Disappointed? Undoubtedly ? but devastated? No.
The news Monday that I was not to receive a Cabinet position in the new Conservative government came as a bitter personal disappointment. One shared with literally dozens of other eminently qualified Conservative MPs and colleagues.
With only 26 ultimately chosen by new Prime Minister Stephen Harper from a caucus of 124 hopefuls, the odds were slim for ?making the cut?. And while I was personally very flattered and humbled by the substantial media attention, and dozens of supportive phone calls and emails from the riding, it only made the week-long wait for the announcement that much more difficult.
Having been mentioned most often as a ?leading contender? for the pivotal role of Government House Leader, I was pleased when Prime Minister Harper asked me to once again shoulder the load of the other pivotal position of caucus responsibility ? the Whip.
Over the dozen years I?ve been your representative to Ottawa it seems I?ve managed to accumulate considerable experience in Caucus Officer positions ? Director of Question Period, Deputy Whip, Whip (three times previously for three different parties!), and of course most recently, a year as Opposition House Leader during the scandal-plagued Liberal minority government.
So while it is a temporary disappointment not to be named to Cabinet, it is an honour and privilege to wear the Whip?s title. An honour to be given the dual responsibility for caucus morale and discipline. A privilege to be the experienced mentor for literally dozens of new Members of Parliament (76 of our 124 having been recently elected in either ?04 or ?06).
I?ve always believed that the two key leadership positions of House Leader and Whip (and their staff) must function as a cohesive team. This will be especially critical during this minority government where mistakes could instantly bring about another election that no one, least of all Canadian voters, really wants.
The job of choosing a Cabinet is a difficult and daunting one for any Prime Minister, compounded when he is determined to reduce its size from 39 members to 27. So many often conflicting criteria must be taken into account. Experience, ability, gender, loyalty, bilingualism, ethnicity, and of course, regional balance, all dictate the composition of a federal Cabinet.
?Location, location, location?, is not just the mantra for retail stores and real estate agents, but also aspiring Cabinet Ministers.
While life?s disappointments are never easy to face, I was raised to believe that the measure of a person is not how they handle success, but how they deal with set-backs. No matter what parliamentary role the leader has assigned me – and I?ve always enjoyed the special challenges of the Whip?s position – my primary job has always been to address the needs of my constituents in Prince George-Peace River and to work hard to represent you with integrity in Parliament.
As long as you keep electing me, that will never change.
Ultimately, this is not about me. It never has been. It?s about 124 committed Canadian conservatives delivering a government of integrity that Canadians can trust to build a brighter future for our country.