BIOGRAPHY OF PETER GOLDRING
Peter Goldring has served the people of Edmonton East as their Member of Parliament for almost 17 years since being first elected on June 2, 1997. He has been a strong voice for the riding in Ottawa, bringing national attention to constituents’ concerns on many issues, such as Canadian unity, veterans’ affairs, housing affordability, health care and criminal justice.
As the only Canadian parliamentarian present in Ukraine for the entire Orange Revolution in 2004, Peter traveled to Ukraine once again in December 2013, at his own expense, to observe the spontaneous demonstrations that had once again begun taking place in Kyiv`s Independence Square calling for closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union. He was able to talk to political leaders and ordinary citizens about the tensions felt between those who wish to see Ukraine orient itself eastward or westward in terms of trade and culture. While in Kyiv Peter was asked to address the crowd of 500,000 in Independence Square, telling them that Canada stood with them in their desire for wholesome economic trade and development with both East and West. As well as doing numerous media interviews, Peter prepared a report on his experiences in Kyiv for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
During the recent, unsettled issue of Russia’s invasion of Crimea Peter has had countless discussions and meetings with the Russian Embassy, the Ukrainian Embassy and Russian Orthodox religious leaders so seek common ground to resolve the issue.
In 2012 Peter was Parliamentary co-chair for the “Ride to Remember,” an annual international Holocaust remembrance motorcycle ride which was held in Canada for the first time. On Peter’s suggestion the hundreds of motorcycles would ride from Washington, D.C. to Parliament Hill for a ceremony, then onto Canadian Forces Base Trenton to join with 4,000 other riders from the Heroes Highway Ride to Polson Pier in Toronto. Peter was instrumental in organizing Parliament Hill and both Trenton events with the theme “Never Again.” The event brought together cabinet ministers, diplomats, Christian clergy, Jewish rabbis and hundreds of bikers who came from Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and Israel, as well as Col. Sean Friday, Commander at CFB Trenton and other members of the military.
In 2006 Peter led a Parliamentary group to Haiti for the election, but also to examine the state of Canada’s foreign aid projects. He was discouraged at the utter lack of progress in 10 years of Canadian aid and reported his findings in a 25-page report to the government. Peter subsequently put a motion forward in the Foreign Affairs Committee to study Haiti, which was accepted and resulted in an extensive committee report.
In December 2010, following the earthquake, Peter’s submitted a motion again to re-study Haiti, which was accepted by the Foreign Affairs Committee. In preparation for the study Peter travelled with Engineers Without Borders to learn best practices at Canadian aid projects in Ghana and to learn from the people of Ghana what might help the people of Haiti.
Serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee from 2006-2011, Peter was involved in the preparation and writing of reports on Canada’s role in Afghanistan; the Americas; democracy development; studies on human rights in China, Cuba, Haiti, Sri Lanka and Iran; a look at the corporate social responsibility of Canadian mining companies operating overseas; the implications and ramifications of the referendum in Sudan and the effectiveness and viability of public service partnerships between nations.
It was at Peter’s instigation that the Foreign Affairs Committee travelled to Ukraine in early 2012 to study the rule of law, democracy and prosperity in that country, producing a report on the relationship between the two countries and how Canadian policies can play a role in strengthening democracy and increasing prosperity in Ukraine.
Other Parliamentary Roles
In 1997 Peter Goldring was appointed the Official Opposition Chief Critic for Veterans Affairs and a member of the Shadow Cabinet, a position that he held for more than three years. He served as Deputy Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs (Canadian Unity) in 1997-98 (Party leader Preston Manning was the Chief Critic) and in June 1999, was appointed to head up the Alberta MP Caucus Election Readiness, a position he held until the federal election in November 2000. In April 2000, Peter was appointed as the Official Opposition Housing Critic and in August of that year was appointed Deputy Critic for National Defence and Public Works. In June 2001 he was appointed Critic for Public Works. From 1997 to late 2001, Peter served as a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs (SCONDVA), and then was elected Vice-Chair of the committee in early 2001.
