Foothills MP thank­ful for time in the Cen­tre Block

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Viewpoints - John Bar­low is the MP – Foothills Shadow Min­is­ter of Em­ploy­ment, Work­force De­vel­op­ment and Labour BY JOHN BAR­LOW

Ev­ery­one has their favourite room. The Par­lia­men­tary Restau­rant, the Se­nate, Hall of Hon­our, the Me­mo­rial Cham­ber and cer­tainly the House of Com­mons.

As I write this col­umn and think about every­thing I am thank­ful for I am truly blessed to be sit­ting in one of my favourite rooms in the en­tire world.

I am sit­ting in the breath­tak­ing Par­lia­men­tary Li­brary in Cen­tre Block of Par­lia­ment Hill.

Even as I lis­ten to the tap­ping of the keys on my lap­top I catch my­self glanc­ing up at the in­cred­i­ble wood­work, smell the books and drink in the quiet at­mos­phere.

This month the House rose, sig­ni­fy­ing the end of the Fall ses­sion. For many of us it could be the end of an era.

When we re­turn for the Win­ter Ses­sion at the end of Jan­uary the House of Com­mons will no longer be in Cen­tre Block, but in a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion in the newly ren­o­vated West Block.

The iconic Cen­tre Block, with the Peace Tower as its key­stone, will be closed for more than a decade for a mas­sive ren­o­va­tion.

For many cur­rent Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, we may never have the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to the tra­di­tional home of Canada’s democ­racy. I know they are say­ing 10 years, but for a project of this mag­ni­tude, I am guess­ing closer to 15 years un­til the House re­sumes in its splen­did home.

There­fore, De­cem­ber’s ad­journ­ment pro­ceed­ing was bit­ter­sweet to say the least.

For me, still a rel­a­tively new Mem­ber, I found it hard to es­cape the grip of my seat.

On Dec. 13, the last day of the ses­sion, I asked what could be my last ques­tion in Ques­tion Pe­riod in the true home of the House of Com­mons. I was hon­oured to ask a ques­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter about the en­ergy cri­sis in Canada and its im­pacts on fam­i­lies in Al­berta, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

Af­ter­wards, even af­ter the House rose for the Christ­mas break, I and a hand­ful of oth­ers, could not bring our­selves to leave.

In­stead I stayed in my sec­ond-row seat and soaked in the room – grand, el­e­gant and quite sim­ply beau­ti­ful.

I thought about the de­bates that oc­curred here in the past, the icons of Cana­dian his­tory who sat in th­ese same seats – Mac­Don­ald, Lau­rier, Diefen­baker, King, Trudeau, Mul­roney, Chre­tien and Harper. The men and women who made the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions and passed leg­is­la­tion in this House help­ing to build a na­tion, a pil­lar of democ­racy ad­mired around the world.

His­tory was made here and at times I find it hard to be­lieve I am a part of that his­tory.

The shoot­ing in Oc­to­ber 2014; send­ing troops into Syria; Malala Yousafzai ad­dress­ing the House of Com­mons; an emer­gency de­bate on Tran­sMoun­tain pipe­line; le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana; a floor-cross­ing from the govern­ment to op­po­si­tion. Good and bad, I have had a front row seat to key mo­ments in our his­tory.

I have been able to be­cause of the con­fi­dence and sup­port of you.

I have served the con­stituents of Foothills (Macleod be­fore that) for more than four years and each day I still get goose­bumps when I walk up the Hill and see the Cana­dian flag atop the Peace Tower.

As much as we will try, the tem­po­rary home of the House of Com­mons will not be the same. How­ever, I know the essence of this hal­lowed place will live on in West Block over the next decade as we con­tinue to de­bate the is­sues im­por­tant to Cana­di­ans and con­tinue to make his­tory.

Well, the li­brar­ian has told me it is now time to close the li­brary as well. Sad.

I know this is not a tra­di­tional Christ­mas col­umn, but as we head into 2019 I want to say how thank­ful I am for the op­por­tu­nity the res­i­dents of Foothills have pro­vided me to rep­re­sent you in the House of Com­mons.

From Louise, my­self and our fam­ily I want to wish you a Merry Christ­mas and a won­der­ful 2019.

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