Phil McColeman takes lessons learned from education and business experience as a home builder as framework for his political career as Brant Conservative MP.
61 year old Phil McColeman will be running for re-election in October for Parliament. McoColeman will be looking to win his Brant riding for the third time since 2008, but it is the lessons learned throughout his university career and business venture building houses that shape the way he views politics.
McColeman’s decision to enter politics came in 2006 following the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal involving the Paul Martin Liberal government. “Corruption happens, what made me the most upset was that the people showed no remorse, saying it’s the government’s money. No it’s my money… Its good hardworking people’s money who pay taxes… It’s their money not the government’s money… I trust the government to spend it properly.” Said McColeman.
But McColeman’s introduction in politics came from his business interests. Starting a family construction business over 25 years ago, he became a government lobbyist. McColeman became the local president of the Brantford Home Builders Association before becoming the provincial leader. He recalls having to meet with Ontario Premiers about the home building industry and ways to improve affordability and becoming more energy efficiency.
The building blocks of McColeman’s career can be traced back even further when he was in grade 13 and decided to make the drive to Waterloo to speak with the Dean of Admissions of Wilfrid Laurier University. After discussion with admissions, McColeman says he was “lucky to get into university.” As he was able to convinced admissions to grant him admission on a probationary status. McColeman eventually graduated and went on to attend Kent State University where he worked as a grad assistant. Today, McColeman is still associated with the university that gave him a chance as he serves on the Wilfrid Laurier board representing the Brantford campus.
Through his university experience, McColeman described post-secondary education as transformative. “Education transformed my life and others. Young people need the opportunity to become educated at all levels.” Said McColeman.
Education is one of the key areas of interest for McColeman. The Conservative backbencher is also interested working with people with disabilities. McColeman works closes with the Federal Minister to improve life for the disabled. McColeman’s other passion comes from his business interest of home building. McColeman has been working to change the tax framework placed on every new house that is built. The tax is eventually passed down to the homebuyer. McColeman pointed to the city of Markham where the tax reaches $54,000. He suggests the government needs to intervene and set a controlled tax.
With just over six months until the election, McColeman outlines the issues he feels will be the major issues come October 19th. He states health care as being a traditional issue that comes up every election. He then points to two other sectors that will be the major issues during campaigning. McColeman describes the economy as healthy but notes how jobs and employment will be a major issue.
The third issue that McColeman predicts as being a major topic of discussion are related to world events such as terrorism and security. McColeman brings up Bill C-51, Canada’s Counter Terrorism Act that gives more power to the police and RCMP. Bill C-51 allows for the detaining of individuals who are directly tied to a terrorist organization. The process as described by McColeman, has the police go before the judge and present evidence. If the judge rules in favour of the police, they are issues a warrant to arrest the suspect, search their property and hold the suspect for ten days.
McColeman describes his relationship with the media as one based on trust. He says the media can paint a stereotypical picture of what every political party and politician looks like. In the opinion of McColeman, this is a lack of disrespect shown by the media. However, he also believes that each party paints the picture of their party in the public sphere, based on popular opinion and constructs. But McColeman concedes that both sides, the media and government must eliminate the distrust between the two parties along with any biases. Sticking to his belief, McColeman is an open book with the media. “Everyone in the media has my cell phone number. It could ring right now. I need to be accountable to the local media.” Said McColeman, who promises members of the media that he will produce a response to their question before their deadline.
McColeman describes himself as “driven and motivated.” He views himself as a results orientated man. “I want to see results. I want results as fast as possible.” Said McColeman. The building blocks of McColeman’s success in business, family and politics are due to the character he has developed throughout his life. He describes his theory on his personal character as “the power of the individual.” A theory he developed through his father, an honest, hardworking blue collar Canadian who worked multiple jobs to support his family. For McColeman, he looks to help people with similar ideals. People he describes as looking to create their own success and are self-reliant in order to live fulfilling lives.
Despite a business career of over 25 years and a political career that is in its seventh year, McColeman still views his greatest accomplishment as his family, including his four children and four grandchildren.