By MPP Toby Barrett
The Christmas season becomes the perfectly imperfect time to reflect on the past year. By taking stock of the challenges we endured, we can take lessons for what may lie ahead.
When the Ontario Legislature belatedly rose for the Christmas holiday, it was in effect the last day of the first sitting of the 42nd Provincial Parliament of the Province of Ontario. Our Speaker of the House, and my long-standing colleague Ted Arnott, had taken the time to address all members of the House. He acknowledged 2018 as a difficult year for all elected to be involved in Ontario politics.
There were the frantic months leading up to the June 7th election, the early resumption of parliament once the election was over; a rare summer sitting which then blended into the fall sitting. There was little time for MPPs to catch their breath and for staff to learn their new roles and responsibilities. At my home, the grass grew out of control as I worked hard, along with Premier Doug Ford and my colleagues at Queen’s Park, to bring about meaningful change for our riding and beyond.
I am grateful people across Haldimand-Norfolk once again entrusted me to represent our rich and beautiful riding on their behalf. It is a calling I have never taken lightly nor will I. I assure you, decisions made this session were, in good conscience, based on the promises we made during the campaign. There are those who do not agree with our accomplishments, but I learned long ago from my friend and former Premier Mike Harris, that by trying to be all things to all people all of the time nets few results.
All of us, no matter what job we do, can often feel the heavy demands of our roles. Those demands can seem relentless with the days long and the challenges sometimes insurmountable. I confess it is no different in the Ontario Legislature. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we continue to embrace the challenges, learn from our disagreements knowing we are all motivated by the desire to build a greater Ontario for future generations.
“While we may differ on how to best achieve that goal, broadly speaking we all share it,” Speaker Arnott told us. “We are not enemies across the aisle. We are colleagues; we are parliamentarians. That is the basis upon which we should debate the issues before us.”
These words took me back to the Christmas Truce of 1914. The truce came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and is viewed as one of the last examples of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It serves as a heartening reminder, that if humanity can endure the brutal acts of war, today we can surely face life’s challenges with maturity and respect.
My colleagues and I have now returned to our separate ridings. I will spend the Christmas season where I am happiest, reconnecting with family, friends and those I represent in Haldimand-Norfolk. At the same time, I will be looking ahead to the work that I can aspire to do in 2019 so together we can continue making our area and the rest of Ontario a home we can be proud.
In closing, I wish you all peace and happiness this Christmas season.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk