Too Nice!

Politics has rushed back into the hearts of many in Wood Buffalo in the last 24 hours as our Member of Parliament Brian Jean has announced that he will be resigning his seat on January 17.  Speculation began immediately as to who might take his place and how soon a by-election would be held.

I got the sense that after many years in service as our voice in Ottawa, that Brian was preparing to move on to other things.  During the middle of my term as councillor, he asked if I had any aspirations to serve federally, as he wanted to have a good candidate lined up when he made the difficult decision to step down.  I was honoured that he merely asked the question, and equally humbled that my name popped up, along with several others yesterday, as potential candidates for the conservative nomination in the riding.

Since losing the municipal election in October there have been a number of theories flung about as to why it happened, why I'm not still sitting around the horseshoe in council chambers.

I was a vocal proponent of a number of hot button issues.

I chose to defend administration when Mr. Boutilier repeated a citizen's view that "the inmates were running the asylum". In that regard, his phenomenal success alone might have been the primary contributor to my not getting re-elected.  One politically savvy person suggested that I should have kept going after him throughout the campaign.  In backing off and choosing to share some kind thoughts about our long serving former Alderman, Mayor, MLA and Minister, I came across (to some) as being a "waffler".

I also didn't pull out all the political stops that I could have in the election: not enough signs, no phone campaign, voter identification, and various other tactics that might have made a difference.

The theory that really gives me a giggle is the one I heard most recently that I'm just "too nice".  I've heard that criticism before in different circles, that I'm too positive, too glass-is-half-full, too accommodating and trusting.  Even though I can be stubbornly resolute in my beliefs and am unafraid to stand up to conflict and controversy (pedestrian bridge), some people perceive me as being soft.

I accept, acknowledge and respect all these theories and opinions.  At the end of the day, I wasn't willing to do whatever it took to win.  I didn't have the killer instinct and I didn't have a political machine behind me.  I'm at peace with all of it and comfortable with who I am as a community leader and human being.

I'm nice.  I like people, even my political adversaries, and do my best to treat them respectfully. I also value my integrity and will not forsake it for anything.  If I believe in a particular issue, even if it is unpopular, you're going to hear the truth, not a series of pontifications and positions that are politically advantageous in the moment.

All of that said, with no hesitation or uncertainty, I am not interested in putting my name forward in the inevitable federal by-election.  There are a number of very capable people who will be stepping up, from several political parties, leaders who will give everything they have to be our next voice in Ottawa.  I wish them all the very best, as I do Brian Jean, for the unquestionable sacrifices he made during his long years of service.  Anyone who thinks serving as MP is an easy or lucrative career choice needs to give their head a shake.  It's a tough gig, hard on families, relationships, and, at times, a very lonely road.  It takes a bucket full of courage and fortitude to serve, no matter your political stripe or position.

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