By Steve Hubrecht
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 Incumbent Kootenay–Columbia MP, Rob Morrison is running for re-election as the riding’s Conservative candidate.

The decision to run again was an easy one, he told the Pioneer: public service is a common thread throughout his career. He served in the RCMP for three decades, spent time in Islamabad, Pakistan serving as a diplomat and in intelligence. Following that, Morrison briefly turned to the private sector, running a security consulting company, but in 2018 decided to pack that up in favour of running for public office in the 2019 federal election. He secured the Conservative nomination for the Kootenay–Columbia in a tight race, and then beat then-incumbent MP, Wayne Stetski, in the election, and has been the Kootenay–Columbia’s representative in Ottawa ever since.

“I had a long history, from my career in policing and as a diplomat, of working with the federal government. I fall to the Conservative side of the political spectrum, and I thought I could contribute to that,” says Morrison. “Having lived in Ottawa, having worked with the federal government, I knew how the federal government works and how to get things done in Ottawa.” A few months after being elected, Morrison found himself in one the busiest times, governmentally speaking, in recent memory as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic beset the globe. “We were working hard, very hard, trying to get people from our riding who were stuck abroad back home, trying to get support to the people that need it,” he said, adding his approach as MP was, once the election was over, to be as non-partisan as possible. “It’s a matter of being out there, and being respectful,” said Morrison. “You have to be a good listener and you have to get to every corner of the riding.” 

That’s no easy feat in a riding that stretches from the Big Bend of the Columbia to the American border, and from Kaslo to the Alberta border. The travel inherent in being an MP – bouncing back and forth between Ottawa and Kootenay Columbia, not to mention all around the geographically enormous riding once here – is also something that comes naturally to Morrison. 

He was born in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, where his dad was stationed with Airforce. He grew up in Calgary, attending Mount Royal College, before eventually joining the RCMP and being posted all over the B.C. during his 30 year policing career, with quite a bit of that time spent living in Creston, Nelson and Cranbrook.

Morrison’s posting in Islamabad, during which he also spent quite a lot of time in Afghanistan and India, as well in some of the Persian Gulf city states and Saudi Arabia, was an eye-opener.

“We made a lot of good friends there, local Pakistani people, and getting to know them was a great window into the culture and society,” he said. “There’s a lot that’s quite amazing and the food is fantastic, but of course there’s a lot that’s not great in Pakistan, for the people that live there, and it was really informative to learn firsthand the struggles people face in developing countries. There’s no social infrastructure at all, certainly not as much opportunity, and they don’t have many of the basic freedoms and rights we take for granted here.”

Morrison’s career may have taken him many places, but one in particular kept calling him back. “My work with the RCMP let me fall in love with living in the Kootenay, and so of course, when I eventually left the RCMP I came back to live here,” says Morrison, who is now based in Creston and Cranbrook.

The Kootenay was a great place for Morrison and his wife to raise their kids. The couple’s three girls and two boys are now grown and live across B.C. and Alberta. The area also allows Morrison the chance, when he’s not tied up with MP duties, to indulge his passion for the outdoors. 

With the campaign underway for more than two weeks Morrison has been busy, campaigning on the issues of dealing with the pandemic, economic recovery from it, creating jobs, dealing with the Kootenay’s housing crunch, helping seniors deal with inflation, and more.

“At the doors I’m knocking on, it looks like people want change at the federal level. They’re supportive of economic growth, supportive of tackling the jobs crisis, supportive of tackling the housing crisis, supportive of helping seniors — all issues that I’m running on,” he says.