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Mayencourt announces he’ll run for Conservatives

Ends months of speculation

Gay Vancouver-Burrard Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt is the Conservative Party’s new candidate for Vancouver Centre in the upcoming federal election.

Mayencourt says the Conservatives approached him to be a candidate, sounding him out on issues such as crime, homelessness and addiction, issues he considers pressing in the riding.

“I think it’s an opportunity for me to take some of the ideas and programs I’ve been doing on the provincial level to the federal level,” he says.

The two-term MLA faces a tough field with incumbent Liberal Hedy Fry looking to beat back a host of challengers that also includes the NDP’s Michael Byers and the Green Party’s Adriane Carr.

However, Mayencourt does not have to give up his seat in the BC Legislature to run, says Elections BC spokesman Don Main.

A sitting MLA is only obligated to resign once they take a seat or vote in the House of Commons, according to the BC Constitution Act, Main says.

If the Vancouver Centre race proves to be a squeaker, Mayencourt has some experience there.

In the last outing to the polls, the Vancouver-Burrard tally went on long after election night.

Eventually, though, Mayencourt took the seat with an 11-vote win over city councillor Tim Stevenson, a former NDP MLA. The win was confirmed after a judicial recount.

But, says Mayencourt, the federal race is going to be a good one and one he’s relishing. “It’s going to be based on some good issues,” he says. “I know I’ve got a formidable task in front of me.”

Mayencourt has been a controversial figure as MLA, a job he’s held since 2001.

He has championed legislation around safe schools although received some criticism for not doing enough for queer youth.

He also stickhandled the province’s safe streets legislation.

More recently, Mayencourt has been working to establish an addiction treatment centre near Prince George.

Asked if he thinks that might be contrary to the Conservatives’ opposition to Insite in the Downtown Eastside, Mayencourt stresses he was an early supporter of the safe-injection site.

His criticism of it now is that it lacks focus on getting people into recovery in addition to harm reduction.

He says the Onsite recovery section above Insite is helping.

“The location is a big problem,” he says.

That, along with reducing homelessness and street crime, requires a combined approach, Mayencourt says.

“The province can’t do it alone, the city can’t do it alone and the feds can’t do it alone,” he says.

Another issue he wants to tackle, following on the heels of bullying in the classroom, is that of bullying in the workplace.

“We often think that it’s only kids that get bullied but there are lots of adults as well,” he says.

Mayencourt has a long record of community service.

He is the founder and, for its first five years, executive director of the Vancouver Friends for Life Society, which supports people living with AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

He is also a founding board member of the Life Quilt for Breast Cancer, and held directorships on the Vogue Theatre Restoration Society and the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation.