By now I’m sure most of you have heard the news of my decision as the Conservative MP for the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding.
First, even though it has received broad media coverage, I don’t want to presume that everyone is aware of my decision.
After all, some people do things like enjoying the stunning natural beauty of our constituency and may not have paid attention to the news last weekend.
Others may be so understandably focused on issues of much deeper importance, such as the human tragedy ongoing in Japan, that other things have just faded away in significance.
So first, let me take this opportunity to repeat my official statement I released last weekend which deals with the matter at hand:
“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.
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 themselves more than others, which I would like to respond to.
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 that ultimately happens, I will remain 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 to me, “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 your 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.
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.
This week, I will be in the riding for meetings and events, then Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton.
Call me if you need to get together. We’ll make it happen.
P.S: Just saw a guy on the local news saying Tim’s coffee cups are going to overwhelm the landfills of the nation.
Appreciate his concern given I just published last week a list of initiatives we’re doing for the environment.
However, I’ve also just seen some numbers that indicate how small a Timmys cup is when it’s compressed.
At the present rate of cross Canada consumption, it would take 385 years to fill one hole 25 feet deep and the size of one Canadian football field.
I’m good with that. Now I’m off to grab a large coffee, single cream and hopefully win a free doughnut!
Stockwell Day is the Conservative MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla and president of the federal Treasury Board.