The Life of a Rookie MP - Part 1

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Part 1

To say that the past calendar year has been one of great change for my family is a considerable understatement. Truth be told, the past 12 months more closely represents the greatest period of unpredictability my family has ever experienced. So much so that it is impossible to summarize every event in a brief column. So even though this is only my second column for Castanet, I’m going to have to make it part 1 of a 2 part series and hope that you will read next week as well.

Following Werner Schmidt’s announcement that he was retiring as the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, I was contacted by the Conservative Party of Canada and asked if I would consider running in the forthcoming nomination. After much consultation and debate with family and friends, I agreed that this was a progressive step I wanted to pursue.

I was kind of stuck in limbo in May 2005 after I won a highly contested Conservative nomination bid characterized by a myriad of outstanding candidates. Thanks to some last-second dealing, Paul Martin’s Liberals passed the federal budget and Parliament remained intact for another day. As well, municipal elections were just around the corner and as such my third term as Kelowna City Councillor was nearing an end. I had no idea when the federal election was going to be held, no idea when if I would be elected, and my time as a City Councillor was running out.

While I learned a fair bit about politics during my 9 years as City Councillor, my knowledge of the federal political world was limited. As a result I thought it would be prudent to spend much of the summer of 2005 acting like a sponge and soaking up all the pearls of wisdom I could find. That and secretly hoping that the constituents of Kelowna-Lake Country weren’t too used to electing somebody with a perfect hairline although come to think of it neither of us ever has a hair out of place...

Justice Gomery’s scathing indictment of government misspending helped expedite the process of sending Canadians back to the ballot boxes. As a result, Parliament was dissolved on November 28th. From that day on the pace of my life quickened quite significantly. I was fortunate to be guided by a highly competent campaign team and a litany of exceedingly dedicated and hardworking volunteers. For 6 weeks they put in countless hours and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t often humbled by their overwhelming encouragement and support. Thanks to the dedication of hundreds of incredible volunteers I was fortunate enough to be elected MP for this great riding of Kelowna-Lake Country.

So I was off to Ottawa. Nervous? A little. Anxious? A bit. Excited? You bet! The conclusion of the election allowed me a bit of time to catch my breath and prepare for the upcoming Parliament. However, two things became of seemingly dire importance almost immediately following January 22nd: finding a staff for my Constituency and Parliament Hill offices and going through the boxes full of letters that quickly began to accumulate in Ottawa. Thankfully, I was able to hire two outstanding members of Werner’s staff to complement two excellent new staff members. As for the letters… well, it took a while but we are all caught up!

So in approximately 500 words that is what I was up to prior to start of the 39th Parliament. Next week I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing since then and try to give you a little insight into what life on The Hill is really like.

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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