Throughout my eleven-plus years as your MP, I?ve learned to judge other MPs not solely on the name of their political party, but on their dedication, personality and the specific skills they bring to their job.
Still, there is probably some bias in my belief that the Conservative caucus in this Parliament is the most exciting, diverse and dynamic group that?s ever been seen in the House of Commons. I speak with some authority on this matter. As Chief Whip for the Conservative Party, I?ve gotten to know most of our MPs reasonably well.
The 99 Conservative MPs have had more than six months to get to know one another and to work together. Based upon what I?ve seen so far, I am tremendously excited about what we can accomplish together in 2005.
There are the familiar faces such as Chuck Strahl, Diane Ablonczy, Peter MacKay, Vic Toews and Monte Solberg. As for the new faces, they?ve surpassed even my high expectations.
Residents who attended the Prince George-Peace River Conservative Riding Association Annual General Meeting last Fall discovered that guest speaker, Rona Ambrose, MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove, uses her intelligence, wit and passion for the job to represent her constituents and advance Conservative principles.
Many Beef producers approach Conservative Agriculture Critic Diane Finley first, shunning Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell because of Ms. Finley?s extensive knowledge of the BSE file and her eagerness to speak passionately on their behalf.
And it?s a diverse caucus, with MPs coming from all walks of life, better reflecting the Canadian population. The stereotypical greying, over-fifty, white, anglo-saxon male politician, yes like me, actually describes the NDP caucus. The Conservative caucus is comprised of a dynamic mix of young MPs, women, visible minorities and MPs with varying faiths and with impressive skills in a range of languages.
The average age of all MPs is 52. In our caucus, with a generous number of MPs in their twenties and early thirties, it?s 47. I hope that will encourage young Canadians disenchanted with our political system to feel that their interests are being represented in Ottawa.
We have the first married couple in the House, MPs Nina and Gurmant Grewal. And the first quadriplegic MP, Conservative Health Critic Steven Fletcher, has demonstrated that disability does not prevent an individual from accomplishing their goals.
The women in our caucus, whom figure prominently in our shadow cabinet, have proven they don?t want or need anyone to run roughshod over democracy to get them elected. While Paul Martin and the Liberals pursue an agenda of hand-picking star candidates, women and visible minorities in an effort to ?engineer? the face of their caucus, you won?t find a single woman or visible minority in the Conservative caucus who didn?t fight on equal terms to win against their nomination and election opponents.
Once grassroots party members decide the Conservative Party policy platform at our convention in Montreal this March, we have in place a qualified, knowledgeable and passionate group of politicians more than ready to run with it. In short, a strong, legitimate government-in-waiting.