you. Our work with them inspired me to keep pushing for essential change during my service as an MP. First, there is Patience. An immigrant from the Philippines, Patience simply could not be reunited with her family under the immigration system established by the previous government. She moved to Canada for work when her kids were 6 and 3 years old. Every year she saved enough money to go and visit her children for two weeks. The government of the day had cut family reunification numbers by 75% and this left her wondering if she would ever be able to live with her kids in Canada. My dedicated team and I made her case to Immigration officials and we succeeded in enabling Patience to bring her children to Canada. Eight years after moving to Canada to build a better future for her family, she was reunited with her boys, 14 and 11. The day that the family came to see us at the office, there simply weren’t enough Kleenex boxes to catch all the tears.
I also spent a lot of time with Jake, a veteran, who served our country proudly in Afghanistan. I met Jake in his garage one day while I was out meeting residents. When we first met he was so angry at the system, he could barely talk about his previous experiences calling into the Veterans Affairs office without tearing up. I had to return another time to get him to open up about the challenges he had experienced that caused him to feel so left behind. After my second visit with Jake, I managed to convince him to meet our team at my constituency office. Over the next several months, we worked with him and managed his file with the federal public servants. In doing so we were able to dislodge his benefits. Jake is now a Chartered Professional Accountant and can’t believe how his life has turned around. I smile when I think on how rewarding it was to work with Jake and Patience to help shape their futures for the better.
I also learned that grinding it out for constituents is where great MPs spend their time, rather than lobbing a political insult or demeaning someone’s character in the House. The theatre of Question Period overshadows the life-changing effects of true advocacy that lies at the heart of political representation. People like Jake and Patience, who have fallen through the cracks of government services, need the support of their Members of Parliament the most.
A funny thing happens when you embrace the philosophy that it doesn’t matter who gets the credit or whether there is any credit at all to be given. The simple satisfaction of helping to right the system and to tilt it in the direction of benefiting hard-working and deserving citizens is what matters and it certainly is what most inspires me.