Rona Ambrose

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The Honourable
Rona Ambrose
RonaAmbrose EdmontonLRTOpening 25April2009.jpg
Ambrose at the opening of the McKernan/Belgravia LRT station in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, April 25, 2009
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
November 5, 2015
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Preceded by Tom Mulcair
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Assumed office
November 5, 2015
Preceded by Stephen Harper
Minister of Health
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Leona Aglukkaq
Succeeded by Jane Philpott
Minister of Public Works and Government Services
In office
January 19, 2010 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Christian Paradis
Succeeded by Diane Finley
In office
January 4, 2007 – October 29, 2008
Preceded by Carol Skelton
Succeeded by Jim Prentice
Minister of Western Economic Diversification
In office
November 5, 2010 – May 18, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Jim Prentice
Succeeded by Lynne Yelich
Minister of Labour
In office
October 30, 2008 – January 19, 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Blackburn
Succeeded by Lisa Raitt
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
In office
January 4, 2007 – October 30, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Peter Van Loan
Succeeded by Josée Verner
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
In office
January 4, 2007 – October 30, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Peter Van Loan
Succeeded by Josée Verner
Minister of the Environment
In office
February 6, 2006 – January 3, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Stéphane Dion
Succeeded by John Baird
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Sturgeon River—Parkland
Edmonton—Spruce Grove (2004-2015)
Assumed office
June 28, 2004
Preceded by Riding Established
Personal details
Born Ronalee Chapchuk[1]
(1969-03-15) March 15, 1969 (age 50)
Valleyview, Alberta, Canada
Political party Conservative Party of Canada
Spouse(s) Bruce Ambrose (m. 1994)[2]
Domestic partner J.P. Veitch [3]
Residence Stornoway
Profession Columnist, communication consultant, policy analyst, public policy consultant, senior public servant

Ronalee Chapchuk "Rona" Ambrose, PC, MP (born March 15, 1969) is a Canadian politician and the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.[4] She is the Conservative Party member of the House of Commons for Sturgeon River—Parkland since 2015, previously representing Edmonton—Spruce Grove from 2004 to 2015.

In previous Parliaments, Ambrose served as Canada's Minister of Health and vice-chair of the Treasury Board cabinet committee. Previous to that she was at various points the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Western Economic Diversification, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Labour, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Minister for Status of Women. She is a former communication consultant and public policy consultant for the Alberta government. She served as the Conservatives' Intergovernmental Affairs critic when the party was in opposition during her first term.

When the Conservatives were consigned to opposition in the 2015 federal election, Ambrose was elected as interim leader, and hence Leader of the Opposition, until a permanent successor to Stephen Harper can be chosen. She is the third woman to serve as Opposition Leader, after Deborah Grey and Nycole Turmel. All three of them served in an interim capacity.

Early life and education

Ambrose was born Ronalee Chapchuk in Valleyview, Alberta, the daughter of Colleen (Clark) and James Chapchuk.[5][6] She grew up both in Brazil and in Parkland County, Alberta. In addition to English, she also speaks Portuguese and Spanish but is less fluent in French.[7] Ambrose has a bachelor of arts from the University of Victoria and a master of arts degree in political science from the University of Alberta.

Prior to her work in federal politics Ambrose's community service included involvement with organizations working to end violence against women; including the Status of Women Action Group (which has since distanced themselves from her over her pro-life affiliations) the Victoria Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse Crisis Centre, and the Edmonton Women’s Shelter.[8]

Early political career

Ambrose was first elected as a Member of Parliament in the 2004 federal election for the newly created riding of Edmonton-Spruce Grove in west Edmonton. She served this riding until 2015, when she transferred to Sturgeon River-Parkland—essentially the suburban portion of her old riding.

On February 16, 2005, she made headlines after making a remark in Parliament directed at Liberal Social Development Minister Ken Dryden saying "working women want to make their own choices, we don't need old white guys telling us what to do," in reference to the Liberal national child care plan.

Ambrose calls herself a libertarian and is a fan of Ayn Rand novels such as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.[9] She was a member of the Trilateral Commission, as reported in Vancouver's Georgia Straight, August 24, 2006.

Ambrose was temporarily the Conservative critic for International Trade, after the defection of Belinda Stronach to the Liberal Party.

Cabinet minister

In 2006, Ambrose successfully defended her seat in Edmonton–Spruce Grove with 66.8% of the vote in the riding. She was then appointed Environment Minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government. She was, on January 4, 2007, appointed Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

On October 30, 2008, Rona Ambrose was appointed to the Department of Labour.[10]

On January 19, 2010, Ambrose was appointed as the new Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

On July 13, 2013, she was appointed Minister of Health.

