Honouring Rona Ambrose, the House's tireless worker - Macleans.ca

Honouring Rona Ambrose, the House’s tireless worker

Maclean’s recognizes Rona Ambrose, the seemingly indefatigable Conservative interim leader, as 2016’s hardest-working MP

Rona Ambrose. (Photograph by Jessica Deeks)

Rona Ambrose. (Photograph by Jessica Deeks)

On Nov. 15, Maclean’s celebrated the best of Ottawa with the ninth edition of our Parliamentarians of the Year awards, which were handed out based on the results of a secret-ballot survey of their peers in the House of Commons. Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose won this year’s award for the hardest-working MP. View the full list of award winners.

Rona Ambrose has heard all the stories her mother tells about how when her small daughter had only just mastered solid ground, she would scale door frames, scramble up walls and even find her way to the roof. “She just went crazy, because I would get up on top of things and just had no fear, and I could barely walk,” Ambrose laughs.

Now, as an MP and leader of the Opposition Conservatives, Ambrose makes use of that same tenacity to simply will things to get done on Parliament Hill. After 10 years as a minister in Stephen Harper’s government, handling files ranging from Environment to Public Works to Health, she grew accustomed to a certain furious pace in the job. Now, as interim party leader and leader of the Opposition, it’s a different rhythm but no less hectic. There’s more hands-on time working with people, considering big-picture party and caucus strategy and helping her 96 MPs accomplish what’s important to each of them. She likes this new role even better than cabinet. “It is all-encompassing, when you think about the tempo and the work schedule,” she says. “It’s massive, but I love it. I love this role in particular because it’s so people-based. I find I feel in this role fearless—there’s no issue too small or too big to take on.”

Ambrose is known on the Hill as a collegial MP, a tireless worker and someone who gets things done. Now that her party’s role is introducing new issues and causes to push the governing Liberals to pay attention to, it’s sometimes pure chip-away-at-it perseverance that gets the job done. In October, MPs voted in favour of a Conservative motion to bring Yazidi refugees—a religious minority group whose women and girls have been targeted by ISIS for sexual slavery—to Canada; Ambrose says that was the result of eight months of advocacy from her caucus. “I just said, ‘We’re not gonna give up on this, and we’re just gonna keep at it until we get a result,’ ” she says. “And we got a result.”

It’s been just a year since the federal election shuffled the composition of the House of Commons dramatically. But Ambrose points to concrete, incremental victories for her party in areas such as pipeline approvals, pushback on a job tax in the high-tech sector and the Tories’ insistence on a referendum on electoral reform—an esoteric topic, she admits, but a crucial one to Canadian democracy—as signs they’re getting the job done. “The Opposition has an incredibly important role to play, and the government has an equally important role to play,” she says. “If we both do those jobs well, we have a functioning democracy.”


Honouring Rona Ambrose, the House’s tireless worker

  1. Well Miss Ambrose must be overworking too much, because her popularity has dropped below Elizabeth May’s. It’s going to take quite a leader, whether female or male of the Conservative Party, to light a fire under the derrieres of the progressive voters of this country, to come out and vote for them. What the conservatives and the NDP lack the most, are ideas, not politics of division, personal attacks or wedge politics, progressive ideas get voters attention, it creates a parties identity. Trudeau has the other two parties seeking an identity. Thirty percent of the country will always be fighting for the right and live in the past, while the other 70% of the country will always move ahead to the future. Time for the right in this country, to move in the right direction, and take the car out of reverse, show the world what harmony looks like. Time also, for the NDP to either come up with a new world order, with a voice that can reach people across the country, or fold the NDP and join the Liberal Party of Canada, and help keep progress preserved in this country, because progress is needed more in this world now with Trump elected, than it has been in the history of the western world.

    • Given that only 39 percent voted for the Trudeau and the Liberal Party in the last election and the other 60 percent did not, your rhetoric is complete hyperbole. If your definition of moving ahead to the future means drowning the country in debt as Trudeau is doing and running an economy that is possibly the worst since the Great Depression, then no wonder the right wants to live in the past. Further, it is the very height of hubris for you to talk about showing “the world what harmony looks like” when Canada is immersing itself and its soldiers in three wars. Or have you forgotten the troops who are on active duty with the Kurds; those who will be stationed in Latvia and those who will go on a so-called peace-keeping mission in Africa where there is no peace all under your beloved harmonious, progress-driven Liberal government? Are you in anyway in touch with the reality of what is happening inside and outside of Canada?

      • Gage,
        Great response to Carpet Bombers’ leftist drivel. The inarticulate, narcissistic man child in Ottawa is hell bent on leading our country to the same debt ridden mess that the Ontario Liberals have created in Ontario. At 11% Wynne has the poorest popularity rating of all time and when Canadians catch on that Mr. Selfie is heading in the same direction, he’ll be gone after his 4 year term. Obama has done the same socialist nonsense in the US and disenfranchised enough voters in the there to get someone like Trump elected. Seems that outlandish spending with no successes to point to is part of the Liberal gene pool.

  2. Insisting on a referendum on electoral reform. Well, that is the problem, everyone should be insisting on what’s right, a genuinely democratic electoral system for Canada. At present it’s evident that FPTP doesn’t pass muster. But the Conservatives are failing to identify, as a good opposition should, how that darling system of the NDP and Greens, MMP also fails, despite giving small parties more seats. There is more to democracy than that, even if the NDP and Greens (most of them) do not think so.
    My over-long comments have long pointed out how MMP dual candidature is a doubly safe-seat system (denounced by the Richard report). How MMP facilitates a duplicitous double-claim on representation. How MMP nearly always uses closed lists, including that broken promise utopia, New Zealand. How a UK minister had to admit open lists could “elect” with no personal votes. How Brazil’s open lists made a differnce in only 35 out of 513 deputies.
    How that “proportional representation” miracle of co-operation, has just produced 10 months of non-government in Spain, and brought crowds onto the streets to protest against the installed minority government.
    Genuine PR does exist and the BC Citizens Assembly took a year to discover it, STV, the best kept secret in politics.
    Google: ERRE>Work>Electoral Reform>Briefs) namely, BC Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform (September 23).
    Richard Lung.
    Website: Democracy Science; with links to 3 free e-books on election method: Peace-making Power-sharing; Scientific Method of Elections; Science is Ethics as Electics.

    • The problem with BC-STV (and, I suppose, STV in general) is that it’s not terribly easy to explain how a winner is picked – unlike with FPTP or even single member ranked ballot. The sales job required for STV is non-trivial, thus dooming it unless there’s a strong, concerted effort to expound on its virtues.

      FWIW, despite *not* being a fan of pure PR or even MMPR, and being a fan of single member ranked ballot, I voted for BC-STV both times – I considered it an acceptable compromise position.

  3. Rona’s a pol schooled in the ‘common sense’ approach to ‘guvermint’. She’s, no longer overshadowed by the ‘boys’ but she ‘wears pants’ too.