Removed from cabinet, MLA to finish term, take time off to travel
David Burke and John French
Whistler Question/Squamish Chief
The man who has represented the Sea to Sky corridor in Victoria since 1996 this week announced he doesn't plan to seek re-election in provincial elections expected to take place next year.
Ted Nebbeling said on Tuesday (Jan. 28) he decided to leave politics after his current term expires before Premier Gor-don Campbell shook up his cabinet this week, leaving Nebbeling -who had been Minister of State for Community Charter and the 2010 Olympic Bid - on the back benches.
Nebbeling, 59, said he has been talking with his partner, Jan Holmberg, about leaving politics since last summer, after the Olympic bid was successful.
The decision not to seek re-election came in the past month, he said. On Friday, he decided to make it official after learning that Campbell didn't plan to invite him to be part of the new cabinet.
"About a month ago I talked to my constituency president and I said that it was about time for me to step aside," he said. "I've talked at length with my partner about what I was going to do and I decided I will not run again.
"In July when we [Campbell and Nebbeling] talked about what I was going to be doing, we said I had brought the Community Charter up and it had been passed, and the 2010 Games bid was successful.
"Since that time I have been a bit in a void and I started talking to my partner. I've been doing this for about 20 years, and he and I have some traveling that we'd like to do."
On the weekend, Nebbeling revealed that he and Holmberg were married in a quiet ceremony in Vancouver on Nov. 15 (see related story page 4).
Nebbeling is believed to be the highest-ranking government official in the world to have married a same-sex partner.
Nebbeling, who immigrated from The Netherlands to Canada in 1979, began his political career in 1986, serving two, two-year terms on Whistler Council. In 1990 he was elected mayor of Whistler and served two terms in that role.
In 1996, he won the West Vancouver-Garibaldi seat in the B.C. legislature, serving a term in opposition before the Liberals gained power in 2001.
Campbell, in a conference call with the media on Monday, praised Nebbeling's work with the Liberal government.
"I think Ted did a very good job as Minister of State, both under the Community Charter and in the 2010 Olympic bid. I've told him that," Campbell said. "As I said earlier, Ministers of State are there to push forward specific projects, and Ted has done a very good job in both of those tasks."
Nebbeling is the second former cabinet minister to announce he was leaving politics this week. Former Transportation Minister Judith Reid also doesn't plan to seek re-election.
Nebbeling said that although his announcement may seem like an end, he's certainly not planning to sit back and relax - not for the next 15 months or so, anyway.
"I'm far too young to sit in a rocking chair. There's still a lot of energy left in me to do things," he said.
"I'm going to focus on riding issues. We have a number of things going on in the riding - the issue of the highway, the potential for tolling, all of my communities have received grants to upgrade infrastructure."
Nebbeling feels his greatest legacy to his constituents is the many years of work he put into getting a commitment to upgrade Hwy. 99.
"Nothing happened under the previous government," he said.
When his party came into power Nebbeling said his fellow Liberals wanted a toll highway and his arguments along with the arguments of others prevented the improved highway from becoming a toll route.
The Community Charter stands out in Nebbeling's mind as his most important contribution to the province.
Nebbeling expects to spend a greater amount of time in Squamish now that he won't be attending cabinet meetings and as many committee meetings.
"I was talking to Bob Fast and now that I have more time we want to have a constituency day in Squamish," said Nebbeling. "I have developed a really good working relationship with your mayor and the council. We can do some really exciting things."
Mayor Ian Sutherland agreed that the working relationship between council and Nebbeling is good."In the past 14 months Ted has been a very strong advocate for Squamish in Victoria," Sutherland said. "He has given good advice to me personally as it relates to Victoria. On a personal level he has been a fun guy to work with for the last 14 months."
Coun. Corinne Lonsdale worked with Nebbeling a great deal while she was the mayor of Squamish and Nebbeling was the mayor of Whistler and then the local MLA.
"I know that he has worked very hard with the Community Charter the last few years and I have no doubt that it took its toll on him," the former Squamish mayor said. "He truly was an advocate of local government and was supportive of our position.
"As far as the Community Charter goes, Ted can take credit for a lot of it."