“Thanks for the Memories”
That’s the only word that came to mind this Tuesday evening when I rose to address the Prince George-Peace River Conservative Board of Directors.
What words could I use to convey my deepest appreciation for the loyalty, support and friendship I’ve unconditionally received over the past couple of decades from these folks?
Bitter… because it’s sad to know the time has come to end a career that has brought me many of my most cherished memories and accomplishments.
Sweet… because I’ve always felt that for politicians the time to go is when things are still going well… when you’ve reached the crest of the hill, but before starting down the other side… for me that time is now. And, that is why I chose now to announce that I will not be seeking re-election as your Member of Parliament. I want to ensure that those folks I owe my greatest loyalty and immense gratitude to… those who have always been there to support me through seven federal elections and all the years in between, have sufficient time to select the next Conservative candidate for our great constituency.
Last week Leah and I had the opportunity to attend "the greatest outdoor show on earth"… the Calgary Stampede. Among the many events we packed into that week was the Prime Minister’s annual Calgary Southwest BBQ at Heritage Park.
I remarked that the last time I was at a political event there was 22 years ago next month when I, along with a couple of dozen other freshly nominated Reform party candidates gathered for a rally to show our readiness to contest the upcoming 1988 federal election.
One of those was a young man named Stephen Harper. And here he was addressing his riding supporters (and hundreds of others)… as our Prime Minister.
22 years. While it seems such a long time most of the time… as is the case in all our lives, actually the time has flown past, marked by so many emotional remembrances… the bad, and the good. And, as is often said… you can’t truly know one without the other.
Highlights stand out. After a long 14-year battle, I’ll never forget the joy I experienced when my Cabinet colleague, Jim Flaherty restored the northern residence allowance to Mackenzie. Or when support across Canada for my private member’s legislation proposing a federal tax credit for adoption expenses compelled the Liberals to incorporate it into our tax system.
I’ve always believed that the most important things in life are the relationships we build… I truly have been blessed by my political occupation which has allowed me the opportunity to make good friends all across this great land of ours and around the world.
What an unbelievable honour it has been for me to be your Member of Parliament all these years. To have consistently won re-election by healthy majorities each and every campaign. To have known the feeling of having the support of so many truly terrific people. To owe so much to SO MANY, as opposed to "so few" as Winston Churchill’s famous quote put it!
And, to borrow from another oft-repeated quote … "thanks for the memories".