Readers of this space will know that I contacted the top politicians for our city and area, after the Stratford Theatre Festival was forced to go dark for the year. I received answers from Stratford’s mayor, Dan Mathieson, and our Member of Parliament, John Nater. You can read their thoughts by scrolling here or by visiting grantfleming.ca (give it a day for me to sort tech wrinkles).
Randy Pettapiece is our provincial politician. His Progressive Conservative Party governs Ontario. I e-mailed him questions, similar to the ones I sent to John Nater. You’ll find my “question list” attached to the back end of his statement. (Please note: this is his response to my questions. Did he answer the questions? Are the questions relevant and fair? Are his answers? Your opinions—informed, thoughtful—are welcome.)
(April 29, 2020)
Thank you for your message. I appreciate your dedicated support for the Stratford Festival and the artists, businesses and community organizations that depend on its success.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to provide the immediate response you wanted. Since the beginning of the pandemic, my staff and I have been working very hard to respond to every constituent who has contacted me. In the last six weeks or so, we have responded to nearly 2,000 emails and countless phone calls.
I have also been busy advocating for the Festival. I have been in close contact with the leadership of the Stratford Festival and various provincial officials. I have written multiple times to underline the urgent need for support. I will continue to speak up for that.
In this difficult time, every level of government is working to protect people and jobs. The Premier has been clear that this is his number one priority. This must include the Stratford Festival.
The Festival enjoys wide support not only in the provincial government, but also in our municipal and federal governments, and in every sector throughout the community and beyond. People understand its cultural and economic value.
That is why I strongly believe the Festival—and everyone who depends on it—will see better days ahead.
Again, thanks for contacting me.
Randy Pettapiece, MPP
The April 28th questions I sent to Mr. Pettapiece:
1. How did you react when you learned about the closure of the Festival?
2. In your view, how serious is this—and what will be the consequences?
3. The Festival says it needs $40 million, and very soon. You’re part of the political leadership here; arguably, you’re the first among equals because the PC Party forms the government in Ontario. What can you do, how can you help, in concrete and specific ways?
4. Take us ‘inside:’ What role are you playing in a crisis such as the 2020 closure of the Festival?
5. How much sway and influence do you have to help with rescue and recovery for your constituents, including for the largest city (Stratford)? Or does this come down to the feds needing to step up? If so, if it’s on them, what role does our provincial government play?
6. What’s the “hope message” here? Do you have one? What’s your basis/rationale for your optimism?
Are we there yet, or is it too soon for happy thoughts?
7. What’s next?
(end of questions)