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MP Francis Drouin reviews his “groundwork” year


At some point during his election cam- paign, someonemust have warned Francis Drouin that politics could be a “dirty job”. He learned the literal truth of that as part of his first-year learning experience as the new Liberal MP for Glengarry-Prescott- Russell. “The first year for a new MP is like star- ting a business,” Drouin said, during a Jan. 9 phone interview. “You have to find your staff and open your constituency offices, and no one helps you with that.” Drouin noted that his first 100 days in office were all part of a learning curve ex- perience for him as a rookie MP. Besides dealing with the need to interview and get his own staff in place, both on the Hill and in his own riding offices, Drouin also had to both learn his way around Parliament and how to balance his calendar between business sessions in the House of Commons and the business of getting out and about the riding, meeting withmunicipal leaders and constituents, and listening to their concerns or problems. As anMP for a rural riding, Drouin noted that he needed as much advice and infor- mation as possible about the needs of that particular sector. He credited Laurent Sou- ligny, a local egg farmer of many years and also one-time president of the Egg Farmers of Canada group, with suggesting Drouin

La première année de Francis Drouin à titre de nouveau député libéral de Glengarry-Prescott-Russell a été une session d’apprentissage pour lui, en organisant son personnel, en créant des bureaux de circonscription, en planifiant son calendrier entre les séances du Parlement et en rencontrant ses concitoyens pour connaître leurs préoccupations. Parfois, il n’avait pas beaucoup de chemin à faire pour entendre ce que les électeurs de la circonscription pensaient de certaines questions, comme lorsque des agriculteurs de GPR et d’autres régions de l’est de l’Ontario et de l’ouest du Québec se sont rassemblés, sur la colline du Parlement, pour faire campagne pour le soutien fédéral et la protection de leur industrie. -photo archives


create his own 10-member GPR agriculture advisory committee. “And I find that it is great,” Drouin said, adding that the locally-based advisory com- mittee helps him better develop his back- ground on agricultural issues as new MP sitting on the federal Standing Committee on Agriculture. “On my committee I have egg farmers, dairy farmers, cash crop farmers, and others,” he said. But Drouin also believe he needed amore “personal grounding” in agriculture. So he spent a few days over the summer last year working as unpaid labour. Which included at one point helping to muck out the stalls. Away from the Hill, Drouin and his consti- tuency staff have dealt withmore than 1500

personal calls about concerns and issues ranging from simple passport applications to dealing with tax problems. He believes that the informal statistics he collects through these help sessions help himdevelop a better profile of what the GPR is as a riding and what it needs. Drouin noted he is also staying current on major issues like the future four-laning of the Highway 174/County Road 17 link between Rockland and Orléans, and the future of the Alfred College campus. He sees the college’s continued operation as essential for the GPR to be part of the “innovation nation” strategy of the Liberal government. He is also staying alert to opportunities for the riding to benefit from the Canada 150 $44 million infrastructure fund.


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On the run again, but this time not for an election campaign, MP Francis Drouin, along with MPP Grant Crack, join one of several fundraiser runs for charity around the riding. —photo archives

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