By Andrew Mitchell
This is not Dave Thomas’s first kick of the can.
In 1997 the West Vancouver lawyer ran for Parliament as a member of the divided Progressive Conservative Party, which picked up just 20 seats that year.
In the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding, Thomas finished well behind the other conservative in the running, the Reform Party’s John Reynolds, a popular politician who had past experience as an MP and MLA.
Far from souring Thomas on politics, the election inspired him to become more involved and to reunite the right-of-centre Progressive Conservative and Reform parties into a single organization.
“I stayed quite involved, and actually worked quite actively towards the merger that I was in favour of all along,” said Thomas. “In 2003 I got the (Progressive Conservative) nomination again, but when the merger went ahead I stepped aside for John Reynolds and generated support for him as his official agent for the 2004 election. I thought (Reynolds) would retire in 2009 or so, and when he stepped down in the beginning of 2005 it caught me off guard a little and so I gave that election a pass.
“Not too long after that the phone started ringing, from conservatives in the riding who were interested in resurrecting my candidacy to try and win the seat back from the Liberals.”
But first he has to win the Conservative Party’s nomination. He is being challenged by another West Vancouver lawyer, John Weston, who represented the party in last year’s election. The nominee will be determined over the weekend of Jan. 5-7.
Thomas started his own law firm in 1994. In that capacity, representing clients in their dealings with the federal government, he says he has become intimately familiar with the workings of Parliament, as well as the issues that exist between elected officials, ministries and bureaucrats.
“I really understand the disconnect that exists… to create problems,” he said. “Take an issue like the gun registry. Part of the problem is that when the legislation went through the House of Commons there was too much power in the hands of bureaucrats and not enough checks and balances. It’s similar to what happened with the sponsorship scandal, which I attribute to the directionless leadership of Jean Chretien. There was no focus on a direction for the country, and that allowed some bureaucrats to have a field day.”
But while Parliamentary process and mending some flaws he perceives in government are priorities for Thomas, his main issue in the next federal government will be the environment.