By David F. Rooney
The post-election period has been a time of significant and visible change for MLA Norm Macdonald.
Not only does he have a new portfolio — forestry — within the Opposition shadow cabinet but he has been busy closing all of the riding offices — except the main one in Golden.
During a brief interview prior to meeting City Council last Tuesday (June 23), Macdonald said social and technological changes have made the offices redundant.
“Most people connect by telephone, e-mail or fax,” he said.
The office, which was located beside Emo’s on West First Street, was closed that same day.
Macdonald said closing the riding offices will save taxpayers money.
“Rather than maintain an office that is under-utilized much of the time it’s much more cost-effective to use the facilities in the Recreation Centre,” he said. “We’ll get space that is appropriate for constituency meetings (when he comes to town). For bigger meetings we’ll get bigger spaces.”
He said he is keeping a staffer in Revelstoke but that individual will deal electronically with constituents and with the constituency office in Golden.
“The only advantage to having an office is that you have your name on the window — but it costs taxpayers money that is better spent elsewhere,” Macdonald said.
“We get more than 2,000 contacts (with constituents) riding-wide.”
Most of those contacts are via e-mail or telephone. He and his staff anticipate that that won’t change. However, if public demand is such that he has to reconsider his decision, well, so be it. He’ll do just that.
That’s not the only change that Macdonald is dealing with right now.
A former school principal he was regarded by many constituents as the ideal Education Critic, a portfolio he held until very recently when he was appointed Forestry Critic in place of Bob Simpson.
As no one in Revelstoke needs reminding, forestry is a complex and critically important portfolio. It is one that demands a lot from Macdonald.
“It has been a very steep learning curve,” he said, adding that he spent part of the day at Downie Street Sawmills meeting with Jack Heavenor and Alan Smythe.
“Downie was interesting. I know enough about forestry to know how little I know. Forestry is very complex. There are layers on layers on layers. I have a lot to learn.”
You can contact Norm Macdonald and his constituency staff toll-free by calling 1-866-870-4188 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.