Mark Warawa will be missed, and whoever takes the reins as Langley’s next MP will find living up to his example a worthwhile challenge.
The former Abbotsford city councillor, business owner, and ICBC employee stepped into federal politics here in 2004.
In conservative leaning Langley, his victory at the polls was no surprise. But Warawa was gracious in all his many electoral wins, and never took the support of his constituents for granted.
You could disagree with his political positions, but it was impossible to fault the way he advocated for them. Firm in his beliefs without being strident or unduly attacking his opponents, Warawa embodied the fundamental decency to which every politician, of all parties, should aspire.
We cannot speak of the personal legacies he leaves behind – of friends and loved ones, of his close family.
But we can speak of the legacies he has left to Langley, and to Canadians.
In 2014, Warawa succeeded in pushing through the Safe at Home bill, C-489.
Inspired by a case in Langley, in which a young victim of sexual assault had to deal with the fear of having the perpetrator live under house arrest on the same street, Warawa’s bill allows parole boards to place geographic restrictions on where offenders can live, relative to their victims.
It was a small change to the law, but it will continue to benefit victims for decades to come, allowing them to heal in peace.
Here in Langley, Warawa has handed out the Environmental Hero awards every year since he inaugurated the program in 2006.
The awards recognize individuals and groups doing things to improve and protect the environment on the most local level.
“Many of these initiatives go unnoticed and unrecognized,” said Warawa, who was then the Parliamentary Secretary to the minister of the environment. “The environment is our most valuable resource and anyone who is taking a leading role in protecting it is a hero in my opinion.”
Warawa maintained his interest in the environment through his tenure in government, later serving as chair of the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on the Environment.
We ask of our elected officials many things – that they are honest and forthright, that they represent their constituents to the best of their ability, that they hold firm to the convictions that won them election.
Warawa did all of this, and he has left his community and his country better for his service.