Diane Ablonczy

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The Honourable
Diane Ablonczy
PC, MP
Diane-Ablonczy-Szmurlo.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Calgary—Nose Hill
Incumbent
Assumed office
1997
Preceded by New riding
Member of Parliament
for Calgary North
In office
1993–1997
Preceded by Al Johnson
Succeeded by riding abolished
Personal details
Born (1949-05-06) May 6, 1949 (age 65)
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Conservative
Other political
affiliations
Reform (1993-2000)
Canadian Alliance (2000-2003)
Spouse(s) Ron Sauer
Residence Calgary, Alberta
Profession Farmer, lawyer, teacher
Religion Evangelical Christian [1]

Diane Ablonczy, PC, MP (/əˈblɒnsi/ ə-BLON-see; born May 6, 1949) is a Canadian Member of Parliament, representing the riding of Calgary—Nose Hill in the Canadian House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. She served as the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) from January 4, 2011 to July 15, 2013. She was previously appointed Minister of State (Seniors) on January 19, 2010. She held the position of Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) from October 30, 2008, Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism) from August 14, 2007, and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance from February 2006.[2] Previously, Ablonczy served as Chief Opposition Critic for Citizenship and Immigration, Health, and Human Resources Development.

Ablonczy was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 as the Reform Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Calgary North. In the riding redistribution of 1996 the riding of Calgary North ceased to exist and Ablonczy was re-elected as MP for Calgary—Nose Hill in 1997 (Reform Party), 2000 (Canadian Alliance), 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 (Conservative Party). On July 4, 2013, Ablonczy announced she would not seek re-election in the 2015 federal election.[3]

Background[edit]

Diane Ablonczy (maiden name Broadway) was born in 1949 in Peoria, Illinois, United States, as the oldest of six children. A year later the family moved to Three Hills, Alberta, and Ablonczy grew up in a variety of places in rural Alberta. In 1967 she graduated from High School in Lac La Biche. In 1973 she received her Education degree from the University of Calgary and subsequently taught English, creative writing and other subjects.[4]

She married Tom Ablonczy, a well site engineer and refugee of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. They had one daughter. They ran a barley-growing operation, and in 1980 Diane earned her Law degree from the University of Calgary. The family moved to Calgary where she had her own general law practice from 1981–1991. She was widowed in 1984, and is now married to Ron Sauer. She has one daughter, four stepchildren and five grandchildren.

Political background[edit]

Ablonczy's first political involvement was in 1982, when she briefly belonged to the Western Canada Concept party, but left to join the Provincial Rights Association (PRA) a few months later. Since the PRA was formed too late to gain official political party status, she ran as an independent candidate in Calgary-Mountain View in the 1982 Alberta provincial election.[5]

In early 1987, Ablonczy joined the Reform Association of Canada, and later that year became a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada. She was elected as the first Party Chairman, and served two terms in this role.[5] As Chair she was active in developing the Party's organization, administration and communications structure, acting as a senior Party spokesperson and encouraging growth of the Party’s membership. In 1991, she set aside her law practice and went on staff for the Party as a special assistant to Reform Party Leader Preston Manning, with responsibility for Party communications and strategic planning.[6]

In the 1993 federal election, Ablonczy was elected to Parliament as the Reform Party candidate for the federal riding of Calgary North. In the following years she continued to participate in Party affairs as a member of the Reform Party Strategy Committee. She also was a member of the Reform Party Expansion Committee, and she chaired the Reform Party Task Force on the Reform of Social Programs.[5]

In 1998 and 1999, Ablonczy promoted the United Alternative process to create a new federal political party on the political right. As co-chair of the UA policy committee,[7] she took part in developing a comprehensive draft policy document and guiding it through a series of public consultations across the country. The resulting Declaration of Policy was approved as official Party Policy by members at the Founding Convention of the Canadian Alliance on March 25, 2000. The Reform Party was dissolved, and the Canadian Alliance created. Ablonczy was re-elected under the new party's banner in the 2000 federal election.

In December 2001, Ablonczy entered the 2002 Canadian Alliance leadership contest on a platform of promoting “a process to combine the Canadian Alliance, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and other interested partners into an effective, unified opposition party before the next election.”[8] She placed third with 3.8% of the vote. In late 2003, the Progressive Conservative Party merged with the Canadian Alliance to create the new Conservative Party of Canada.

On November 18, 2002, Ablonczy posed a question in the House of Commons concerning the government’s system of “screening and security checks” as related to Maher Arar, a dual Canadian and Syrian citizen who had recently been deported from the United States to Syria as a terror suspect. Based on newly released information[9][10] Ablonczy asked what the government “is doing to protect Canadian security” and why “the U.S. could uncover this man's background so quickly" when the Canadian government failed to find what she described as "his al-Qaeda links”. Ablonczy also criticized the Chrétien government for “chastising the U.S. for sending Arar back to Syria where he is also a citizen".[11] Arar was imprisoned for over a year in Syria, and was repeatedly tortured by Syrian authorities. The RCMP later confirmed that Arar has no ties to any terrorist organizations.

