My friend Chuck Strahl is hanging up his skates. After 17 plus years in politics he’s moving on, and in a way that’s sad. He’s made a great contribution as an MP, Deputy Speaker and Minister. His staff, colleagues and department officials will miss him deeply, and what’s not to miss.
He combined a dash of partisanship with a dollop of good humour that made him both effective and well liked, something the House could use more of. He treated people well. He didn’t savage his opponents. He was decent, fun and tough in the right measure.
Some of my best memories are Chuck and I cutting up in the House as we sparred with our opponents across the way. In fact I think the Libs liked it too.
He could lose his temper though. I laugh when I think about how he could burn with righteous indignation if a cabinet colleague brought forward an idea that offended his Reformish sensibilities. And of course Chuck is big and a tad ominous looking which gave his criticism a bit of extra force. He brought wisdom to the cabinet table that will be missed. Like I say that part of it is sad. Few people in Canada make as big a contribution to public life as Chuck.
But Chuck and I were room mates in Ottawa and we remain good friends so I think I know how much he missed his family and his beautiful home up the mountain above Chilliwack. In case you haven’t noticed politics isn’t all good times. You give up some things for that glamorous Ottawa life so leaving isn’t sad in that sense.
I know Chuck won’t just sit on the porch and watch the world go by. He’ll be engaged. I suspect every once in a while you’ll hear from him. He has given and he has a lot more to give.
In the meantime though, all the best buddy to you and Deb and your terrific family. Looking forward to seeing you Thursday, St Patrick’s Day. I’ll buy you a beer on behalf of the people of Canada for making this country a better place and for giving us someone to look up to.