Kudos to our MP for creativity among other things

By Devon Parker, Opasquia Times

One of the nice things about not being affiliated with any one particular political party is the ability (I hope) to be objective when it comes to the acts of politicians of various stripes.

When Niki Ashton first ran for parliament a few years ago she very much impressed me, not because I had any vested interest in seeing the NDP win, but simply because she seemed to be trying to be everywhere while doing everything she possibly could during the time leading up to the election. As a result of this, she got a lot of press in these parts and it was to the point that some people flat out accused us of being bias towards the NDP.

“Look,” I said to one accuser. “I actually really like Tina Keeper but we can’t find her no matter how hard we try. Niki, on the other hand, has never yet not returned a phone call or not found the time to talk to us no matter how busy she is. Why do think she’s in the paper so often?”

Niki Ashton might have slowed down a bit since being elected, but not very much, and she still criss crosses the riding like there’s no tomorrow, doing a good job (in my opinion) of representing as many of her constituents as she can. She lent us a hand here in The Pas last year although I don’t know how many people ever knew it. When I was talking to Rick Mercer as he got off the plane he flat out admitted that the tipping point in his decision to come to The Pas was the large envelope of ‘Welcome Rick Mercer’ newspaper clippings that had landed on his desk the clippings that Niki Ashton had sent him.

“When I saw that,” he told me, “I thought to myself, what are those guys going to do if I don’t show up? I mean, what was your Plan B?”
I quietly admitted that there was no Plan B...and then politely thanked him for taking the time to come all the way to northern Manitoba in the middle of February.

Niki Ashton’s latest move for the greater good of the riding is to enlist the help of Michael Moore as Vale is poised to close the nickel smelter and refinery that could cost Thompson 500 jobs. Moore apparently sees a parallel in the impending closure of the Thompson facilities with what happened in his hometown of Flint, Michigan when the auto sector started to shut things down. The 1989 film he made about the devastation it subsequently wrought on the city called ‘Roger & Me’ is what first brought him to international acclaim.

On his website Moore now has a post titled “Why I Support the People of Thompson, Canada And You Should Too.” And on it he says things like: “Right now Thompson is fighting a frontline battle in a war that’s been raging for the last 30 years the global war of the world’s rich on the middle class.”

In a February 25 press release Niki Ashton stated: “Michael Moore’s support for our campaign helps us send the message that this is not just about Thompson, it’s not just about Canada it’s about all of us fighting to have control of our future. It was Flint yesterday. It’s us and others today. Tomorrow, who knows? That’s why we’re reaching out, that’s why we’re fighting back and that’s why it’s important that our message is going global.”

While Michael Moore has always enjoyed a high level of popularity in this country, critics have always attacked him by saying he’s extremely biased and he cherry-picks his evidence to further his cause.

Well, maybe so...but let’s not forget that his main foes in the United States are organizations like the good folks over at Fox News who have not only made lucrative careers out of severely slanting evidence the way they want to see it, but are also guilty of just plain making things up if they so felt the need.

Remember, these are the same people who put about 120 per cent of their energy into helping George W. Bush get elected twice and who also took about five years to kind of, sort of admit that the invasion of Iraq might not have been the best of ideas. If Michael Moore has to cherry-pick a bit of his evidence to take on these cheap thugs then as far as I’m concerned his moral compass is still pretty much pointing dead on in the right direction.

It’s too early to tell yet whether Michael Moore’s involvement in the Thompson showdown with one of the world’s largest mining companies will have any real affect on the eventual outcome, or whether it will just end up being one of those flash in the pan news stories that made a lot of headlines for awhile.

Regardless, in the past our MP has shown that she’s not afraid to work hard and by now signing up Michael Moore for the cause she also gets top marks for outright creativity as she continues to try to help the residents of her riding.
Ms. Ashton, right now my hat’s off to you.