Report from Parliament Hill
Listening to Northerners about what matters most
Bob Nault, MP, Kenora Riding
One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is when I get to come home and spend time speaking with fellow Northerners. For the majority of the past month, I have been spending a great deal of time meeting face-to-face with constituents to assist them on various matters. I can say that there are never two days that are alike and I believe that the most important element of my job is to ensure our voice is heard back in Ottawa. That’s what matters most to me as an MP and as a Northerner.
Anywhere I go, one issue that continually arises is the need for improved infrastructure. This includes enhancing our broadband internet services which in today’s world is a non-negotiable necessity to succeed in business. During a roundtable I recently held with local business owners and stakeholders in Kenora, the issue of modernizing our broadband infrastructure was a key topic of conversation. That’s why I am pleased to see that our government recognized the importance of technology and committed $100 million over five years, with a particular focus on the next generation of rural broadband. That is in addition to the $500 million over five years for a program to extend and enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities announced in Budget 2016.
Water infrastructure is fundamentally important in the North. That couldn’t be clearer than when I witnessed the joy and elation of everyone in Slate Falls First Nation during the opening of the community’s new water treatment plant. For 14 years, residents have lived under long-term drinking water advisories – that is no longer the case. I’m proud to see results and equally proud that our government remains committed to ending all long-term water advisories on-reserve by March 2021.
The importance of our lakes cannot be overstated as it is a way of life for many Northerners – it’s what defines us. Our job today is to be stewards of this beautiful natural resource to ensure that we keep them healthy and vibrant for future generations to come. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the annual International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum to keep myself updated on the issues and challenges we face. Unlike the previous government, we have invested in organizations like the IISD Experimental Lakes Area because we recognize the importance of the work they’re doing to maintain the health of our lakes and rivers.
Another key priority in the North is creating new job opportunities by supporting small businesses. During my time home, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting some local entrepreneurs. For example, at the Sweet, Lake of the Woods Chocolate shop in Kenora, I was impressed when owner Alexis Pernsky explained her burgeoning new business employs up to as many as nine employees and she’s just getting started. In Naotkamegwanning First Nation (Whitefish Bay), I tried the soup and bannock in the community’s new Miisinin Cafe. While in Dryden, I popped into the Little Mod Nest which was opened recently by Morgan Shepherd. Seeing these young female entrepreneurs becoming successful is exactly what our government is committed to ensuring – more women in business.
One voice in the riding that is being listened to more often is that of our youth. I had the opportunity to discuss with a group of young adults the importance of having their voices heard while at the Grand Council Treaty #3 youth assembly. It used to be said that children are our future, when in reality, they are the present. I was encouraged to hear directly about the issues most meaningful to them.
The only way for me to represent the riding’s interests in Ottawa is by knowing the priorities of Northerners. The discussions that take place here are invaluable as they shape how the federal government views our region. As your Member of Parliament, I take the thoughts, ideas, and concerns we’ve discussed over the last month to make sure they’re heard in the Nation’s Capital. My commitment is to represent you – I will continue to do that whenever and wherever I can.