West Vancouver Sea-to-Sky MLA Joan McIntyre announced Tuesday she would not seek a third term in the 2013 provincial election, joining 11 MLAs who have said they won’t be running for re-election.
The mass exodus, which has included high-profile cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, Mary McNeil and George Abbott, comes as Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party have struggled in the polls.
But McIntyre said she had always planned to serve only two terms in public office. “I had a very lengthy career in the business world,” said McIntyre. “I was the owner and principal of McIntyre & Mustel Research, and I worked almost 35 years in business, so this was really my opportunity to give back to public life.”
McIntyre didn’t rule out the possibility that she might lend a hand in the upcoming campaign, and said she still supports the party.
I think they’ve got a big job ahead, I think everybody recognizes they have a big job ahead,” said McIntyre. “That said, a lot can happen in very short order . . . we’ve got our work cut out.”
Battle lines in the North Shore’s other three provincial ridings are starting to form as the incumbents have confirmed they are returning for the 2013 provincial election and opposition parties are preparing to nominate challengers.
West Vancouver-Capilano’s Ralph Sultan was acclaimed as the 2013 candidate at a nomination meeting held last week.
Sultan said he is returning to run on the Liberals’ record, especially as it relates to the economy.
“I think the track record of this government over the last 11 or 12 years is very sound. Fiscally, we’ve had one of the best performances in Canada, if not the world. (We’re) one of the few governments which still has a AAA credit rating, which is terribly important in terms of business confidence,” he said.
Sultan won his seat for a third time in 2009 by a margin of 53 per cent — the widest of the North Shore’s four ridings. But he doesn’t expect an easy rematch for his seat.
“It would be foolhardy to ever be complacent. We still don’t know where the Conservatives are,” he said adding, that he will likely face the NDP’s Terry Platt once again, whom he considers a formidable opponent.
The recent loss of several high-profile Liberal cabinet ministers isn’t the death-knell some are making it out to be, Sultan said, and it doesn’t say anything about the Liberals’ 2013 chances.
“The government faces a huge issue of public trust. I think we are seeing that now in a turnover of senior cabinet ministers,” he said. “I think that will go part of the way to creating the reality that this, in fact, is a new set of people in town.
“People are just tired of the same-old, same-old. I suppose there’s a few people out there who are tired of Ralph as a matter of fact,” he added.
Naomi Yamamoto will also be running again in North Vancouver-Lonsdale.
Yamamoto won her riding by the smallest margin on the North Shore, 12 per cent, and she now faces a high-profile NDP candidate in City of North Vancouver Coun. Craig Keating, as well as a yet-to-be named Conservative challenger who may siphon off right wing votes.
But Yamamoto said she is not daunted by the race now any more than she was in 2009.
“I don’t think I’d run if I didn’t have a chance at winning,” she said. “We never ever thought in 2009 that it was a slam dunk. We fought that campaign like we were the underdogs the whole time and this campaign will be the same.”
Yamamoto said she will campaign on ensuring her constituents have “a free enterprise government that knows how to manage this province’s fiscal resources.”
Jane Thornthwaite has also been acclaimed to run again in the riding of North Vancouver-Seymour, where she will face first-time NDP candidate James Hanson, who was nominated last year.
Thornthwaite won North Vancouver-Seymour in 2009 by a margin of 32 per cent, and the riding has been Liberal since 1991.
The New Democrats are hoping to have their candidate selected by the end of September.
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky was one of the few ridings in which the B.C. Green Party finished ahead of the NDP in 2005 and 2009.The Greens, who have yet to win a seat in B.C., are expected to take nominations for candidates in the new year, according to organizer Rebecca Helps.
The B.C. Conservatives meanwhile are expecting to make a big splash in 2013, with the North Shore being one of the party’s highest priorities. While it won’t be known until mid-September who will be nominated, there are several potentials who have expressed interest, according to organizer Shannon Kewley.
“I can tell you, on the North Shore, we are strong,” she said. “There’s a lot of excitement there.”
The Conservatives have found their popularity increasing almost entirely at the expense of the Liberals, Kewley said, noting the recent defections and retirements.
“The Liberals are tanking and every time something like that happens, our phones light up and we’re having amazing people coming through the door.”