© Guardian photo
Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay addresses a crowd gathered at Stratford Town Hall to protest rumoured changes to the federal Fisheries Act.
If there’s a tweet fest on P.E.I. today, it will either be about the first day of spring or a new political record.
Lawrence MacAulay already holds the record for attending the most weddings and wakes on the Island, the record for hugging the most amount of people in one day, and now the farm boy from Midgell has stepped into the history books.
MacAulay is now the longest serving federal politician in Island history and, as of today, surpasses the record held by the late MP and Premier Angus MacLean.
MacAulay has now served a total of 9,251 days, or 25 years, three months and 29 days. MacLean, who served the former federal riding of Queens and then Malpeque during the 1950s to mid 1970s, racked up 9,250 days before stepping down to enter provincial politics and become Island premier.
“I am happy to extend congratulations to Lawrence on this achievement,’’ said former premier Pat Binns, now the consulate general for Canada in Boston. “His success has everything to do with his ability to connect with people, hard work, a friendly personality and…a touch of good luck.”
MacAulay’s political career was launched in 1988 when he wore out three pairs of shoes knocking on doors to win the Nov. 21 election. He defeated former Cardigan MP Pat Binns, who was shackled at the time with opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
MacAulay has won eight elections and at 67 years of age still maintains a jaunty agenda of showing up for everything from a birthday party to a benefit concert at every end of his riding.
“There’s no question that Lawrence is probably the best local politician in Canada,” offered fellow MP Wayne Easter.
“He can take a national issue and bring it right down to the local level. I remember when we (Island MPs) were trying to set an agenda (for Question Period) and Lawrence just took over and went on about the problems with the herring fishery….he finds the local issue.”
He was first elected when Wayne Gretzky was still an Oiler, Haywire had the number 10 song in Canada, and Calgary hosted the Olympic Games. Back then, there was no such thing as iPhone, Blackberry, Facebook or Twittter.
“There’s no question that Lawrence is probably the best local politician in Canada”Wayne Easter, Malpeque MP
Today, he’s learned the social media tricks and has over 1,250 twitter followers, tweets regularly on issues and open houses, and even has a Facebook page.
“Having a busy but great day meeting many constituents in the Souris, Montague, Murray River, and Alliston areas.” …he posted the other day.
When contacted by The Guardian Wednesday, MacAulay said he finds it an honour to serve in his role and enjoys the opportunity of putting together programs and systems to help improve life for Islanders and Canadians.
“To be mentioned in the same sentence as J. Angus MacLean is truly something I never would have dreamed of when I first got involved in politics,” he wrote in an email. “He was a man who was always known as a true gentleman and a representative of all Islanders by people from every political stripe and was a renowned Canadian war hero.”
Senator Catherine Callbeck called MacAulay’s political longevity a tremendous milestone.
“It is a testament to his strong work ethic and his excellent character that the voters of Cardigan have sent him to Parliament again and again since 1988,” said the former premier.
Callbeck said MacAulay’s success is because of his strong connection to the people in his riding and his desire to ensure they all have a good quality of life.
“It is well known that Lawrence is a fixture at everything from government announcements to birthday open houses to community events. He has a special way of connecting with people because he is friendly and genuinely interested in what others have to say.”
His cabinet positions under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien included Solicitor General of Canada, Minister of Labour, Secretary of State (Veterans), and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency), mostly during the 1990s.
But how long will he be around? “I have no plans to step aside yet, it’s up to the voters,” he joked during a BBQ he hosted at his home last summer for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.