Community mourns former MP

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Former Westlock-area MP Dave Chatters passed away at the Westlock Healthcare Centre Jan. 25 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 69.

“The wonderful thing is he was lucid almost to the end. It was such a joy to be able to talk to him every morning,” said his wife Evie.

Chatters served as the MP for Westlock-St. Paul from 2004 to 2006 after serving as the MP for Athabasca-Westlock from 1993 to 2004.

Chatters was born and lived in the Jarvie area where he raised purebred cattle and worked as an oil-rig driller until being elected to the Athabasca federal riding under the Reform banner in 1993 and later as a Canadian Alliance MP, before joining the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004.

During his time in Ottawa, Chatters served as the senior opposition critic for natural resources and spent time as the Canadian Alliance House Officer.

“For several years, [Chatters] provided strong leadership for the people of our community in Fort McMurray and was the man who encouraged me to put my name forward to run for election in 2004,” said current Wildrose leader and former Fort McMurray-Athabasca MP Brian Jean.

Although a passionate coanservative, Chatters was known in Ottawa as a parliamentarian, said his successor Brian Storseth.

“He was one of the few in Opposition in the minority years that was selected to be chair of the [standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics],” Storseth said.

“This was a rarity in Parliament. There are only three committees chaired by the Opposition and because of his statesmanship and seniority, he was chosen by committee members to lead.”

Though Chatters retired from politics in 2006, Storseth said his positive impact will persist.

“He became more than just an opposition MP, he became a parliamentarian. Even when I was in Ottawa after him, people respected the name and work of David Chatters.

“Our country is a better place because of the service he has given to it,” Storseth said.

“Mr. Chatters was a predecessor and a strong mentor. He’s somebody that was very much beloved in the Westlock community for his dedication to public service and, really, his dedication to the people of Alberta and our country.”

Storseth said he vividly recalls his first time in Parliament as a guest of Chatters. The senior politician, he said, was always eager to lend a helping hand.

“He took the time to walk me through parliament and introduce me to some of the colleagues I’d be making down the road and helped me through the ropes,” Storseth said. “He was a great Canadian and the people of Westlock and area are certainly proud to have had him and the work that he has done for them.”

Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen also extended his condolences.

“Although I’ve never met Mr. Chatters, I know from people that I know and respect that he was well-respected and an excellent representative to our area,” Viersen said.

“I know that he will be missed.”

For more on Chatters see this week’s printi edition of the Town & Country.

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