Frankly Speaking: Warawa deserving of thanks

Columnist Frank Bucholtz talks about Mark Warawa’s contribution to our community

Frank Bucholtz

Advance Times columnist

Mark Warawa’s time in the House of Commons has come to an end – in a much more challenging and poignant way than anyone could have anticipated 15 years ago.

The Conservative MP for Langley-Aldergrove was first elected in 2004. He was the first MP to ever represent all parts of Langley in Ottawa, and he continued to represent residents of both Langley City and Langley Township until the last election in 2015.

That’s when riding boundaries were changed, and a new Cloverdale-Langley City riding was created.

Warawa announced some time ago that he was not running again, and a number of candidates for the Conservative nomination had come forward.

Then a bombshell hit. The incumbent MP was facing very serious health issues. Cancer was diagnosed in some of his internal organs, and appeared to be spreading.

Since that time, he has posted a number of updates on social media about his condition.

On May 7, he gave a farewell speech in the House of Commons, which prompted numerous standing ovations from MPs of all parties. He thanked the people of Langley for their support and for the privilege of having him represent them in Ottawa.

He also took the occasion to emphasize the importance of palliative care, something he has been passionate about for many years. In fact, he was planning to train as a palliative care chaplain so he could continue to work in that field after retiring from Parliament.

Warawa told his fellow MPs that his prognosis “is not good,” but at the same time affirmed his faith in God and his love for his family.

Unlike most MPs who have represented Langley in the past 50 years, Warawa actually was part of the government for most of his years in Ottawa. The Conservatives were in power from 2006 to 2015. As such, he was part of decision-making and had a great deal of access to cabinet ministers.

One of his early jobs was parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. As such, he took a lot of interest in local environmental issues and established the Langley Environmental Hero awards.

This was enthusiastically welcomed by constituents, many of whom were supporters of other political parties. In particular, the awards gave a much-needed forum to some smaller environmental organizations in the community, and to young people who were passionate about the environment.

As an evangelical Christian, he also took a strong interest in issues that most MPs don’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole – notably abortion and assisted dying.

He pushed for changes to restrict abortion for sex-selection purposes, but then-prime minister Stephen Harper wanted no part of it.

In the latter years of the Conservative government, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Parliament needed to come up with an assisted dying law. The Conservatives began work on it, but the legislation was not completed and passed until the Liberals took power after the 2015 election.

Overall, Warawa was an effective advocate for his constituents. He was greatly helped with this by an outstanding staff in his local constituency office.

He and his staff will continue to do so until his term is over, but he told the House of Commons that he won’t be back in the chamber, due to his health.

Mark Warawa was a low-profile but effective MP for Langley. He was popular with voters – in 2011, he received a high-water mark of 64.5 per cent of the vote. He was willing to listen to anyone, and helped thousands of people in their dealings with government during the past 15 years.

He deserves thanks for his hard work, and I’m sure he also appreciates prayers and good wishes as he fights for his life.

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