After 13 years as Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP, James Lunney has decided to call it a day.
Lunney announced his decision to not seek re-election in 2015 during a press conference held at his constituency office in north Nanaimo Friday morning. He said he based his decision on one made by the B.C. Boundary Commission to split the Nanaimo-Alberni riding, based on population growth, prior to the next federal election.
“It will take the 50,000 people from Lantzville — right next door to us here — and north Nanaimo and append it to south Nanaimo and Ladysmith and it’ll peel the north side of the riding and the west side and attach it to Courtenay,” Lunney said.
He said the shift means it will force him to divert his attention away from a constituency base he has served since he was first elected in 2000, so he is better off to complete his mandate for the remainder of his term by continuing to focus on the constituents currently within the Nanaimo-Alberni riding and leave the door open for others to seek election in the reconfigured ridings.
Lunney denied that he is stepping aside because of recent criticisms and controversies surrounding the Harper government and the Senate.
“I’d have to say that we’ve waded through a lot,” Lunney said. “It’s a challenging time to govern in any capacity. People are restive. The world is unstable. The economy’s unstable and I think that makes people unsettled in a lot of different ways.”
“Of course, we’re all disappointed with what’s happened in the Senate and abuse of taxpayers’ money and, of course, changes have already been made, but that will work itself out.”
Lunney has had his differences with decisions made in Ottawa, especially over cutbacks of coast guard stations on the B.C. Coast, but his position was not a factor in his decision to not seek re-election.
“I made that decision because I actually know more about the MCPS [Marine Communications and Traffic Services] situation than most of my colleagues in British Columbia,” he said. “A lot of people on the Island don’t know how communications work with vessels offshore and so on, even some of my B.C. colleagues. I made a position because I am concerned about the effectiveness of managing the entire coast from two centres.”
He also said his decision might free him to focus on issues that are of particular interest to him, such as a cost effective and sustainable health-care system.
“So, you know, I will continue to carry the voice from this region to Ottawa and to the best of my ability to represent peoples’ interests and we will do our very best to be effective with the tools and skills that are available,” Lunney said.
Lunney said he looks forward to spending a little more time enjoying the Island lifestyle.
“I’m hoping whatever the future holds beyond two years from now that it will include more time on the Island and perhaps getting more time in a kayak or a canoe and out in the woods like so many of you prefer to enjoy as well on this beautiful Island that we call home and have come to love,” he said.