Politicians struggle to roast Menzies
Macleod: Former MP celebrated for years of service to constituents
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 03:58 pm
Political dignitaries struggled to find good material to roast the former Macleod MP as they celebrated his retirement and service to southern Alberta last weekend.
More than 100 of Ted Menzies’ family and friends – both inside and outside of politics – gathered inside the Highwood Golf & Country Club in High River March 11. They came together to roast the former politician, but it seemed they had nothing but good things to say.
Even Menzies’ successor Foothills MP John Barlow struggled to make adequate jabs at the lifelong farmer.
“Ted was a great mentor to me when I was first elected and he still is,” he said. “Once I got to Ottawa I saw how much Ted was respected by his colleagues. I thought we should give him the opportunity to really know how much he was respected.”
Barlow said any time he called Menzies with questions, he was available.
“He’d answer my calls when I had questions, which is often,” he said. “I’ve got a long way to go to fill those shoes.”
Menzies was elected to the House of Commons as Macleod MP in 2004. He won all four of his elections by a landslide, and retired in November 2013 to become president and CAO of CropLife Canada, the organization that represents plant science companies.
He stepped down from CropLife earlier this year due to health issues.
A video was played with farewell statements from Menzies’ colleagues in Ottawa and the Conservative caucus who were unable to attend last weekend’s celebration. They spoke about his work ethic, how Menzies represented Macleod with distinction and how well respected he is among his colleagues.
Conservative MP for Prince Albert, Randy Hoback, took the podium following the video to commend Menzies on his work on the pension reform while he served as federal minister of state for finance.
“This guy did hours and hours of meetings on creating a pension plan,” he said. “There are so many other things he’s done in the background that people don’t know about.”
What got Menzies interested in politics was his involvement as a farmer in the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and Grain Growers of Canada.
“As farmers we can produce an incredible amount of grain, beef, milk, pork but how do we sell this product?” Menzies said. “We need to be involved internationally in order to market our product. There’s people around the world that need our product. If you don’t stand up for your industry, if you don’t stand up for what you’re producing, your competition will.”
Among Menzies’ many accomplishments while serving as MP included playing a role in reorganizing the Canadian Wheat Board to market grain through voluntary pooling and Canada untying its development aid so rather than freighting Canadian products overseas to recipients of Canada’s foreign aid, products are purchased close to the receiving region.
“I hope I did a few things that you appreciate,” he told those in attendance. “I know you didn’t agree with everything. I didn’t expect you to.”
Menzies said he couldn’t have accomplished as much as he did over the years without the support of his wife Sandy.
“It is so important to have our spouses with us and supporting us,” he said. “If we didn’t have our spouses with us we wouldn’t have success at all.”
Menzies said he gives a lot of credit to his wife and children, as he spent a lot of time away from home.
“I spent five to six years in agriculture politics flying around the world on a speaking engagement here and a speaking engagement there, then I went into politics and I was gone a lot then,” he said. “Then I joined CropLife and I was gone then.”
In his retirement, Menzies said he plans to do some fly-fishing, golfing, cleaning out his shop and working on his ’64 convertible, as well as attending the odd speaking engagement.
“I think there will be lots of things that will keep me busy,” he said.