The importance of communicating ideas, information

By Toby Barrett, MPP

What you are presently reading is my premier communications platform—a column I’ve had the good fortune to pen on a weekly basis as an elected representative since 1995. You can’t beat a column for being able to express in detail your thoughts, the thoughts of those you represent, and the government’s latest initiatives. I get plenty of interesting feedback on my articles from readers, and that informs both my communications and my understanding of the “wishes of the people.”  Print continues to put me in the hands of my readership, now and for years to come.

For decades, we have seen extensive coverage from local papers including the Simcoe Reformer, Port Dover Maple Leaf, Delhi News Record, Haldimand Press, and the Grand River Sachem.

Beyond print, some communication forms simply identify where I happen to be working. For example, if you were at this winter’s Port Rowan Fish and Game Show, the Caledonia Christmas Parade, or the Kettle Campaign at the Port Dover No Frills, you would have seen one of my vehicles adorned with the familiar ‘Toby Barrett’ magnets.   Constituents have told me that they appreciate seeing one of my trucks, tractors, or cars throughout the riding as a key indicator that I am out there, showing up, and listening.

Speaking of listening, radio has always been a key component of my communication strategy. In a riding where the car is king, there is a substantial mobile audience (as well as those at home or at work) who want to hear from me. It’s a reminder that I am there for them. Certainly MyFM Simcoe 98.9 and Caledonia 92.9 “The Grand” come to mind. 

Overwhelmingly, much of my communication lies with showing up at events at Queen’s Park and in the riding, and the tremendous number of contacts made with my offices.

On the electronic front, I’ve maintained a website——since the late 1990s.  It’s a conduit to contact information, petitions, surveys, photos, news releases and columns, and links to government agencies.  Many constituents often “drop by” to see what’s going on or to connect.

When it comes to using social media, I try to give the young and the not-so-young a run for their money. With my ubiquitous iPhone, I’m constantly putting out ideas, information, and photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to broadcast the latest from Queen’s Park or our beautiful part of the province. 

Find me, friend me, follow me at Toby Barrett on Facebook, @TobyBarrettHN on Twitter, and tobybarrettmpp or tobybarrettHN on Instagram.

I find social media is barely fast enough to keep up with the speed of Premier Ford’s daily agenda, which is quickly making Ontario open for business and open for jobs.  And it also allows me to showcase, as I encounter them, Haldimand-Norfolk’s natural grandeur, interesting people and places, and key issues of health care, phragmites, farming, education, gas prices, pipelines, oil refinery jobs, steel, and manufacturing.  Like most social media enthusiasts, I get a nice share of likes and even the odd troll—who would have thought a politician would attract trolls?!

Seriously though, as it evolves, people’s use of social and other media will continue to play a major role in my communication plans and I’m always looking to “up my game” to disseminate and receive ideas and information. 

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk