NEWS

Municipal meeting fertile ground for political recruitment

06/03/2013 09:53 EDT | Updated 08/03/2013 05:12 EDT
The national meeting of Canadian municipal leaders has wrapped up in Vancouver, and over the past three days mayors and councillors have been visited by prominent politicians from all three federal parties.

Newly-minted federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, just two months into the role, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference Sunday.

His message to British Columbians was clear — he wants local governments to have better ties with the federal government and he doesn't support the Northern Gateway pipeline plan.

"I think Christy Clark made the right decision, and I applaud her for it," he said. "The economic cost on coastal communities of the Northern Gateway proposal, as well as the environmental cost was simply going to be too high."

- Read more: B.C. officially opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

Trudeau, who has been tasked with the job of rebuilding the federal Liberal Party, was also working behind the scenes at the FCM at wooing potential federal Liberal candidates.

"Every trip I make across the country is about engaging with Canadians and trying to get them to reconnect with the idea of politics and that includes drawing on some great potential candidates from across the country."

'An obvious place to go'

The Liberals weren't the only party recruiting.

On Saturday, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair spoke to delegates, pitching his party's plans for a majority government. Ministers from the Conservative government made presentations to the mayors and councillors.

- Read more: Not all mayors swayed by $53B federal promise

Right now, 11 of British Columbia's 37 MPs were once municipal politicians.

Lou Sekora, a Coquitlam city councillor, served as mayor of Coquitlam for 14 years and as a Liberal MP. He says the competition for candidates could be difficult, with so many political options open to them.

"There are many, many politicians that he will have to pick through and see which ones of them he can get," Sekora said. "If you a have a city with politicians that the province or the federal government doesn't want than you have a problem with your council."

Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs says it makes sense to recruit at the FCM, with its concentration of dedicated politicians.

"It is an obvious place to go because voters have some sense of who you are they have seen you in action and they can form some judgment," he said.

Gregor Robertson will be a popular name of the wish list for the both the NDP and the Liberals. But for now the popular Vancouver mayor is sticking to his day job.

The next federal election is in 2015.

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