Powell River Peak
For the Liberal Party candidate, each region of the sprawling West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding has its own issues.
Blair Wilson says the Member of Parliament for the riding has to work harder than other MPs because each region is unique.
In Powell River, major issues include the economy, job creation and economic development, according to Wilson. Federal government programs such as the New Deal for Cities, which transfers part of the gasoline tax directly to municipalities, and Western Economic Diversification can support that process, he says. "It's whether or not the Member of Parliament here can have access to them. Do they know which doors to knock on? Do they know who to bring with them?"
Wilson says since the last federal election in 2004, when he almost toppled Conservative Party MP John Reynolds, who held the riding since 1997, he has been lobbying the government and knows how to access the help Powell River needs.
In the Lower Sunshine Coast, the important issues are health care and seniors' housing, Wilson said. "Not that those aren't important issues throughout the riding, but in each region, certain issues are more critical."
West Vancouver has an interest in the government's overall economic record, Wilson says, including paying down the debt and keeping taxes low. The focus there is "more on the big picture," including what is going on with the government's surplus and low inflation and unemployment rates.
In Squamish, the issues have more to do with the 2010 Winter Olympics and the type of infrastructure development the games will trigger. With the announcement in December that Western Forest Products was closing its pulp mill and eliminating 300 jobs, the focus has also shifted to job creation and economic development. However, with new construction linked to the 2010 Olympics, many of those jobs will be translated into other industries, Wilson says.
In Whistler, the issues are housing for local residents, because the price of real estate has "just gone through the roof," and ensuring 2010 development is sustainable and community-driven.
Wilson, 42, grew up on the North Shore of Vancouver and lives now in West Vancouver. He has a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Victoria and is a chartered accountant, a designation he earned from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia. He currently owns two restaurants in Vancouver, one on Robson Street and the other next to the Terry Fox Memorial on Beatty Street. He is married and has two children.
Wilson became involved in politics after chairing the 2010 Rally on Robson, instrumental in securing the Olympics.
The sponsorship scandal and Gomery Inquiry haven't had a major impact on his campaign in this election, Wilson adds. "It was a big issue in the last election, but in this election it's not as significant an issue. People realize [Prime Minister] Paul Martin was the person who put Judge [John] Gomery in place to analyze the situation. I think they see people are being prosecuted, money is being paid back, but at the same time they're looking at other more important issues than what went on in Quebec that are going to affect us here in Western Canada."