North Coast MLA won’t run again

  • Sep. 14, 2012 3:00 p.m.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons has announced that he will not be running in the May 2013 provincial election. Mr. Coons has been elected MLA twice and will have served for eight years by the time of the next election. He said he never planned to stay in the position for longer than two terms, and after the “unrelenting schedule” of an MLA is looking forward to retirement. Mr. Coons, who also has 28 years of experience as a school teacher, said he wants to get back into working with kids, perhaps as a hockey coach, but expects he won’t be able to stay away from north coast issues like oil tankers, the Highway of Tears and BC Ferries. “It was a job and I had fun doing it,” Mr. Coons said. “I’ll still keep my finger in the pie.” Although several Liberal MLAs, including high-profile cabinet ministers like Kevin Falcon and George Abbott, have announced they won’t be running, Mr. Coons is one of the few NDP MLAs to do so. He said the possibility that the NDP will win the election did not entice him to stay on. “It’s never really been a high priority to be in government,” he said, adding that he has enjoyed his role as the opposition critic for ferries, where he was an outspoken advocate for many issues affecting islanders. Mr. Coons said the North Coast MLA is planning to pick its candidate in late January, giving people who are interested time to join the party and have a say. There are already a few candidates coming forward, he said. Meanwhile, Mr. Coons is busy in Victoria, having been named to the provincial finance committee that will be travelling throughout the province to hear people’s views on next year’s provincial budget. “It’s a huge tour,” he said. “When that’s done it’s three weeks-plus of working on the report. It looks like for next few months, I’ll be pretty busy.” NDP leader Adrian Dix said Mr. Coons has been an effective champion of coastal waters and communities since he was first elected in 2005. “In the wake of the Queen of the North tragedy, Gary’s quest for answers helped bring about improvements in marine safety,” Mr. Dix said. “His knowledge of BC’s coastline and commitment to the people who live there, were on full display when I recently joined him for a tour of the Douglas Channel. He passionately demonstrated the importance of the tanker moratorium, now under threat from the Enbridge pipeline proposal, as we navigated through these beautiful but challenging waters.”