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New Year's Levee draws crowd 0

By Roberta Bell, Orillia Packet & Times

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop chats with his friend Gordon Sproule during his 13th annual New Year's Levee at the Coldwater legion Sunday afternoon. ROBERTA BELL The Packet & Times

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop chats with his friend Gordon Sproule during his 13th annual New Year's Levee at the Coldwater legion Sunday afternoon. ROBERTA BELL The Packet & Times

The prorogation of the provincial legislature was front-of-mind for many who attended Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop's New Year's Levee on the weekend.

"Some people are really concerned why the house is still not sitting," said Dunlop, who fielded more questions than he could count on both hands about it. "They're wondering, 'What are you doing if you're not at Queen's Park?"

The popular politician and critic for apprenticeship reform has been taking advantage of the fact the government has been shut down since Premier Dalton McGuinty stepped down in the fall and tying up loose ends with the provincewide tour to promote the skilled trades he embarked upon at the beginning of 2012.

But his priority Sunday was listening to and chatting with the more than 300 people flooded through the doors of the Coldwater Legion for his 13th annual meet and greet, including Orillia Mayor Angelo Orsi, Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes, Severn Mayor Mike Burkett, Tay Township Mayor Scott Warnock and Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton.

Dunlop's staff was on hand as well.

"They often solve little problems right here," he said of his staff. "Someone will come forward with, 'What do I do about my birth certificate or what do I do about my driver's license...' and they'll get it resolved right here at this particular minute."

As in the past, a number of people voiced issues about the health care system.

"It's been a challenging time in health care lately with fiscal constraints," said Melanie Colpitts, a pediatrician at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, who attended Dunlop's levee for the first time.

Her biggest concern is ensuring the local area is adequately serviced with the resources it needs.

"He's very approachable. He works hard and I know that he does the best he can for our community," she said.

Don Walker, who has known Dunlop since he was a boy, didn't come to talk politics, but rather to catch up and "wish him luck."

"He does a good job," Walker said. "He's always willing to help out if at all possible."

The event usually brings out the eastern portion of the riding, from Brechin to Christian Island, the city limits of Barrie to the city limits of Gravenhurst.

Dunlop will be hosting a second levee for the western portion of the riding at the Penetanguishene legion Jan. 13 from 1 until 4 p.m.

roberta.bell@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @roberta__bell  

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