Yesterday’s post was a milestone, and I didn’t realize it at the time. It was my 1,000th post in this space. I just thought it was worth mentioning, given that today’s post is about another milestone.
Today is my last day on Parliament Hill. After 10 years of working at the heart of our democracy, it seems somewhat strange to be saying that.
Officially I am “retiring.” That just means I don’t expect to return to the Hill. I am too young to not work, so this is just the end of one phase of my career. The next phase starts in September and will include a new city in a different country. Tomorrow I can start looking forward to that; today is a day for reflection.
I didn’t expect to spend ten years as a backroom political strategist and writer. My initial contract was for three months. I only applied for the job because my son was hoping to become a Parliamentary Page. I thought it would be nice to have us both working in the same place. He got the job, I got the job and that is how it started. He stayed on for his university years, working for Hansard. My daughter followed in his footsteps and I stayed as well. I enjoyed the work. Still do. I wouldn’t be leaving if not for a new challenge that I am undertaking. For that one I will be working with my wife, who also retires today.
As an introvert I dislike parties in general, and specifically when I am centre of attention. Last week though I attended a celebration given in my honour. I figured it would allow others to say goodbye – some people need that sort of closure.
I didn’t give a formal speech. I’m the guy who writes the speeches, not gives them. But I did take part in a question and answer session. In politics, ten years is a long time. Somehow, without my noticing, I became one of the more senior staff members on Parliament Hill. People wanted to hear what I had to say.
I was asked about my best and worst work moments of the past decade. You don’t want to hear about the worst one. Suffice it to say it defined the present government and we will leave it at that. They aren’t here to defend the indefensible, though they must have had their reasons.
The high point was easy, because it was a regular occurrence. Each time I walked under the Peace Tower into Parliament’s Centre Block I have an emotional reaction. I am aware of the tradition, of the privilege of living in Canada and the responsibility those of us in political life have to help keep our democracy strong. It was, and is, a special feeling.
The next job will feel different, because it will be completely different. I expect though that there will still be a sense of purpose or a higher calling and a feeling of responsibility. I hope that when you are at work, whatever your work may be, you can feel something similar.