Peter Schwarzhoff says he’s done running for a seat in Ottawa, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with politics.
Schwarzhoff has been the Liberal Party candidate for the North Island – Port Alberni riding in the past two federal elections. Back in 2015, he came in third place behind the NDP and Conservatives with 15,416 votes, but this year, his total fell to just over 8,000 votes and he dropped to fourth place behind Mark de Brujin of the Green Party.
But when the Mirror caught up to him at his election night party at the Anchor Inn after the election had been called for NDP candidate Rachel Blaney – and knowing he was likely looking at a fourth place finish at best – he was still all smiles, as was everyone else in the Pacific Ballroom.
“Of course I’m smiling,” he says. “Obviously I’m disappointed with my own result, but that’s not what’s really important. We’re all smiling because the Liberal Party has won the election – with its allies – and those allies are all progressive, too.”
That’s what’s most important, Schwarzhoff says. It’s about the country continuing to move forward in a positive direction. In this minority government situation, he says, Canada can continue on the right path, under the direction of the Liberals with the support of parties like the Greens and NDP.
“They’ve basically been telling us that they don’t disagree with what we want to do, they just want to do more of it, faster,” he says. “That’s not a bad ally to have, and it seems to me that’s the making of a stable minority government that could easily last the whole four years and really move us forward on a good trajectory.”
But whenever that next election rolls around, his name won’t be on the ballot for a third time.
“The reason I got into politics was that I was a scientist back in the Harper days and I was being gagged. I was mad about the environmental protections being removed, I couldn’t talk about environmental assessment processes, and couldn’t say a word about climate change,” he says.
But since then, much has changed, he says, so he doesn’t necessarily feel he needs to be the voice fighting for it anymore.
“I’m also getting too old for this,” he admits, saying the campaign wasn’t physically exhausting – though he did do a lot of walking around and knocking on doors – but exhausting nonetheless. “We’re going to be looking for somebody younger. The candidate search has already started, in fact. We’re looking for somebody younger than me, but other than that, everybody is welcome. A woman would be fabulous, or a visible minority, or whoever wants to take it on and represent progressives under the Liberal banner.”
But he won’t just be casting aside his political past. He cares too much about this country to do that, he says.
“I’ll be around in whatever capacity I can serve in,” he says. “It’ll just be in the background instead.”
Anyone interested in throwing their hat in the ring is encouraged to contact Chrystal Arnet at the North Island – Powell River Federal Liberal Association by by email at firstname.lastname@example.org