Former Whistler mayor Ken Melamed is making the jump to federal politics, vying for the Green Party nomination in the Sea to Sky riding ahead of the 2015 national election.
Since losing his third bid for the Whistler mayor's chair in 2011, Melamed said he has been "looking for other ways to continue to contribute to a better future," and was inspired by the national Green Party's vision for sustainability and political reform.
"I'm driven by and drawn to social change, community development, and creating a better Canada," he said. "The fact remains the laws are still made through what I would call our broken political system, and having people who reflect the values of Canadians in the system is critical."
Melamed said he was inspired by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who has, along with B.C. interim party leader Adam Olsen, given Melamed an endorsement. He was drawn to what he described as May's "new style of politics," as well as the political freedom he would gain as the MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.
"She has a more friendly style, it's not adversarial, it's collaborative, and it truly reflects the values of average Canadians rather than special interests," he said of May. "Finally, I really like the fact that there's no party whip. When I get elected as a Member of Parliament representing this area, nobody's going to be scripting me questions for the House of Commons, as we know that's what happens in the current party system."
While he said it's too early to fully outline his campaign platform, Melamed said he wants to give voters "an alternative voice in Ottawa," and intends to focus on "issues around Howe Sound and fisheries that are dear to people."
He said because he served as Whistler's Olympic mayor, he has worked with both provincial and federal levels of government, as well as local First Nations, giving him experience beyond most municipal leaders. Melamed served two terms as mayor of Whistler, from 2005 to 2011.
Melamed is up against Gibsons educator and renewable energy specialist Michael Maser for the nomination, which will be announced Aug. 7. He will also be riding the rails across Canada on the Green Party's "Green Train," and hopes to soak up as much as he can from other party officials, ahead of the Greens' national convention, from July 18 to 20.
For those wanting to participate in the nomination process, Melamed said the deadline to register as a Green Party member in order to vote next month is July 7. Visit www.greenparty.ca or www.kenmelamed.com for more information.