Welcome to: “Staying In Touch”

Welcome to my Staying in Touch Blog.  In my first two years as the Member of Parliament for Durham I have tried my best to remain in touch and accountable to the community through a variety of mediums.  Emails, in-person meetings and roundtables as well as the use of newspapers and some household mailings have all been methods I have used to be accessible and in touch as your MP.  I have also used social media extensively as a means of communicating with constituents.  In fact, all of my speeches and statements made in the House of Commons appear on my YouTube Channel within 48 hours.  The same goes for media interviews that I give in local or national television programs.  You can subscribe to this YouTube channel or view the videos and House of Commons Hansard transcripts directly through my website.  I also use Twitter and Facebook frequently to allow people to remain connected to my day-to-day events and meetings and try to respond to questions or queries through those platforms.  I actually have two Twitter accounts, a political one for the MP and a second account – Durham Future – that is non-partisan and purely for the promotion of events, organizations and opportunities in the wider Durham region.

All of these forms of communication help me keep my pledge of being accessible as your MP.  In my first year and a half I have noticed, however, that social media only reaches a relatively small number of people in Durham.  These mediums are still in their relative infancy and they require active “following” of Twitter or Facebook feeds and many will not get news or updates through these tools.  I want to reach a wider number of people in the community, so this has led to the creation of my Staying in Touch Blog.  This will be a new way to engage in an ongoing conversation between the MP and the community.  The Blog will be embedded into my website and we will offer email subscription to the blog, as well as hard copies for mail or pick up from my constituency office.  The name of the blog – Staying in Touch – is not just a description of what I am trying to do, but it is also an acknowledgement and homage of sorts to the great work done by my father John O’Toole as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Durham.  In his 19 years as MPP he had a regular newsletter and column in some papers called Staying in Touch and I hope to emulate his track record of remaining plugged into local issues and people across Durham.  There is so much that I continue to learn from my father that I think it is most appropriate for me to adopt this name as my own.

I will try and keep the blog interesting and focused on local, national and occasionally international issues that will be of interest or concern to people in Durham.  I hope to also shine the light on some of the exceptional people, places and events we have in our community.  My intention is to update it regularly when something strikes me as being worth sharing.  Some posts might be short and others may only be of narrow interest depending upon the topic, but that is the nature of a blog.  Like everything, I appreciate your willingness to engage in this conversation with your MP and look forward to your feedback.

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