As Joint Chair of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, Peter took the lead in a study of the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which led to a rare unanimous Senate and House of Commons approval of the report generated by the committee. At one point, when Peter was the only one of the Joint Chairs in Ottawa, the Speakers of the Senate and House asked for a special meeting with him to discuss the situation and to ask him to call for further meetings about the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Peter told them no, the Committee’s job was done, that the mandate was accomplished, the report was generated by the committee, approved unanimously by all parties in the House and Senate, and it was now up to the Speakers themselves to deal with the issue and recommendations of the report.
Peter is active in numerous Parliamentary Associations, including Canada-Europe, Canada-Chile, Canada-Argentina, Canada-Cuba, Canada-Mexico, Canada-Azerbaijan, Canada-Kazakhstan and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, while serving as the Vice-Chair of the Canada-Caribbean, Vice-Chair of Canada-Poland and Vice-Chair (and former Chair) of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group (which had a membership of more than 145 Members of Parliament and Senators under his leadership). He also has served as a member of several inter-parliamentary organizations, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCEPA), the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association and the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA).
Working On The National Stage
Peter’s many political successes have included the resolution of a number of long-standing veterans’ issues during his time as Veterans Affairs Critic from 1997 to 2000: the Hong Kong Veterans Slave Labour concerns; the Merchant Navy Veterans concerns; the Lt. Col. McCrae Medals issue; suspected depleted uranium health issues; the major structural repair of the Vimy Memorial; the return of the Unknown Soldier to Canada; Gulf War Syndrome awareness; and the Ortona Christmas with a follow-up life-size bronze monument – the ‘Price of Peace’ – now on a permanent world stage in Ortona, Italy.
In 2003 Peter launched the “Cattle Drive to Parliament Hill” – a farm awareness campaign in which he led a cattle truck transport in his radio equipped outrider vehicle, with his wife Lorraine, more than 9,000 kilometres, speaking at 34 functions in 17 days, from British Columbia to Parliament Hill.
Peter has worked extensively for the rights of the victims of notorious pedophile Karl Toft and his associates at the Kingsclear Training School in New Brunswick. His work led to a $1.5 million investigation by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP into an alleged cover-up of RCMP involvement. The investigation led to changes being made to improve RCMP investigative methods.
Improvements to public awareness of citizens’ rights and responsibilities under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has also been an ongoing interest of Peter’s, He feels that an educated citizenry can stand up to attempts by well-meaning authorities to impinge on our fundamental freedoms.
In 2003, Peter took on the Turks and Caicos debate, which in effect was a call for greatly enhanced foreign trade and renewed development opportunities for Canada in partnership with others from a Turks and Caicos platform in the Caribbean Rim region. His efforts were recognized by Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper, who appointed him as Foreign Affairs Critic for the Caribbean.
He has continued to work to facilitate closer trade ties between Canada and Eastern Europe as well as Canada and the Caribbean, most recently in a 2013 meeting with Dr. Rufus Ewing, the Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands in Toronto. He is presently contributing to the planning for an expected visit to Ottawa in May 2014 of a delegation from the Turks and Caicos Islands, including Dr. Ewing.
Also in 2013 he represented Canada (at the request of Senator Don Meredith) at Jamaica`s annual Independence Day celebrations in Kingston, which also included the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, members of her cabinet and trade officials to discuss closer ties between Canada and Jamaica.
Peter also led a parliamentary visit to Taiwan in 2013, meeting with Taiwanese officials to discuss mutual trade opportunities. Significantly he met with President Mah for one hour to discuss issues.
On April 23, 1999 (and on many occasions since), Peter was the first Member of Parliament to call the 1932-33 planned famine (called by Ukrainians the Holodomor) inflicted by Stalin on Ukraine in which eight million perished, a genocide – a fact that has since been accepted by Parliament.
In 2004 Peter was asked by then Foreign Affairs Critic, Stockwell Day to represent the Conservative Party as an observer in the run-off presidential election in Ukraine on November 21. This historical event grew into the “Orange Revolution,” during which Peter stayed in Ukraine after the election to monitor and report from the streets of the revolution to international media on the crisis, while it was reported that Russian troops in Ukrainian military uniforms surrounded Kyiv waiting for the call to move in and suppress the revolution. He stayed until the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled ten days later for a new election and returned to Ukraine as a parliamentary observer for that December 26, 2004 election. He has returned eight times since, taking part in every presidential and parliamentary election, including the most recent, in October 2012 and the Euromaiden demonstrations in December 2013.
