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'This is my home'

Former Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto is seeking the Liberal nomination for Labrador West, and says the ongoing economic issues in Wabush are his first priority.
Former Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto is seeking the Liberal nomination for Labrador West, and says the ongoing economic issues in Wabush are his first priority.

Former Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto is hoping his leadership experience will earn him the Liberal nomination.

Letto sat at the council table for two decades from 1989-2009, taking the role as mayor in 2001. After living in the area for 37 years, he says he is ready to be the voice of Labrador West for the province.  
“I’ve proven my leadership at the provincial level through the West Valley of Newfoundland and Labrador and on national level of the National Board of Directors for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,” said Letto.

Letto has worked with the Liberal caucus on all issues pertaining to Labrador for the past four-and-a-half years, acting as a researcher and advising party leaders on issues in the region.  
Although he’s been away from the council table for a few years, he says it doesn’t mean he stepped away from keeping up with the issues facing the area.  
“I’m quite in tune with the challenges that face Labrador west now, and there are challenges, no doubt about it,” he said. “As a team and Liberal caucus, we want to find solutions together to the challenges here.”

First priority 


Lettosaid his first priority would be dealing with Wabush and the fallout from the Wabush Mines closure, which has left many without work and others with only temporary employment.

There is also the issue with the continuing uncertainty that exists with former Wabush employees, both those laid off and retirees, who were hit a severe blow with their pensions and health benefits.  
“In the meantime, we have to work with the people of Wabush and the town itself,” he said. “The town will be losing quite a bit of revenue over the next two years and it has to be found somewhere. We have to work with the town to cover that loss and make it sustainable and the people of Wabush have a town they can be proud of. To me, that’s the priority, and where we need to focus our attention today.”

Letto said it’s imperative to find a way to cushion the blow of downturns in the area.  
“We keep saying this is a one-industry town. Until we diversify the economy we’ll be faced with these issues.”

Letto said as long as employment in the area is reliant on the sustainability of the mine — whether through contractors or the service industry, among others — Labrador West will continue to face issues, he said.

“Their success is driven by the mine, we have to make sure the mine is sustainable and make sure the mine is sustainable and other ways to diversify the economy.”

Turning red

Letto ran for the Progressive Conservative’s in 2003, a decision he said he felt, at the time, was in the best interest for the communities.  
“I didn’t do it for Graham Letto,” he said. “There was a new government coming into power and new sources of revenue. It was in the best interest for Labrador West to try to find a way to work with government, be on government’s side.” 
Letto said he’s been pleased to work with the Liberal caucus for the past four-and-a-half years.  
“I’ve always been Liberal. I have Liberal values,” he said, adding it’s the party’s balanced approach and being centre of the road he identifies with.  
“We have a lot of social values, but we also look at the progressive economy and there’s a combination of both. There’s a lot of social issues that need to be addressed. In the meantime we need the revenue to address those issues. You need a balanced approach and that’s where I find myself today.” 


Campaign challenges

One of Letto’s biggest challenges to overcome doesn’t have anything to do with his party affiliation or even the policies he represents – it’s whether or not he’s from Labrador West or if he’s ‘from away.’

“I’d like to address that – this is my home,” he said.  
Letto was born in Labrador and came to Labrador West from the coast in 1973, where he since became involved in a number of community services and volunteer organizations.  
“I got married here, raised my family here. I moved away in 2009 as part of family commitments to our grandchildren, but this is home. I’m not coming from away – I’m coming home.”

Letto is concerned an oversaturation of elections may lessen the voting for the area, with an 11-week federal election currently ongoing, followed by the provincial election just a month afterwards.

“It could lead to some apathy within the district,” he said. “I’m hoping people will see this as an important time in history and will voice their opinions and put their vote where they think it can be best served.”

Letto believes the best choice for the voice of the region is himself. 
“I think people know me and know what I contribute to this town. I like to think I did a fairly good job as mayor between those years. I’m asking people for the opportunity to continue putting my leadership skills to work. I have a proven track record and want to take it to the next level and have people support me in those efforts.”

