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Chilliwack Fraser Canyon - Chuck Strahl

Strahl brings solid support to new corner of riding

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Chuck Strahl admits that when he started his political career in the Fraser Valley all he had to do was win the Reform Party’s nomination and he was all but assured of a seat in the House of Commons.

That was in 1993, and after three elections Strahl is still in charge.

At 47 Strahl has four kids and three grandchildren and is every bit the consummate Conservative, but despite his moderate style his time in Ottawa has not been free of controversy.

During the summer of 2001 Strahl and Deborah Grey led a group of dissident MPs who split with the Canadian Alliance and started working with the Progressive Conservatives to protest Stockwell Day’s leadership.

The efforts of the group led to Day’s ouster as leader, replaced by Stephen Harper.

Following the election of Harper as Alliance leader in April 2002, Strahl rejoined the Alliance caucus, and in December 2003 the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives ratified an agreement to merge and become the Conservative Party of Canada.

Strahl has also had leadership aspirations but his inability to speak French and some lingering distrust amongst a few of his colleagues over his rebellion in 2001 stymied those aspirations.

But heading into his fourth election Strahl appears to be as popular as he’s ever been in his party, and there is no doubting his popularity with his constituents.

In the 2000 election Strahl won a whopping 69.97 per cent of the vote in the Fraser Valley, which was up six per cent on what he won in the 1997 election.

Strahl visited Pemberton last Saturday, which is one of the towns that was included in the re-drawn Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding last April, to hear from residents and bolster his popularity there.

First Nation’s activities dominated most of the conversation, but Strahl later spoke of gas taxes and infrastructure as some of the bigger issues affecting his riding.

"Our policy of returning gas taxes for transportation infrastructure has been something I’ve been advocating since I got involved in politics right back to Reform Party days," said Strahl.

"In the 12 years I’ve been involved, every year the government finds an excuse not to do it.

"I think what’s happened, now that everybody understands the crisis that’s happening in the municipalities and the cities, so (the Liberals) come up with a version of returning some of the money to municipalities and cities.

"But we want to make sure it’s not just a big-city agenda – it’s easy to stave off hundreds of millions for rapid transit but that doesn’t help the rural part of the country which is also suffering a different type of problem."

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