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Blair Wilson

Ironman Wilson working hard on accountability



If the Liberals ever sponsored a reality television show called "Finding the ideal Liberal candidate under 45", Blair Wilson would be a perfect contestant.

Wilson has two kids, he owns his own small business, he’s financially successful, he’s photogenic, he competes in Ironman competitions and he’s a chartered accountant with a degree in political science.

He was also born in North Vancouver and has spent most of his 41 years in B.C.

The other quality Wilson possesses is that he’s not afraid to work hard, and he’s been working 16-hour days for several months in an effort to beat Conservative MP John Reynolds.

He took Reynolds to task about his travel expenses but it was a minor victory and he will have to maintain the pace he has set for himself if he is going to make any impact come June 28.

The good news for Liberal supporters is that this not the first time Wilson has faced a tough political battle against much more experienced opponents.

Wilson had to defy some long odds just to win the Liberal nomination in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding.

Despite the fact that he had no previous political experience, Wilson won a tough race against two seasoned campaigners in John Moonen and Phil Boname.

Moonen is one of the most respected political advisors in Canada and Boname has previously run as the Liberal candidate in this riding.

Wilson has been to Whistler several times since that victory but last Sunday he took part in the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion campaign and then faced a crowded room full of keen Whistlerites in the first Dialogue Café with the riding’s candidates.

He opened the forum by saying that he was there to listen to what the people had to say, but the locals weren’t letting him off that easily.

They wanted answers to questions about the sponsorship scandal, some of them were genuinely annoyed and wanted to know exactly how the Liberals, and the government in general, was going to become more accountable.

Some diehard Liberal supporters were also concerned about the lack of momentum in Paul Martin’s national campaign.

And this was a pertinent point because it’s a reality in politics that while the local candidates can influence how people vote, it’s not a big influence.

The general rule is that most local candidates will only directly influence about 10 per cent of their constituency. The majority of voters watch how the party leaders conduct themselves and make a decision based on that.

"We might trust you, but after what’s happened we might not be able to trust Paul Martin," was the theme that ran through many of the questions Wilson answered at the dialogue cafe.

His response to questions about Martin centred around his leader’s ability to deliver "seven consecutive balanced budgets" and the fact "that the culture of government has to change" but his own resolution on accountability was more original.

Wilson has spoken consistently of Western alienation and the need to find ways of motivating young people to get involved in politics.

He believes the Internet is the best medium for motivating young people to contribute and, if elected, he has committed to setting up "digital constituency offices".

"I want to set up digital constituency offices so for two hours in every day I will be in direct link with constituents," said Wilson.

"I find it hard to believe that 80 per cent of people under 30 don’t vote."

He said he would advocate that all politicians start using the Internet as a way of showing their constituents how their money is being spent.

"If they had to file expense reports on a weekly basis and post them on the Internet, politicians are going to be thinking twice about staying at the Four Seasons hotel when they go on a trip."

Wilson went on to explain that the Liberals wanted another level of auditors to help the Auditor General oversee government business.

"The Auditor General audits the government’s books at the end of the year, but that’s after all the money has been spent.

"We need Controller Generals to oversee all the bureaus and to stop them from wasting money."

Wilson said the mandate of the Controller Generals would be to "find $3 billion a year" that could be better spent.

While it is clear that Wilson is confident with the direction his party is headed, his comments highlighted the fact that there is a lot of spending about to take place under a Liberal government.

"We anticipate a $42 billion surplus in the next five years… and we’ve used the worst case scenario to get to this projection," Wilson said.

"What we’re proposing to do is to take about half of that to pay down the debt and the other half will be for health care and education.

"The Conservatives want to spend money on defence and implement tax cuts."