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There has been no attempt at communication even by phone, email, or through her staff. Photo: Roderick Benns

‘Demonstrate that you truly have the concerns of your constituents at heart’

in Poverty Reduction/Provincial by

On Day Three of a protest to seek an apology for the premature cancellation of basic income, the question on many people’s minds is just where is local MPP Laurie Scott anyway?

The question comes not only from the protesters, led by local lawyer and social worker Mike Perry, but also from many of her constituents through letters to the editor and social media. While most people recognize she has duties and obligations at Queen’s Park in Toronto, there has been no attempt at communication even by phone, email, or through her staff.

On Monday Perry had led a small group to protest in front of Scott’s office beginning at 9:30 am. After peacefully demonstrating outside for awhile, the small group went inside to ask for an apology from the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, for the government’s treatment of participants in the basic income pilot program. Perry told Scott’s staff they wouldn’t be leaving until they heard back from the minister.

He says the apology is for the government’s treatment of participants in the basic income pilot program.

However, Scott has made no attempt at all to make contact – even to say “no comment” or otherwise through her staff.

Now, people are beginning to take notice.

Glenda Morris says in her letter to Scott that “disappointment and discouragement prompt this message.”

“I am disappointed and discouraged that I have not received a reply to my telephone message…I was told that a public notice posted on your office door was my reply.”

Morris writes that “it is reasonable for me to expect a direct reply to my specific message.”

“To learn that the only reply is in the form of a public notice posted on the office door is to be made to believe that my message is not important, my concerns will not be addressed, my MPP is not interested in me individually or in the issue of the treatment of participants of the basic income pilot.”

Yesterday Scott’s staff had posted a notice to the MPP’s Facebook page and another one on her door. The first line reads: “I welcome any and all inquiries and comments to my constituency office, either in person, over the phone or via email.”

This has not been the case for many, including local media Kawartha411.

On social media, on the Advocate’s page, Linda Power writes that the “cancellation of this very worthwhile project in the middle of the project is totally wrong.”

“The PC Government has treated these people in an appalling fashion. These folks have every right to an apology and to compensation through the courts. The project should have been allowed to continue to the end…”

Rev. Mary-Margaret Boone writes that she thinks “Laurie Scott’s actions are shameful and deplorable as a representative of all of the citizens of the City of Kawartha Lakes.”

“While I understand that Ms. Scott, as a minion of Ford’s government, could not offer an apology without permission, she could have offered to forward that request in a heartfelt manner after her government fully backtracked on their election promises.”

Dr. Sylvia C. Keesmaat, an adjunct professor at University of Toronto who lives in Cameron, wrote to Scott as well and wants to know why Scott is refusing to “speak with the constituents at your office who have been protesting the end of the Basic Income Pilot.”

“Not only have you denied them access to your office, I understand that you have not responded to any of the concerns that they have raised about the end of the project (nor have you responded to the letter I sent when the project was first cancelled).”

“While I am not a Basic Income participant myself, I am deeply concerned that you have refused to explain why your attitude to this pilot project has changed, in addition to why you have refused to stand up for your constituents. This was your chance, Ms. Scott, as a member of a government that is currently in power, to stand up and show us what kind of a politician you want to be remembered as. You are not demonstrating concern for those in need in your community…This is deeply disappointing….

Keesmaat ends her letter with, “…I urge you to engage in such service by speaking with and responding to your constituents who are protesting…Demonstrate that you truly have the concerns of your constituents at heart.”

Lisa Gretzky, NDP MPP for Windsor West, demanded MacLeod apologize in the legislature earlier this week for the premature cancellation of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot. At one point MacLeod yelled that she will “never apologize.”

The ongoing three-year income was cancelled just after a year when the Ford government took office last June. The pilot program provided a basic income of up to $17,000 (for single people) with the goal of helping them take steps to get ahead out of poverty and was abruptly cut last year.

Perry let Scott’s office staff know this morning that they should feel free to unlock the office and take the notice down to make it easier for her constituents – that they, the protesters, would choose to stay outside so as not to interfere.

“We want to ensure our friends and neighbours can visit their MPP’s office with all convenience,” Perry said.

However, Scott’s office remained locked for the day.

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Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

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