The 40th British Columbia general election will proceed with at least one less familiar face next year.
Parksville-Qualicum Liberal MLA Ron Cantelon officially announced he will not be pursuing a third term in office in May.
“I think it’s time for me to move on and do some other things I might personally be interested in,” he said. “I’m really not certain which way I’m going to go and I’m going to take some time to think about that.”
It was just over a year ago that Cantelon suffered a serious heart attack, landing him at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria facing heart surgery.
He said the ordeal was a bit of a wake-up call and since that time, he has put more emphasis on his personal health.
“My whole focus has been to get better, and then get back in the saddle,” he said. “And when I finally got ready enough to do that, I realized, ‘is this really something [I] want to do? Maybe not’.”
Cantelon said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, which includes five children, and helping out with community projects of his choosing.
Cantelon’s foray into politics first began when he was elected as Nanaimo city councillor in 1999, and was elected to his first term as MLA in 2005. He has also sat on the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors. He said the most rewarding part of the job has not been the times spent in Victoria but working with his constituents and being involved with projects such as the airport expansion, cruise ship terminal and building relations with the Snuneymuxw First Nations.
“You get absorbed when you head down to the legislature and you’re involved with the partisan debate that goes on and you’re required to spend hours and hours there, you sometimes wonder, is this the most effective use of my time?”
Cantelon had no words of wisdom for his successor but said the role of MLA is a great opportunity and a great thing to do.
Meanwhile, Nanaimo’s other MLAs have been nominated and are ready to run.
“I’m very excited to be running again,” said Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog. “I think there is an opportunity for us [NDP] to form government, and I intend to work hard to achieve that goal, but I am also here to serve the people of Nanaimo.”
Doug Routely, NDP MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, said he sees opportunities to improve people’s lives, which has prompted him to run for a third term in May.
“I’m excited about the experience I’ve had representing people and the issues that challenge our communities.”
Until the writ is dropped next spring, Krog, who will be running for his seventh term, says it will be business as usual.
He said serving as MLA is a unique honour and privilege and he respects Cantelon’s decision.
“It’s always tough to put your family ahead of public service, and I think that’s what he’s done, and I congratulate him and thank him for the service he’s given,” he said.