Liberal candidate Patrick Weiler finds himself in the unusual position of a rookie politician working to hold a riding for an incumbent government.
The 33-year-old was nominated to run in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country after Liberal MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones announced she would not seek a second term.
Weiler has a background in environmental and Indigenous law and worked most recently as a program development officer with the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI).
"I think there's some really important, critical issues that we need to address in government right now – things like having a plan to fight climate change, ensuring the country works for everybody, ensuring that we're building the type of economy we want for the future... I'm committed to making sure that we have the right response to that," Weiler said in an interview for Coast Reporter Radio.
Weiler said he sees the election as a clear choice between the "failed policies of the Harper Conservatives" and the Liberal vision.
"The Liberal government has grown the economy, it's supported the middle class [and] we have an effective program to address climate change," he said.
Weiler also defended several Liberal government decisions that have been unpopular in the riding, including the reversal on leader Justin Trudeau's 2015 campaign promise that it would be the last election decided by first-past-the-post.
"The government looked at that issue very closely – they held consultations across the country and looked at some of the different options that would be available," he said. "At the end of it there wasn't one clear choice... That's what we had in B.C. in the [2018 referendum] when we didn't have a clear choice. We had the lowest vote in favour of having electoral reform than the last three referendums. That said, I'm personally committed to looking at ways we can improve our democracy."
On the SNC-Lavalin controversy that led to Jody Wilson-Raybould resigning from cabinet and being ousted from the party, Weiler said he thinks the idea of a deferred prosecution agreement was worth considering, but "the discussions that were had were considered by the ethics commissioner to be an ethical violation."
"One of the important outcomes of this is now we have a report on what is and what is not acceptable when you're having these discussions with the attorney general," he said.
The environment and climate change are emerging as important issues for many voters in the riding and Weiler called that "heartening to see."
"I think the Liberal government has done a lot to address climate change with the pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, putting a price on carbon, phasing out coal-fired electricity, investing in electric vehicles and in energy efficiency and banning single-use plastics. I think these are really important achievements that have really moved the needle in a significant way."
Weiler said buying the Trans Mountain Pipeline was an opportunity to protect the environment and the economy, and that the government's Oceans Protection Plan addresses the safety issues around increasing oil shipments.
"The other concern that people have is that by building this pipeline we're going to be jeopardizing our ability to meet our Paris climate targets," Weiler said. "To address that the government has committed to reinvesting all the profits that are made from the pipeline into renewable energy. This is really where the rubber hits the road, with the notion that we're using the fossil fuel economy of today to transition to the clean economy that we're moving toward in the future."
Another key issue in the riding is affordability, in particular housing affordability. During their term the Liberals started rolling out a multibillion-dollar National Housing Strategy. They're promising now to expand eligibility for the First Time Home Buyer Incentive and other initiatives.
Weiler pointed to recent announcements of funding for a 24-unit development by the Whistler Housing Authority and the transfer of surplus federal land to Gibsons for a proposed supportive housing facility and said similar multi-government efforts will be needed to increase rental stock.
"Decisions on housing are something that's going to require the federal government working closely with the provincial and municipal governments," he said.
On Justin Trudeau's recently revealed appearances in black and brown face makeup, Weiler said most voters he's talked to have been ready to accept Trudeau's admission that it was a racist act and his subsequent apology.
"Like all Canadians I was very disappointed to see that, but I don't think that in any way represents what the prime minister is all about, and it definitely does not represent what this government is all about," Weiler said. "You can just look at the record of the last four years of what the government's done to fight racial intolerance."
The full Coast Reporter Radio interview with Patrick Weiler is now online at www.coastreporter.net/audio.
This article originally appeared here.