Sunday April 10, 2011

Feature Story                                                                      


Conservative candidate Mark Strahl at his campaign office on Alexander St. last weekend.


The Man Behind The Dad

Tory Mark Strahl may be a chip off the old block but not a carbon copy of his popular MP father

Staff/Voice photos


n a perfect political world, people who voted for Chuck Strahl are going to vote for his son Mark because he's cut from the same political cloth that his dad is, right? At least this is what the younger Strahl wants people to think.


So, are stalwart conservative voters standing behind the young, new untested candidate like they did his salient father?


A strong turnout at the Chilliwack Conservative Party Open House last weekend does appear to bolster that theory.


Outside the campaign quarters on Alexander, attendants directed the traffic overflow to a lot a block away. While inside, both Strahl's smiled and chatted to a conga line of agog supporters clutching blue lawn signs.

Sardis resident, Karen Gordon also long-time Strahl supporter, and says that the younger Strahl is a "man on his own" and has earned her vote despite what some people might think about the nomination and candidate selection process.

"I've known Mark all his life and I'll be putting a sign on my lawn today," insisted Gordon.

The 34-year-old budding politician won the Conservative party nomination for the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding after his dad, Chuck Strahl, held the riding the better part of two decades. Since then, questions of nepotism have dogged the Strahl's.

But Strahl says he didn't call the election and said that it was a coalition opposition that forced an unnecessary election.

Some local party members were skeptical and other possible candidates were incensed that Chuck seemingly did a forward lateral of the riding to his son.

When asked about nepotism claims, Strahl told The Voice that the election wasn't about the nomination process, but about choosing a government and that "people in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon aren't going to be distracted by that kind of thing."

"We have a couple hundred people here today and no one is bringing that up, they want to see a Conservative government in Ottawa and they want to see a Conservative MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon so we're all pulling in the same direction.

"It's about choosing a government that believes in lower taxes, getting tough on crime, family-first policies and the opposition coalition policies which are higher taxes, softer on crime and big government spending programs," he said.

According to Strahl, the nomination process was all above-board and there was nothing done to undermine the system.

"The members of the Conservative Party in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon came out, over 250 members came out on short notice, to participate in a democratic nomination process," he said. "They chose me as their candidate, I was honoured to be chosen and now we're just focusing on the election and getting our message out to the people that it is an important election and there's an important choice to be made here."

Strahl feels he has earned his political chops and now wants a chance to prove it.

He became a carded member of the Conservative Party at 14-years-old and learned the ropes by working on his dad's campaigns and doing lots of volunteer work.

"I paid my dues and put in my volunteer hours and learned the issues and now it's an opportunity for me to talk about those issues with the people of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon."

Strahl doesn't have a political science degree but has studied it through his work with other members of Parliament and has also taken some business courses at BCIT.

He admits that filling his dad's shoes will be a big challenge but doesn't expect his inexperience to be a problem and his father may be able to help him understand topics, just not influence any of his decisions.

"I'll be my own person. This is my campaign and with a team of people that are helping us out here so, he'll be there to offer assistance if and when I ask for it but he's ready for new challenges and a new chapter in his life as well, so I think he'll be looking to do other things," said Strahl.

See more photos below.

Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice











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