Before his candidacy for the Liberal Party was officially announced, Patrick Weiler could be found on doorsteps in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky country riding, including in Squamish.
With less than two months before ballots are cast for the federal election, Weiler said he's happy to be chosen as the Liberal party's candidate following what he called a rigourous vetting process.
After the announcement of his candidacy, some residents raised concerns that Weiler himself is not a resident of the riding he is campaigning in. To this, Weiler told The Chief, "This riding is my home. I was born and raised in West Vancouver, went to elementary and high school in West Vancouver. My mother was a municipal councillor in the Sunshine Coast, so every second weekend I would spend on the Sunshine Coast. My father was president of a business based in Whistler. So, for me, I'm quite familiar with the whole riding."
If he's elected, Weiler said he will move to the riding, likely to West Vancouver for its proximity to transportation, which he'll need if he's to travel to Ottawa often.
At 33 years old, Weiler is currently the youngest candidate running in the riding. He says this perspective may help connect to the younger generation.
"I know there's a lot of apathy within younger people to government and to politics more generally, and a lot of people don't see government really as addressing the issues that really matter to them," he said. "…having someone that is going to have to live with the consequences or the benefits with the actions that are made now, I think is really important.
"I have experience working for NGOs, for small businesses, for international organizations, and for First Nations, so I think I have the type of background and experience to come to those types of decisions. For me, I've done a lot of work with NGOs focused on improving transparency in government. A really big focus of mine will be making sure to be as open and available to constituents and responsive to the types of concerns they have, and be able to walk them through the decision-making process so there is trust in that."
While he doesn't have experience in elected office, Weiler said he's had the opportunity to learn from current Sea to Sky MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones and work with her team leading up to the campaign. Also in Weiler's corner is his mother, Beverly Tanchak, who was a municipal councillor on the Sunshine Coast.
He said his values closely align with the Liberal party's, and the climate change program inspired him to run.
When asked about his thoughts on how SNC Lavalin was handled, Weiler said, it was really unfortunate to see how the issue unfolded.
"Kind of the end product of it is the Liberal party lost two star candidates that had been making some incredible progress on issues that are really important to this government and are really important to the country overall. It was a big loss for the party. I think it's a big loss for both Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott. It's going to be very challenging for them as independents to get elected. I think it has eroded some of the trust both within those relationships but also within Canada for government. I think the whole affair is a bit unfortunate and I also think that there could have been a better way for it to be resolved."
While doorknocking in Squamish, Weiler said one of the main topics he heard from residents was about the environment and climate change. The Woodfibre LNG project proposal, he said, is part and parcel of those concerns, particularly around the recovering Howe Sound and its wildlife. Weiler said he shares those concerns, and he has experience with the project. He worked for the firm that helped put together the environmental assessment process for the Squamish Nation's assessment of Woodfibre LNG.
While Woodfibre LNG falls under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government will be responsible once the product is being shipped.
"Almost my whole career has been focused on bringing in effective public policy that addresses a lot of issues that I think matter to this community, including with better management of the environment, addressing climate change and developing a more improved relationship to work with Indigenous peoples and to improve the way we manage natural resources," he said.
Other concerns he's heard in Squamish are affordability, retaining employees and transportation.
Weiler will be back in Squamish on Monday, Sept. 9 for a meet-and-greet at Howe Sound Brewing at 6:30 p.m.
The NDP is the only major party in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky country riding yet to name a candidate for the Oct. 21 federal election. Weiler joins — in order of announcement — the Conservatives' Gabrielle Loren, the Green Party's Dana Taylor and the People's Party of Canada's Robert "Doug" Bebb in the race to become the next Member of Parliament for the area.
*Please note, this story has been corrected since it was first posted. Weiler worked with the firm that helped develop the Squamish Nation environmental assessment process, not the provincial environmental assessment, as was originally stated.