Candidates declare

Candidates for the new federal riding for Vancouver Island North announce their intentions to run.

Gazette staff

Candidates for the new federal riding for Vancouver Island North are beginning to line up for a shot at the post that will be vacated next fall by Conservative MP John Duncan.

Peter Schwarzhoff, federal Liberal candidate for North Island-Powell River, toured the North Island this month, introducing himself to First Nations leaders and other community members, and taking in the Mount Waddington fall fair.

And last week, former Port Alice millworker and national union president David Coles announced his candidacy for the NDP nomination for the riding.

The former Vancouver Island North riding was redrawn by the Federal Electoral Commission in 2013, creating one riding for the North Island, Comox and Powell River, and a separate riding for Courtenay and Port Alberni. Duncan announced earlier this year he would seek re-election in the fall, 2015, balloting in the Courtenay-Port Alberni riding.

Schwarzhoff was selected by Liberal Party of Canada riding members on July 24 to lead them in the 2015 campaign.

A long-time Liberal member, Schwarzhoff is a meteorologist and air quality scientist who recently retired after 30 years with Environment Canada. His work, he believes, has made him a strong advocate for a balanced approach to economic development and environmental protection.

“I believe it’s time for a change in federal government and a return to Liberal policies that will balance the economy with environmental safeguards and respect all people,” Schwarzhoff said after his nomination.

Raised in Campbell River, he  has recently returned to his hometown, serving as a director of Campbell River and District Association for Community Living and as a director of the Multicultural and Immigration Services Association. He donates time to Elder College and Campbell River Literacy’s ESL program, and is a member of Greenways Land Trust and a former Scout leader.

Coles, former Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union national president and long-time environmentalist, announced last week his intent to seek the NDP nomination in the Vancouver Island North-Powell River riding.

The nomination election date has not yet been set, but is expected to take place in late November.

“I’m proud to be putting my name forward to run to represent this part of the Island,” said Coles. “Ottawa has long ignored coastal issues. It’s time to take a stand and defend the interests of residents of North Island and Powell River. This area is in desperate need of jobs – an issue which decades of Conservative representatives have totally disregarded. I know together, we can do better – and I intend to.”

He began his working life as a paper mill worker and spearheaded the ‘Save Alice’ campaign, which led to keeping the Port Alice mill open, saving hundreds of jobs.

He served as the National President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union for more than seven years, holding a number of key leadership positions in the union and on the Alberta and BC Federations of Labour prior to his election as president.

A life-long social justice advocate, trade union activist and environmentalist, Coles opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline and other projects that put the interests of oil companies ahead of communities — including First Nations.

 

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