Andrew Cash is my MP. He is the Member of Parliament for Davenport in Toronto. A few years ago, I was able to take out Andrew's NDP colleague Olivia Chow for lunch, who was my MP when I lived in Trinity-Spadina, and I was excited to take out my MP in my new riding since moving last summer. Andrew is a relatively new MP, having just won his seat in May. But he's no stranger to the community, being a long-time community advocate and having campaigned for two years. Andrew is so excited and so honoured to represent Davenport in Parliament and it was really great to speak with him.
We ate at a cute restaurant by College and Dovercourt, it's right near Andrew's constituency office. We both drank water and Andrew also had an Americano. I had a grilled chicken and goat cheese sandwich. It was beyond delicious -- a great marinade on the chicken, I could have eaten two. Andrew had the cured meat sandwich special. We both had side garden salads. Total bill was $24 with tax.
The lunch lesson:
Andrew explained his role as an MP and that he wears three hats. First, his job is to meet with his constituents who have concerns about things like immigration, employment insurance and other issues that fall to the federal government. He can then see how he can help. Second is his role as a member of the NDP caucus, sitting in the House of Commons and participating in debate and voting. His third responsibility is simply to act as an elected voice in his riding. As mentioned, Andrew spent over two years campaigning and spent much of that time listening to the concerns of the people he now serves. He understands that as an elected official, he needs to hear and understand the concerns and issues of everyone, whether or not the issue is federal. And he and his staff will see how they can help.
A lunch aside:
Before getting into the details of the lunch, I want to take a minute to mention that Andrew and I were supposed to meet for lunch last week but he had to re-schedule because he had to go to Ottawa for the interim leader vote. I am, as I am sure all Canadians are, keeping Jack Layton in my thoughts and wishing him a full and speedy recovery. Cancer is a jerk. Cancer recently took my boyfriend's father and with that so fresh in my mind, seeing Jack's press conference was very difficult. It seems as soon as he had accomplished something on which he'd worked for so long, cancer came along and ruined everything. Let's hope we can get rid of this disease in our lifetime. Here are some links if you're so inclined: Canadian Cancer Society and Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
As soon as we started our lunch, Andrew told me that today was a really exciting day for him as it's his first full day of scheduled meetings with his constituents. He has already met with several people in the morning, had lunch with me (a constituent) and then a full afternoon. I had actually never considered setting up a meeting with my MP (or any other of my elected representatives) to discuss a specific issue or concern, so it was so nice to see that not only is Andrew doing this but he is SO excited about it.
We talked at length about the new NDP caucus. The media did criticize how young and inexperienced many of the members were. But one perspective is that more than any other party, the NDP is a microcosm of Canada with different ages, backgrounds and lots of women, which is great to see. Andrew is in a unique position of being a rookie but also having a lot of experience and he is thrilled about the people in the caucus, especially the young MPs. He told me to mark his words, a future prime minister of Canada is in his caucus and it's one of the young MPs that people were so quick to criticize.
Andrew talked about some of the priorities and goals of the NDP and he spoke of a national public transit plan. Watching what is going on in Toronto right now is terribly depressing. As someone who takes public transit every single day to work, it irritates me to no end that the elected officials making the transit decisions don't necessarily use transit. And they've just cancelled Transit City for a subway route that some say serves less than 10 per cent of the population that Transit City did. How is this happening? Well Andrew believes that with a federal mandate, there will be more logical and more cohesive transit, and hopefully more federal dollars.
Now many of you may not know that Andrew Cash is a very accomplished musician. He was actually in a punk band in Toronto in the 1980s called L'Étranger with fellow NDP MP, Charlie Angus. He happens to be the MP for Timmins-James Bay, which includes good old Kirkland Lake, the hometown of my boyfriend. We never thought there was another connection between our Davenport home and Kirkland Lake and we're happy to have found one. Maybe they can play a show at the Bellevue Tavern on Prospect Avenue. We'll be there for sure!
Much like my lunch with Olivia Chow, I left this lunch feeling very encouraged and optimistic about our elected representatives. They are enthusiastic, dedicated and excited to represent their constituents in Parliament and it's great to see.