I had the most amazing opportunity come to me recently, one that will be difficult to replicate.
I was sent from Winnipeg to Ottawa to be one of 92 witnesses to speak before the federal government’s Standing Committee on Finance.
If you had five minutes with the finance committee, what would you say?
The other speakers were Presidents and CEOs of Canada’s major companies. I was honoured to be a part of this.
I live in Canada’s second poorest riding in the country – Winnipeg-Centre, and I was sent as a witness of the human experience, including my role as a board member (and former resident) of Villa Rosa Inc. in Winnipeg, a convalescence home for young mothers, as well as my history as a teenage ward of Child and Family Services.
An article was published last week, written by the Winnipeg Free Press parliamentary reporter, suggesting perhaps my presentation was not heard. I do not feel this is the case.
The reporter quotes me, “I was really happy they took the time to listen to us, but I was hoping there would be a few more questions about what we thought might help change what we are seeing.”
This quote is accurate, but when added together with the other comments of the article, makes it seem as though I was dismissing the opportunity. The Free Press headline says I was frustrated and “angry”. I was not angry.
I spoke a very personal testimony. Of course, this made it easier for a reporter to make me sound like a victim. I am not a victim.
The government is dealing with some serious issues. By no means do I expect to be considered above all others appearing as witnesses. It is a complex chain, and they are examining all sides of it.
Although Members of Parliament on the Standing Committee on Finance did not ask me direct questions, except Robert-Falcon Ouellette, I still feel as though I was heard.
Three other witnesses and one assistant gave me their cards afterwards, saying they would like to connect in the future, and to help. I do not discount these contacts in spite of any newspaper article that makes me appear ungrateful.
At least two MP’s approached me afterwards and thanked me for my testimony, and the committee’s Chair, Hon. Wayne Easter, himself thanked me in session, as well as in private afterward.
More than I could have ever hoped has come out of this trip to Ottawa. In the coming weeks, I am excited to connect with those I have met. I have an open door to a few in Parliament now, and just a week ago, something like that would only have been in my wildest imaginings.
I feel the federal government is trying to do the best they can to make things right for ALL Canadians; I don’t expect them to focus solely on matters that affect my own life. I was there to speak on behalf of families in Canada dealing with serious economic and social issues, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I know the committee will be looking at all points brought to them in these pre-budget meetings and I am confident my testimony will be considered.
The conclusion to my time in Ottawa was also pretty special. I was invited to be a guest on the CBC National TV show Power and Politics. You can watch my comments on why I was sent to Ottawa on this link: my segment begins at 1 hour and 36 minutes into the show.