By now I’m sure most of you have heard the news of my decision as your MP. First, even though it has received broad coverage I do not want to presume that each of you is aware.
After all, some people do things like enjoying the stunning natural beauty of our constituency and may not have seen any news over the weekend. Others may be so understandably focused on issues of much deeper import like the human tragedy ongoing in Japan that other things have just faded away.
So, first, below is the actual official statement I released over the weekend which deals with the matter at hand. Feel free to scan it and then read some ‘unofficial’ comments which follow it, directed to you, my constituents.
“It will be exactly 25 years ago on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, that I was honoured with my first nomination to public office. Now, after 14 years in provincial government and almost 11 years at the federal level it is time to move on. I hereby announce that I will not be seeking re-election at the end of this mandate.
Though there would be exciting and satisfying days ahead in public office, after prayerful consideration, Valorie and I feel at peace with our decision. Along with memories which I will forever cherish, I will also forever carry a debt of unrepayable gratitude to so many people:
To my wife, who more than any person on earth is responsible for each and every success I have been allowed to experience. Her unlimited inner strength, unfailing love and untold reserves of grace have seen us through the most incredible challenges and the most wonderful breakthroughs; To our dear family members, who have been arm in arm with us every step of the way, we would have been lost without them; To so many supporters, workers and colleagues through the years who gave so unselfishly in too many ways to mention; To constituents in the cities and towns from two of Canada’s most beautiful provinces, for their input, guidance and trust in electing me on nine separate occasions to represent them; And to Prime Minister Harper for allowing me the privilege to serve under his outstanding leadership. That leadership has led our nation through the most troubling economic times in over half a century.
His belief (and insistence within his caucus) that every MP must be allowed equal ground to speak up vigorously for their constituents is the foundation of decision making upon which we develop the policies for our nation. I wish the prime minister full success in the days ahead in the efforts on behalf of all Canadians in maintaining a Canada that stands strong and free.
And I pledge my ongoing, whole hearted support in that shared pursuit. They desired a better country.”
Since the release of that statement and the subsequent coverage, Val and I have been overwhelmed (and humbled) by the number of calls, emails and ‘wishers of well’ wherever we go. Don’t worry, even though I am allowing it all to go to my heart I will not let it go to my head. (After all, I’ve been around long enough to know that there are also those who are delighted to see me go, for any number of reasons.)
There are a couple of constituent-based questions that keep repeating more than others that I will respond to now.
First, am I stepping down immediately? No, I will continue with the mandate which a majority of you as voters have honoured me with. That means, until the upcoming election, whenever it is coming up. The position of the government on this is that we think most Canadians do not feel this is the best time for an election. We would prefer to stay focused on maintaining our economy as the strongest in the industrialized world and keeping the momentum on job creation going.
As you are aware, other political leaders are indicating they will try to force an election. Whenever it happens, I will be here for you as always as your MP until an election is called.
Second, are we planning to move away? No plans to do that. As Val says, “Why would anyone want to leave Paradise?”
Third, somebody said, “After all these years in politics you must be burnt out and stressed.” Not at all. Sure there are times, as with any job, when I have felt fatigued. But I can honestly say that serving as you as MP is energizing and gratifying. In other words, you keep me going. The time goes quickly, but as a friend once told me, “Life is not short, it lasts forever.” So, knowing there’s another life after politics, I’ll keep doing my best as MP until it’s time for change.
(Oh, and in response to another question, Val has informed me she has no plans to run for the position, even though I know she would get way more votes than I do.)
Stockwell Day is the member of Parliament for Okanagan Coquihalla.