In 2006 he was selected to represent the Government of Canada on a special Foreign Affairs Canada fact finding and election monitoring mission to Haiti. He has since served as an election monitor for the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guyana and with the OSCE in elections in Ukraine (six times), Georgia (twice), Azerbaijan and Albania. For the 2012 Parliamentary elections in Ukraine he was part of the CANADEM observation team and during which he investigated the influence of religion on the electoral outcome in a lengthy report to the Government of Canada. In all he has served as an international election monitor 13 times.
At the 2008 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan, Peter spoke out strongly and forcedly at length against Russia’s delegates attempts to water down or have withdrawn Ukraine’s Holodomor Resolution which spoke of the truth of Stalin’s complicity in the planned famine of 1932-33. The majority of the assembly representing 56 countries ultimately agreed passing the resolution in its entirety. The Ukrainian Parliamentary delegation was overjoyed at the support given by Peter and the positive outcome of the joint effort.
He has also represented Canada at meetings of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (in Ukraine, Lithuania, Greece, Kazakhstan and Serbia) and the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) in Ilulissat, Greenland in 2009 and again in Komi, Russia in 2011, speaking forcefully on issues of concern to Canada.
In the Community
Peter has been very active in raising awareness of affordable housing issues and resolutions. In 2000 he published a book on the matter called – “Housing Affordability: An Edmonton Concern and a National Challenge.” In 2008 he wrote a sequel – “Housing Affordability: Still An Edmonton Concern and a National Challenge.” Peter believes in challenging convention in a rational dispassionate manner to encourage better use of funds to help those most in need. He wears his social conscience on his sleeve day by day, and says we must help those that cannot help themselves, at the same time helping as many as possible to develop their own self-worth and independence, giving them the opportunity to grow in society with a hand up not just a hand out. He was also instrumental in saving the McCauley Community Hockey Rink, the only full-size rink in the inner city, from demolition by the social non-profit housing industry.
In 2008 Peter was unanimously chosen by his Edmonton caucus colleagues as the federal government representative to serve on the City of Edmonton Leadership Committee to End Homelessness. While totally supportive of the effort to help those in need, he advocated for the consideration of cost-effective private sector solutions and has continued to work with private and non-profit sector developers who desire to develop and provide affordable rental housing.
In February 2009 he took up the cause of the private sector, which wanted to develop affordable rental housing. After 65 interventions and 18 months or promotion in Ottawa, at the Alberta Legislature and Edmonton City Hall the project was approved: The “Mayfair Village,” 237 units of affordable rental housing was developed by ProCura, saving taxpayers $40 million over comparable non-profit projects. Subsequently Peter was informed by the Alberta Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs that this “Mayfair Village model” of efficiency was now being encouraged for many more projects, at great taxpayer savings.
Since late 2011 Peter has been in consultation with the Toronto Housing Authority, which manages 50,000 units of social non-profit rental housing, to study and develop a large-scale national major city rental housing policy that would be in keeping with the Constitution of Canada federal- provincial distribution of powers referring to rental housing policy. His initial drafts have been well received by the Toronto Housing Authority as being progressively insightful and encouraging
As well as the two books on affordable housing, Peter has written extensively many editorial articles, articles for Cité Libre (1998-2000), Esprit de Corps, Embassy Magazine, Alberta Report and for 10 years wrote a monthly, 750 word Sports Scene column with a circulation of 100,000 in Alberta.
Peter has been recognized on numerous occasions for his contributions to the Edmonton East community, Alberta, Canada and the world. He received a plaque from the Mayor of Ortona, Italy, for his work bringing about the “Christmas in Ortona” dinner and the life-size monument “The Price of Peace” by artist Robert Surette in 1998. He also was presented the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002, the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005, the Ukrainian Community Award in 2005 in recognition and appreciation of outstanding contribution and support to the Ukrainian community in Alberta during his years of public service, the “Tak” award for his work in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution and was awarded a certificate for his contribution in Ukraine by Prime Minister Paul Partin. He also has received awards from the Loyal Edmonton Regiment for his work with veterans, and another from the Korea War veterans association, numerous community awards and three homelessness awards, the last, a “Roof” Award for his work on the City of Edmonton Leadership Committee to End Homelessness. In 2012 he was presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his continuing service to his community and country.
