After more than five years away from the political arena, former MP John Weston is back on the federal ballot.
But, according to Weston, he needed one assurance from the Conservative Party before signing his name on the dotted line: an environmental strategy.
“I said to [Conservative leader] Erin O’Toole, if we didn’t have such a plan, I wouldn’t have considered running,” the candidate told Pique.
The Conservatives’ plan “incorporates an essence of personal accountability—so there’s a personal carbon savings account where every Canadian will play a role in reducing our [greenhouse gas emissions] GHGs; there is a focus on large industrial emitters; [and] we’re going to end the practice of dumping raw sewage into rivers,” Weston explained.
The plan was analyzed by Vancouver-based consulting firm Navius Research Inc., Weston said, which found that the strategy “can meet or beat our Paris Accord GHG reduction targets without destroying the economy,” he said.
Climate change is one of several issues that remain top of mind for voters as Canadians prepare to head to the polls on Sept. 20. To climate-minded voters skeptical about the Conservative Party’s track record, Weston pointed to his record throughout the two terms he served as Whistler’s MP, from 2008 to 2015, when he lost to Liberal Pamela Goldsmith-Jones. He did not run in the 2019 federal election.
Weston highlighted his work to preserve the Department of Fisheries lab in West Vancouver and address the issue of abandoned vessels along the coast as achievements he was particularly proud of during his two-term tenure, in addition to the creation of a National Health and Fitness Day bill, and drug and addiction recovery legislation.
Now working as an international lawyer, he studied international relations at Harvard before earning his law degree at Osgoode Hall. Since leaving Parliament, Weston has served as the volunteer president of the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute—which, he said, seeks to make Canada the fittest nation on Earth by 2030—and has worked to help extract Canadians who are wrongfully detained in foreign jails.
Here at home, Weston acknowledged both the labour shortage and housing crisis as issues that continue to plague the riding. He identified the Liberal government’s decision to extend the Canada Recovery Benefit as a contributing factor to businesses’ inability to find staff.
“Conservatives agree we had to certainly expand government funds during a pandemic, that’s for sure. But under the Conservative plan, these programs will be time-limited; they’ll be targeted,” he said. “We need to avoid a structural deficit.”
Weston also touted the Conservatives’ lengthy housing platform, which includes a proposed two-year ban on international buyers who don’t plan to live in Canada, as well the relaxing of mortgage-qualifying tests and plans to construct 1 million dwellings in three years.
In terms of tourism recovery, Weston said the Conservative Party plans to bring back a million jobs that were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic by instilling confidence in the national economy, persuading foreign and local investors that government is “not going to be heaping taxes on them,” and providing hiring incentives for business owners—including a subsidy that could cover up to 50 per cent of a new employee’s salary for a max of six months.
Despite these promises that Weston said he would be “excited” to see in effect in the Sea to Sky, the conservative condemned the Prime Minister’s decision to call an election during a pandemic, when hundreds of wildfires are burning in B.C., and when “this government should have been focused on helping our friends who stood by us in Afghanistan.”
Weston continued, “People that I’m meeting at the doorsteps don’t like to be manipulated or taken for granted. They don’t like the future that has been conjured up for us by someone who lacks direction. I’m back in because I believe that our country deserves good, accountable government.”
Whistler’s virtual all-candidates meeting is set to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Pique will have more candidate profiles in the coming weeks.