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Political History 

 

I always thought of myself as an accidental politician.   The Member of Parliament seat for Cumberland Colchester became open in 1988 then Progressive Conservative MP Robert Coates announced that he would not run again after 27 years of dedicated service to the riding.  Right away three people announced that they would contest the nomination.  Most people, including myself, were of the opinion that Glenn Elliott would win the nomination.  Glenn had worked for the PC party provincially and federally for many years.   

The nomination was to take place on Saturday, October   1988.   On the Thursday before, I went in to see my lawyer Tony Morley to get a deed notarized.  Tony was the PC Riding President at the time, and he told me that Glen had suddenly backed out of the contest for personal reasons.  I started to ask questions about the process as I had never been to a political party function in my life.  He detected that I was interested, and he suggested that I run.  On Friday, after checking to see if the rules allowed me to submit my nomination, I announced that I would be a candidate at the nomination that was to be held the next day in Wentworth at the Ski Hill Resort.  

  

1988 party election win.JPG

With the help of a lot of PC members including Glen Elliott and Robert Coates, I won the nomination on the second ballot.  Coincidentally, during the count of the second ballot, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney called the election.   At that time, there were no “fixed election dates”. 

On Friday morning I was a Ford Automobile Dealer and on Saturday I was a nominated candidate in an active campaign.   I had no idea what I was doing.   I went home and put my head in my hands and asked myself…"What have I done?” 

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With Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as leader, the PC team and I won the 1988 election in Cumberland Colchester, and I started a new chapter in my life.   

 

Before long I learned two lessons. The first lesson was that there are a lot of people that actually need help. Although I lived in the community my whole life I did not realize the challenges that some people face which must seem insurmountable. It changed me completely. The second lesson was that you can’t do anything by yourself as a politician. It takes a great staff and the support of the community and of other members of parliament and the government to do anything.   

I lost the next election in 1993 to Diane Brushett, the Liberal Candidate.  I decided that I would not run again in 1997.  Shortly before the 1997 election, the new leader of the PC party, Hon Jean Charest came to Amherst and asked me to run.  He assured me that if I ran and won, that I would play a key role in the party.  At his urging, I ran for the nomination which again was held in Wentworth.  We had a huge turnout for the nomination and I won the nomination, and then the election.  I served as the Transport Critic.  

 

I ran again for the Progressive Conservatives in 2000 and won.  The Hon Joe Clark was now the PC leader and he made me the Foreign Affairs Critic…. a move that had a major impact on my role as MP. 

In 2003, the Progressive Conservative Party “merged” with the Reform Party and became the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC).  I served as Deputy House Leader in this time.  In 2004 I ran under the CPC flag and won.  Again in 2006 I ran for the CPC and won.   

The June 2007 CPC budget contravened an agreement between the government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia.  The result was that Nova Scotia lost the guarantee of the full benefit of the Nova Scotia offshore resources.  Although I tried to have Finance minister Minister Flaherty and Prime Minister Harper reverse the changes, they would not.  I voted against the budget and I was evicted from caucus seconds after the vote.   I hadn’t even left my seat. 

The recent passing of CBC’s Rex Murphy reminded me of Rex’s video about this process.   You can see it here:

Rex Murphy on Casey

In 2008, I ran as an Independent Candidate with no party affiliation.  I won with 69% of the vote.  The next place candidate was the NDP candidate who received 12% of the vote.    

In 2009 I resigned my seat after experiencing some health issues relating to my treatment for two different cancers.   The treatments went well and I was able to work as the Senior Representative for the Province of Nova Scotia in Ottawa for three years.     

In 2015 I was approached by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and asked if I would run in the 2015 election.  At first I said “No” but he asked me if we could talk about it.  I agreed to have a chat.    

While at the airport in Halifax waiting for my plane to Ottawa, I encountered Maureen MacTeer, the spouse of my former PC leader Rt Hon Joe Clark.   While we were chatting, she asked why I was going to Ottawa, and I told her that Mr. Trudeau had invited me to run for the Liberals against the CPCs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Right away she said…” Oh my goodness…. You must run.   We need to get rid of that man”.  She told me that Canada’s reputation was being diminished around the world and that something had to change.   The next morning, I received an email from Mr. Clark himself with a thoughtful message which concluded with the recommendation that I run for the Liberals.  Later that day I met with Mr. Trudeau and agreed to run.  Fortunately, I won with 64% of the vote.   

During my time in office, I served on many committees and parliamentary posts.  The list of parliamentary committees includes:

  • Transport 

  • Industry, Science and Technology 

  • Scrutiny of Regulations 

  • Foreign Affair and International Trade 

  • Human rights 

  • Procedure and House Affairs 

  • Health where I served as Chair for four years 

  • I also served as Deputy Whip and on the Panel of Chairs of committees   

  • I belonged to the Canada-China Association, Canada Israel, and Canada United States Associations.   

I was elected to seven terms as Member of Parliament over a period of thirty years.  I served under six Prime Ministers and ten party leaders.  I ran and won elections under three different party flags, and as an Independent.  I am now retired and enjoying myself with my family.   I miss politics but I do not miss the travel.  Also I sense that it is not as rewarding as it once was. 

 

At one time there was a level respect which seems to have evaporated.  When the cameras were on, opposition and government would be aggressive in their questions and answers but still respectful.  When the cameras were off, most MPs were friends and worked together on projects if need be.   No doubt some of this negativity stems from the nature of politics in the United States right now.  I trust that at some point we can restore the former respect that MPs had for each other….no matter what the party. 

 

I always found that the world of politics was more difficult for women than men and that it is even worse now with the unleashed social media we experience today.   MP Elsie Wayne from Saint John was a stalwart MP and appeared to be fearless and powerful.   However, she would often share with me her frustrations and hurt that people criticized her hair, her clothes, things that she said and felt.  They used words about her for which there are no “male” equivalents.  As a man, I did not experience these criticisms and none of my male colleagues did either.   She never let it show but she had torches to bear that men do not.   

 

Every accomplishment that I had in politics was the result of group efforts.  My staffs and I over the years were involved in establishing M-325, a Motion to have the Government of Canada to create a Brain Tumour Registry;  Bill C-391 an Act to Establish a Strategy to Repatriate Indigenous Artifacts; Bill C-395 An Act to Establish National Crime Stoppers Day;  Bill C-345 An Act to Amend  the War Veterans Allowance Act;  Bill C-494 An Act to Amend the Access to Information Act;  the creation and purchase of the National Historic Site of Beaubassin; the creation of a Wilderness Preserve including all of Isle Haute in the Bay of Fundy;  and so on.   

 

The part of the MP role that gave me and my staffs the most satisfaction was helping those who cannot help themselves.  Officials in Ottawa cannot imagine what it is like to try to access government programs from places like Diligent River and Earltown.   For government to say “Download the APP and follow the links” means that many people are automatically denied benefits to which they are entitled.  It just isn’t possible for many people to overcome the hurdles imposed by some technologies.  We could always help get through the red tape, and this gave us all a sense of accomplishment.   

 

I have lots of other thoughts which I will share on this site as time goes on.   Thanks for reading.      

1988 PC Candidates Faisal Joseph, Bill Casey, and Michael Oulton

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