Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Does my MP even read the emails I send him?

On 8 February 2007 I read this article about the Tory government's attitude towards 'Net Neutrality which I found disturbing and I immediately emailed my local MP (Gary Goodyear), Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier my thoughts on this.

Today (technically yesterday since it is now after midnight) I received a response from Mr. Goodyear's office saying “...I wish to acknowledge receipt your letter of February 23, 2006, regarding your concerns on ‘Net Neutrality.’” Excuse me? February 23, 2006?!?!?

Now when I email my elected officials I don't expect a personally targetted reply and an invitation to in-depth dialog—I know they are busy people. However, I do expect a prompt acknowledgement, especially from my local MP. I also expect the staffer writing the reply to at least be marginally competent and properly reference things so I know that my MP has been made aware of my concerns.

Even if this is just bad writing on the staffer's part and they meant to say they were acknowledging receipt on 2007/02/23 (4 days from receipt to acknowledgement), the fact that it took them so long to reply is just terrible. It's also the first email of the last 2.5 years since I moved to Cambridge that my MP's office has responded to, and they took three weeks less two days to do it.

When I lived in Kitchener (Kitchener-Wilmot riding, specifically) I got an acknowldgement froma staffer within 5 business days and, occasionally, a direct response from my MP within 2 weeks. They certainly didn't take almost three weeks to merely acknowledge.

Now I'm unlikely to vote Conservative in any event, but this seeming lack of competence from my MP's office certainly isn't going to raise my faith in my current MP.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Man, am I beat!

This past weekend was the Winter Retreat Weekend for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada youth groups, and my church belongs to this conference. I was a youth sponsor for a few years until three years ago, when I got my now non-existent job at a call centre and ended up working night shift and weekends, so this is the first time in a while that I have been able to do something other than lead Sunday School.

I ended up going along because MCEC has a strict requirement of a 5:1 ratio of youth to sponsors on these weekends and even though Pioneer Park is not a big congregation, with the extra friends that were going along there 12 teenagers but only 2 sponsors. If they didn't have a third then there would two very disappointed people.

But then on Wednesday evening I started to get a scratchy throat and I thought “Oh no, I can't get sick! They are counting on me!”. So on Friday afternoon I did my laundry at my Mom's place and picked up a pharmacopoeia of stuff to help me make it through the weekend. As it was I still felt crappy — the call–into–work–honestly–sick crappy — and I could hardly talk all weekend. I got less sleep than normal when I should have been getting more and I still can't talk.

But you know what? I wouldn't trade this weekend for anything. Not the lack of sleep and crashing for four hours when I got home. Not the bruises from a game of tackle spatula. Not the fact that I probably extended this horrid cold by an extra few days by not getting the rest I needed. It was the best weekend I have had in a long time.

For myself, there was no question that I would go along — when I was in high school I was the only teenager at my church so I kind of got left out of the planning of the life of the community. Fortunately I was attending Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, a private high school affiliated with MCEC. If it had not been for friends there and the ability to hook up with their youth group it would have been so easy for me to have become disassociated from the church. As it was, my life throughout high school revolved around the church. Faith was evident in daily life at school, weekends were spent with friends who also went to church each Sunday, and I went to every conference youth event. I got what I needed, spiritually, from that community and is why I am not a lapsed Christan as an adult.

This is why I want to be involved with youth activities at my church. I don't lead Sunday School because I want to indoctrinate impressionable youth into what I think is the right way to interpret the Bible. I don't want the kids at church to feel left out of the community like I did, 20 years ago. I hope that simply by being there and interacting with them, showing that the church has not forgotten them and that they do not feel that same disassociation that I felt.

Oh, and you know what else? When we got to the camp where the retreat weekend was being held we found out that something had happened so the sponsor for the Calvary Church from Ayr wasn't able to go along. MCEC is quite strict abut the 5:1 youth/sponsor ratio (so I am told), so without a sponsor the three kids from Calvary wouldn't have been able to attend, but we only had twelve youth for three sponsors so we were able to absorb them for the weekend so they could be there. Double plus good.