Conservative MPs Look Back on Past Year
Prince George, B.C. – With Canadian MPs home for the holidays the representatives for Prince George have looked back on the year that was.
After four years in government, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer says one of the big changes for him was sitting as an opposition MP for the first time.
“People have asked what’s it like in opposition and I say it’s actually been very good. I’ve been busier than I was before. There’s three more roles that I have now that I didn’t have before.”
(Zimmer is his party’s deputy critic for Families, Children and Social Development, vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, Chair of the BC/Yukon Conservative Caucus, Chair of the National Prayer Breakfast, and co-chair of the All-Party Outdoors Caucus).
In his estimation, it’s been a productive year too – especially when it comes to question period.
“We’re affecting change. You know the discussion about voting reform and the fact they’re trying to change the system? It’s good to see an opposition can be very effective and it’s good to be a part of that.”
As for highlights the past year, he points to the approval of the Line 3 and Trans Mountain pipelines.
“Very positive, especially being from a resource-rich riding.” One of the year’s negatives though was the rejection of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
“Yeah, I was supportive of it, the National Energy Board approved it with 209 conditions and I thought it should proceed. It was based on science, the same as the other two that are going forward. So, it’s a bit interesting to figure that out but things are moving.”
And now that former prime minister Stephen Harper is out of the picture, he admits he’s feeling freer to speak his mind on the issues that interest him. He credits interim party leader Rona Ambrose for helping him in that regard.
“I think before, when you’re in government, there’s responsibilities that are there, I would also say with Rona’s leadership – she’s a great leader and she respects all views within caucus…. I’ve appreciated her freedom of caucus and just that softer wide of conservativism I guess. And it’s good that’s being portrayed to Canadians as well.”
Zimmer’s colleague, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, has also weighed in on his first full year in office.
“I would say we had a good year, I would never say that we had a great year. I think there’s always things that we can do better moving forward,” he says.
“Whether it’s things in the riding or in Ottawa, we first and foremost want to be present and visible within our riding.”
Doherty notes he’s had a lot of success in that regard estimating he’s put over 60,000 kilometres on his truck and “quadrupled that in terms of air miles.” He’s also made a point of coming back to his riding nearly every weekend when Parliament is in session.
Doherty acknowledges visibility in the riding is important considering it was one of the major knocks against the previous MP for the riding, Dick Harris.
“You’ll never hear me say anything negative about him…I think Dick did a lot of great things for our riding – he brought a lot of money – unprecedented amounts of money to our riding.”
But he adds all that counts now is what’s being done “moving forward.”
“I think people are starting to see us more. I think again there’s a bar that we set high for ourselves. We’re still missing some of that that I’d love to get back.”
Has there been a learning curve considering he’s a first-time MP?
“The simple answer is yes. Just the time schedule. Just being able to balance all the responsibilities and get into a 24-hour time cycle. Because your first inclination is to say yes to everything but ultimately there are people you are going to disappoint.”