On July 6, 2009, Conservative Member of Parliament Brad Trost indicated that several Conservative parliamentarians were surprised by Ablonczy's decision to provide funding for the Toronto Pride Week Festival. Ablonczy later lost authority over such funding projects to another cabinet minister, and some in the Canadian media have interpreted Trost's comments as suggesting that she was demoted for her decision.[12] This was denied by government spokesman Darren Cunningham, as reported in the national media.[13]

In a cabinet shuffle on January 19, 2010, Diane Ablonczy changed portfolios to become the Minister of State for Seniors. The move was widely seen as a demotion in response to her decision to provide funding to the Toronto Pride Week Festival; a move which resulted in backlash among some of her supporters.[14]

On January 4, 2011 she received a promotion to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs).[15]

On July 4, 2013, Ablonczy announced she will be retiring from parliament at the next election, which is tentatively set for October 2015.

Parliamentary career[edit]

35th Parliament (1993–1997)[edit]

Diane Ablonczy was first elected to the House of Commons on October 25, 1993. She won as candidate for the Reform Party in Calgary North, with a 52.5% majority. The Reform Party catapulted from 1 to 52 seats. Ablonczy served in the following positions:

  • Whip for the Reform Caucus (elected by her colleagues and the first woman of any party to hold that position.)
  • Member of the Reform Caucus Committee on Immigration.
  • Critic for Atlantic Issues
  • Member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

From 1995-1997, she hosted a Calgary Cable bi-weekly live, phone-in TV show called Dial Your MP, which provided Calgarians with an opportunity to ask questions on a variety of federal government issues.

36th Parliament (1997–2000)[edit]

On June 2, 1997, after a riding redistribution in 1996 in which Calgary North was dissolved, Ablonczy was re-elected as the MP for Calgary—Nose Hill, with a 51.5% majority. The Reform Party won 60 seats and became the Official Opposition. Ablonczy served in the following positions:

  • Member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities .

37th Parliament (2000–2004)[edit]

On November 27, 2000, Ablonczy was re-elected as the Calgary-Nose Hill MP for the Canadian Alliance, this time with a 60.1% majority. The Alliance won 66 seats and became Official Opposition. Ablonczy served in the following positions:

  • Chief Official Opposition Critic for Health
  • Member of the Standing Committee on Health. In the spring of 2001, she embarked on a self-financed fact-finding mission to study health care systems in France, Sweden and the Netherlands.[16] She resigned her Critic position on December 17, 2001 to become a candidate in the Canadian Alliance Leadership Election.
  • Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
  • Associate Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that investigated the sponsorship scandal.

38th Parliament (2004–2006)[edit]

On June 28, 2004, Ablonczy was once more elected as the MP for Calgary-Nose Hill, this time for the new Conservative Party. She won with an increased majority of 64.4%. The Conservative Party won 99 seats, making it the Official Opposition. Ablonczy held the following positions:

  • Member of the Conservative Party Shadow Cabinet
  • Chief Official Opposition Critic for Citizenship & Immigration.
  • Member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

In 2005, she chaired a series of National Consultations on Canada’s Immigration System and developed the Conservative Party’s immigration policies.

39th Parliament (2006 - 2008)[edit]

On January 23, 2006, Ablonczy was re-elected with an increased vote percentage of 68.5%. The Conservatives won 124 seats and formed a minority Conservative government. In the first 18 months of the Harper government Ablonczy served in the following positions:

  • Member of the Standing Committee on Finance.

In August 2007, Ablonczy was named to the Federal Cabinet as junior Minister holding the following positions:

  • Member of the Cabinet Operations Committee
  • Member of the Cabinet Committee for Economic Growth and Long Term Prosperity.

40th Parliament (2008-2011)[edit]

On October 14, 2008, Ablonczy was re-elected with her largest majority ever: 69.6%. The Conservatives won a second minority government with 143 seats. On October 30, 2008, Diane Ablonczy was sworn into Cabinet as Minister of State for Small Business & Tourism in the second Harper government. She served in the following Cabinet Committees:

  • Treasury Board Submissions
  • Economic Growth and Long Term Prosperity
  • Environment and Energy Security.

Ablonczy oversaw the development and implementation of the following important Ministry initiatives:

  • Paper Burden Reduction. On March 20, 2009, Ablonczy announced that the federal government had reached its goal of reducing the paperwork required of Canadian small businesses by 20 percent.[18]
  • BizPal, an online tool to simplify the permit application process for entrepreneurs,[19] was expanded to a rapidly increasing number of governments[20]
  • Small Business Internship Program – a program designated to help small business by supplying the salaries of student interns to work in their offices.[21]
  • The Marquee Tourism Events Program – announced in Budget 2009 as a $100 million economic stimulus initiative for tourism.[22] In time for the summer tourist season the MTEP provided funding for a few dozen large and well-established festivals across Canada[23] to help them deliver world-class programs and draw bigger crowds.
  • Development of a National Tourism Strategy to guide future investments and to bring greater coherence to federal activities in support of tourism.[24]

In the cabinet shuffle of January 19, 2010, Diane Ablonczy changed portfolios and became the Minister of State for Seniors.[25]

Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day, introduced by Minister of State Ablonczy, received Royal Assent on November 18, 2010. Through this legislation, October 1 will now be recognized as National Seniors Day.[26]

During 2010 Ablonczy continued to serve as Member of the Treasury Board, and also was Vice Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Social Affairs.

