Member of Parliament from 2004 - present
Jim Prentice is the Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre North, Alberta. He is currently a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, and is the cabinet minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He was elected to Parliament in the 2004 election, running in a newly created riding, Calgary Centre North, which was created out of half of Joe Clark's Calgary Centre riding, and some of Diane Ablonczy's Calgary-North riding. And he was re-elected in the 2006 Election.
Jim was born on July 20th, 1956, in South Porcupine, Ontario. His father was a professional hockey player, mostly in the minor leagues, but having played five games in the NHL Raised in Alberta, worked his way through University working in the coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass, in southern Alberta. He attended the University of Alberta, obtaining a commerce degree from them in 1977. While he was there, he also became a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. He then moved on to Dalhousie University, where he gained his law degree in 1980.
Since then he has lived and worked in Calgary. He is married to Karen Prentice (No, couldn't find out her maiden name), who is currently a VP for one of Calgary's energy firms. Together they have three daughters, Christina, Cassia, and Kate, oldest to youngest. I'd guess that Christina's about 25, and Kate was the last time I heard, still in high school, so probably 17 or 18 as of the date of posting this writeup.
Jim had a practice as a lawyer, focusing on real estate law. In addition, he's been the publisher of a number of weekly newspapers, and is part owner of a few retail businesses. In addition, he has been on the Indian Claims Commission for the past 10 years, which I expect is what lead to his being named Indian Affairs critic once elected to Parliament. He has been active in his church (Presbyterian), and is on the board of directors of the Calgary Winter Club, having served as its president in the past.
Jim was an active member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, including having served as its treasurer from 1991-1995. When Preston Manning retired from politics in 2001, it opened up his riding in Calgary Southwest. Jim ran for, and won the nomination for the Progressive Conservative Party in that riding. However, between that time, and the actual time of the by-election, the Canadian Alliance Party elected a new leader, Stephen Harper. Unfortunately, Mr. Harper was not an M.P. at the time, and needed a seat, and Calgary Southwest was the only open one. So, partially in order to smooth relations between the two right wing parties, Jim decided to step aside and let Harper have the seat.
In 2003, Joe Clark stepped down from the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, and Jim decided to throw his hat into the ring. In the end, it came down to him versus one Peter MacKay. The main issue between the two was a proposed merger between the Progressive Conservative Party, and the Canadian Alliance Party. Jim was in favor of the idea, and MacKay promised that if he was elected, that the merger would not happen. McKay won by a thin margin. And then pretty much the first thing he did was start negotiations to merge the parties, breaking his campaign promise.
But, the merger went ahead, and Jim ran for the newly created Conservative Party of Canada's nomination for Calgary Centre North, and won with a fair margin, and then went on to win the seat in the 2004 federal election with something like 70% of the vote. After getting the run around for years, Jim was finally headed to Ottawa.
Since arriving in Ottawa, he's been named the official opposition's critic on Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and as such is a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. This committee's primary concern is legislation and issues regarding on-reserve registered First Nations people, and development concerns for the northern territories. It also deals with unresolved First Nations land claims, which Jim has had experience dealing with in the past.
In particular, he's been supporting the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which will allow transport of natural gas extracted from the Mackenzie River Valley, in the Northwest Territories, down to the rest of the country. The benefit being job creation up there, and natural gas available for sale, balanced against possible environmental concerns.
Jim Prentice is the only Member of Parliament that I have sat down and had a few drinks with. Oh, and the only M.P. that I've actually ever met. Being members of the same fraternity, I was called upon to help him when he was running for the leadership of the P.C. party, and subsequently for the nomination campaign and the actual election. I have found him to be a really nice guy, with a good sense of humour. He's able to hold down an intelligent conversation on pretty much any topic, and will actually listen to your concerns. Anyhow, yeah a nice guy. Glad he'll be my M.P. for the next month or so that I'll still be living here. Oh, and his daughters are really cute.
More recently, Jim became one of the few Conservative MP's to vote in favour of the recent legislation passed in 2005 legalizing gay marriage in Canada. While this was a free vote, and he didn't necessarily break from party ranks to do so, in doing so he was definitely in the minority within the Conservative party. When asked why, these were (an excerpt of) his comments:
Fundamentally the question is this: what right do we as a society have to refuse gay Canadians something that the rest of us are entitled to - namely, a civil marriage license. Set aside the legal debate, and ask the very simple question. What moral or political authority do we have to deny gay Canadians the issuance of a government marriage license? The answer in my mind is clear, we have no such right at all because whether two people of the same sex marry, and how and whether their gender enters into the relationship, is none of the government's business, providing they do no harm to anyone else.
"Jim Prentice, M.P.," 2004. <www.jimprentice.ca> (December 17, 2004).
Library of Parliament, "Federal Political Experience," PRENTICE, JIM. 2004. <parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/key/bio.asp?lang=E&query=18590&s=M> (December 17, 2004).
The Globe and Mail, "Canada's Election 2004," GLOBEANDMAIL.COM. June 28, 2004. <www.theglobeandmail.com/elections/fed2004/candidates/generated/48003_CON.html> (December 17, 2004).
Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa. "Praise Prentice! Tory MP stannds for liberty," Equal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples. <www.samesexmarriage.ca/advocacy/pren020205.htm> (October 2, 2005.)