The Niagara Independent, July 27, 2018 – When Members of Parliament recess for the summer, they don’t don shorts and sandals to hit a beach like quick-change artists; but instead, the first step they take is to meet their local constituency staff and schedule “the summer break.”
The 2018 summer plans of Niagara West MP Dean Allison are a good example of what our elected representatives organize for themselves when they are not in the Nation’s Capital.
He may have escaped his Ottawa office, however, Dean must plan time to attend to his various parliamentary duties. He is the International Trade Critic for the Conservatives and he explained, “For the last week of June, MPs of the trade committee had to return to Ottawa for meetings regarding U.S. trade and Canada’s retaliatory tariffs, and we discussed the possibility of having to reconvene in the event of an escalating trade dispute.”
As the trade critic, Dean has committed to hosting 4-weeks of information sessions this summer to hear firsthand from Canadian businesses on how the American (and our own Canadian) tariffs will impact business and local jobs. Dean has scheduled 3-weeks of roundtables in southern Ontario and another week in the west.
Dean is a Canadian representative on the inter-parliamentary Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This responsibility took him recently to Berlin, Germany to discuss Mediterranean security issues and the need for parliamentary diplomacy. Canadian MPs are active participants in the OSCE meetings where they will deliberate on issues such as arms control and human rights.
In mid-August, the Conservatives have planned their Party convention in Halifax and Dean will be present to attend the many caucus functions and the party meetings.
Apart from the tasks that take him from his Niagara home, Dean plans constituency office days. “I get in the office by 9:00 to meet with staff. We book meetings with constituents, often seeing dozens of people each week. I make a point to also get out to visit with constituents, organizations and businesses. For example, this week I am in Brantford to meet with a manufacturers’ association and I will also be touring a local farm.”
Lest there is an impression that all-day-every-day is work, Dean Allison stated, “I do try and relax. I don’t take a whole lot of time off and when I do, it is spent with my wife and kids. This year we’ve planned two weeks of pleasure, though the second week is not yet booked and may not happen. But, I enjoyed my first week of vacation in Portugal…”
Dean relishes his downtime at home, between hosting family members and friends, and indulging in movies and books. “I read a lot and have a habit of reading 6 newspapers daily. My summertime reading list consists of the latest by author Tim Grover, a book my son recommended entitled Fanatical Prospecting, and I also want to read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. I have a wish-list of movies to see this summer: Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the new Mission Impossible flick, and I look forward to the sequel of Mamma Mia!”
“We host a lot of friends through the summer months.” Dean shares. “Niagara is such a beautiful region. Everybody loves to visit in the summertime. We tour our friends through all the communities. We like to show off Balls Falls, a place local residents know well, but still a hidden treasure for many who visit our region. We also like taking our guests to the farmers market in Grimsby, or on Thursday nights in Pelham.”
“With our friends we visit many of the local wineries and our new Beamsville brewery, Bench Brewing. There are so many wonderful events being hosted at the wineries – so we like to take in the shows and features.”
On Saturday, August 11, Dean will be hosting a public barbeque with MPP Sam Oosterhoff. Dean also has countless community events planned before he returns to resume House of Commons duties in mid-September.
“It’s quite a schedule, eh,” laughed Dean.
So much for the lazy, hazy days of summer for this MP – typical of hundreds of MPs’ summer plans across our country.
Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.