Community Profile: Mike Ellis, Calgary-West MLA
Michael David Ellis was born in Calgary on January 9, 1973. He was raised mostly in Calgary, with some years spent in Medicine Hat. Although Ellis’ early years were not a typical one, he had shown great positive attitude despite his circumstances and was known to be actively involved in his community. Ellis attended Vincent Massey and Ernest Manning High School both located in the West area of Calgary. Here, he participated in volleyball, basketball, and competitive hockey. Ellis went on to play for the Calgary Royals for a few more years as his main interests and talents were in hockey. Aside from his achievements in sports, his experience in supporting his great-grandmother had helped him to mature quickly and allow him to see others without bias or stereotypes. Ellis’ willingness to interact with fellow students continued throughout his career to this day, where he has an open-door policy for his constituency.
Aside from his achievements in sports, his experience in supporting his great-grandmother had helped him to mature quickly and allow him to see others without bias or stereotypes.
Before Politics: Policing Career and Education
Ellis’ eagerness to interact and help others ever since his childhood was a great motivation for him to seek a career in 2003 with the Calgary Police Services. Over his 12 years of service, he acquired a comprehensive understanding of Calgary.
It was not until he became District Community Team Sergeant that Ellis found his true calling. Through Ellis’ own experiences, his appreciation for family and the community enriched his time spent policing the West area to maximize public safety. He ensured that community crimes were specifically targeted to create lasting solutions that prevented future offenses. The participation of the community along with Ellis’ team was imperative in his growing awareness of the priorities and concerns in Calgary-West. In particular, his desire for equality for all Calgarians was the main reason he became a board member of the Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness. The Secretariat was formed in 2008 to establish a 10-year plan in Calgary to put an end to homelessness. Ellis believes that it was crucial to stopping the marginalization of vulnerable citizens and instead, give them care and opportunities. Minister Dave Hancock, QC, formally recognized him for his contributions to the Secretariat.
His desire for equality for all Calgarians was the main reason he became a board member of the Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness.
Ellis later became familiar with the judicial administration when he was a Bail Hearing Officer for the Arrest Processing Section. He was able to build up experience and knowledge of certain attributes that were potentially important to the Judicial Administrative Law for the Calgary Police. This led into Ellis designing the annual e-learning qualification component for the department.
In 2013, Ellis was awarded the 10-year Distinguished Service Medal for the strong commitment and improvements he had made to the Calgary Police Service. He was also acknowledged with the leadership certification from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Winning the Calgary-West MLA Seat
Ellis attained his Bachelor of Policing at Charles Stuart University located in Australia. After 12 years of service with the Calgary Police, Ellis entered the political scene as he had aspired to give an accurate voice to the community he was now very familiar with. The time spent on community policing was instrumental in becoming cognizant on the everyday concerns and crimes of Calgary-West. In 2012, Ellis ran for the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party’s nomination to represent Calgary-West: to which he had lost to Ken Hughes. Despite losing the nomination, Ellis did not give up and continued to sit on the Calgary-West PC board, where he could be aware of the changing dynamics of the West area.
In 2014, his chance came when the PC Party nominated Ellis as an official candidate for Calgary-West. His biggest challenge for the Alberta provincial by-election, however, was his opponent Sheila Taylor of the Wildrose Party. Taylor was considered a favorite for Calgary-West and was a popular candidate of the Wildrose Party. It was ultimately Ellis’ expertise and first-hand experience of living and working in the West area that swayed the voters. Ellis recognized the issue of overcrowding and the negative effects it had on the schools in his constituency. By listening, addressing and proposing a solution of building new schools, the people had faith that change would be coming with Ellis. On October 27, 2014, he defeated Taylor and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta with 4,843 votes. In being elected as the new Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Calgary-West, Ellis stated that he was “very humbled” and commented that he “believed strongly in serving [his] community and in serving Albertans”. Currently, he has kept his promise of “relieving a lot of pressure on the system and reducing the commuting time for our children”, in which four new schools will be opening in 2017. He also had not forgotten the schools that require renovations and said he will maintain his push against the Minister of Education to receive funds for repairs.
He has kept his promise of relieving a lot of pressure on the system and reducing the commuting time for our children, in which four new schools will be opening in 2017.
