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As we leave 2013… all the best of the holidays, and a wonderful 2014 to all.

Best wishes of the season to everyone!

I hope that you are all enjoying the holidays — and if you’re in Toronto, New Brunswick and other areas hit by the storm, that you are now back with power. Mine was gone for a while, but I have two sons whose houses were unaffected, and — much luckier than most — we were able to turn the challenge into some extra family time.

As we take the holidays to pause a bit before the New Year starts, we can reflect on the year that is almost over. I hope that it has been a good one for everyone.

It certainly has been an eventful one here. There’s nothing quite like being in the throes of a national leadership campaign to start it off – and of course that kept us going full-tilt until April. Once that was over, though, one might have thought that a bit of ‘slowing down’ would have been in order — but that wasn’t to be.

As Executive Fellow with the School of Public Policy, I’ve participated as a panellist and moderator in some outstanding conferences on topics including telecommunications, international trade, urban infrastructure, Asian markets, and state-owned enterprises and foreign investment.

On the business side, wearing my other hat as Chief Legal Officer at EnStream, we’re experiencing an explosion of activity. EnStream is the mobile payments joint venture set up by Rogers, Bell and TELUS. Mobile payment technology is finally here in Canada, it’s just starting to be available commercially, and 2014 is going to be extraordinary. It’s exciting to be on the leading edge of this activity.

I’ve also kept a pretty busy schedule giving speeches and writing the occasional op ed. NotableSupply management is increasingly in the news (particularly after the CETA deal with Europe was announced – see my op ed in the Globe and Mail). The more people learn about it, the more people there are advocating that it be dismantled, so we’re making progress. Another recent issue that has my support is Michael Chong’s proposed Reform Act.  It would not be a panacea, and I don’t agree with all of it, but I commend the effort and we need the debate – something certainly needs to be done.

Over the summer I benefitted from plenty of carpentry therapy, as our very rustic cottage in Georgian Bay (a Georgian Bay Land Trust property) is, at 102 years old, pretty needy.

Cottage October 2010

That was followed by a September road trip in Portugal and Spain with my sister, which was wonderful. The excuse was kite boarding, a sport I started in the spring (see the pictures of me learning in April in Cape Hatteras, and then of kiting at Tarifa, Spain) – but that was really just a bonus, as I’d never been to either country, loved both, and Betsy and I had a great road trip together.

MHF Learning to Kite at Hatteras 2013 copy

Tarifa kiting

I was also elected to the Board of Directors of Alpine Canada. Having been a ski racer, a ski coach, and the parent of three ski racers, I felt that it was time to give back to a sport that has meant so much to me and to my family. (This will explain the upsurge in my twitter activity supporting our athletes on their way to Sochi…)

ACA logo

Last, but most important of all — what I noticed most about leaving politics (reinforced by my decision not to run again in 2015), is the time I’ve been able to spend with friends and family. My kids are all grown up (now 28, 30 and 32), so when entering politics a decade ago, I wasn’t burdened with the traditional concerns parents with smaller children have about the demands of politics – who would look after them when one is away in Ottawa, who will help with homework, who will attend soccer practice, etc. My kids certainly didn’t need ‘looking after’, even then. But this past year I’ve spent a lot more time with them than I have in a long while, and I have enjoyed it immensely. (I can’t speak for them, of course, but as long as I have beer in the fridge, they seem happy to come visit!) And I’ve re-connected with good friends I’d barely seen for years.

Family at Patty's

Family on the porch having too much fun 2013

All in all, it’s been a great year, and I am looking forward to exciting times ahead.

I hope that everyone has had a similarly fulfilling 2013, and that 2014 is filled with health, happiness, prosperity, and time with family and friends.

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