By MPP Toby Barrett
I feel fortunate I have been given the opportunity to publish my weekly newspaper column over the past 27 years.
I first approached the Port Dover Maple Leaf, as my grandfather Tobe Barrett, when MP, wrote a column as a “farmer-politician”. Thankfully Stan Morris agreed to run my column. I told Stan I was on my way to Hagersville to see Bob Hall of The Haldimand Press, to which Stan replied, “You think I’m Liberal, wait ‘till you talk to Bob Hall.” Bob also agreed to give me a chance, acknowledging, “Half my readers are Conservative.”
I am also thankful to the Simcoe Reformer, the Grand River Sachem, the Burford Times, Tillsonburg News and so many other media and social media publishers for carrying my columns and my media releases.
My goal has always been to get 1,000 words a week published, including the 550-word column. If I add it up, the word count comes in at a million-four. The past 27 years has also been comprised of hundreds of thousands of faxes letters, e-mails, text messages and social media. And of course, 27 years of speeches statements and questions recorded by Hansard in the Ontario Legislature and on Standing Committee.
To this day, I stand by every word.
And then there’s the ongoing phone calls, meetings, events and receptions – the buzz of communication and sharing of ideas and information that take up the day and night of not only an MPP, but also of staff. And it continues whether in a farm shop or at a parade or festival, at a plowing match, or a car show, or a gas station . . . or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
My staff and I have always tried to share as much information as possible . . . to capture ideas and concerns and to always strive to determine what people are thinking and how best we can send that up the pipe on people’s behalf. We have always believed that government should work for you, and serve your interests . . . certainly not the special interests. Government is meant to be accountable to you, and your needs, and your tax money. Standing up for you, the people of the riding we represent, is the top priority.
People in our area are an independent lot who think for themselves and are willing to take calculated risks drawn from many years of running farms and small businesses. As someone who commutes to the city weekly, I agree with the notion that people in Toronto think differently than we do.
It is no secret that many in our area felt my veteran staffer and executive assistant, Bobbi Ann Brady, would be a great person to take over my job. As a retiring MPP, I nominated her to be my successor . . . but someone in Toronto disagreed.
At time of writing and publishing of this column, Bobbi Ann will have declared her candidacy for the position of MPP Haldimand-Norfolk. Of course, she has my full endorsement and assistance over the coming month.
I think things are going to get a little more exciting. Stay tuned, stay informed and look well to your vote!
Once again, I can’t say enough about my admiration for the people it’s been my honour to serve. I have been truly blessed! For this, I am truly grateful!
Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk.