The federal election campaign is now formally underway, starting a 40-day countdown to Oct. 21 – and the NDP has yet to name a candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.
NDP officials told Coast Reporter this week that they hope to make a candidate announcement “in the next several days.”
The Conservatives were the first major party to have a candidate in place, choosing Gabrielle Loren at a May 5 nomination meeting.
Loren, a partner in her own tax accounting company who currently lives just outside the riding in North Vancouver, had only recently joined the Conservatives, after deciding their economic policies were a good fit with her own values. She ran unsuccessfully for West Vancouver council in last fall’s civic election.
Loren said she sees her lack of political experience as a positive.
“It’s time for us to get away from career politicians,” she said, adding she hopes to bring a different perspective to Ottawa. “I understand everyday people and what they’re concerned about.”
On her campaign website Loren describes herself as a “53-year member of the community … passionate about finding solutions to the issues faced by our community.” (www.votegabrielleloren.ca)
Patrick Weiler, 33, will try to hold the seat for the Liberals after incumbent Pamela Goldsmith-Jones announced in May that she would not seek re-election.
Weiler, described by the party as an environmental and resource management lawyer and international development professional, doesn’t currently live in the riding but has emphasized his close ties to the area, having grown up splitting his time between the Sunshine Coast and West Vancouver.
“I have been knocking on doors here in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country and listening to the issues that matter most to our community … [and] look forward to working with Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team to create good new jobs, strengthen our middle class and continue to develop and implement strategies to address climate change,” said Weiler in the release announcing his candidacy. (www.patrickweiler.liberal.ca)
Dana Taylor of the Greens entered the race after running in the 2017 provincial election in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky and finishing a close second to Jordan Sturdy of the BC Liberals. He also served as a city councillor in North Vancouver.
Taylor, who has a background in the construction industry, has been a resident of the riding for more than 30 years.
“Our riding is big and diverse, with economies driven by agriculture, the arts, a multitude of industries ranging from recreation, service and tourism to mining to high tech and info tech,” Taylor said in the profile on his campaign website.
Taylor says his personal goal is to “help make our riding a shining example of how listening and collaborative problem-solving can improve our environment and our quality of life at the same time.” (www.danataylor.ca)
People’s Party candidate Doug Bebb, a 62-year-old semi-retired mechanical engineer from Whistler, is a political rookie.
“I haven’t been happy with a lot of things that have been going on in politics in general in Canada and also around the world and there’s an opportunity that presented itself. Maxime [Bernier] started this party and the values are really well aligned with mine, and I didn’t think this opportunity should be passed up,” Bebb told Coast Reporter earlier this summer.
In his website profile Bebb describes himself as “an avid student of both history and geopolitics, with an excellent knowledge of international affairs.” He also said, “I am ready to help however and wherever I can in the PPC struggle to liberate Canada from the suffocating tide of political correctness that now engulfs it… Without free speech, democracy simply does not work.” (www.bebb2019ppc.ca)
This will be just the second campaign for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country since a re-alignment severed the Powell River area and added it to the riding of North Island, and recent electoral history has shown the riding is a potential swing seat.
John Reynolds was MP from 1997 to 2006 as a Conservative, Reform and Alliance member. Blair Wilson won the riding for the Liberals in 2006, but was kicked out of the Liberal caucus and sat as an independent and then ran as a Green in 2008 when John Weston of the Conservatives won the first of his two terms.
Goldsmith-Jones took the seat for the Liberals in 2015, winning 54.6 per cent of the vote. Weston was second with the NDP and Greens in third and fourth respectively.
Voter turnout in the riding was 73.7 per cent, reflecting a national turnout that was the highest since 1993.
Several organizations on the Sunshine Coast have already been working to confirm dates for all candidates meetings.
The Sechelt Chamber of Commerce has its all candidates meeting planned for Oct. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Chatelech Secondary School.
The Gibsons Chamber of Commerce is looking at either Oct. 5 or 12 depending on candidate availability.
Voice Lab will host an event focusing on housing, transportation, childcare and economic issues facing 18 to 40-year-olds, Oct. 8 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Roberts Creek Hall.
And the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association is holding an Environment and Climate Change All Candidates Forum Oct. 10 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Roberts Creek Hall.
– With files from North Shore News and Squamish Chief