|Member of Parliament
|Preceded by||Hec Clouthier|
May 23, 1960 |
Gallant was born in Sarnia, Ontario. She attended the University of Western Ontario, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Prior to becoming a politician, she worked for a major Canadian life insurance company as a group insurance executive and a time as an office manager of a family-owned professional practice. Gallant has been married since 1985, and is the parent of four daughters. She has served as the Chair of the City of Pembroke Downtown Development Commission and as a member of the Economic Advisory Committee for the city.
She is largely viewed as one of the strongest social conservative in the House of Commons. While a popular figure among the Christian Right and property rights activists, she has occasionally drawn the ire of opponents. Serving in a riding with the largest military base and only national nuclear research facility in Canada, she has advocated for increased federal support for CFB Petawawa and the Chalk River Laboratories.
Gallant won her seat in the Canadian federal election, 2000, defeating the Liberal incumbent and making history as the first woman elected to federal office in Renfrew County. Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke was one of only two Ontario federal riding districts not to elect a Liberal. Gallant took advantage of local opposition to Bill C-68, the Long Gun Registry Act, and benefited from backlash to the incumbent's support for gun control.
She is currently a member of the Conservative Party of Canada in the Canadian House of Commons. She has represented the riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke since 2000, and was a member of the Canadian Alliance party from 2000 to 2003.
During the 37th Parliament, Gallant served as deputy house leader of the Official Opposition. She has served as CPC critic for science, research and development, was a member of the Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veteran’s Affairs, and the Standing Committee on Industry. She has also served as opposition critic of Canadian Heritage, Amateur Sport, the National Capital Commission, Science, Research and Development, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, and Small Business. In the 39th Parliament, she served as government vice-chair of the House NATO committee and on the House Committee for Natural Resources.
In 2002, she was accused of making anti-gay remarks to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, when during a heated exchange, she kept interrupting "Ask your boyfriend" or "How's your boyfriend?". Graham is married and has two children with his wife Catherine Graham. Gallant later apologized for her remarks.
Shortly before the 2004 election, Gallant made headlines for her criticism of Bill C-250, an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada introduced by NDP MP Svend Robinson which would protect sexual orientation from hate propaganda. Among other things, Gallant claimed that the bill would limit freedom of opinion, make sections of the Bible "hate literature" and provide protection to pedophiles. Conservative House Leader John Reynolds distanced the party from Gallant's views.
During the 2004 election, a controversy erupted when Gallant compared abortion to the beheading of Iraq war hostage Nick Berg. The Conservative Party then announced that she was suffering from laryngitis, and after this, she did not appear at some scheduled debates.
Gallant resurfaced in the spotlight on March 17, 2005, when she suggested that Christians were being persecuted by the Liberal Party in a flyer she sent to her constituents. Tory leader Stephen Harper, confronted with the news, said "I'll let Cheryl Gallant explain those remarks herself; I haven't seen them."
Several constituents accused Gallant of obtaining birth-date information from a passport application during the 2006 campaign. Her office regularly sends out greeting cards to constituents when his or her birthday comes. One affected resident told the Ottawa Citizen, "The principle is really bothering me: that my information has been gathered without my knowledge. I don't know how it's going to be used." Two families who received cards have sent letters to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, asking confirmation the MP won't use the collected personal information. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has no jurisdiction in investigating such matters. Gallant's aide says the Member receives many requests for birthday and anniversary cards, and the office is unsure how the information was put on the list, since Gallant receives thousands of requests for salutations and the birth date could have been on one of the request forms returned by a constituent.
Of around 60 major candidates in 15 Eastern Ontario and West Quebec ridings, Gallant was the only one who didn't attending a meeting with the Ottawa Citizen editorial board. "Ms. Gallant's decision to duck every difficult question from the media is nothing short of childish", commented Citizen columnist Kelly Egan. Gallant has stated that she is focused on campaigning locally in order to keep in touch with the concerns of local constituents.
However on October 3, 2008, Gallant continued to dodge all campaigning within her local riding. Local radio station CHVR-FM held an all candidates debate to which Gallant refused to attend. Something myFM President Jon Pole says is very un-democratic and it's also been fodder for her competitors in the election, who say that Gallant's failure to attend most of the debates in the area shows a lack of commitment to the people of this riding.
In the 2008 election, Gallant won her fourth term in Parliament, winning 28,906 of 47,314 votes (61.1% of the total). Her nearest rival, Liberal candidate Carole Devine, received 9,740 votes (20.6%).
In February 2011, during Defence Committee hearings in St. John's before an audience which included the family and co-workers of mariners lost at sea in recent accidents on the Atlantic, Gallant remarked, "In Ontario we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the Coast Guard to come and help us." Gallant said federal search and ocean rescue should be coordinated with privately operated resources and local governments. Gallant’s comparison of recreational boaters in sheltered inland waters to mariners on the Atlantic hundreds of miles from land drew outrage from many who had lost family at sea. She initially refused to apologize saying her remarks were misinterpreted, but on February 10, Gallant said she was sorry and did not mean in minimize ocean dangers.
On March 28, 2011, after stating in a press release that she hoped for a clean election campaign, Gallant compared Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Gallant wrote on her Twitter page: “No carbon tax please, Igaffi!” Her initial tweet was deleted, but not before it was screen-captured and distributed to the national press. She tweeted an apology to Ignatieff for her remarks on April 1.
Gallant won her fifth term in Parliament in a landslide election, collecting 27, 462 of 51,398 votes (53.43% of the total). Her closest opponent, Independent Hec Clouthier, received 9,611 votes (18.70%).
In the 41st Parliament, Gallant serves as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology, as well as the Standing Committee on National Defence. She was elected by colleagues to represent Canada as Chair of the Canadian-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Association. The Canada-NATO Parliamentary Association consists of membership of all political parties represented in the House of Commons.
In March 2012, Gallant traveled to Norway to observe Canadian Forces from Petawawa participate in NATO exercises. In April 2012, she received second place in a Hill Times poll for Best Conservative Constituency MP.
Electoral record (incomplete)
|Canadian federal election, 2008: Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke|
|New Democratic Party||Sue McSheffrey||5,175||10.94||$25,911|
|Independent||Denis Gagné||293||0.62||none listed|
|Total valid votes||47,314||100.00|
|Total rejected ballots||188|
|Electors on the lists||75,223|
|'Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
- "About Cheryl", Official Website, 2004
- "Gallant reacts to Conservatives scrapping gun registry", Daily Observer, 17 February 2012
- Alliance MP apologizes for 'boyfriend' remark", CBC News, 15 April 2002
- "MP Gallant compares abortion to Iraq beheading". CTV.ca News. 7 Jun 2004.
- "Tory message discipline much better this time", Canadian Press, 4 January 2006.
- Egan, Kelly. "MP must explain her use of voters' private data", The Ottawa Citizen, 4 January 2006
- “MP in hot water on cold-water rescue”, National Post, February 11, 2011
- “Gallant apologizes for rescue remarks: Newfoundlanders told not to look only for Coast Guard help in incidents at sea”, Ottawa Citizen, February 11, 2011
- Gutzman, Vance (1 April 2011). "Local candidates hit campaign trail". North Renfrew Times. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Roche, Kelly (1 April 2011). "Tory MP apologizes for 'Igaffi' tweet". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- Joanna, Smith (1 April 2011). "Cheryl Gallant issues late-night Twitter apology to Michael Ignatieff". Toronto Star. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
- MP "Gallant visits troops in Norway", Daily Observer, 15 April 2012