Gary Mar

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Gary Mar




Gary Glen Mar QC, (simplified Chinese: 马健威; traditional Chinese: 馬健威; pinyin: Mǎ Jiànwēi; born July 26, 1962) is a Canadian politician in Alberta, Canada. He served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1993 to 2007. On December 3, 2007, he was appointed as the Official Representative for Alberta in Washington, D.C., and worked in the Canadian Embassy with the official title of Minister-Counsellor of the Province of Alberta to the United States. In March 2011, he resigned his post in order to seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta in its 2011 leadership election.

[edit] Early life

Mar was born in Calgary, Alberta as the grandson of Chinese immigrants who came to what is now Alberta before it became a province. He was named after actor Gary Cooper and astronaut John Glenn. The son and grandson of entrepreneurs, Mar spent his early years working in his family's restaurants and other businesses. His parents supported his education, and Mar graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) at the University of Calgary (1984) and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Alberta (1987).

From 1987 to 1990 Mar worked at the law firm MacKimmie Matthews, Barristers and Solicitors in Calgary and corporate, commercial, and real estate law at Code Hunter, Barristers and Solicitors from 1990 to 1992. He also practiced general law in Calgary.

[edit] Political career

At the age of 31, Mar was first elected the Alberta Legislature in the 1993 general election. He won the electoral district of Calgary Nose Creek defeating incumbent Liberal MLA Yolande Gagnon. Premier Ralph Klein had campaigned on a debt-reduction platform, and Mar's first years as a Cabinet minister in the Klein government developed and reinforced his fiscal management and commitment to balanced budgeting. Over 14 years, Mar served as minister responsible for the arts, amateur sport, seniors, education, environment, provincial parks, health care, Alberta's centennial celebrations, Alberta's international offices and international relations, and Alberta's relations with other governments within Canada. He was a member of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund Committee, the Members’ Services Committee and the Cabinet Policy Committee on Managing Growth Pressures.

As Minister of Education, Mar introduced First Things First…Our Children, an initiative that focused on school children of all ages. It made a commitment to ensuring children can read well by grade 3, and focused on high standards for junior and senior high school students, keeping them in school and ensuring they have the skills they need when they graduate. As Minister of Health and Wellness, Mar was instrumental in a number of changes to the system with long-lasting results. He ensured primary care networks, in which physicians lead a team of health care professionals. This interdisciplinary, community-accessible approach became the focus of the health system. He reduced the number of health regions; took steps with electronic health records, negotiated for different funding from the federal government of Canada, and worked with the physicians union to create a controversial model for their pay.

[edit] Washington, D.C.

As Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, Mar led the minimally successful Alberta at the Smithsonian project in 2006 which included Alberta as the first Canadian province ever featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Leading up to the Folklife Festival, Alberta Week in Washington included forums and meetings between Alberta leaders and U.S. decision makers and policy makers in Washington, D.C. On September 27, 2007, Mar was named Alberta Envoy in Washington, D.C. The Alberta Office in Washington is co-located in the Canadian Embassy and is geared to representing Alberta’s interests to U.S. policymakers and seeking out opportunities for the province. Over four years, Mar led U.S. senators, congressmen and industry members to tour Alberta's oil sands, and promoted Alberta energy, agriculture and other products and opportunities in Washington and across the United States, speaking at conferences and symposiums, and representing Alberta at meetings and discussions. He welcomed and hosted Alberta delegations to Washington and introduced them to decision-makers and business leaders.

[edit] 2011 PC leadership election

On March 16, 2011, after resigning his post in Washington, Mar announced he was seeking the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. Although he received the most votes on the first and second ballots, he achieved less than 50% of the votes on the second ballot. Under the rules, the second preference votes were added, and Alison Redford was declared the winner.

[edit] Controversies

As Minister of Health and Wellness, Mar awarded a contract worth over $389,000[8] of taxpayers' money, without going through an official competitive government tender process, to Charlebois Consulting Limited, a consulting firm owned by his former executive assistant, Kelley Charlebois. The purpose of the contract was purported to provide advice to the government. During question period in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Dr. Kevin Taft, Leader of the Official Opposition, asked what reports were provided by Charlebois Consulting had produced for the government, Mar responded that "there are no reports as such."

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