Minister of the Environment

On April 7, 2006, Ambrose announced that Canada had no chance of meeting its targets under the Kyoto Protocol and would have to set more "realistic" goals for cutting greenhouse gases. "My departmental officials and the department officials from natural resources have indicated that it is impossible, impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto target. And let me be clear. I have been engaging with our international counterparts over the past month, and we are not the only country that is finding itself in this situation." said Ambrose.[11] On June 6, 2006, in a speech she clarified with the following: "So we became the first and only country to publicly state that we know we will not reach our Kyoto targets. This was met by controversy. But we will not be the last. However, no one that follows this debate in any serious manner was surprised to find out that after years of no action on climate change, meeting the onerous targets negotiated under the Liberals was not a reality."

On April 13, 2006, Ambrose was accused of stopping an Environment Canada scientist, Mark Tushingham, from speaking publicly about his own novel. The science fiction novel, entitled Hotter than Hell, posits an alternate future in which global warming has made many parts of the world too hot to live in and has prompted a war between Canada and the U.S. over water resources. Tushingham was scheduled to speak in Ottawa at his book launch about his book and his beliefs underpinning it. However, he claimed an order from Ambrose's office stopped him. In response, Ambrose's spokesperson claimed that the speech was billed as coming from an Environment Canada scientist, who would appear to be speaking in an official capacity, even though his book is a work of fiction.[12]

On May 11, 2006, before the House of Commons, she said "We would have to pull every truck and car off the street, shut down every train and ground every plane to reach the Kyoto target negotiated by the Liberals."[13]

She continued her May 11 speech: "Or we could shut all the lights off in Canada tomorrow -- but that still wouldn’t be enough -- to reach our Kyoto target we’d have to shut off all the lights AND shut down the entire agriculture industry.

"Or instead we could shut down every individual Canadian household, not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times over to meet the Kyoto target the Liberals negotiated for Canada.

"Or, we could do what the Liberals thought was the answer faced with the realization that the target they negotiated meant shutting down Canada’s economy -- spend the money overseas buying international credits -- the Liberals had set aside up to $600 per Canadian household to be sent overseas in order to help reach the Kyoto target they negotiated for Canada."

Ambrose was criticized by Bill Graham, Leader of the Opposition, on May 15, 2006 for chairing a UN conference on climate change despite admitting that Canada will not meet its Kyoto Protocol targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ambrose, who was leading the May 15 to 26 meetings in Bonn, Germany, repeated her claim that Canada's targets under Kyoto are "unachievable." During Question Period that day, Graham asked the prime minister if he saw the "irony" in having someone who "despises" Kyoto to chair the meeting in Germany. At the beginning of the UN conference, Ambrose stated: "I have been very honest with Canadians after the release of our greenhouse gas inventories that we will have great difficulty in meeting those targets. We believe they are unachievable.".[14]

Ambrose told a parliamentary committee that Canada had paid its debts under the Kyoto Protocol only to have an Environment Canada official point out that the bill was still unpaid.[15]

Continued opposition discontent over Ambrose's conduct led the NDP to table a motion in the Commons environmental committee calling for her resignation. The vote, which was held on June 21, 2006, saw the Liberals side with the Conservatives, thus defeating the motion. Had the motion passed, a vote would then have been held in the House of Commons, and, because this was deemed to be a matter of confidence, could possibly have triggered an election.

In August 2006 she stated: “I welcome the commitment from British Columbia to preserve and increase the population of Northern Spotted Owls ... It is my opinion that, given the measures they are taking, such as stopping logging in areas currently occupied by the owls, there is no imminent threat to the survival or recovery of the Northern Spotted Owl at this time.” [16]

On October 19, 2006, Ambrose introduced a Clean Air Act that aimed to reduce the level of greenhouse emissions starting in 2020, cutting them to about half of the 2003 levels by 2050. She also introduced other regulations to industries and vehicles as well as a possible cooperation between the federal government and the provinces to create a system that would report air emissions. In an interview with the media, Ambrose denied that the Conservative government had withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol despite its previous opposition to it. However, industries will have until 2010 before they are expected to reduce emissions, and the government will not have final (and voluntary) targets ready until 2020. Oil companies will have to reduce emissions on a per-barrel basis, reduction proportional to production basis.[17][18]

Cabinet shuffles

News stories began to appear in late 2006 of a possible Cabinet shuffle that included shifting Ambrose from her environment portfolio. On January 4, 2007, Ambrose moved from environment to become Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs as well as President of the Queen's Privy Council. The Environment portfolio went to John Baird, the former President of the Treasury Board. On January 19, 2010, Ambrose succeeded Christian Paradis and was named the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. On April 9, 2010 she was also named Minister responsible for the Status of Women after Helena Guergis was dismissed from Cabinet. On July 15, 2013, Ambrose was made Minister of Health and retained the title of Minister of Western Economic Diversification.

