Nfld. & Labrador

Thank you note from Trump is 'memorabilia' for Newfoundland political watcher

In a world of political cynicism and voter apathy, Doug Kavanagh is the ultimate engaged citizen.

Kavanagh, a 62-year-old electrician from Bauline, said Trump letter showed up in his email Tuesday

Doug Kavanaugh sits at home in Bauline on Saturday with the emailed letter that he received from U.S. President Trump thanking him for his support. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

In a world of political cynicism and voter apathy, Doug Kavanagh is the ultimate engaged citizen.

And now his growing collection of correspondence with leaders and news editors across Canada and the world has another addition: a thank-you note from U.S. President Donald Trump.

"Dear Douglas," reads the emailed letter marked "The White House" under the presidential seal. "Thank you for your kind letter and generous words of support.

"Your encouragement, and that of millions around the world, sustains us every step of the way. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts."

Kavanagh, a 62-year-old electrician from Bauline, N.L., said it showed up in his email Tuesday after he wrote Trump three times in recent months offering feedback.

A Newfoundland man received a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump's office, after he wrote to Trump to express his view that the U.S. can’t afford to be a world police force. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

It's the sort of standard response sent to thousands of other people, he said. But it means more to the avid letter-writer and political watcher who says he has reached out to people in power since he was a teenager.

"It's memorabilia to me," he said in an interview. "When different issues come up, I think that if you don't say something, you don't make a difference. I just try to participate but I don't want to be part of the political system. It's kind of like planting a seed, I guess."

Kavanagh said he voted Liberal in both the last federal and provincial elections because he wanted change. He has also voted Progressive Conservative in the past.

A letter sent to Bauline's Doug Kavanagh from the office of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Submitted)

Trump's promises to bring back blue-collar jobs especially appealed to him, he said, although Kavanagh wants to see more progress on that front.

"I do have concerns because, the thing is, I want the states to do well. If the states do well, Canada can't help but do better."

He wrote to Trump to express his view that the U.S. can't afford to be a world police force. He pushed for more military defence spending by NATO members. And he cited issues around the so-called "Trojan Horse" threat of ISIS terrorists entering countries posing as refugees — a concern Trump also repeatedly voiced during the presidential campaign.

Doug Kavanaugh sits at home in Bauline, admiring the newest letter to his political memorabilia collection. (Paul Dalu/The Canadian Press)

Kavanagh has correspondence from a long line of provincial premiers, including Clyde Wells, Danny Williams and most recently Dwight Ball, with whom he raised soaring costs for the $12.7-billion Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador.

"I never write and attack a leader or anything like that. I try to be as positive as possible."

In the 1990s, Kavanagh said he wrote to every major newspaper editor in the U.S. to defend Newfoundland and Labrador's commercial seal hunt from attacks by animal rights groups.

His interest in politics and how policies take shape — which he admits is at times "a bit of an obsession" — is a mystery to many people, he said with a laugh.

"Even my brother says to me: 'You're not still for that guy Trump are you?' I say, 'I'm not for anybody. I'm just giving my opinion.'

"You've got to have some kind of voice."

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