What a delight to receive this fundraising appeal in the mail! I don’t often say that about fundraising letters, but this one is special. Even if my name was mangled, somewhat.
Many years ago, during his first term as a Member of Parliament, Ralph Goodale hired me to work in his Ottawa office. It was a turning point for me. I had been employed by the Southeast Community College, setting up adult education classes in forty of the communities in Ralph’s constituency, Assiniboia. The hours were long and the travel was endless; the deadlines were pressing; the people in the communities always had suggestions for more new classes. Being young, I thought I know what it meant to work hard.
Working for Ralph showed me how much I still had to learn. For every mile I had driven to meet with committees before moving to Ottawa, he had driven ten. For every document I read, every letter I drafted, every phone call I made, he had done twice as much. If I had read a report, he had not only read the report but he had formulated his response and reached out to the stakeholders. Honest, devoted to his constituents, on top of the issues — Ralph was one of the MP’s who improved our public life.
Because of the deep impression he made on me during the two years I worked for him, I have held firm to my faith in our political system. When someone complains about pettiness or corruption on Parliament Hill, I counter with my favourite example of what an MP can and should be. And even now, as the leader has taken the party down a path I can’t follow, I intend to watch the late returns on election night, hoping that Ralph once again graces the House of Commons.
By the way, if you want to get a sense of what’s happening in Regina and many other places, follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphGoodale.