Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the Liberal MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, has announced she is not running for re-election in the fall.
Goldsmith-Jones made the announcement Wednesday.
“I couldn’t commit to another four years,” she said. “I want to be closer to home.”
Goldsmith-Jones said it’s been challenging to represent a large riding in B.C. and be in Ottawa five days a week while also travelling internationally in her role as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
That’s made it hard to balance “service to the community and service to my family,” she said.
Goldsmith-Jones said she’ll continue in her roles as MP and as parliamentary secretary until after the federal election this fall.
“I will be working hard to recruit a new candidate for the riding and working on the election,” she said.
Goldsmith-Jones said she continues to support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party and said issues like the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the ouster of B.C. MP Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus played no part in her decision.
“I would say I’m proud to be associated with the Liberal Party of Canada,” she said.
Goldsmith-Jones, a former mayor of West Vancouver, won the federal riding handily over former Conservative MP John Weston in the last election in 2015, with over 54 per cent of the vote, compared to Weston’s 26 per cent.
The riding contains West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Bowen Island and the lower Sunshine Coast.
Goldsmith-Jones wouldn’t comment on future plans, but didn’t rule out serving the community in another role or a return to politics in another capacity.
“I always try to leave the door open and I always try to build bridges,” she said. “That’s a question for the future.”
Nancy McHarg, a member of the West Vancouver Liberal Riding Association executive, said the party will be “moving very quickly” to hold a nomination process for a new candidate for the federal election.
“This is all fresh news to us,” she said. “We’re extremely sorry to see Pam go.”
While the Liberals search for a new candidate for the riding, former West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce president Gabrielle Loren has thrown her hat into the ring as the Conservative candidate for West Vancouver.
Loren was chosen as the Conservative riding candidate following a nomination meeting on Sunday.
Loren, a partner in her own tax accounting company, only recently joined the Conservatives, after deciding their economic policies were a good fit with her own values.
“Why are we in debt?” She said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to teach kids. Don’t get yourself in over your head.”
Loren, who ran unsuccessfully for West Vancouver council in last fall’s civic election, said she sees her lack of political experience as a positive.
“It’s time for us to get away from career politicians,” she said, adding she hopes to bring a different perspective to Ottawa. “I understand everyday people and what they’re concerned about.”
Political pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research said North Shore seats are important to any party hoping to win a majority government in Ottawa.
Lyle said it’s too early to tell what impact factors like the Jody Wilson-Raybould ouster and the rise of the Green Party might have on federal seats in B.C.
The West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country seat has been held by both Liberals and Conservatives in the past. John Reynolds held the seat from 1997 to 2006 under Reform, Alliance and Conservative banners. Blair Wilson was elected as a Liberal in 2006, and also sat as an independent and a Green Party MP after being kicked out of the Liberal caucus, until 2008.