Up close and personal with John Reynolds 

Andrew Mitchell one on one with out-going M.L.A. John Reynolds

The John Reynolds I spoke to earlier this month didn’t sound like a man who has retired from politics.

That’s because in a lot of ways Reynolds is more involved than ever. The 63-year-old MP for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding has agreed to chair the Conservative Party of Canada’s 2006 federal election campaign. Now he has two phones going at all times, and uses the commutes between events to talk to the media.

For Reynolds, the attention is well deserved.

His political career goes back to 1972, when he was elected to the House of Commons as the Progressive Conservative representative for Burnaby-Richmond-Delta. Since then he has served two terms as an MLA, including a term as the provincial Minister of Environment, and three more terms in Parliament with various conservative parties – Reform, Alliance, and now the Conservative Party of Canada.

Among other positions, Reynolds has been a shadow minister for Citizenship and Immigration and Fisheries and Oceans, the Chief Opposition Whip, and, since 2001, the Official Opposition House Leader.

After the Jan. 23 federal election, he will officially be retired from politics, although it’s difficult to imagine politics without Reynolds, or Reynolds without politics.

Pique: Why did you decide to retire after so many years?

John Reynolds: I guess age is a little factor. If I ran for another term that was five years I’d be 68 or 69, and I felt that I’d really like to spend some more time with my children, grandchildren.

I’ve donated a lot of years to public service, over 25 elected years, and it was just time to make that decision and let the younger people take over.

Pique: Was it hard to leave, with the resurgence of the Conservatives?

JR: I’m running the campaign for the party, I’m chair, and that very much keeps me in touch with the party and the leader of the party. If we’re successful, as we expect to be, then I’ll be running the next campaign, so I will be very involved with the party and the leader of the party, I just won’t be serving in Parliament the next four or five years.

Pique: Looking back, why is it you decided to get into politics in the first place?

JR: I’ve been involved since around 1970. I just didn’t like Trudeau’s policies and the way he treated small businesses – I was a small businessman then. I ran for that reason, and was lucky enough to get elected the first time I ran and I’ve been doing it ever since, with the odd break in between to do other things.


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