Bidding farewell to political life
Interim Conservative leader Ambrose to take position with Washington-based public policy think tank
When interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose began using the photo-sharing social media site Instagram, the pictures she posted were all in black and white.
She opened the account just days after being elected the party’s temporary boss and the reflective tone of the photos matched the mood of the party: 99 MPs bruised and demoralized by an election defeat that saw Conservatives wiped off the electoral map in Atlantic Canada and pushed to the margins of the country’s urban centres.
Seven months later, the first colour photograph emerged: Ambrose, on stage at the party’s annual convention in Vancouver, with the caption “So. Much. Energy. #LookForward.”
Ambrose, it turns out, is now the one looking forward, announcing Tuesday she will resign her seat in the House of Commons when MPs break for summer, in preparation for a new life in the private sector.
The 48-year-old Valleyview, Alta., native will leave politics credited with injecting new energy into the Conservative party and into Canadian politics itself. During a tribute to her in the House of Commons, fellow politicians complimented her sense of humour, her style and her work ethic.
“Conservatives have thrived, our party is strong, our fundraising is very robust, our caucus is united and we are an effective opposition,” said House leader Candice Bergen.
Proof of Ambrose’s skill as leader can be seen in fundraising results. While in the middle of a leadership race that usually drains funds from party coffers, the Tories took in $5.3 million in the first three months of 2017, nearly twice as much as the governing Liberals – and not including the $4.6 million being raised by the leadership candidates now vying for the permanent job.
Party members choose a new leader on May 27.
“Nobody walks on water to get to the party leadership,” Ambrose told a crowd of MPs and political watchers during breakfast at Ottawa’s storied Chateau Laurier hotel.
“Whichever woman or man who wins this job will undoubtedly spend time learning, and listening and working. I did it, Stephen Harper did it and so did our predecessors.”
Ambrose will stay on to help manage the transition before making her way into the private sector, which will include taking up a position as a visiting fellow at the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center, a Washingtonbased public policy think tank.
Ambrose was first elected in an Edmonton-area riding in 2004, and when the Conservatives formed a minority government in 2006, she was appointed as environment minister.