During his first term as an MLA for Calgary-West, Ellis was a member of the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing orders and Printing. The Committee members were on standby to meet anytime when the Legislative Assembly issued a matter to them. Ellis was also a member of the Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, which was in charge of handling the long-term savings fund (i.e., Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund). The Fund had devoted around $39.2 billion to date to support programs in Alberta such as education and social programs.
Second-Term in Office
It was clear that Ellis had kept the trust and faith of Calgary-West when he won again for the riding on May 5, 2015, in the Alberta general election with 8,318 votes. However, as the NDP Party won a majority government, he is now the Opposition Critic for the portfolios of Service Alberta and the Justice and Solicitor General. Ellis’ tenure at the Calgary Police Service will be important for his ability to critique and examine the policies of the two department Ministers. In particular, Ellis pinpointed issues with the bail system when he worked as a Bail Hearings Officer and had been advocating for changes ever since. His solutions were shared with the Justice Minister and were taken into consideration when the Minister released recommendations in April 2016, following a comprehensive review of Alberta’s bail system. Ellis will continue to press the Justice Minister for proposals to keep the public safe from discharged repeat offenders.
It is important to note that even onto his second-term, Ellis did not stop listening to the growing matters in his constituency. When he heard of the issues raised by the community associations about the traffic disruptions and construction noises because of the Ring Road, Ellis went to work quickly to try and resolve the concerns. He is focused on reducing the noise while increasing space for more traffic. Pre-paid postage surveys are also used to foster additional interactions and receive “feedback to help [him] to better represent” his riding.
Combating Drugs through Bill 205
Ellis’ desire to improve the safety of all Albertans was the motive for introducing the new private member’s bill in 2016: Bill 205, the Pharmacy and Drug (Pharmaceutical Equipment Control) Amendment Act. Ellis said this proposal was “the first of its kind in Canada”, and had many discussions with medical professionals, pharmacists, and municipal and federal police to ensure an effective strategy to combat the rising fentanyl crisis. Fentanyl is a deadly synthetic opiate that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. It was originally manufactured as an anesthetic for surgeries and is now used to relieve severe and chronic pain, such as in cancer patients. However, as it causes the same euphoric feelings as heroin, it is associated with deadly addiction and abuse. The 274 Albertan deaths from fentanyl-related cases in 2015 alone highlighted the seriousness of this crisis.
Ellis had many discussions with medical professionals, pharmacists, and municipal and federal police to ensure an effective strategy to combat the rising fentanyl crisis, a deadline synthetic opiate drug.
Bill 205 is focused on limiting the access to pill presses to make it harder to purchase them legally. Therefore, reducing the ability to mass-produce the counterfeit fentanyl by offenders. MLAs from all parties were in unanimous support of Bill 205, as well as the Alberta College of Pharmacists. The Bill 205 is now a part of the provincial legislation. Ellis considers this the beginning of the fight against not only fentanyl but other addictions as well. He states, “we must ensure there are strong intervention supports such as addiction counseling and long-term treatment beds to address the root causes of drug addiction”. He believes education, prevention, and intervention in Alberta will be crucial to continue to help save lives in the future.
Amending Carbon Tax Bill 20
Bill 20 was introduced by the NDP government in 2016 to implement a carbon tax by January 1, 2017, that will be paid at the gas stations and home heating bills. There were heightened concerns by the opposition on the burden of the extra cost of around $70 to $105 for a typical Albertan family. The PC party had tried to amend the bill so the tax would be revenue-neutral and transparent in how the new carbon tax revenue would be spent. However, it was only Ellis’ amendment that passed out of 25 from the opposition to improve the bill. The amendment ensured the accountability of the government carbon tax investigators through receipts and documentation if an Albertan had their property or records removed.
Embracing the Multicultural Community
In his commitment to the community, Ellis had always made time to engage with everyone in the community. So it was no surprise when he attended the 2nd Annual Pakistani Flag Rising Ceremony in Calgary to celebrate the 70th Independence Day of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was seen taking part in the festivities and gave a special message to commemorate the historical moment for the Pakistani Community in Calgary. Ellis also thanked “those who strived to protect belief, equal rights, and liberty”.
Think For Actions
Furthermore, Ellis has been actively supporting Think For Actions to increase awareness and understanding of the Islamic culture and in the positive development of Muslim youth. He was a speaker for the Research and Intellectuals Scholars Conference (RISC) to reflect on the challenges faced by Muslims in Canada and the initiatives that can be taken to support and engage the Islamic culture to prevent marginalization. Such solutions would include education and increased government efforts to reduce discrimination.