By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on January 30, 2020.
MLA FOR LETHBRIDGE-EAST
Criticism by certain people that the City of Lethbridge “had to hire a lobbyist” because I was not doing my job is not only false, but entirely misleading >and opportunistic, given that these allegations were made while I was away on vacation after a very busy fall for our government.
First, the City has not hired a “lobbyist.” Rather, they hired a consultant – something that municipalities across the province commonly do and the reason they do this is to help with their messaging and communication strategy regardless of who is in power and which level of government they are seeking support from. Second, if the City has hired this “lobbyist” with the sole purpose of acquiring more funding to address the challenges Lethbridge is facing with addictions, it demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the government’s plans and timelines. Third, and most importantly, the allegation by those that hiring a lobbyist is necessary because of a lack of representation on my part is misleading since lobbying government is not the true function of an MLA.
A lobbyist, by definition, is an activist who seeks to persuade members of government to enact legislation or grant funding to benefit their cause, often to the exclusion of other groups or causes – a completely single-minded occupation by virtue of its mandate. >Sadly, this definition seems consistent with the NDP’s ideological approach and their solution to everything is to throw money at problems instead of trying to find responsible and rational solutions. Big spending requiring big taxes supporting big government will not fix our problems and is the very kind of thinking that spends out of control, calls for provincial sales tax, and saddles the citizens of Alberta with a debt of over $63 billion.
As an MLA I am not a lobbyist. I was elected as a representative of Lethbridge-East. As a representative, I was elected to act and speak on behalf of a wider group of Albertans than only those who voted for me. >This is exactly what I have done, not just for Lethbridge-East, but for all of Lethbridge as the only representative for the government from our city in the Legislature. >Despite what unions, lobbyists or former MLAs for Lethbridge-East might say, I have taken the concerns and viewpoints of the people of Lethbridge (and not just those in my constituency) directly to the appropriate ministers. And, to fulfil my role as representative, I have attended many meetings where the general tone has been less than supportive.
Not only have I represented Lethbridge by sharing the thoughts and views of all its people with various ministers, I have worked extremely hard to put Lethbridge in the spotlight by bringing 18 ministers and the premier to Lethbridge over a six-month period in 2019. It is worth noting that this high engagement demonstrates the importance of Lethbridge to this government.
I am proud to represent Lethbridge and to be its voice in the Legislature, publicly and privately. >I will continue to advocate for all those who live in Lethbridge and seek funding for those projects that benefit the widest interests possible while being fiscally responsible – which is what a responsible government does.
Lethbridge is a strong, vibrant and diverse city. >Our economy is solidly agricultural with food production and transport as natural supporting elements. >We have one of the most collaborative models of education and advanced education in the province. > >
As a representative I am not a lobbyist, and I do not advocate for only those things that benefit me and my supporters. My personal commitment in my role as your MLA is that I will continue to show respect to those who criticize me, listen to those who blame me or my government, seek to speak on behalf of those who can’t speak for themselves, as well as serve everyone who lives in Lethbridge – because that’s the job I was elected to do.