Minister responsible for the Status of Women

On September 26, 2012, Ambrose was in the news again having voted in favour of Motion 312, a motion by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth that would have directed a Commons committee to revisit the section of the Criminal Code defining at what point human life begins. Viewing the motion as an attempt to re-open debate on abortion laws, Canadian pro-choice groups and Commons opposition parties considered her vote inconsistent with her ministerial role[19][20] and prompted a call for her resignation. The motion was eventually voted down.[21] Ambrose responded to her critics, stating her concern of discrimination against girls that is made possible by sex-selection abortion.[19][20] Pro-Life groups praised Ambrose for supporting the Motion.[22]

Minister of Health

In July, 2013, Stephen Harper appointed Rona Ambrose as Minister of Health.[23]

On June 11, 2015, she made headlines for being "outraged" that (in a unanimous decision) the Supreme Court of Canada expanded the definition of what constituted medical marijuana to include oils, teas, brownies, etc. from its previous limitation to dried leaves, arguing "Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence".[24] When asked why the testing has not been done when people are taking medical marijuana every day, she responded, "It is not my job as Minister. If there is clinical evidence and a company decided... to submit it to the regulatory approval process, it would be looked at. That has never happened."[25]


In 2008, Ambrose was #17 on the Western Standard's "Liberty 100" top Canadian "pro-freedom activists, journalists, think-tankers and partisans."[26]

Leader of the Opposition

Stephen Harper resigned as Conservative party leader after the party was defeated by the Liberals in the 2015 election. Ambrose, who was re-elected, announced that she would run for the interim leadership of the Conservative Party. She was elected to that post on November 5, 2015—becoming the third woman to hold the post.[27] Under the party constitution, as interim leader she is not eligible to run for the leadership at the next Conservative Party of Canada leadership election.

On November 13, 2015, Ambrose responded to the terrorist attacks in Paris committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Ambrose stated "The fight against ISIS (ISIL) requires a strong humanitarian response, but also a military response... It's important that we remain resolute and support our allies."[28][29][30]

Electoral record

Canadian federal election, 2015: Sturgeon River—Parkland
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rona Ambrose 43,220 70.2 -7.29
Liberal Travis Dueck 9,586 15.6 +10.13
New Democratic Guy Desforges 6,166 10.0 -2.97
Green Brendon Greene 1,875 3.0 -0.99
Christian Heritage Ernest Chauvet 690 1.1
Total valid votes/Expense limit 61,357 100.0     $219,812.41
Total rejected ballots 157
Turnout 61,194 72.0%
Eligible voters 84,952
Conservative hold Swing -8.71%
Source: Elections Canada[31][32]
Canadian federal election, 2011: Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rona Ambrose 41,782 71.10 +2.56 $88,882
New Democratic Catherine Chaulk-Stokes 9,272 15.78 +3.30 $50
Liberal Chris Austin 5,483 9.33 -2.17 $9,593
Green Josh Lund 2,232 3.80 -3.68 $0
Total valid votes/Expense limit 58,769 100.00
Total rejected ballots 146 0.25 +0.08
Turnout 58,915 56.53 +3.01
Eligible voters 104,226
Canadian federal election, 2008: Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rona Ambrose 36,402 68.54 +1.71 $94,219
New Democratic Barbara Phillips 6,627 12.48 +2.00 $10,939
Liberal Chris Austin 6,099 11.50 -5.33 $20,611
Green Wendy Walker 3,975 7.48 +1.62
Total valid votes/Expense limit 53,103 100.00 $97,141
Total rejected ballots 91 0.17 -0.02
Turnout 53,194 53.52 -9.93
Conservative hold Swing -0.1
Canadian federal election, 2006: Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rona Ambrose 38,826 66.83 +6.43 $67,100
Liberal Brad Enge 9,776 16.83 -8.74 $17,620
New Democratic Jason Rockwell 6,091 10.48 +1.56 $5,315
Green John Lackey 3,404 5.86 +0.77 $2,097
Total valid votes 58,097 100.00
Total rejected ballots 109 0.19 -0.02
Turnout 58,206 63.45 +3.12
Canadian federal election, 2004: Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rona Ambrose 30,497 60.40 $73,732
Liberal Neil Mather 12,912 25.57 $63,512
New Democratic Hayley Phillips 4,508 8.92 $2,802
Green Jerry Paschen 2,572 5.09 $154
Total valid votes 50,489 100.00
Total rejected ballots 106 0.21
Turnout 50,595 60.33


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External links