 

ty.dunham@tc.tc

Letto sat at the council table for two decades from 1989-2009, taking the role as mayor in 2001. After living in the area for 37 years, he says he is ready to be the voice of Labrador West for the province.  
“I’ve proven my leadership at the provincial level through the West Valley of Newfoundland and Labrador and on national level of the National Board of Directors for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,” said Letto.

Letto has worked with the Liberal caucus on all issues pertaining to Labrador for the past four-and-a-half years, acting as a researcher and advising party leaders on issues in the region.  
Although he’s been away from the council table for a few years, he says it doesn’t mean he stepped away from keeping up with the issues facing the area.  
“I’m quite in tune with the challenges that face Labrador west now, and there are challenges, no doubt about it,” he said. “As a team and Liberal caucus, we want to find solutions together to the challenges here.”

First priority 


Lettosaid his first priority would be dealing with Wabush and the fallout from the Wabush Mines closure, which has left many without work and others with only temporary employment.

There is also the issue with the continuing uncertainty that exists with former Wabush employees, both those laid off and retirees, who were hit a severe blow with their pensions and health benefits.  
“In the meantime, we have to work with the people of Wabush and the town itself,” he said. “The town will be losing quite a bit of revenue over the next two years and it has to be found somewhere. We have to work with the town to cover that loss and make it sustainable and the people of Wabush have a town they can be proud of. To me, that’s the priority, and where we need to focus our attention today.”

Letto said it’s imperative to find a way to cushion the blow of downturns in the area.  
“We keep saying this is a one-industry town. Until we diversify the economy we’ll be faced with these issues.”

Letto said as long as employment in the area is reliant on the sustainability of the mine — whether through contractors or the service industry, among others — Labrador West will continue to face issues, he said.

“Their success is driven by the mine, we have to make sure the mine is sustainable and make sure the mine is sustainable and other ways to diversify the economy.”

Turning red

Letto ran for the Progressive Conservative’s in 2003, a decision he said he felt, at the time, was in the best interest for the communities.  
“I didn’t do it for Graham Letto,” he said. “There was a new government coming into power and new sources of revenue. It was in the best interest for Labrador West to try to find a way to work with government, be on government’s side.” 
Letto said he’s been pleased to work with the Liberal caucus for the past four-and-a-half years.  
“I’ve always been Liberal. I have Liberal values,” he said, adding it’s the party’s balanced approach and being centre of the road he identifies with.  
“We have a lot of social values, but we also look at the progressive economy and there’s a combination of both. There’s a lot of social issues that need to be addressed. In the meantime we need the revenue to address those issues. You need a balanced approach and that’s where I find myself today.” 


Campaign challenges

One of Letto’s biggest challenges to overcome doesn’t have anything to do with his party affiliation or even the policies he represents – it’s whether or not he’s from Labrador West or if he’s ‘from away.’

“I’d like to address that – this is my home,” he said.  
Letto was born in Labrador and came to Labrador West from the coast in 1973, where he since became involved in a number of community services and volunteer organizations.  
“I got married here, raised my family here. I moved away in 2009 as part of family commitments to our grandchildren, but this is home. I’m not coming from away – I’m coming home.”

Letto is concerned an oversaturation of elections may lessen the voting for the area, with an 11-week federal election currently ongoing, followed by the provincial election just a month afterwards.

“It could lead to some apathy within the district,” he said. “I’m hoping people will see this as an important time in history and will voice their opinions and put their vote where they think it can be best served.”

Letto believes the best choice for the voice of the region is himself. 
“I think people know me and know what I contribute to this town. I like to think I did a fairly good job as mayor between those years. I’m asking people for the opportunity to continue putting my leadership skills to work. I have a proven track record and want to take it to the next level and have people support me in those efforts.”

 

ty.dunham@tc.tc

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