Joined: 02 Mar 2009
|Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:58 pm Post subject: Lethbridge MP Rick Casson won't seek re-election
|Casson calling it quits
Written by Sherri Gallant Lethbridge Herald
Wednesday, 06 January 2010
It was the word “friends” that brought tears to the eyes of Lethbridge MP Rick Casson Wednesday, in announcing that after 12 years, he won’t be seeking a sixth term in Ottawa.
“I wish to thank the thousands of people, family, longtime friends and those who became friends,” Casson said, choking up for a moment, “who willingly helped during and between elections.”
Casson, a Conservative who’s served southern Albertans as a county councillor, mayor and MP for a total of 32 years, decided in July together with his wife Jeanene that at age 61, it’s time to call it a day. He exchanged letters to that effect with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and decided to give the riding association plenty of time to set up the nomination process before the next election.
He’ll be eligible to receive an annual pension in the neighbourhood of $60,000.
His health is good, he said. He and Jeanene have purchased a “little piece of heaven” in the Crowsnest Pass where he’s planning to do a lot of fishing. And while he’s considering his options for the future — retirement isn’t one of them — he’s looking forward to avoiding air travel for a long, long time.
“I think people have to understand the stresses of the job,” he said. “It’s hard on families. You’re away from home an awful lot. The travelling these days isn’t much fun anymore. Going through the screening at the airport — I always like to joke that the folks at the airport here, before they had an X-ray machine they’d go through my carry-on and tell me if I was missing anything — ‘I think you forgot your toothpaste this week, Mr. Casson,’ you know, that sort of thing.”
The position today requires more of an MP than just moving between Ottawa and the riding.
“And I’ve done that,” he said. “I’ve been to China, South America, I’ve been to Afghanistan twice, to Dubai, Europe, London . . . I’ve been all over the world, and that’s one of the opportunities you have.”
He emphasized a number of times his gratitude to the staff and board members who’ve supported him through the years.
“The best time spent is in the riding,” he said. “The person who comes through that door, the thing that’s on their mind that day is the most important thing in the world to them. And you have to understand that. Whether it’s about employment insurance, or they can’t get a relative into Canada from a foreign country, or a pension issue, that then has to become the most important thing to you.
“And you have to have the ability to carry quite a bit hidden on your shoulders. There’s an awful lot of issues, there are three or four on my desk right now that are just brutal - things that people are facing, with serious consequences in their lives, and we’re trying to help them.”
But the next MP should be aware of some other, more basic intelligence, as well.
“The first thing you need to know is the difference between a turnip and a sugar beet,” he smiled. “And you should know the difference between a heifer and a steer.”
“In the beginning, especially, I would have taken a cabinet post, if that would have happened,” he said. “But it wasn’t the driving force. And I’ve always told the prime minister that I’m happy to do what he wants me to and I’ve been very happy with my three chairmanships.”
“It is business as usual until the day before the next federal election, whenever that may be,” he said. “In my capacity as member of parliament I have gained great satisfaction in being able to assist so many people with their varied federal-government related problems. My only regret is that I could not help everyone who came through my door.”
His single-most favourite part of the post, he said, has always been talking with students in area schools, from elementary through high school.
“They’re amazing,” he said. “It makes me feel good to know we’ve got this generation coming up