Using his father’s name to kick-start his own political career, is not an unexpected charge to Mark Strahl, who announced his bid for nomination as the Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon just two days after his father announced his retirement from politics.
But the 32-year-old son of MP Chuck Strahl is quite unflustered by the charge, and made it clear in a Tuesday interview that he earned his own political chops years ago.
He’s worked in every facet of the political life since he was 14 years old, Strahl pointed out, from planting lawn signs to working as an intern to Reform Party founder Preston Manning, to managing the successful election campaign of MP Randy Kamp in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission riding in 2006.
He is currently Kamp’s executive assistant as well as president of the Conservative Board of Directors.
“I know what’s necessary to be a good MP,” Strahl said. “I know how to hit the ground running.”
And to keep on running.
After watching his father’s political experiences, the sacrifices he made, Strahl said he has no illusions that a novice might hold about the “glamor” of elected life.
And he also learned from his father how the machinery of government works, and how a good MP is “able to advance their ideas in Ottawa” and work for constituents at home in the riding.
“It’s not easy to get things done in Ottawa – but it is possible,” Strahl said.
Knowing firsthand the roller-coaster nature of political life, and the grueling lifestyle his father lived for 17 years shuttling weekly between Chilliwack and Ottawa, why would he want to run for the nomination?
“I’ve always admired my dad when he was a logger, and when he went into politics, I admired the way he conducted himself,” Strahl replied.
“I’ve learned from my dad, and from my grandfather, who served in the military, that it’s important to serve your country,” he said.
“And with that service comes some form of sacrifice,” he added. “Anything worth doing probably involves that.”
If he wins the nomination, Strahl said he’s not too worried about the NDP claim that one-third of the Conservative votes that once went to his father will come to them.
“I haven’t talked to too many small-c conservatives who agree with the big-government policies of the NDP,” he said. “I understand they’re trying to capitalize on a change of (Conservative) candidates, but I don’t think it will fool too many.”