As an MLA, I am privileged at this time of year, with the very special honour of attending and participating in the high school graduation ceremonies that take place across the Drumheller Stettler riding. The significance of the graduation of these young people is something that holds a special place for me.
The new chapter young people start after leaving high school is something that acts as a milestone worthy of recognition and often remains a noteworthy milestone for their entire lives. A new chapter full of opportunity and hope unfolds after graduation, which in many cases determines the path our life takes.
At many of the ceremonies I am asked to address the graduating class and deliver a message or advice for these young people to carry into the future. This year’s message without question for me to deliver is loyalty and integrity.
The last year and a half in Alberta politics has been challenging and unpredictable to say the least. My Wildrose colleagues-Drew Barnes, Pat Stier, Heather Forsyth, Shayne Saskiw, and myself held to our integrity and loyalty that we first were elected on. As the political world around us appeared to be crumbling, five of us weathered a storm that, at times, seemed to be powerful enough to sweep us into political oblivion.
The recent election illustrated that Albertans have a desire for loyalty and integrity. Loyalty to the platform and the integrity to stand behind it was something constituents repeatedly told me was what they demanded from their representatives. It also turned out to be the key components in the re-election of the Wildrose candidates that ran again, Drew Barnes, Pat Stier and myself.
As dark as things seemed when the historic Alberta Legislature floor-crossing took place, something I said to graduates last year stuck with me;
“Loyalty and integrity in many cases will overcome numbers.”
It stuck with me because as part of a small group, I have faced off against a large organization before, the Chretien government. The small group of 13 farmers that took on the Chretien government to fight for our property rights prevailed for the same two reasons-integrity and loyalty.
As part of a small group of five MLAs that were determined to remain the official Opposition in the Alberta Legislature, the odds at times seemed insurmountable. This past election took the Wildrose from 17 seats in 2012 to 21seats in 2015. Without question this is in part due to the integrity and loyalty shown not only by the MLAs, but the members who believed in a movement.
The message I would like to leave graduating classes that I am privileged to address will focus on the loyalty it takes to be part of a successful organization, big or small, and the integrity that legitimizes not only an organization but its members.
My message to the graduates is simply this, we all want loyalty, integrity and somebody who won’t quit. To get that person, you have to be that person.