Fresh out of a caucus meeting that first heard from former prime minister Stephen Harper, followed by the selection of interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, Red Deer -Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen said Thursday he wants to work with the new government to help his constituents.
While Dreeshen did not provide details of the federal Conservative caucus meeting, he did say Harper encouraged the MPs to “just continue to work hard as we have done in the past.”
“We do have the greatest respect for (Stephen Harper). The world knows how significant he has been and the leadership that he has shown. Now it’ll be up to us as Opposition to let people realize the significance of the mark that Conservatives have made, and prime minister Harper had made for Canada.”
While the Conservatives lost the election to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on Oct. 19, local Conservatives Dreeshen and Blaine Calkins (Red Deer-Lacombe) were elected.
Dreeshen said Harper did have a chance to express his feelings and concerns “and we as always appreciated his comments and insight.”
Asked if it was an emotional meeting, Dreeshen said: “Really what we were looking at, it was a business meeting … and so we went about doing the things that we need to do in order to become a strong and effective opposition.”
“That was what we felt we were going to do when we went in and that’s what we felt we had accomplished.”
“And so we now have a new interim leader, Rona Ambrose, and I have the greatest respect for Rona. She’s a bright effective communicator and she’s passionate about our country. So I’m looking forward to working with her in the weeks and months to come until we finally have a leadership convention that will give our party someone for the future.”
No date has been set yet for the leadership convention.
Dreeshen said the party wants to make it as fair and open a process as possible.
“We let the party deal with that side of it. For those of us that are elected, we will be dealing with the other side, which is to make sure that the legislative agenda that is presented is well scrutinized, and we have people be aware of the opportunities and ideas that we can put forward.”
Dreeshen, who will be sworn in on Monday, said any extra duties for the Conservative MPs will be determined by Ambrose.
“I would imagine that when we return on Dec. 3 to elect the speaker, then on Dec. 4 to listen to the speech from the throne, that those decisions will have been made.”
“We do work as a team and we look for the strengths that everybody has and so whether a person has any official role or not, we still work togther to make sure we help develop policies and we help get positive messaging going forward.”
While he will now sit as a member of the official Opposition, Dreeshen said the reality is that the first job for each of the 338 members of Parliament is still to their constituents and to those people that elected them.
“I’ve always felt that you can gain more by being thoughtful and working your way through decisions than you can by being boisterous. You know I’ve been here for seven years and in that time, maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I’ve never heckled and I have no intention to do so.”
“I feel that there’s a certain amount of respect that has to be here, and in essence we all work that way. So the fact that we are now doing it from the other side of the House I still think that’s really the tone that a person has to work with.”
Dreeshen said he wants to get to know those new cabinet ministers he will need to work with on behalf of his constituents, but he will have to wait until they have got their feet under them.
He said he believes the best approach is to work together to solve problems for constituents and that’s the approach he intends to use.