For new Tory MP Alex Ruff, this year’s Remembrance Day brings changes

For new Tory MP Alex Ruff, this year’s Remembrance Day brings changes

OTTAWA — Alex Ruff, a retired colonel with 25 years in the Armed Forces, has missed commemorating Remembrance Day in his hometown of Tara, Ont. just six times.

He’d even scheduled leave from his last deployment in Baghdad so he could be in the small rural town near Owen Sound, not just for the ceremonies but for an annual euchre game with his father and a pair of local brothers, one of whom is a vet himself.

It’s a tradition he’s determined to continue this year, even as his schedule is suddenly far fuller. Ruff is the new Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Bruce Grey-Owen Sound, and is fielding far more requests for his presence at events.

“This was never my dream or plan, I looked at them like they had three heads, why would I ever want to get involved in politics?,” he said of his response to a suggestion that he consider replacing outgoing Conservative MP Larry Miller.

“But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got, because I just looked at it as a way to continue to serve.”

In winning the longtime Tory seat in last month’s vote, Ruff became the latest soldier to join the political ranks, a group that’s expanded in recent years.

In the Liberal party, current and veteran soldiers include Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a lieutenant-colonel who has served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon is a retired lieutenant-colonel who was the first woman to command a Canadian Forces air force squadron. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie, former chief of the land staff, was a high-ranking Liberal in the last Parliament, but did not run again this fall.

Ruff joins several other Conservatives with military backgrounds, including Erin O’Toole, a former Royal Canadian Air Force officer, Pierre Paul-Hus, a longtime reservist, and Leona Alleslev, who was a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Unlike them however, Ruff, 45, transitioned almost directly from the Armed Forces to political life. He was posted in Iraq until earlier this year. He joined the military as an infantry officer, and over the next two decades he served twice in Bosnia and twice in Afghanistan before his posting in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, he was on the ground for two of the deadliest improvised explosive device attacks Canadians would experience throughout the military’s presence in Kandahar.

On Easter Sunday of April 2007, six soldiers were killed when their light armoured vehicle ran over a roadside bomb. Ruff was the company’s commander at the time, and raced to the scene from his nearby work securing irrigation sites.

The memories of the six men are with him still.

“They are ingrained in my head,” he said.

Three months later, in July 2007, another massive blast killed six more soldiers.

Among the dead was Capt. Matthew Dawe. His mother Reine Samson Dawe is this year’s Silver Cross Mother, who will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Monday on behalf of all the mothers who have lost children to war.

Ruff has a child of his own, a six-year-old girl. He said he feels it is essential to keep involving children in Remembrance Day events, so they can understand why Canada enjoys the freedoms it does today.

Soldiers like him, he said, who have more contemporary experience with war than the grandfathers and great grandfathers who served in the World Wars, also keep it relevant.

It’s a point of view he intends to bring to his new life as a politician.

While he’d be a natural fit for the jobs of defence or foreign affairs critic, he said that like the military, he’ll serve where he’s asked.

“The military and the veterans issues — I don’t need to be anything associated with them because they’re going to get my opinion and feedback on that whether they want it or not,” he said.

“You’re not going to take that out of me after 25 years of service.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is now on the path to grant degrees. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Problems with vagrancy in downtown Red Deer were behind a push to build a 24/7 shelter in the city. Nearly a year after a $7 million commitment from the province, there is little movement on this "top priority" project. (Advocate file photo).
Little progress on ‘top priority’ 24/7 homeless shelter project for Red Deer

No details can yet be provided by the city or province

Blackfalds RCMP are investigating two suspicious fires that happened in Lacombe County in November. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta man charged for exposing himself in public

The man was charged under similar circumstances in 2019

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2008, file photo, Elliott Broidy poses for a photo at an event in New York. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
Trump’s pardon largesse a boon for well-connected fraudsters

Trump’s pardon largesse a boon for well-connected fraudsters

FILE - In this May 14, 2020, file photo, a person carries a sign supporting QAnon during a protest rally in Olympia, Wash, USA. The social media company Twitter said Tuesday Jan. 12, 2021, it has suspended more than 70,000 accounts associated with the far right QAnon conspiracy theory following last week's U.S. Capitol insurrection. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Inauguration sows doubt among QAnon conspiracy theorists

Inauguration sows doubt among QAnon conspiracy theorists

Demonstrators march during a protest on Inauguration Day in Southeast Portland, Ore. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)
Protesters gather, damage Democratic headquarters in Oregon

Protesters gather, damage Democratic headquarters in Oregon

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk toward the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Biden bets big on immigration changes in opening move

Biden bets big on immigration changes in opening move

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Biden takes the helm, appeals for unity to take on crises

Biden takes the helm, appeals for unity to take on crises

American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman: ‘Even as we grieved, we grew.’

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman: ‘Even as we grieved, we grew.’

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021. Miller is criticizing the Quebec premier's refusal to exempt homeless people from the provincewide curfew following the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a homeless shelter he frequented. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous services minister says Quebec premier should show ‘humanity’ to homeless

Indigenous services minister says Quebec premier should show ‘humanity’ to homeless

People work out at an outdoor gym in downtown Montreal, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. A new study links the fitness level of Canadian children to that of their parents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
StatCan study finds some correlation between child and parent fitness levels

StatCan study finds some correlation between child and parent fitness levels

Most Read