Thanks for your efforts, Bob

I have started writing this column on Saturday evening. The sky is now full of bright diamonds that have hidden the space station’s bright evening star.
Two loons are calling to each other. One is right in front of the cabin; the answering loon is off in the distance. They seem to be talking as their plaintive voices are heard in the evening.
I expect that Paul Martin will call the election on Sunday. The indications are all there. Advertising agencies from Montreal, acting on behalf of Elections Canada, have called and made arrangements to publish ads on Tuesday, with cancellation notices arriving concurrently in case the prime minister gets cold feet.
It is unlikely.
Locally, the candidates who all reside in Thunder Bay have been making appearances in anticipation of the election.
Bob Nault, our current sitting MP, is putting in his final days in Ottawa. While Bob and I often differed on issues, he worked to the best of his abilities to represent Kenora-Rainy River.
I remember meeting Bob in the airport in Thunder Bay last Thanksgiving Day. He was on the way to Kenora, having cut short the weekend with his wife and children in Ottawa.
Our talk was about his job as minister of Indians and Northern Affairs. It was a job that he was enjoying immensely. He had grown a lot in the position and over the years that he held the portfolio.
He was still the same confident, young person who came to the polls in 1988 to wrest the riding back from John Parry, but he now was more understanding of Canada, its peoples, their differences and their similarities.
The conversation grew around to where Marnie and I were coming from. We had spent the weekend with our sons, who were both away at university for the first time.
Our family had enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Marnie’s mother’s home with her brothers and their families. It was a first time that Marnie’s mother and family had all sat down to a Thanksgiving meal since everyone had left home.
Bob was headed for a series of meetings in the riding. Our talk grew around to the time he had to spend away from his children. He told me how he planned his day every day in Ottawa to be home when the children arrived from school.
He set meeting times so that he was home at breakfast. It often must have driven his aides crazy that he worked to have his family a key part of his life.
But even with all that planning, he still was on the road more than 40 weekends a year. And as minister, he travelled the country from Nunavut to the Pacific to the Atlantic—often mostly through the week.
And somewhere in the conversation, he let on that he had to find more time to spend with his family.
When Bob first announced he was going to seek another term, I was surprised. When he reconsidered and stepped aside, I wondered if the conversation in the Thunder Bay airport, and his feeling of a need to spend more time with his family than that permitted of a politician, were the final decision.
I have watched Bob on RoBTV on Sunday morning doing political commentary. It gives him weekends at home and I’m certain that he won’t miss the next five weeks of intense scrutiny.
I also am certain that he can look forward to spending more time at the cottage this summer as he begins a new career.
Thanks, Bob, for the time you have given to the citizens of Kenora-Rainy River. Good luck in your new career.

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