At 7 a.m. Tuesday, about 20 people gathered outside McKecks on Haliburton’s main drag.
Representing Environment Haliburton! and the newly-formed Concerned Citizens of Haliburton County, they came to protest before a talk by MPP Laurie Scott. Scott was speaking to the chamber’s breakfast club.
The placard-brandishing protestors were all older adults of the tame variety. They came in peace. They knew Scott wouldn’t linger but hoped she would at least see their signs – protesting climate change inaction; larger class sizes; cuts to health care; the living wage and more – and maybe even stop for a minute, exchange a few words.
From there, stories differ and the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.
The protestors on Highland Street ran to the back of the building. Scott was already inside. A few who’d been on the sidewalk, off of McKecks private property, say she didn’t give them the time of day. Scott says she acknowledged them.
Remember a couple of months back, in March, when Scott’s office was locked to the public and media during a protest over the cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot Project? At the time, Scott said it was due to safety and confidentiality of people visiting her office. The move also came after that same office had been vandalized last October.
It’s safe to say that Scott never had to worry about break-ins and vandalism, or protestors, during her 15-or-so years in Opposition.
However, things have changed.
She is now not only a member of the Ontario government but a Cabinet minister.
With that added responsibility comes increased scrutiny.
Make no doubt about it. People in Haliburton County are talking about the Ford government’s sweeping changes, be they perceived good or bad.
I was at a yoga class Tuesday night and, before we started, the talk was about education and health cuts. Walking around the streets of the county this week, flooding and Ford are dominating conversations. People are talking about cuts to conservation authorities as flood waters rise. There is concern about larger class sizes. There is uncertainty and trepidation about how local health services are now going to operate. No more inter-library loans. And, what about paramedics and health units? The list goes on and on, as evidenced by the Ontario News press releases that continue to fill my email inbox.
We’ve been reporting on some of this. We would really need more staff to report on all of it. There have been education protests and climate change protests. On Facebook, some readers are criticizing us for being too political. We can’t help it. It’s what people are talking about. And, for those who would accuse us of having Liberal or NDP leanings, we don’t. We do our best to do our job without partisan politics filling our ink.
We followed the protestors Tuesday but we also stayed to report on what Scott had to say to business leaders. And, we went to the Haliburton County Home Builders Association’s career day. That’s one area Scott and company are doing very good work.
Scott said she believes in what her government is doing. So, she should be able to stand up and defend it, not just at a chamber breakfast, but to protestors across the riding and in front of her constituency office.
She should never forget that she serves at the pleasure of the people who elected her to Queen’s Park. She may not agree with her detractors but she has to engage with them and not lock office doors or sneak in back doors. Voters deserve better.