September 22, 2010
It’s easy for immigrants to see the superficial differences between Canada and their native countries. But it’s hard to see those differences beneath the surface, which are the context of communicating with local people. Today Kathleen Wynne opened a window for the participants to experience communication with government official. As the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Don Valley West, Kathleen was Minister of Education of Ontario and now is Minister of Transportation. Her participation in the community gathering demonstrated how, in Ontario, government officials interact with citizens and residents. This event allowed the participants a chance to understand some of those difference beneath the surface.
At the start, Kathleen briefly recalled her career beginnings and getting involved in provincial politics and explained her current responsibilities in the Ontario government. Also she listed a few programs that are designed to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society. When describing the differences in the responsibilities that the governments of different levels take on, she mentioned her experience of facing people not recognizing them during her visit to their home. Then, Kathleen left the majority of time to the participants so that they could ask their own questions, which led to an interactive part of this session.
On the formation of riding boundaries, Kathleen explained that they depended on population and distinguished between ridings and wards, which are federal/provincial level and municipal level respectively. About Ontario’s focus on the manufacturing industry, she talked about the importance of innovation and green technology and the positive effect of increasing transportation costs of off-shore products. About the decision-making of provincial policies, she described how the caucus and the committee of different parties work in this process. On the relationship between the provincial Party and the federal Party, she explained the different roles a political leader and a president play and how a party is organized by sharing the same philosophy at both provincial and federal level. Also, she explained the two-sword length distance between two sides in the meeting avenue and how the Speaker controls the order during an emotional and fierce debate in parliament.
Due to the limited time, some questions and concerns were not raised. But by directly communicating with Kathleen, the participants got to break some assumption regarding government and political parties and experience the way that government officials are approached in Canada.