I retired from federal politics in 2006.
That year, Canada elected a minority Conservative government and we have had a minority ever since.
While some people believe that a minority can be a good thing, the past five years have proven that wrong. While leading a minority government, Stephen Harper has dealt with an international recession and our country has weathered the impact better than any other country in the world.
This was done in spite of rather than because of being a minority. The opposition fought most of the government initiatives every step of the way.
The latest budget has received widespread support from every sector of our country – from business, social organizations, agricultural groups, taxpayer organizations and even labour groups.
Despite this, the opposition coalition has brought down the government on a matter of confidence, essentially an internal matter that has no impact on the Canadian people at all.
This confidence vote has only occurred because we have a minority government and a coalition of Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois has chosen to force an election on the Canadian people, the fourth in seven years.
What is the cost of this election? Aside from the hundreds of millions of dollars an election will cost us, a great deal of legislation nearing the point of becoming law will be lost.
Examples of what will be lost include a bill to abolish pardons for serious crimes, which was drafted in response to a pardon application from convicted child molester Graham James; a bill to abolish early parole and establish minimum sentences for sex crimes against children; an act to expand the liability of nuclear power plant operators in the case of an accident; legislation to better compensate injured soldiers; and legislation setting term limits for senators.
When asked for their cooperation in getting some of this legislation passed before forcing an election, the Liberal party responded with a desire to pass a couple of their own bills, most notably one forcing Supreme Court judges to be bilingual, while stating an unwillingness to support legislation dealing with sex offences against our vulnerable children.
For the past five years, we have had an opposition MP who has often shrugged off his lack of achievement for residents of our riding, claiming that there was little he could do because he was only in opposition. In truth, he could have accomplished far more than he did.
During my time in office, I secured the second-highest federal job funding grants in the province; I resolved many federal problems for local forest companies; and I even got changes to EI policy when poorly written policy caused severe and unreasonable problems for constituents. All of this was accomplished while serving in opposition.
Even Conservative candidate Stephen Hill has done more for our residents since being nominated than our elected MP has done in the past five years. Stephen has been doing this without pay and without the resources provided to our MP.
As undesired as this election is, at least it will allow us to correct two problems. We can elect someone who has proven he will get things done for our riding and we can provide our government with a majority and a mandate to pass the legislation most Canadians want.
Editor’s note: Jim Gouk was MP for the Southern Interior from 1993 to 2006