Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner January 7, 2021
Peterborough’s Member of Parliament is marking six years in both the House of Commons in Ottawa and in the cabinet. And what a year 2020 has been.
So I decided to try to speak with her, see how she was and write a column. In late December, I called her office and spoke to her communications person, Ryan Young.
“Well, yes,” he said, “Minister Monsef is doing ‘media availabilities’ tomorrow.”
That’s me. He could squeeze me in with 15 minutes. Probably, I mused, between CTV and CBC. She’ll have to keep her Rosemarys straight, Barton or Ganley.
I took it. I’m an old schoolteacher: I can cram a lot into 15 minutes.
After all, she and I used to chat at Black Honey seven years ago, when she, so loaded with promise, was trying to decide whether to run for mayor. She has always been good at consulting others before making a decision. Good at a lot of things.
Now at the cabinet table, Monsef is one of several members speaking up for women and children, for COVID-19 relief, for the rural sector, and for Peterborough, always Peterborough.
“I headed to Ottawa with the goal of refurbishing the reputation of Peterborough-Kawartha as a thoughtful and progressive place.” she says. “Ideas generated by people here make it to federal policy.”
"What were your worst moments" I ask,"in this very difficult year?"
“My worst moments were personal ones,” she answers. “The day my grandmother died. That was a great grief for us all. Shortly thereafter, my “godmother,” Sr. Ruth Hennessey, in whose home on Downie Street we lived after coming to Canada as refugees when I was 11, died also. Two great women in my life gone.”
And your best moments?
“There were many. The election of the 100th woman to the House of Commons (it has 338 members) was one. The leadership of the prime minister when he said to us, ‘There will be no cuts to services, no new taxes. We will chip away at this large deficit by green growth and investment.’ People know that eight out of $10 spent on COVID-19 relief have come from the federal government.
“Another great moment was hearing Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland start her fall financial update with the words “I am a mother.” Women have been 80 per cent of health care workers, have been laid off, and have had extra care-giving and tutoring at home. Some have suffered from an increase in male violence. We need to make sure that we aren’t sliding back on progress for women.
“Another good moment was seeing the way the Syrian refugees are being integrated in my riding. Yet another was the news about the earlier-than-hoped arrival of vaccines. People are recognizing our steady handling of the pandemic.
“Then there was my ability to get some needed new funds into Peterborough-Kawartha: $4.7 million for the Causeway reconstruction, $6 million toward the composting facility, almost a million dollars for 50 local organizations caring for others, almost $2 million for the police service to develop a mobile overdose response, which will divert people who use drugs away from the criminal justice system and into harm-reduction services. Plus job support in the Clean Tech sector.
“There was some money injected here in housing, $2 million for the Curve Lake water treatment system, and help for the city to get new buses. There was a substantial climate action announcement on Dec. 12, which reflected Peterborough hopes.”
Altogether in 2020, new federal funds here came to $36 million. That is in addition to the Child Tax Benefit (about $75 million) and Old Age Security and annual funding agreements already in place.
“We are in a minority position in the House, and we have the pandemic yet to defeat, but working together, locally and globally, we can prevail,” Monsef concluded.
Gave me new hope.
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