This past weekend I felt nothing but “Surrey Pride” when talking with my Crazy Canucks co-hosts, as it turns out 3 of us were raised in Surrey and are all pretty proud of that fact. It got me wondering, who are some other great Surreyites that I’m honored to associate with the city… and now a new blog post series is born: Surrey File.
This is about an electrical engineer and musician that forever changed the face of Canadian politics.
In 1998 I was in Ottawa as a Canadian Youth Ambassador with Encounters Canada. Yes, it’s true, I’ve always been a nerd. As a part of the week-long program we got to get out and explore our nation’s capital including a tour of the Parliament Building and sitting in on a session in the House of Commons. There he was, my MP standing proud with his white pony tail cascading down the back of his tweed coat (with leather arm patches). This was Chuck Cadman and he was on a mission.
When I was in Grade 7 a boy only a few years old than me was stabbed in Guildford on the street by random youths. This boy was Jesse Cadman, and every Sunday when my grandmother would visit my grandfather’s place in the cemetery, she would spot Chuck Cadman just across the grass paying respects to his son whom he laid to rest.
Chuck and his wife Dona stepped up their community involvement, working with troubled youths, starting organizations and campaigning for tougher laws. As a result, Chuck entered politics in 1997 as a member of the Reform Party of Canada. He played a pivotal role in incorporating new measures into the Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act and was appointed Justice Critic. In 2004 after losing re-election, Chuck was also diagnosed with cancer, but that didn’t slow him down.
More determined than ever, Chuck re-entered politics with vigor as an Independent. I remember when he was campaigning he had a party for his constituents in Whalley, handing out hot dogs and welcoming families to come on by. The elected MP who bumped him out of his Party spot didn’t even live in Surrey at the time although he had influence, money and powerful people backing him.
Cadman was re-elected after that (by a landslide 43%) and became the only Independent in a minority government, giving him the swing vote and significant power in the House. He did everything in his power to listen to his constituents, stick to his instincts and support families. In 2005 Chuck Cadman passed away due to the skin cancer that he had been battling for two years. When I heard the news I cried.
Chuck Cadman was one person searching for justice who stood his ground and truly represented his riding. He gave Surrey a voice on the national stage and for that I’m truly proud of my hometown, and its people.
“Never underestimate the power of a small but committed group of people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
More biographies of Chuck can be found on the wiki and Canada Online.