Blog Post Nov 14th, in the Riding

Contrary to what many people might think, when parliament is not sitting an MP can often be even busier than when we are in Ottawa. This week in the riding was as busy as any in Ottawa.

On Monday I had the opportunity to sit down and spend some time getting to know two of the new city councillors who will be representing London-Fanshawe constituents at City Hall, Ward 14’s Jared Zaifman and Ward 1’s Michael Van Holst. It is important to me to work with representatives from all levels of government for our community, and I am very much looking forward to working with both of these smart new councillors.

On Monday evening I also joined our Westminster Girl Guides troop to talk with them about the importance of Remembrance Day and the service of our veterans.

Of course Tuesday was Remembrance Day. The skies were clear blue and sunny and the largest crowd I have seen in my eight years as an MP gathered at the Cenotaph in Victoria Park. This year marked the centenary of the beginning of WWI, the 75th Anniversary of the start of WWII and the 50th Anniversary of Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. Following the ceremonies and wreath laying, I visited the annual Remember November 11th Association (insert link here) public reception at Centennial Hall where I had the opportunity to visit with many of the young cadets who participated in the ceremony. The remainder of the day I spent with our veterans and members of the Armed Forces at the Duchess of Kent and Victory branches of the Royal Canadian Legion. I joined the Legion to support our veterans all year around, and I would encourage everyone to consider becoming a member at their local Legion branch.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to meet with the third new councillor in London-Fanshawe, the dynamic Mohamed ‘Mo’ Salih who will be representing Ward 3. I have known Mo for several years now, but this provided us a good opportunity to talk about working together on issues in the north-east section of London-Fanshawe.

As the deputy critic for the Official Oppostion on the Canadian Heritage file, Wednesday was also a special day for our community as the 166 year old Fugitive Slave Chapel was finally moved to its new location beside the 145 year old Beth Emanuel Church, which was built to replace it. The Fugitive Slave Chapel was a destination point for Fugitive Slaves fleeing the horrors of slavery via the Underground Rail Road from the southern USA. The Fugitives brought many skills with them and had a desire to work hard to make a new life for themselves. They played a major role in the formation of the City of London and the political make up of Canada in general. As just one example, the first integrated schools were planned at meetings in London.

While there is much work still to do to restore this important part of our local heritage, this was nonetheless a celebratory occasion. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that this was made possible in part by over 500 generous donors who contributed to preserving this important piece of history.

I also met this week with representatives from the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning Board and a local expert in Emergency Preparedness. I attended the John Robinson Awards night at the London Music Club, hosted by the London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse where we honoured Sue Wilson and Darlene Ritchie for their contributions to this important initiative.

On Friday I wrapped up the week attending a luncheon at Fanshawe College with community leaders from around the region to discuss the importance of post-secondary education in driving economic development and job creation. That was followed by a visit to the Salvation Army Centre of Hope, where we marked its 10th Anniversary in London. I spoke at this anniversary about the realities of childhood poverty in particular and the important role organizations like the Salvation Army are playing in filling the significant gaps in Canada’s social safety net, and why government can and must do more!

Finally, before I head back to Ottawa I will visit my local Gurudwara to visit with the community as Diwali ends. I will also be joining the family and friends of William Fredrick “Pat” Mills on Sunday for a visitation marking his passing. Pat was one of our proud and brave WWII veterans. He passed away peacefully on Remembrance Day at the age of 92. We heard the news at the Duchess of Kent Legion on Remembrance Day, shortly after the ceremonies at the cenotaph and raised a glass to toast his life and his memory. I was fortunate to have had the chance to know Pat. He will be missed by his family and friends.

Lest we forget, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.