A dictionary will tell us that the word means “high respect” and “great esteem” or to “fulfill an obligation.”
Citizens are duty-bound to honour our civic leaders, who in turn are obligated to honour the callings of their respective offices.
The word came to my mind after hearing the news on Friday [March 1] that our local Member of Parliament Nathan Cullen has announced he will not be running again in the next election.
Although Cullen and I have diametrically opposed worldviews, I have high respect for this Parliamentarian who, for 15 years, has exemplified what it means to be an elected representative.
In my work as the leader of a national advocacy group I have met many hard-working and devoted politicians. But there are very few who work as hard to listen to their constituents, including those who they know will oppose many of their core beliefs.
We live in the largest riding in B.C., by size. It is also one of the furthest from Ottawa. Cullen used that long commute to write hand-written notes in response to letters from his constituents. And his correspondence was personal, direct, and sincere, avoiding the fluff that parties instruct their MPs to communicate.
When I, or volunteers with our BV ARPA group requested a meeting, I can’t think of a time that he turned us down. He knew that we want to discuss controversial issues like euthanasia or abortion. But he didn’t ignore us, or point to his full schedule as a good reason to not meet.
Minutes before standing up in Question Period the day that the SNC Lavelin scandal broke, he was meeting with a small group of high school students, including two from Ebenezer School, who had travelled to Ottawa, hearing them out about what Parliament can do to protect children from pornography.
Many self-described “progressive” leaders have little desire to even speak with Canadians like myself who respectfully disagree with their definition of progress. Sadly, their parties also increasingly whip their MPs to tow the party line, even on issues of conscience. That is why Cullen’s willingness to meet with us time and again is a breath of fresh air in a political atmosphere where dissent isn’t welcome, ironically even under the banner of tolerance and inclusivity.
Scripture says that everyone is to be subject to their political leaders, “for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). Understood this way, a MP’s position must be treated with great honour because the source of their authority originates from the highest authority.
On behalf of many other citizens and constituents from Skeena-Bulkley Valley, we sincerely thank Nathan Cullen for his devotion to this nation and hope that his example of representation is matched by our next Member of Parliament.
Mark Penninga is the executive director of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada, a nonpartisan Christian political advocacy organization. He and his family live in Smithers.