Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on April 5th, 2013.
When it comes to haircuts there remains the option of using the services of a salon or the trusty hand of a barber. For many who depend upon the necessity of a schedule, the salon may be the preferred option while the take no appointments business approach of the barber is the answer for others. It’s important to always have choices and also to recognize that for some, “scheduling” is just not something that works for them. It occurred to me recently that the vast majority of my meetings are always “scheduled”. There are all kinds of reasons that necessitate the need for scheduling but what about those citizens who don’t work well with schedules?
As it happened, I did not accept any scheduled appointments this Friday, and also gave one of my staff a well-earned day off. Rather than work the back-end of my office by scheduled appointments I wanted to work the front counter so I could personally meet with my constituents who either called or dropped into the office unexpectedly for assistance. From my time spent as a city councilor and Member of Parliament I have found there is enormous value in meeting with people directly in a face to face meeting. I believe it is also important for citizens to be able to sit down with your elected official and asking them why the government has introduced a particular policy or explain the circumstances of a particular challenge they need help with in resolving.
My first walk in constituent was a very nice lady who after living in Canada for an extensive period of time, had decided to apply for Canadian citizenship. For many Canadians who were born here or have immigrated long ago, the requirements for immigrating to Canada have changed considerably over time as more emphasis is put on language and employment skills along with a renewed emphasis on citizenship. Knowing more about Canada, our history and our institutions is important information for all Canadians to be aware of. We should never forget that along with citizenship, comes both rights and responsibilities. This nice lady had a few questions regarding some of the questions in the citizenship guide, but certainly had an excellent grasp of our Federal, Provincial and municipal institutions.
My next drop in visitor turned out to be my friends Diego & Olive Alcaraz who happened to step in to see if I was in the riding so it was great to be able to have an on the spot meeting. Many in Penticton have heard Diego as he has devotes a tremendous amount of his time presenting at local schools (he is quite a gifted musician), arranging friendship tours in both Mexico and Canada or singing along with his 'Amigos' group as Diego works tirelessly to strengthen relations and understanding between Canada and Mexico. This turned out to be a great unscheduled opportunity for us to update each other on various aspects of policy and how to build stronger ties.
The reason why I think it is important to mention these meetings is that both of the above occurred with people who were “walk in's”- meaning they were looking for a level of engagement, assistance and accountability from their Member of Parliament. For me it was great to interact with them, see their love for our country and to personally welcome them to my office without the delay of a scheduled meeting.
In my brief time as a Member of Parliament I have had many opportunities to raise local issues in Ottawa, to articulate and advance the opinions of my constituents, but I can say the part I relish the most is these face to face to face meetings. The old saying 'no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care' comes to mind. In the future I will be setting aside more time for those who lack the time to set a schedule.
In addition to his weekly MP Report. the Dan in Ottawa blog is another resource for residents of Okanagan-Coquihalla. Chronicling Dan’s personal experiences as he travels to Ottawa and throughout the riding as your MP.
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