After the House had risen on December 10, we prepared ourselves for some quite time and for missing out on our daily portion of cardio that we normally enjoy from running between the main leg and governmental blocks. And so it happened: days started suddenly appear enormously long without our favourite 10:30 Question Period and abundant receptions; people wearing jeans could be spotted everywhere (what happened to no jeans policy?); and interns started having regular lunches together (welcome back orientation mode!).
If I were to just stay in my deserting Ministry of Environment, I would have thought that MPP job just stops for some time. Fortunately, Helena’s constituency office in Markham is just 40 minutes away and Valerie is always happy to give me a lift to the constituency meetings. And there is no break there. Phone doesn’t stop ringing; constituent emails always keep the inbox dead full; people, excited or angry, might just drop in and, to make it even more exciting, 2 staffers out of 4 might get sick at the same time… Needless to say, constituency office is a kind of school from which you graduate with the real life skills diploma. I wish the driver instructor’s strike found some other time to happen so I could finally get my G2 and drive up to Markham more often and get my feet wet in the daily grind.
In fact, I am learning about Oak Ridges Markham from the glamorous walls of Queen’s Park. I have recently completed a multimedia project for the riding, for which I had to find out what ethnic minorities read in the area. I was prepared for some diverse results, but I could not even imagine that almost each of the dozens of communities also produces dozens of newspapers and magazines. We are so used to thinking that Toronto is extremely multicultural; we don’t realize how fast the smaller towns are transforming as well. And I am very proud of Helena who is reaching out to every single minority in the riding, trying to make them feel welcome and at home.