"2021 has been a year of highs and lows, and ups and downs," said Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen as she reflected on the past year. "And so, when I look back and I look at some of the things that I'm proud of, they also can have a few lows intertwined with those moments of pride."
"I'm really proud of the fact that we were a strong opposition," said Bergen, who was once again named Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada following the September federal election. "We obviously want to be in government, but being in Opposition is an important job, and so there were some things that we were able to accomplish that I'm proud of. One is ensuring and pushing the government to get vaccines to Canadians. It's funny -- it was just a year ago that we had no vaccines or very few vaccines, and everybody else around the world was getting their vaccine doses and Canada was behind. So, it was because Conservatives pushed."
Bergen added, the Party was also pushing for, and talking about, rapid testing.
"I'm proud of the work that we did, ensuring that Canadians had what they needed to fight this pandemic, and then also get support that they needed for small businesses," said Bergen. "Now, obviously, the downside to that is a year later, we're still struggling with COVID, and I think people have about had enough, so they want to make sure they've got their vaccines, for the most part. Then they want to be able to learn to live with COVID instead of this constant shutdown and shutting down our lives and our businesses."
She noted another highlight was the fall election.
"I was obviously very happy and very honoured to have been given a fifth mandate and to receive the support of people in Portage-Lisgar," continued Bergen. "It was a tough election. There were certain politicians who were trying to be very divisive, and were very happy to see some of the difficulties that our riding was going through as far as vaccines. I felt it was very important for me to not be a politician who divides people, but rather bring people together. So, I literally talked to thousands of people on the phone and at the door explaining to them why we believe that vaccines are important. But we also believe that it's important that government respects people's freedom when it comes to their health choices."
Bergen explained, as Conservatives, they think both can be done.
"You can encourage people to get a vaccine, but also respect their right to make their choice," noted Bergen. "It was definitely a very a positive feeling to win the election, but it was a difficult election. So, again, an example of a high mixed with a little bit of a low at same time."