John Reynolds 

Reynolds confident Conservatives will form government

By any standard John Reynolds is a big man.

Not only does he have a serious physical presence, but the Conservative candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast is one of Canada’s most experienced politicians.

He is regularly featured in the news pages of the nations biggest papers and will be one of Stephen Harper’s most senior cabinet ministers, if not the deputy prime minister, if the Conservatives form the next government.

The Conservatives have looked to Reynolds to campaign on the party’s behalf in other parts of the country and to make several key announcements in this campaign.

The biggest announcement came on April 30 when the Globe and Mail reported that Reynolds could see circumstances in which the Bloc and the Conservatives would vote together to defeat the Liberals.

He has also attacked Prime Minister Paul Martin several times over the sponsorship scandal.

Campaigning for the party is a huge responsibility but it’s also a risk for Reynolds because it means he’s not always in his own riding, convincing his own constituents to send him back to Ottawa for a third consecutive term in office.

But many Conservatives believe Reynolds is safe in his riding, regardless of how hard and long the other candidates might fight.

This opinion will be tested on June 28, but given Reynolds’s record the Conservatives have reason to believe he will be re-elected.

In the 2000 election Reynolds won 47.97 per cent of the vote and defeated his closest rival, Liberal candidate Ian McKay, by more than 10,000 votes.

In the 1997 election the margin was smaller but still convincing. Liberal candidate Phil Boname won 17,318 votes to Reynolds’ 20,092.

Reynolds, who is now 62, has been involved in almost every facet of the Canadian political system.

He has also had extensive experience in the private sector, in venture capital development and marketing.

His political career began in 1972 when he was elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Burnaby-Richmond-Delta.

He was re-elected in 1974 but left politics three years later to pursue work in the private sector.

Reynolds began his provincial government career in 1983, elected as Social Credit Member of the Legislative Assembly in the West Vancouver-Howe Sound riding.

He was re-elected in the 1986 provincial election.

Rather than seek re-election in 1991, he moved to Arizona. He returned to B.C. in 1996 and to federal politics in 1997, when he was elected as a Reform Party MP. In 2000 he was re-elected under the Alliance banner.

Reynolds’ most significant role in Parliament since 2000 was serving as the interim Leader of the Opposition. When Stephen Harper took over leadership of the party he appointed Reynolds House Leader.

Earlier this year, following the merger of the Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party, Reynolds co-chaired Harper’s successful campaign to become leader of the new Conservative Party.

Reynolds said he was already confident his party would form the next government.

"It’s looking more and more like we’re edging into minority government status," he said two weeks ago.

"It’s been very positive from a party that nobody gave a chance to three months ago.

"To give Paul Martin a run at all, we’ve come a long way and I give Stephen Harper credit for that, he’s done a great job."

Reynolds has spent a lot of time reinforcing Harper’s comments and his party’s policies. He said many of these policies would help his own riding prepare for the 2010 Olympics.

Reynolds called the Squamish-Whistler area the No.1 tourist destination in Canada and said steps have to be taken to ensure tourists can get here faster and on different modes of transport.

"There needs to be two kinds of infrastructure," said Reynolds.

He said the first kind of funding for infrastructure needs to be specifically for communities along the Sea to Sky corridor. The second kind is big-budget infrastructure for substantial bridge and rail projects, including projects that would better connect Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast.

Reynolds’ political experience, his standing within the Conservative Party, and his ability to get things done in his home riding are a formidable combination for his opponents to overcome.

"I think I’ve done a good job for the riding not only in getting good funding but also good representation," he said.

"There’s not too many members of parliament in Canada that get on the national news two or three times a week and I think I’ve been able to do that in the last six months."

Still, his traditional brand of conservatism hasn’t worn well with everyone. Reynolds, like his party, has come under fire from advocates of same-sex marriage and those who believe the Conservatives may limit a woman’s right to choose abortion.

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