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One month in, Weiler still finding his footing

One-on-one with Whistler's new rookie MP

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ONE MONTH AFTER Canada's 43rd election campaign, Patrick Weiler—the 33-year-old rookie Liberal MP now representing the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding—is still finding his footing.

Though he equated the torrent of information he's consumed in the last month to being "kind of like drinking from a firehose," much of the orientation and admin work is now in the rearview mirror.

"The main thing for me is, at this point, to get everything set up internally, to make sure I have the right staffing, to make sure we have the internal processes, [and] to make sure we have the best systems to reach out and engage with folks," Weiler said, in an interview at the Pique offices in Whistler on Nov. 22.

"I know what my priorities will be going forward, but at this point I'm just trying to make sure I get my feet under me before getting too far into it."

Those priorities are much the same as Weiler stated during the election campaign: affordable housing, climate action and transportation.

"Especially with the loss of Greyhound, it's much more difficult to get from Pemberton to Whistler and Squamish to Whistler, and so a big focus will be to see what type of avenues we can find to get people out of their cars and into public transit," Weiler said.

"And looking kind of further down the road, what does this look like in 10 years? What does this look like in 30 years? And to start building up those plans where we can connect the communities a lot better."

Communities in the Sea to Sky have hit a wall with the provincial government on regional transit funding—is there anything Weiler can do to force the issue?

"A lot of the levers are at the provincial level, and so it's really going to be working with all levels of government," he said, noting that the federal government invested in compressed natural gas buses in the region in 2017.

"So there are ways that the federal government can provide funding for that, and so that's what I'm going to be interested in looking at ... ways we might be able to support financially, or in other respects as well."

Weiler was in Whistler to speak at an event about the electric vehicle economy (see Pique, Nov. 21 for an advancer on the panel discussion).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet on Nov. 20, with several ministers shifting into new portfolios.

Weiler pointed out Chrystia Freeland's new role as deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs (formerly minister of foreign affairs) and Jonathan Wilkinson—another B.C. MP—transitioning to the environment and climate change file as particularly exciting.

"(Wilkinson has) got a great background in that area. He's worked in clean tech, and he's worked in the mining sector as well, and he's a Rhodes Scholar," Weiler said.

"Brilliant guy, very, very down to earth, very measured, and I think he's going to be the right person for that job, which is going to require a lot of difficult conversations."

The tourism file remains with Minister Melanie Joly, though it has been rolled into her portfolio of economic development and official languages.

"Interestingly, there's going to be six parliamentary secretaries that are working for her, so for me [that] kind of allays the concerns that tourism was going to be kind of lost in the shuffle," Weiler said, noting that a total of seven MPs will be working on the file.

"They're going to have a number of different focuses in that, but economic development and tourism will be top of mind."

Weiler's riding office is located at 6367 Bruce Street in Horseshoe Bay.

Constituents can reach him by email at patrick.weiler@parl.gc.ca.

"I'm quite humbled by the trust that people here put in me," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to getting started, to be the best representative I can be and to make sure that the issues that matter to them are being reflected in the decisions that are made in Ottawa."

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