OUTLOOK - Fraser Tolmie is working at getting himself seen in more communities in his riding.
As such, the Member of Parliament for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan, which includes the town of Outlook, was in town on Tuesday, April 12 to see things around the local area and to speak with a number of local residents about the issues that are important to them.
Tolmie says it's important for him to know what's on the minds of constituents in his riding so that he can take their case to Ottawa. He says he doesn't want to be a politician in the nation's capital who fights only for the issues affecting big-city Canada.
"Part of my election promise was to be able to get out to our riding," said Fraser, sitting down with The Outlook. "I know that was a challenge for our previous Member of Parliament due to COVID and obviously commitments in Ottawa, but I really believe we need to get out there and meet with our people. In order for fair representation, people need to be able to express their concerns with their Member of Parliament, and for me to be able to bring that as a voice to Ottawa. Far too often, we've seen people being in Ottawa and being a voice FOR Ottawa in our riding, and that's not really how representation really works. I believe in the democratic process, and it may sound corny and cheesy, but I think we need to get back to our roots and get back to our values as far as what strong governance is."
As the former mayor of the city of Moose Jaw, Tolmie isn't quite a new face when it comes to the political arena. He says he was surprised by the similarities he found in learning about his new position, but that he's still learning as he goes.
"There have been some similarities in the job, which I found enjoyable and quite surprising that I'm able to transfer some skills," he said. "There's quite a bit that I'm still learning, and I think since Day 1 we've been managing chaos and a lot of challenges, but that's one of my strong suits. I believe that with my skills and work experience, I've been in challenging situations before and I've been able to steady the ship, and that's part and parcel what I believe that I can bring to the table, not only to the Saskatchewan caucus, but our national caucus."
In meeting with people and getting to know what's on their minds, Fraser says that among the biggest topics are the price of gas and the general cost of living, which are both seeing dramatic increases. In highlighting the people that such costs are affecting, he says it's important that Canada not bite the proverbial hand that feeds you.
"Well, it's quite a bit of a variation," he said. "I just stopped off at a gas station just as I was coming off the highway here, and one of the challenges I heard from a small business owner was the price of gas. That, for an economy like ours where everything is transported, we rely in petroleum. We are an ethical nation; our companies are environmentally-friendly, and we produce environmentally-friendly energy. To tax that, it compounds and puts that on peoples' grocery bills. So, when I meet with a family, the exponential cost on their grocery bills, it's just jettisoning. They're wondering where their money's going. I believe that money should be in the constituents' hands, the consumers' hands, because that builds confidence in them to purchase things and gives them more buying power. And then there's agriculture, which has been a huge issue. A lot of people are very concerned about the fertilizer and then the exponential costs on top of that, which are going to affect our grocery bills again after going through a year of drought and finding some challenges there. The farmer is there to provide food, but they're also there to provide for their family, so they need to make money."
Seeing how Tolmie represents the Conservative side of the fence, it may go without saying that he gives the Prime Minister's office a failing grade. He says that Justin Trudeau isn't seeing how his decisions are affecting people and that he's leading Canada down the wrong path.
"Well, I'm not on his team, so I'm going to give it a zero," Fraser said with a laugh, when asked how he would rate the job being done in Ottawa. "Zero out of ten, zero out of a hundred. Obviously, being in a position such as the Prime Minister, it's not an easy position, but I don't find his philosophy and the direction to which he's leading this country to be connected with the people that he represents. I may not agree with everybody in my riding, but I listen to them, and when that's shut off, then you start becoming prideful and stubborn, and that's not a way to govern or to lead. This 'my way or the highway' is very childish and it's like taking your toys and leaving the sandbox and doing your own thing, it's not acceptable and it's not a way that I lead. So really, I don't have anything positive that I can say."
In Tolmie's estimation, the next few years in Canada could make for some challenging times that only seem to grow as the country deals with challenges on a global scale. He says that with some of the decisions coming out of Ottawa, Canadians are being stripped of their rights. When the time comes, Fraser believes that his government will be waiting in the wings to try and "right the ship".
"They're going to be challenging times," he said, on the next few years in Canada. "Unfortunately, when you have a Prime Minister who says 'like it or lump it', that creates angst and people lose respect in their government and lose respect in the democratic process. That's not the message that we should be sending, especially with the global challenges that we're dealing with. So really, at the heart of it, the true Canadian values are being punished, and people want to find things that unite us. It's going to be very, very difficult, and that's going to be added on with the cost of living going up. I believe that at the end of this, we're going to be a government in waiting and that we're going to be providing hope for people. I've said this numerous times - when we get into power as a party, we're going to have to clean up a lot of these things. When that happens, people get very angry because they've been 'bought out'. You look at the carbon tax; there is a cost to the consumer because someone's got to monitor that. There's money and revenue being lost, and that should actually be in the consumer taxpayers' hands, and people are going to see that. We want to be a free nation, and we believe in individual rights and people being able to have a say in their lives, and that's being taken away from them."