A political life – It’s not all fielding questions in the legislature

By Ben Macintosh

Feb. 28, 2017

A local business owner approached Sidney MacEwan with a problem not long after he won his first election.

There weren’t enough massage therapists on the Island to meet his clients’ demands, the man said.

He had travelled all around the Maritimes talking to massage therapy classes, offering incentives, trying to get more therapists coming to the island.

The owner needed help from MacEwan.

“Sidney, is there any programs that will help me attract more workers?” he asked.

Sidney called Richard Brown, then the minister of workforce and advanced learning, asking if they could do anything.

Brown told MacEwan to contact the vice president at Holland College, Sandy MacDonald.

MacEwan knew exactly what to ask.

“Would Holland College be interested in in a massage therapy program?”

It was.

Holland College is exploring the idea of offering a message therapy program.

MacEwan told the story Feb. 27, when he came to talk to Holland College students about life as an MLA.

As the MLA for the Morell-Mermaid district and a member of the Conservative opposition, MacEwan is active in his community.

In smaller constituencies you get more personals calls and people expect you to be at local events, said MacEwan.

“People say that community work is just us trying to get re-elected, but there’s more to it. Like helping people in you district fill out forms and help them get in contact with government.”

MacEwan does all that work by himself. MP Sean Casey has a staff to help him with district issues.

MPs spends 26 weeks a year in Ottawa representing their ridings in the House of Commons and the rest of the year is spend in their riding, said Casey.

“My biggest pet peeve is when people say MPs only work when in Ottawa.”

When on P.E.I. he is the face of federal government in his riding, which can be a problem, said Casey.

“Some of the people who call are just mad as hell with government and want to yell about it so I’m the closest person to them.”

MacEwan understand.

“It’s unfair to compare MLAs and MPs because the MPs are so far away most of the time. I’m never more than 45 minutes away. But we do very similar roles, just on a different scale.”