Peter was born in Toronto in 1944 and lived in Ontario and Quebec for 28 years (and still owns property in Ontario) before settling in Edmonton in 1972. As a successful businessman, Peter has extensive community and business ties in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. He was an advocate of Canadian Unity long before his political career began and has been successful in standing up for Quebecers to help defend against separation and earlier weak federal representation.
Peter’s first job was in Oshawa, Ontario but then served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1962 to 1965 where he received electronics and police training.
After his military service he worked out of the Toronto marketing office of Unelco Systems Ltd., an electrical systems manufacturer, based in Pointe Claire, Quebec, travelling extensively in Ontario for many years. In 1972, he was transferred to Edmonton to open and manage Unelco’s new Alberta office. In 1973 Peter ran a successful campaign to have smoke detectors mandated in Edmonton’s apartment buildings, the first city in Canada to do so. In 1974, after completing his commitment to work two years for Unelco in Alberta, he left to start his own business, Systems by Sentron (Canada) Ltd. Sentron was a supplier and manufacturer of electrical systems for thousands of buildings in western Canada. Over the next 23 years, he built it into a successful electrical system manufacturing, distribution and servicing company. He sold the last component of his company to run for public office in 1997.
Peter has been a member of the Associated Commercial Travellers Association since 1972. He also served on the Alberta Government Suppression Systems Regulatory Development Committee and as Vice-President of the Alberta Sound Contractors Association.
Peter founded the Edmonton Chapter of the Montreal based Special Committee for Canadian Unity, after travelling to Quebec City for the 1995 referendum vote and being appalled at the level Canadian unity and pride had sunk to. Following that suspenseful evening, an epiphany, he flew back to Edmonton, determined to add his voice to Canadian Unity efforts. The possibility of a Canadian break-up drove Peter to rethink his life, his priorities, his family responsibility and plunge into National politics. He then succeeded to be elected in his first election contest in 1997 on a platform to support Canadian unity, a strong united Canada of equal citizens. He subsequently was re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
He has worked tirelessly over the years in Quebec for veterans’ rights, language rights and constitutional rights – on his own and as unity deputy critic for the Reform Party standing up for what is right at a time when no other Member of Parliament would.
In 2012, leading up to the election of the Parti Quebecois government in Quebec, Peter called and asked lawyer Brent Tyler if there would be a will re-constitute the Special Committee for Canadian Unity (SCCU). Peter had worked on Canadian unity issues, having been in Quebec City for the razor thin referendum vote of 1995 and then with the SCCU in 1996, before becoming involved in politics, founding and leading the western Canadian branch and organizing a campaign to send a group from Edmonton called “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” to join a special “unity train” on the anniversary date of the referendum to demonstrate support across Canada for Canadian unity from Montreal to Quebec City. A unity banner was signed by hundreds at Vernon Barford School, then on board the train and then returned to the school to great excitement at an assembly with Member of Parliament Ian McClelland. A unity song was composed and sung by Allan Barbe at McGill University, on board the train at the main function at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.
His hobbies and interests include hunting, fishing, target shooting, boating and he has motor homed extensively throughout North America. Peter has a strong interest in and belief that Canada’s history at war and in peace has not been factually taught in Canada’s schools. He says Canada’s history, truthfully told, would help foster Canadian pride and unity.
Peter has been married to Lorraine for more than 39 years. They have two daughters, Corinna and Kristina, son-in-law Tom and three granddaughters, Katelin, Alexandra and Eleanor.
In the 2009 riding nomination Peter received the overwhelming majority support (over 80%) of Conservative members in Edmonton East to once again represent them in the next election. In the past 16 years Peter has run successfully undefeated in seven nominations and six elections. In the May 2, 2011election he received the highest level of support of his six election victories, 53%, which is also the highest level of support in 31 years since Bill Yurko’s 54% support in 1980.
Peter is the second-longest serving of the 17 Members of Parliament who have represented Edmonton East since the riding was created in 1917. His 16 years of service is second only to that of William Skoreyko, who was Member of Parliament for Edmonton East from 1958-1979.