It is with a very heavy heart that I write the last column of my 19-year career as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Battle River-Crowfoot. Since first being elected in 2000, I have been submitting my bi-weekly column to all local weekly newspapers. I am extremely grateful to those papers who consistently ran the column which allowed me to regularly connect with my constituents. I thank each of you for giving me the opportunity to circulate important information and provide critiques on government legislation and polices, the economic well-being of the country or international affairs. I have endeavoured to continually provide timely facts and figures which I believe is crucial for constituents be informed about the state of federal affairs.
Early on in my Parliamentary career, I learned that I needed to reach out to constituents through various means and as often as possible. While nothing can replace the importance and pleasure of meeting with constituents in person at community events or in my constituency office; columns, quarterly Reports from Parliament, letters, emails, telephone calls, and in later years, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter postings, have led to a vital exchange of ideas, and information between the residents of Battle River-Crowfoot and me. Without that dialogue, I could not have adequately represented the views of my constituents in Ottawa which is the most important part of being a MP in a democratic country such as Canada.
To the best of my ability, I ensured this constituency’s voice was heard in the Nation’s Capital. In some cases, the views of Battle River-Crowfoot residents were at odds with other parts of the country. While this was not surprising, it was rather alarming that those views were not always respected. I have always fully recognized and respected the fact that there is always going to be divergent views on a multitude of issues. And, I have appreciated that others are every bit as passionate as I in defending their position. I however, unlike members of the Liberal government, have never chastised anyone for stating their beliefs as I also respect our Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech (and thought).
In the wake of one Liberal Minister’s recent public rebuke of a point of view on an issue of importance to many people, I received an overwhelming number of letters, emails and phone calls. One constituent wrote, “coming under attack for such beliefs shows that the Liberal government does not believe in true free speech, but instead a freedom of speech where you can believe and say what you like, as long as it corresponds with Liberal policies and mindsets.”
As I say good-bye and thank you for the honour of representing you for close to two decades, I leave you with the most important lesson I have learned: you may disagree with another’s position or point of view; you may passionately debate the merits of your point of view; but at the end of the argument, you should always respect the other person. This is a very big and diverse country where everyone is entitled to their opinions and they are entitled to state their position without fear of reprisal or condemnation.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.firstname.lastname@example.org.