What I learned from the Mayor of Abbotsford
Henry Braun reflects on the Fraser Valley floods, his family, faith, community and work as a mayor.
I have gone back and forth on whether I should interview politicians. There are so many connotations and assumptions made about people in the political realm. Some of presumptions are well founded. Politics comes with a lot of baggage. We are all proud of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms today, but at the time it was a VERY contentious issue.It is also no secret that I have been disappointed by the leadership of Mr. Trudeau. SNC Lavalin, Jody Wilson Raybould, Jane Philpott, the WE Scandal, National Truth and now his scandal with the RCMP. Politics is often messy, because we will never agree on everything and even if 60% of the community agrees, the other 40% does not.
On the other hand, politicians can take the stage and set a good example. They can step up in times of need. They can call out bad actors. They can deliver speeches that reinvigorate our faith in democracy. A political leader can take accountability and remind us that we are all human beings with flaws and imperfections. Individuals such as Carin Bondar, Clint Hames, Bud Mercer, and Darryl Plecas show that politicians can take office based on the quality of their character and commitment to community.
As you can see, I have chosen to interview political figures. Carin Bondar endured absolute hell to share her passion for biology, science communication, and encourage women to consider STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Clint Hames recognized he had achieved many of his goals as mayor, and chose to step down. Now, he helps guide and mentor the next generation of leaders. Darryl Plecas knew he had a full life and chose to run because he believed he could make a meaningful difference. He has a background in criminology, and criminal justice and thought he could bring an important perspective to the BC Legislature. If you tuned into that conversation, you will know he stood up against corruption. Just recently, the people he accused of being corrupt - were found guilty.
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My guest this week is Henry Braun. He is a loving husband, father, grandfather, businessman, author, and the mayor of the City of Abbotsford. When I first started inquiring into local politicians, Mr. Braun stood out. Through my research I discovered his family came to Canada with nothing and faced a lot of discrimination in their early days. His father was even spat on by someone, and was then told to go back to their country.The early challenges he and his family faced put a fire under Mr. Braun, that I certainly relate to. There is something about having very little as a young person that can be incredibly motivational.
Braun went on to become a prominent business person. In our conversation, he talks about how it was during this period of his life that he re-discovered his faith. Henry Braun talks about how he had everything, but felt empty inside. His story is very similar to the story of my favourite rapper, Sean Anderson (Big Sean). Sean came out with a song called “Bigger Than Me”, where he talks about how he had gone triple platinum on the billboards, made more money than he could have ever dreamed of but felt hollow as well. It was during this time, he realized that it was BIGGER THAN HIM. He realized that his music could inspire young people, motivate them and provide the tools to them reach their goals. It’s an incredible story, and one that I do not believe we hear enough.
Mr. Braun and I also talk about his role during the Fraser Valley floods. He became a very prominent voice during that period because he behaved like a true leader. He did not only direct an advisor to check the dykes, he went up in a helicopter himself to see what the impending danger was.During the floods there were many sleepless nights and stressful days. He didn’t just stick to a script during press conferences, he answered questions to the best of his ability.
I only learned about this through speaking with Mr. Braun, but some farmers had to shoot their animals before the floods hit. Some people lost their homes, their possessions, and all sense of normalcy. I have a lot of respect for not only him, but his family. They may not make the news, but there is no doubt that they were there supporting him while he carried an enormous burden.
After all of that, after all of the political goodwill he had built with his community - he chose not to seek re-election. Why? Why would not he seek re-election when surely he would win by a landslide? His grandchildren. He is going to spend long days relaxing with his wife and enjoying the company of his family. For me, this increases faith in our political system and in our leaders. There are great individuals out there, just trying to help their community. Now, you may not agree with every decision the man has made - but he has done his best.
This interview was a huge milestone for me. I would be remiss if I did not also thank Mr. Tim McAlpine, the owner of not only Currency Marketing but also Cowork Chilliwack. Recently, my families apartment was flooded due to a leak on the floor above. I had already scheduled this interview, and didn’t want to postpone or cancel so I reached out to Mr. McAlpine to see if he would feel comfortable with me using his green room to record. Well... Tim McAlpine did far more than that. He allowed me to use his Studio C facility, and produced the whole podcast for me in stunning quality. I truly cannot thank him enough for being so generous. I have never been so proud of the video quality, and if you ever need a live production facility - he is your man!
You can watch my full interview with Mayor Henry Braun on YouTube and Spotify. You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and all other podcast platforms.