July 15, 2012
By Terry Murphy CLP

Terry MurphyWhat happened three weeks ago was a complete surprise to me. For some time now our underground industry has had Bill 8, The Ontario One Call Act, before the Ontario Legislature.

After the excitement of seeing the Bill become law, I realized I had learned something about our politicians during the process to receive support for the bill. I had naturally assumed that all Ontario MPPs and their office personnel would be familiar with Bill 8. To me they would have analyzed the benefits of the pending legislation and be well versed in its workings. WRONG!

Here is the situation. In May, I called my local MPP’s office to discuss Bill 8 and ask for his support. The legislation had already passed second reading and was before a committee for review.

Here is what I had assumed about the awareness of my MPP and his office on Bill 8:
  • Aware of the Bill.
  • Reviewed its content.
  • Understood the importance of the Bill to the safety of Ontario workers.
  • Had an opinion and knew if he would support this non-political, lifesaving legislation.

The fact was, when I called my MPP’s office, the lady who answered the telephone knew nothing about Bill 8. I was then transferred to his assistant, and he too knew nothing about Bill 8. He said, “Can you tell me a little about the Bill?”

I spent the next 15 minutes explaining the Bill, its purpose, the advantages to Ontario industries, costs and benefits. I answered all his questions. I asked if our MPP knew about the Bill. The assistant said he didn’t know, but if I would send him an email with the details, he would make sure that a copy would be put in his file. Apparently the MPP reads the file each week before he goes to Queen’s Park.

The important point is that we can’t assume that our elected representatives know all aspects of pending legislation. They don’t. Local MPPs need to know what their constituents are thinking. In the case of Bill 8, nobody else had contacted my MPP’s office, or his staff. And so, no one in the office knew about the Bill.

What was considered important by my MPP’s office? They wanted to know if I was one of his constituents (yes), the cost to Ontario for this legislation (zero, funded by industry), and why was it important

It is very important that each of you reading this article realizes that when an important issue arises, you need to contact your local MPP and request that they support our industry. Odds are they won’t know much about it.

In the case of Bill 8, we let our MPP know the reasons why it is very important to our industry. Now Bill 8 is law.
Terry Murphy can be reached at tvmurphy@ca.inter.net.