STEVEN FLETCHER’S PATH TO PUBLIC SERVICE
“I developed a passion for politics – a world based on ideas and communication which are two abilities my paralysis could not take away from me. I realized that through public service I could truly help make Canada a better place.”
Steven Fletcher’s path to public service began in earnest on a cold winter morning in 1996 when his car hit a moose and he was left quadriplegic at the age of 23.
“I was told that if I lived, I would be in an institution for the rest of my life. I had a choice to make - do I spend the rest of my days lingering in a care home, or do I forge a seemingly impossible path and find a way to make a meaningful contribution to society?” said the former Member of Parliament and Federal Cabinet Minister.
“I grew up in a family that taught me at a young age that education is the best investment that an individual can make for themselves, and that education is the best investment society can make in an individual. So that became my immediate goal – education.”
Against professional advice and the odds, he wrote the entrance exam, fulfilled all the entrance criteria and was accepted into the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program at the University of Manitoba. He completed his MBA and was (to the best of his knowledge) the first high-level quadriplegic to achieve that level of education.
During this time, Steven also challenged Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) in the courts.
“Over several years” said Fletcher “I was able to win more than I lost in disputes with the insurance company and I found out that many others with catastrophic injuries were benefiting from my success.”
It was through this initial life and death struggle with MPI that he says he became aware of the importance of social justice and human rights, especially within the health care system as well as the systemic barriers and stereotypes that existed in society to fuel those barriers.
“I learned very quickly after my accident that on one hand in Canada we are very good at ‘saving people’ from catastrophic accidents or illnesses, but on the other hand we are not very good at providing the resources so that those ‘saved people’ can live meaningful and dignified lives,” said Fletcher. “I sought to build that model for a meaningful and dignified life.”
“When I first ran to be a Member of Parliament people said I couldn’t do it. They didn’t understand that my disability only limited me physically, but my brutal experiences had given me insight as to how we can improve the world around us, and how our foremost guiding principles must be empathy and compassion. In 2004 I became the first permanently physically disabled person to be elected to the House of Commons.”
“In Parliament, I’ve worked with many MPs and senators on numerous issues to improve the lives of Canadians. Issues such as how government can reduce trans-fats in the food supply, a national autism strategy, a national cancer strategy and a program for compensation for Hepatitis C victims.”
Fletcher has long been known for his dedication to his constituents that is independent and non-partisan evidenced by his introduction of two private bills in the House of Commons, neither of which were supported by the major parties.
“As a member of the Treasury Board for seven years, my duties included reviewing and approving federal government expenditures, reallocation of funds and the review of the stimulus funding, all of which has prepared me to continue applying my experience in the business of government and benefiting Manitobans. Experience that will help us fix this mess that Manitoba is currently in.”
With a degree in engineering and a Master’s Degree in Business, Steven Fletcher is recognized internationally as an expert on the business of government, ethical government, and the need for compassionate government. That, along with his eleven years in Parliament has made him a sought after writer and commentator providing articles and media interviews on a wide range of local, national and international issues.