Ryan Windsor is counting on his experience as mayor of Central Saanich to help him win the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands for the federal Liberal Party after securing its nomination last month.
Windsor said his current political office has allowed him to develop an understanding of the riding and he aims to make urban infrastructure investments one of the pillars of his election platforms. “We need to make those investments,” he said.
Windsor said he would also continue to support efforts to protect local salmon stocks and broader efforts to fight climate change.
It is a subject that has earned Windsor’s party charges of hypocrisy. While it has introduced a federal carbon tax, critics also lambasted its decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion to complete its expansion, which it approved last month.
This criticism premises on the economic argument that Canada is investing in a sunset industry and the ecological argument that it would worsen climate change by making more hydro-carbon based fuels available. More locally, critics fear that the expansion will lead to more tanker traffic, thereby raising the likelihood of accidental spills that could impact the region.
Windsor said he shares these concerns and promised that he would make sure that the construction and operation of the pipeline would unfold in the safest possible way.
As for the actual building of the pipeline, Windsor said Canada finds itself in a period of transition, during which the world still consumes oil-based products. That transition will not end within a year, he said.
So how will this argument fly when competing against what many consider the face of Canadian environmentalism, local MP Elizabeth May, who has criticized the federal Liberals?
Windsor said it would be a mistake to reduce the question of climate change to pipelines. Canada, for example, has phased coal, a step that will help the country meet its climate change goals. The federal Liberals have also introduced the federal carbon tax, he added.
“The Greens have talked about it, and this government has done it,” he said.
The federal Liberals have not shown well in the riding. Since Briony Penn won almost 40 per cent of the vote in 2008 to finish a close second behind Tory Gary Lunn, the party has fallen behind, with 6.06 per cent in 2011, and 16.7 per cent in 2015, good enough for fourth and third in the riding.
The federal Liberals will face strong headwinds from the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Windsor said something like that should not happen again. But when voters make their choices, they should look at the government’s overall record and compare it to what the opposition proposes, he added. “If you look at the Conservatives, there is a very different direction,” he said.
This does not necessarily mean that voters should give the party a pass, he said. “I think Canadians need to look at all aspects,” he said.
With the campaign starting in the fall, Windsor said he would take an unpaid leave of absence from his current post.
If elected, he would give consideration to contributing towards the cost of electing his eventual replacement.