COLUMN: My Job as Your MLA
While travelling around my constituency of Kootenay West and the province I am often asked “what does a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) do?” I decided to share with constituents what my job has entailed since February and the start of the winter Legislative session. The days are long, sometimes difficult but it is also incredibly fulfilling and I am privileged to have this job.
When the Legislature is sitting, as it is now, I am in Victoria during the week. Sometimes I fly home on Friday and other weeks I have to attend meetings in other parts of the province. Over the last couple of months some of those meetings have been in Kamloops, Fort St. John, Cranbrook, Kimberly, Fernie, Prince George, & Abbotsford. While in Fort St. John local residents took me to view the land, farms and homes that the proposed Site C dam will destroy. I saw the incredible beauty of the river and landscape, the agricultural land that will be flooded, all for power we don’t need. This visit confirmed for me that the Site C dam project should not go ahead. We can generate more power and create more jobs in a number of different ways. I will talk about our Power BC plan in a future article, but if you would like more information you can go to http://bcndpcaucus.ca/powerbc-2/
During the week in the Legislature we attend daily caucus meetings, sit in the Legislature for Question Period, debate on Motions and Bills and also Legislative committee work. We meet with various organizations and individuals to hear their issues and concerns. Over the last few weeks some of the varied groups and agencies I have met with are the following:
Agricultural food groups
BC Cares Society
Resident Doctors of BC
UBC Medical Students
Heart and Stroke Association
Professional Engineers and Geo Scientists
Raise the Rates Lobby
Credit Unions of BC
Truck Loggers Association
Cement Association of Canada
Equal Voice BC
Professional Firefighters Association
Canadian Diabetes Association
I also deliver “2 minute statements” in the Legislature, where an MLA speaks about people or events they think are of importance to their constituency and beyond. Since February I have delivered five 2 minute statements on diverse subject matter including the Trail Library Exhibit of Italian-Canadians who were interned during WW11, the passing of Rossland resident Erik Knudsgaard, Kidney Day, the BC Wildlife Federation and the Kohan reflection Gardens.
The phone and social media are another way I stay in contact with constituents. There are many mornings when I arrive at the office before 7am and wish I had asked if the people I need to call were early risers! I could speak to so many more constituents at that time. I have a politician Facebook page and a twitter account. I can be found on twitter @KatrineConroy and you can find links to the Facebook page on my website, www.katrineconroy.ca
While in the constituency I meet with groups, agencies and constituents as much as time allows. Some of the local meetings or visits I have had over the last few months include School District #20, Teck Cominco, VISAC Gallery, Socials 11 class at SHSS, Rural Pre Med program at Selkirk College, Community Social Services Employees Association, the 59th Annual awards banquet for the West Kootenay Big Game Trophy Association in Trail, and Hospice without Borders, the regional hospice group. I have raised the issue of the endangered Toads in the Summit Lake area with two Ministers (Minster of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) and my office continues to work with local groups and agencies. I also attended a community meeting in Oasis regarding unstable land and road concerns by residents. Along with Regional Director Worley, Ministry of Transportation staff, and Emergency BC officials I listened to the concerns of Oasis residents and have asked the Minister for FLNRO for assistance with the situation there.
As an MLA I present petitions on behalf of constituents in the Legislature including recently a petition on the access to management areas in the Pend d’Oreille. I have also made a Private Member statement in the Legislature on the economic value of parks and my support of a new national park in the South Okanagan. I also recently presented a Private Members Bill in the Legislature entitled “Sustainable Wildlife Management Act”. This act states that we should make science based conservation a priority and ensure adequate funding for habitat management.
Constituents can go to the Legislature website www.leg.bc.ca and search under “Hansard” and then “member index” under my name and you can see a list of topics that I have raised in the house since February. These include a response to both the Throne speech and the budget; asking the Premier and ministers responsible questions on subjects such as post-secondary tuition and fee increases, and Governments lack of response to youth in care deaths. I spoke at length on motions including fiscal management and a diverse economy, knowledge based economy and plans for women’s equity. I spoke out on income assistance and disability benefits, forestry issues, electricity rates and education funding.
Since I am often in Victoria or travelling around the province it is important that constituents understand that I have excellent staff in my constituency office in Castlegar. They handle much of the case work from constituents and are able to liaise between government agencies and Ministries. So please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like some assistance. My contact information is:
Katrine Conroy, MLA
2-1006 3rd St.
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