Claire Trevena has been the North Island’s MLA for 15 years and recently announced she will not be seeking re-election. (Claire Trevena photo)

Claire Trevena has been the North Island’s MLA for 15 years and recently announced she will not be seeking re-election. (Claire Trevena photo)

Claire Trevena talks 15 years in the public eye as North Island MLA

‘I’d like to thank all the people in the North Island whether they voted for me or not’

It’s been quite the ride for North Island NDP MLA Claire Trevena.

After more than 15 years in office, Trevena announced she will not be seeking re-election in the 2020 snap election that was called by B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“It is time to move on and take on new challenges,” Trevena said, adding it has been a “great privilege to be the representative of the North Island for 15 years and to have the trust of people across the constituency.”

RELATED: Trevena will not seek re-election

Trevena, who has been a fixture of the Vancouver Island political scene since 2005 after she defeated Liberal candidate Rod Visser by 660 votes (11,464 to 10,805), is originally from England and had previously worked as a journalist, a public information officer, and also owned her own business with her husband Mike before making the life-altering decision to enter the often controversial provincial political scene.

When asked why she decided to give up her life as a private citizen and enter the public eye, Trevena simply stated she had decided it was “time to put my energies into working with communities to make life better for people, and the opportunity for the nomination came up, I ran for it, and then I went straight into that first election in 2005.”

She noted she has always been interested in the concept of social justice, and that’s what led her to the New Democratic Party.

“It’s been a passion of mine all my life, and the values of the NDP best reflected where I was at and I really wanted to make sure that people’s interests were being looked after.”

After hard-fought campaigns that led to winning the North Island riding in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017, Trevena chalked up her success at the voter’s booth to “the values the NDP party have espoused, and those values reflected where people wanted their lives and their families’ lives to be… I have been very proud to be the standard-bearer for the (New) Democrats in the North Island for these last 15-16 years.”

According to Trevena, back in 2005, the NDP went from having three members in the legislature all the way to 33 “and it kept on growing from there… It was quite extraordinary, being able to work with the Green Party [after the NDP and the Greens combined to win the 2017 election] to make sure we could deliver on the things that we have been so passionate about for so long.”

Trevena was appointed as the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, where she says she managed to put public interest back into an out-dated ferry system.

“There’s no question BC Ferries is part of our marine highway and the fact we were able to change the legislation to take out the commercial interest and put in the concept of public interest has made a significant impact… I would hope the ferry system as a whole is now working in a way that reflects the needs of our communities.”

Two other big moments Trevena spoke fondly about were when she fought to get the Port Alice pulp mill reopened after it had originally shut down back in 2004 and how she had also fought to ensure that the Campbell River hospital stayed in the city and that when it was finally built it would continue to have free parking.

“That was very impactful working with the community on that,” she added, stating that while she was in opposition when both events happened, “you can achieve significant change despite being in opposition.”

As far as the Port Alice pulp mill shutting down for good in 2019, Trevena said it was “extremely disappointing for the community that Neucel walked away from this — they left not just the mill abandoned but the community abandoned as well. It’s an old site, the environmental cost is huge, and this is something that the communities in the North Island will be dealing with for some time… I know Port Alice is a resilient community and it’s a beautiful location, and I know that the people of Port Alice are very much determined to keep the community going.”

RELATED: Abandoned mill to cost at least $17 million to decommission

The last two years have been particularly hard ones, with fishing retention limits, a logging strike, and then COVID-19 all causing havoc, which Trevena called “the triple whammy.”

The logging strike in particular was “obviously very difficult as it went on for an extraordinary amount of time, and it had an impact on not just the people working directly in the industry but all our local communities.”

She stated the government’s non-involvement in the strike was primarily due to it being between the employers and the union.

“As a party, we believe in free collective bargaining, it is a democratic right. When you have a union, they can do free collective bargaining.”

Another controversial issue during her tenure in office has been the operation of fish farms in North Island waters.

“I think what we have seen very clearly is the coming together of the industry, Indigenous people and environmental groups, to ensure we can have an industry that is safely operating,” stated Trevena when asked her opinion on the farms.

She praised Minister Lana Popham and Minister Doug Donaldson specifically for their work in the Broughton Archipelago, adding she thinks there is now “very much an awareness that you have to have Indigenous communities working with the industry, and I’m very pleased we have done so much on this and I think it’s an important industry for the North Island. I know there are still people who are concerned about it, but I think we have started a real way forward to ensure that we are doing it properly.”

Above all else, Trevena wanted to say one last goodbye to her constituents.

“I’d like to thank all the people in the North Island whether they voted for me or not, it has been such a huge honour to have represented them. My job has always been to represent the people of the North Island and I have had the privilege for 15 years to be their voice in Victoria and to stand up on their behalf, and I would like to thank them for giving me that opportunity and putting their trust in me four different times.”

As for where the road will take her once her political career officially comes to an end, Trevena said she’s not quite sure about that yet.

“I’m working on the present campaign and then taking a little bit of time off and looking at what options are out there. I feel I have another career in me, I’m just not sure what it is yet.”


@NIGazette
editor@northislandgazette.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Election 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
Port Hardy RCMP catch shoplifting suspect who allegedly stole over $500 worth of clothing from local store

The suspect was eventually released with multiple conditions and to attend court in February of 2021

Quatsino First Nation is heading back to the polls. (Quatsino image)
Quatsino First Nation electing new Chief and Council

The ballot count will be broadcast over Zoom after polls close

For over a year Loaves and Fishes Food Bank has been giving 5,000-7,000 pounds of food every week to help address the massive need in the North Island. This year, they have partnered with the North Island Gazette Hamper Fund by providing $15,000 in gift cards to help with their Christmas Hamper Program. “Loaves and Fishes believes that everyone deserves access to a reliable abundance of food barrier free, it’s a real privilege to further serve the amazing people in Port Hardy and Port McNeill by assisting the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund,” explains Peter Sinclair, Loaves and Fishes Executive Director. Loaves and Fishes bi-weekly depot is at Saint Columba’s Anglican-United Church and bi-weekly deliveries to other organizations in Port McNeill will continue through next year. (Natasha Griffiths photo)
It’s been a unique 41st year for the Gazette Christmas Hamper Fund

‘This year has been very different than previous years due to the pandemic’

Christmas decorations at Gus' Pub. (Opal Tesch photo)
Gus’ Bar and Grill gets into the holiday spirit

Gus’ Bar and Grill has been a fixture in Port McNeill since… Continue reading

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read