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Storseth looks back

Local MP Brian Storseth says he’s calling it quits once this session of Parliament is over in order to spend more time with his family.

Storseth, the MP for Westlock-St. Paul (which includes Sturgeon County), announced in a letter to local papers last month that he would not run in the next federal election.

Storseth, 36, has been the county’s federal representative since 2006.

“It’s the distance from my family,” he said, when asked about his decision.

Being an Alberta MP means being away from home for six to seven months of the year, he explained. With a set of newborn twins and two other kids who want to see more of their dad at home, Storseth said he and his wife, Amel, decided it was time for a change.

“It’s in the best interest of our family for me to find something closer to home to do.”

First elected in 2006, Storseth thoroughly trounced his competition in each of his runs for federal office, earning 68, 73 and 78 per cent of the vote in the 2006, 2008 and 2011 elections.

All three were exciting races that gave him a chance to see some great communities and committed volunteers, Storseth says.

“I got into this job because I saw lots of problems with the way things were being run in Ottawa,” he said, including taxation, grain marketing and the long-gun registry.

As a Conservative MP, Storseth helped pass legislation to end the single-desk system for wheat and barley marketing, repeal the long-gun registry and lower the GST. He was also an active member of the federal agriculture committee.

Storseth said he also helped bring more federal support to his riding during the recent mad-cow and flooding crises, as well as cash for projects such as the renovations to Morinville’s St. Jean Baptiste church and the construction of that town’s cultural centre.

Storseth also won Parliament’s support for Bill C-304 – a bill he introduced to repeal Sect. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (which deals with hate speech transmitted by telephone or the Internet). That bill came into effect last June.

Sect. 13 infringed on freedom of speech and led to the persecution of many reporters and religious figures, Storseth said.

“I was able to bring everyone together on it,” he said of the bill, noting that everyone from the Toronto Star to the National Post supported the section’s repeal.

“It was a great feat for myself.”

Storseth said he’s still acting as MP for his riding until the next election, which, given federal fixed election date legislation, should be fall 2015.

“I think the government is on the right track when it comes to the economy,” he said, and has taken a principled stance on the crisis in Ukraine. The government needed to keep its focus on national unity and the needs of Canadians, he added.

Storseth said he planned to work on various environmental issues and getting an exemption for Alberta under the temporary foreign workers program before his term in office was up.

Morinville Mayor Holmes said in an email that it was always a pleasure working with Storseth during his time in government, and that she appreciated his work to get grants for the town’s cultural centre and church renovations.

“As an MP, Brian has always been a strong advocate for his constituents,” she said. “We wish Brian the best of luck with his future plans.”

Storseth said he wasn’t sure what those plans were at this point, and said he would take a few weeks to think on it.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to go to Ottawa to represent the best riding in the country.”

Sturgeon County will be a part of the new Sturgeon River-Parkland district in the next federal election. Edmonton-Spruce Grove MP Rona Ambrose has said she will run in this region.

Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.