On January 4, 2011, Ablonczy was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the position was expanded to include responsibility for the Americas and Consular Affairs. She became a member of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, and continued to be a member of the Treasury Board.

41st Parliament (2011- )[edit]

The May 2, 2011 election saw Ablonczy re-elected with 70.2% of the vote. The Conservatives formed a majority government with 166 seats, representing all provinces and the North. Ablonczy was re-appointed Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) in the new cabinet announced on May 18, 2011.

Ablonczy visited Guyana and the Dominican Republic, saying it would enhance Canada’s relationships with “these two important countries in the Americas.”[27]

On July 4, 2013, Ablonczy announced she would not seek re-election in the 2015 federal election.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Matter of Faith. Vancouver Sun, August 18, 2007. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  2. ^ "The Honourable Diane Ablonczy”, [1],
  3. ^ a b "LeBreton, Ablonczy step aside as cabinet shuffle looms". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 July 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Phyllis Brinkerhoff, "Speaking Out – A Profile of Diane Ablonczy, Reform Member of Parliament for Calgary North", Women’s Voice, Summer 1994, p. 6-9.
  5. ^ a b c Daniel Schwartz, "Diane Ablonczy", "The National, CBC Television website, Updated March 13, 2002, retrieved March 30, 2002
  6. ^ Phyllis Brinkerhoff, "Speaking Out - A Profile of Diane Ablonczy, Reform Member of Parliament for Calgary North", Women's Voice, Summer 1994, pages 6-9
  7. ^ Licia Corbella, "Ablonczy has what it takes to lead Alliance", Edmonton Sun", February 2002
  8. ^ Ablonczy, Diane, "Building the Conservative Coalition – a Blueprint for a Better Canada”, Communication piece for the Canadian Alliance Leadership Contest, January 2002
  9. ^ Trickey, Mike, “FBI told RCMP Ottawa man had terror link”. Ottawa Citizen, November 18, 2002 page A1.
  10. ^ “Foreign Affairs distances itself from Maher Arar”, CTV News, November 18, 2002.
  11. ^ Edited Hansard * Table of Contents * Number 026 (Official Version)
  12. ^ Canadian Conservative MP: Party Funding of Gay Pride Parade Came as a Shock to Most of Caucus. lifesitenews.com, July 6, 2009.
  13. ^ Harper feels heat over Pride"Harris, Kathleen", Sun Media, July 8, 2009.
  14. ^ "Did one goof too many cost Lisa Raitt senior post?”, [2], January 20, 2010
  15. ^ "High Profile for Alberta MPs in Cabinet Shuffle”, [3]"Fekete, Jason", Calgary Herald Jan 5, 2011
  16. ^ Riley, Susan, "Too bad Alliance won’t pick Ablonczy”, "Ottawa Citizen, September 3, 2001
  17. ^ AD HOC COMMITTEE TO REVIEW A NOMINEE FOR THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA, “TRANSCRIPT”, (http://www.canada-justice.ca/en/news/sp/2006/doc_31772_3.html), February 27, 2006. Retrieved on August 30, 2007.
  18. ^ News Release,”Minister of State of State announces 20 Percent cut in red tape for Small Business”, Industry Canada website, March 20, 2009
  19. ^ ”Streamline Business Permits and Licences with BizPal”, BizPal website
  20. ^ ”BizPal Partners at your Fingertips”, BizPal website.
  21. ^ ”What is Industry Canada’s Small Business Intership Program?”, Industry Canada website
  22. ^ ”Marquee Tourism Events Program”, Industry Canada website
  23. ^ ”Contributions and Recipients”, Industry Canada website list of recipients
  24. ^ “New Federal Tourism Strategy will support businesses and create Jobs”, Announcement to Tourism Industry Leaders, June 4, 2009
  25. ^ "Toews shuffled to plum Public Safety post”, [4], January 19, 2010
  26. ^ "Government of Canada establishes National Seniors Day”,[5], November 18, 2010
  27. ^ Staff, Starbroek. "The Starbroek News - Canadian Minister of State to visit". The Starbroek News. The Starbroek News. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Table of offices held[edit]

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
position created in 2008 Minister of State (Small Business & Tourism)
(2008-2010)
Rob Moore
Marjory LeBreton Minister of State (Seniors)
(2010-2011)
Julian Fantino
Peter Kent Minister of State (Americas and Consular Affairs)
2011–present
incumbent
Sub-Cabinet Post
Predecessor Title Successor
Gerry Ritz Secretary of State (Small Business & Tourism)
(2007 - 2008)
position abolished in 2008