Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Memo to Elizabeth May: this is how it’s done

Yelich gives whine-free speech about the personal challenges of public life

The Phantom Observer reminds us today of an excellent Member’s Statement given in the House of Commons yesterday by Blackstrap MP Lynne Yelich:

Mr. Speaker, there are special requirements for any woman fulfilling the duties of a member of Parliament. As a wife and mother, I am aware of the necessary sacrifices when family events occur in the constituency and parliamentary duties keep me in Ottawa.

My daughter, Ivana, turns 18 today and I am unable to be with her or for her pre-grad events. It is difficult to be far away. I want to thank my children for their understanding and patience.

It has not always been easy for them, but they have supported me, as has my husband, through this entire time knowing that there are times when the many miles of this vast country must separate us.

Even now there are some, if not many, who may question a mother sitting in the House of Commons while there are still children at home. This lingering attitude often pushes us to stretch our lives to the limit to accommodate both Parliament and family.

I am thinking of our girls today, Ivana, this year's valedictorian who is preparing for graduation after combining athletic achievement and academic excellence, and Elaina, who has established a career as a teacher and a marriage with her husband.

My family has adjusted, coped and succeeded, despite the challenges of my parliamentary life. I am proud of their sacrifices as I am so very aware of my own.

I was lucky to catch the replay of Yelich’s speech on CPAC last night. It was followed by a well-deserved standing ovation by her colleagues.

Yelich’s speech provides a good contrast with Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s recent passive-aggressive rant about how difficult it is to be a federal politician who doesn’t even have to show up in Parliament every day:

"Do I have a lot of unilateral power? No I don't. Am I earning a tonne of money? No I'm not. Am I tired and discouraged and bone-weary and in chronic pain because I'm waiting for a hip replacement? Do I have down moments? You bet.

"If you catch me in a down moment and slap me in the face, do I really want to stay? I don't know. I mean, I'm human."

To be fair, May’s comments were contained in an e-mail, not a prepared speech. But one of the first thing politicians hoping to play in the big leagues learn, is that you never complain about how hard the job is.

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