By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Residents of Oshawa will have the chance to talk to their MPP and fellow citizens about the issues affecting them as Jennifer French gets set to host a town hall meeting on Feb. 15.
The meeting is set to be held at the South Oshawa Community Centre from 6 to 8 p.m. the day after Valentines Day, and is a chance for residents to share their priorities before French heads back to Queen’s Park on Feb. 20.
French says she chose the south Oshawa location as it is one that’s familiar to her.
“I wanted this location for a couple of reasons. I feel very connected to that part of our community because that’s where I taught,” says French, a former teacher at Glen Street PS, noting that she doesn’t feel many in the southern part of the city have been able to make it to her downtown constituency office.
With that said, French hopes the meeting will give her the chance to gather valuable information to take back with her to Queen’s Park.
“I think its just hearing their stories and connecting with themes to make sure that when I’m heading back to the legislature, we’re representing what’s current in our community,” she says.
French notes there are a lot of issues not just in Oshawa, but across the province, and it has left a lot of people upset with their elected representatives.
“I think we will hear that, but you learn from that,” she says.
The town hall comes only four months ahead of the June election, but French says it’s not just about getting engaged with voters, but bringing together those in the community.
“I think it has a lot to do with engaging the community,” she says. “This is how tenant organizations get started, this is how grassroots organizations come together. It’s not just shared struggle, it’s actual community, for better or for worse.”
The town hall may also not be the last of its kind, as French says she and her team are planning further meetings, some that may be more focused on particular issues, with one to be centred around seniors issues and another for youth.
“When people are in a room all together and talking about the issues that they think they have on their own and find out that all their neighbours have the same one, I want to know that as an elected representative, but I also want them to know that because they have a responsibility as citizens to engage, but sometimes they don’t know how.”