Mr. Speaker, everyone has their story of their journey to and for the House. This one is mine.
My journey began in earnest 20 years ago in partnership with my wife, Lorraine. In the summer of 1995, we were motor homing down through the southern United States when we heard on the radio that Jacques Parizeau's campaign for the upcoming referendum stalled at a 60-40 level, a repeat of René Lévesque's 1980 level. Then all of a sudden under the leadership of Lucien Bouchard, it was catapulted to an amazing 50-50 proposition. I resolved that upon returning to Edmonton I would book a week-long holiday for Lorraine and me to Quebec City over the referendum voting day to see for ourselves exactly what was happening.
Our work together for Queen and Canadian unity began in Quebec City at the Château Frontenac, where we were based for the week of the Quebec referendum in 1995, as we campaigned for Canada on the “no” side.
At the hotel at day's end, after campaigning on the streets and in the shops, we placed pedestal-mounted Canada and Alberta flags on the rotunda bar at the Château Frontenac. People gathered and staff congregated to hear the discussions. The room occupiers tilted to our deliberations. Bar glasses were supremely polished in our vicinity as the benefits of unity which seemed to prevail, at least with this group.
The evening vote results slowly and painfully came in from behind a barely registered win for the “no” side. This frightful close call for Canadian unity would change our lives forever.
Within two months, we returned to Quebec to Montreal to be granted with a western chapter to organize for the Special Committee for Canadian Unity, which would be based in Edmonton. We also sought out political parties to support. At entirely our own personal cost, we became engaged in national unity in Edmonton. We organized regular committee meetings, canvassed for supporters, became active in the media and operated a Canadian unity booth at the Alberta Legislature which turned out for over 14 years.
We also funded a group of 10 to fly to Montreal for a Special Committee for Canadian Unity dinner at McGill before boarding the unity train to Quebec City to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the bare success of the referendum of 1995. We were well received and Allan Barbe of our group was invited to the stage of the Château Frontenac to sing his wonderful song, (One) Canada (Uni).
The problem with Canadian unity support in western Canada at the time was that the vocal minority were convinced that it was too much trouble to save the unity of our country. This western vocal anti-unity minority were in effect the separatists' best supporters.
Politics followed, and I was called upon in early 1997 to run for the Reform Party nomination in Edmonton East and to win a seat in election 1997 from a sitting Liberal. To this day, I am still a card-carrying and active supporting member of the Special Committee for Canadian Unity in Montreal.
Lorraine, of course, organized fundraisers and meetings from the days of the Special Committee for Canadian Unity following the Quebec referendum through to today, including the assemblies and meetings of the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative Party. I did my job, searching far and wide throughout Canada, being proactive in news stories which had many times before supported and propelled my issues in politics and unity forward.
Nomination races, elections, committee chair elections are all about marketing. My many years in business prior to politics are those in which I honed my marketing 101 skills. Before politics, I ran my own business and was required to travel frequently to job sites and to meet with clients, something that prepared me for the travel that is required for a member of Parliament. That work also allowed me to take the time to travel with Lorraine to Quebec City to experience in 1995 the Quebec referendum first-hand.
Early in 1996, I was working in Cochrane, a town just west of Calgary, and having a late night dinner in a restaurant. While I ate, I was using the time to write to parliamentarians in Ottawa, sharing my concerns for national unity. A local man came up to me and noting the paperwork, asked me what I was doing, was I perhaps a school teacher correcting papers.
A discussion followed, during which I divulged my concerns, my wish to get answers, and my desire to find ways to get involved to help Canadian unity efforts. I also explained that, while I had absolutely no previous political party affiliation, I would be contacting parties to offer my help.
The man from Cochrane said that I was wasting my time and that one man could not make a difference. Perhaps in some cases that man from Cochrane would be right; perhaps one man cannot make a difference, but I have never backed down from a challenge, especially not when it involved something about which I am passionate.
Can one man make a difference? He can if that man has a tremendously hard-working wife like Lorraine, if he has family, friends, party, volunteers, and contributors doing their part for Canadian unity, for Edmonton East, for Canada, and internationally.
I am very satisfied with the efforts of my partnership and team over the past 20 years:
I would simply not be here without my wife, Lorraine. Her work is the secret to our success. My daughters, Corinna and Kristina, have given unwavering support and assistance over the past 18 years. My one daughter Corinna asked in the very early times when we were working on Canadian unity issues if we were on a quest, and for that I really had to say yes.
Both my daughters have been involved in artistry for certificates, for unity train graphics, and for T-shirts. The T-shirt in Montreal was a supreme hit. My other daughter came up with the graphic and slogan for my nomination, which was “Go for Gold, vote Goldring”. What a kid.
My son-in-law Tom provided his help and support. I want to spend much more time with my granddaughters, Katelin, Alexandra, and Eleanor, to watch them grow up.
In my Edmonton office, Annette Sabrowsky gave 18 great years of tremendous work ethics and solid management skills that are so essential for a well-run endeavour; and Lynda Werning gave 7 years, recognized by so many for her excellent work, particularly on the immigration file.
In my Ottawa office, there was Shazmin Ali, with 10 years' outstanding office management in Ottawa, very capable and personable; Lorne Anderson, for 8 years and hundreds of articles, brochures, and reports; Grant Peters, just for the past 8 short months, but he has done tremendous research, writing, and organizational work on 90 meetings in Canada, U.S.A., Ukraine, and Turkey. They are a great staff.
I extend special thanks to supporters, board members, volunteers, contributors, colleagues, and House of Commons support staff.
After 98 years, Edmonton East, a swing riding that has been host to every political party in western Canada, will come to an end as an entity. Some 17 members have served in Edmonton East, with Bill Skoreyko's 21 years leading. Second is my service of 18 years, and then third are 15 others whose terms varied from 3 to 6 years.
My 53% support in the 2011 election is the highest level of support since 1979, when Bill Yurko received 56% more than 30 years ago.
Successes, I have had more than my fair share. Only some of these were merchant navy veterans, 50-year concerns, successful; Hong Kong veterans, 50-year concerns, successful; Christmas in Ortona; Col. John McCrae's medals that were saved; the Kingsclear report, with Karl Toft and RCMP investigation; two books on affordable housing and unity; and on Canadian unity, the highest level of support since the early 1960s, as opposed to the fifty-fifty level when I began in 1997.
Regrets, I have had a few but too few to dwell on.
Five Goldring brothers arrived in Upper Canada in the 1840s. Several became captains of industry. Literally, Captain Richard Goldring skippered the schooner Maple Leaf out of Whitby, Ontario, where I went to high school. I am proud, though, to be the first Goldring to serve in elected public office.
Now in the twilight of my life, the time to step aside draws nigh. I will forever treasure this honour to have served our Queen, our country, and the constituents of Edmonton East. I wish all the best and thank the Speaker and everyone here in Ottawa. May God bless.