New Year’s Resolutions

The turning of the calendar year is symbolic with a focus on new beginnings. Like the first day of school, a new calendar year is filled with hope for better times. Often we make resolutions that are focused on self-improvement, wishing to cast aside some element of our behavior or circumstance we have bookmarked for change. For others, resolutions may focus on maintaining positive behavior and refining these improvements. While some are able to meet their resolutions and make or maintain the changes they desire, many are not as fortunate and find themselves engaging in routines that are familiar, if not comforting.

The same can be said of countries and their populations. Publicly, we desire to improve ourselves – to improve the way we deal with each other and the circumstance in which we operate. Yet in this area too, we easily fall into old patterns and repeat both behavior and expectations.

For politicians, the challenges and desires are the same. But there are familiar circumstances that lie in wait to draw us back into old habits. The necessity of partisanship and how it can easily go too far is a good example.

According to pollster Nik Nanos, most people indicate they do not like overtly partisan messaging. He also says there is a tolerance for partisanship that is focused on an issue and not overly personal in form. Most people understand that competing public policy and messaging is a requirement of our multi-party system which is a cornerstone of the democracy that defines a large part of our freedom. Yet, there is much to a political day that goes unreported.

Most reporters are not privy to the way that politicians of all stripes can work together. When an MP is able to bend a Cabinet Minister’s ear about a local issue and see an immediate result, the microphones are nowhere near. It is the good side of Parliament that often does not make the news, but can make a difference. I have good working relationships with many Cabinet Ministers and have had successes in advocating on behalf of the constituency with these people. It is not the stuff of prime-time news, but it makes a big difference in our communities and that is what the job is truly all about.

In 2011, I will continue to place the utmost priority on serving the people of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing. Knowing the difficult circumstances many Canadians face and the unique challenges for Northern Ontario is the fuel that will keep my fire burning in the new and challenging year that lies ahead.

I wish you all the best in 2011 for a prosperous and peaceful year.