Chuck Strahl takes a phone call on election night

Top Stories of 2011: One Strahl out, another in

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl brought down the curtain in March on a long and remarkable political career.

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl brought down the curtain in March on a long and remarkable political career.

And was promptly hit by a storm of controversy when his son Mark sought and won the Conservative nomination for the upcoming federal election.

NDP opponents charged Strahl with creating a political “dynasty” in the riding that he’d held since he was first elected as a Reform Party MP in 1993.

Conservative candidates had only about a week to organize nomination campaigns, and even some party members called the process a “mockery of democracy” that cast a shadow on Strahl’s otherwise sterling reputation.

But party officials in Ottawa explained that the “drastically-reduced” nomination period in Chilliwack, and two other ridings where Conservative MPs had decided not to run, was caused by the need to get candidates in place for the federal election.

Mark Strahl won the Chilliwack nomination over a single challenger, Ernie Charlton, by a comfortable vote margin of 144 to 77.

Touted at one point as a rival of Stephen Harper’s for leadership of the New Conservative party, the elder Strahl eventually stepped aside from the race but continued to support MP Tony Clement for the leadership.

Yet he was still entrusted by Prime Minister Harper with several high-profile cabinet positions, including Indian Affairs.

This show of respect came even though Strahl had once led a group of dissident Reform MPs who sat as an independent caucus in parliament, and talked about an alliance with “red” Tory, former Prime Minister Joe Clark.

Strahl told The Progress that the lung cancer he was diagnosed with in 2005 had nothing to do “thank goodness” with his 2011 decision to leave politics.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

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