If Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal government is eyeing a spring 2021 election, as many have speculated recently, the Sea to Sky has at least one potential candidate lined up to challenge sitting Liberal MP Patrick Weiler.
John Weston, who served as the riding’s Conservative MP from 2008 to 2015, when he lost the seat to Liberal Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, is once again seeking the party’s nomination in the Sea to Sky.
Weston’s decision to re-enter politics was driven by “a welling up of passion and commitment relating to the pandemic, [and] the fact that our country has reached such an important crossroads,” he said.
“We’re getting, hopefully, to the point where we can say the pandemic is under control, but what do you do after that? And I just haven’t seen the kind of vision articulated by our government that will take us beyond the pandemic.”
Where many people have made tremendous sacrifices over the past year in the interest of serving the greater good, Weston feels he has more to contribute to public life as well.
“I’m not a frontline healthcare worker, I’m not taking care of seniors in a long-term residence, but I do have experience and relationships that may be of service to people in Whistler and the corridor,” he said, adding that with his campaign, he aims to “restore a sense of hope and energy and excitement to what happens next.”
If he earns the nomination (and then the riding), Weston listed economic recovery and health and fitness as his top priorities.
“Other things that I’m really committed to include reconciliation and equality, promoting a sense of excellence in our individuals, but mindful that we need to get to a point where Canadians can, regardless of race or background, thrive,” he said. “Those are some of the things that have motivated me to get back. I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines and not be involved in the way that I could serve best.”
During his time as MP, Weston’s approach was to build ties with various community groups that were closely connected to the key issues—be it fisheries, tourism, or opposition to cell towers.
One such example was a 2013 tourism roundtable put together by Weston and then-Senator Nancy Greene Raine.
“Similarly on matters of environment, fisheries, recovery from substance abuse, these were all areas where I was able to get people in the riding with their expertise and background and wisdom to advise me on how best to operate,” Weston said, adding that his office had more than 40 such groups it was working with.
“In each case, we were able to get the best advice and the best guidance, which is why I was able to get two private members bills passed and three other private members initiatives on deck [as an MP], and four different initiatives from our riding that were incorporated in budget 2015.”
But for all his experience, the political world Weston is entering is largely unrecognizable from the one he left in 2015.
“The world really has changed, and there’s been a normalization of bad decision making, and of breaking of public trust, so I think one of the things for politicians of all stripes is to ensure that they act with integrity,” he said.
“And when you think of the polarization that we’ve seen, I mean, that’s a horrible development in terms of people not listening to one another, and not finding the common ground that is so core to good decision making.”
In general, Weston said he’d like to help restore the public trust.
“We saw the Prime Minister’s problems with the ethics commissioner, and taking the Aga Khan vacation, and SNC-Lavalin, the WE scandal—those are the kinds of things that we want to avoid,” he said.
“And we want to see a real, powerful commitment to trust building, and not polarized thinking, but just the opposite, of unified rallying around common values.”
For now, Weston is asking anyone who wants to see him on the ballot to support his nomination by registering with the Conservative Party of Canada.
Find out more at johnweston4mp.ca.