MARYSTOWN, NL—Recently retired MP Judy Foote spoke about the importance of small business during her keynote address to the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s 6th Annual Business Awards.
The annual awards were held at the Marystown Hotel and Convention Centre on Thursday, Oct. 19.
“When you consider that 2,000 small businesses provide 40 per cent of the employment in Newfoundland and Labrador, you realize how important small businesses are to our future, to our economy.”
Foote said 90 per cent of all businesses in the province are considered small- to medium-sized.
“This is where it’s at … and the larger enterprises will help ensure those small- and medium-sized businesses succeed. We just all have to work together to make that happen,” she said.
Foote spoke of her father, who owned a small business.
“He was a barber," she said. “To make ends meet he would grow his own vegetables and (raise) his own animals. I watched him slaughter pigs, I watched him go over to the pasture and call out to the cows by name and they would come running just like he (was) calling dogs.”
She added she never lost sight of that during her career, “because you are taking chances and you don’t know sometimes if you’re going to be able to make ends meet… so small business has always been important to us, to the peninsula, to the province, and to the country.”
Foote told the Southern Gazette following the event she was honoured by the tribute she received from the Chamber of Commerce, and excited to attend the event.
“It’s more of what’s been happening since I announced I was stepping down, first as the minister and then as a Member of Parliament,” said Foote
“People have been so kind – the comments that have been coming from not just my riding, but the province and the country show how much people appreciate the work you do.
“So tonight was a bit overwhelming, but these are people that I have represented for over 20 years, so they’re like family.”
Foote said leaving politics was a difficult decision, but in the end, it was right.
“I have complete peace of mind that I made the right decision and I am where I need to be – close to my family.”
When asked if the challenges her father faced as a small business owner makes her passionate about small businesses, Foote agreed.
“I lived it,” she said. “I know how difficult it is for anyone in small business to make a go of it, and it takes a lot of determination and hard work. I am always fighting for the underdog.”
Foote also commented on the competition for the Liberal nomination for the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, with five potential candidates vying for the nomination so far.
“I have encouraged them all,” she said. “I think they’re to be commended for stepping up to the plate, for putting themselves forward and I commend all of them.”
Foote has not personally endorsed any one individual.
“It’s not my place to do that – it’s their place to speak to those who can vote and to convince them that they’re the best candidate,” she said.
“I’m just so pleased there are so many people ... who want to do this job, which for me has been an incredible profession and one that I will value forever.”