After nine years as the MP for Kelowna-Lake Country and nine years before that as a Kelowna city councillor, Conservative candidate Ron Cannan sums up the reason he is seeking re-election in one sentence.
“I love the community work, connecting people and helping people,” he said.
For Cannan, 54, the constituency work is the most rewarding part of a job that can take a toll if you’re a B.C. MP, as the travel schedule is brutal.
It regularly takes the MP halfway across the country to work, and in Cannan’s case has resulted in him spending about half the year away from home.
But while he considers his brand of politics to be local first, he’s also keenly aware of the national focus an MP must also maintain.
He is a member of the parliamentary trade committee and has served on several other government committees including the finance committee and the Treasury Board sub-committee on government administration.
Cannan says he recognizes the importance of accountability when it comes to being an elected official, something that was taught to him during his time on Kelowna city council.
And he feels he has maintained that local focus during his time as an MP, helped the riding secure federal funding for a long list of projects including infrastructure, health, education, innovation and job creation projects.
Cannan describes himself as a “fiscal conservative with a social conscience,” who keeps an eye open to helping projects that create jobs, to build the economy and helping meet the needs of the people he serves.
The affable back bencher, who is often lauded for his hard work behind the scenes, said his years on city council also helped prepare him for taking local issues and concerns to Ottawa and bringing them to the attention of government officials.
But while he can trot out a long list of accomplishments in terms of government funding for the riding since 2006, he’s also quick to share the credit with others, saying an important part of an MP’s job is creating partnerships with other politicians both federal and provincial, the public and private sector and social agencies.
Over the years, Cannan has developed close working relationships not only with his Conservative counterpart on the west side of Okanagan Lake, but also with two of the three B.C. Liberal MLAs representing the Central Okanagan.
A married father of three adult daughters and a grandfather of three, Cannan says serving as the MP for the last nine years would not have been possible without the support of his family.
“This job really does affect the whole family,” he said. “You miss a lot of family events but you try to make up the time.”
For Cannan, who has faced his share of family tragedy over the years —both his parents died of AIDS and his brother had a troubled life facing addiction, time in and out of jail and an untimely death in a fire at age 50—re-election will mean more of his local-first focus.
As he likes to quip when asked by visiting politicians how can he leave an area as nice as the Okanagan to work in Ottawa: “It’s because I have a return ticket.”