Patrick Chenier says the Conservative Party of Canada needs renewal, and he wants to be the man who leads it on Vancouver Island.
The 46-year-old Errington resident announced this week he is seeking the Conservative Party nomination for the new Courtenay-Alberni riding, which includes Parksville Qualicum Beach.
“We need a fresh perspective going forward,” Chenier said in an interview. “If we want to continue governing, we need that renewal.”
To win the nomination, Chenier must defeat John Duncan, an MP since 1993 and a cabinet minister. Duncan announced recently he will seek the nomination in this new riding, which was reconfigured last year. Duncan currently represents Vancouver Island North and he, along with Nanaimo MP James Lunney, were opposed to the reconfiguration, which split Comox and Courtenay, included Powell River and excluded Nanaimo in the new Courtenay-Alberni riding.
Duncan’s constituency office is currently located in Campbell River, which won’t be part of the Courtenay-Alberni riding in the 2015 federal election.
“John has accomplished a lot in his political career,” said Chenier. “I don’t criticize that. He has made the choice to not run in the North Island — to me it’s not time for that movement in his career.”
Chenier made a stunted attempt to seek the B.C. Liberal nomination in Parksville-Qualicum last year, but pulled out of the race before the nomination meeting. Michelle Stilwell was acclaimed the candidate and won the constituency for the B.C. Liberals in the May 2013 provincial election.
Originally from Ontario (he said he has called Vancouver Island home since 1991), Chenier has never held public office. He has served on a number of boards, committees and foundations.
“Democracy to me comes in a lot of forms,” he said. “This has been, for me, a long time coming. I’ve always had the ambition and I see this as the right time for me to go ahead.”
Chenier said his decision to seek the nomination was “crystalized” after speaking with many resident in the riding.
“The overwhelming message I heard from people is it’s time for renewal,” he said. Chenier also voiced his support for the party leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“I think Stephen Harper as our prime minister is doing a great job,” he said. “There is always room for improvement for everyone.”
When asked about local issues, Chenier spoke about the need for integrated radar at the Tofino Airport and more support for Port Alberni’s shipping industry.
Chenier said a date or location for the nomination meeting has not been set.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the party, but it’s always been clear to me it will be an open and fair nomination process.”
Chenier provided biographical data that said he has a Bachelor of Physical Education (1991) from the University of Ottawa and a Masters of Education (1996) from the University of Victoria. He is bilingual (English and French).
According to his bio, “Patrick’s professional career focused on making a difference in people’s lives with key roles in the B.C. and Canadian sport system, the Aboriginal community, education, business and financial services. His work history includes financial advisor, sport manager for the North American Indigenous Games and subsequently General Manager for Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Association of B.C. and owner of The Sage Centre.”
The bio also stated Cheneir is a direct descendent of one of the founding Canadian pioneer families who arrived in Canada in 1648. Chenier and his wife Niki Stanford live in Errington. They have two adult children and one grandchild.