Esquimalt mayor sets sights on provincial politics

Barb Desjardins is taking a stab at provincial politics as the B.C. Liberal Party candidate for the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding.

She’s worn many hats during the eight years she’s served as the mayor of Esquimalt, but now Barb Desjardins is getting set to take a stab at provincial politics as the B.C. Liberal Party candidate for the riding of Esquimalt-Metchosin.

Desjardins officially secured the party nomination on Wednesday, joining the list of 11 candidates who will be representing the B.C. Liberal Party on Vancouver Island.

“I have passionately immersed myself in the community of Esquimalt and when you do that, you’re always looking for ways that you can help. I think that I can carry that onto a different level, which is MLA, because there are other issues at that level that I hear from residents all the time,” said Desjardins. “Esquimalt is moving forward, it’s doing well, it seems like good timing in my mind that maybe I can provide some assistance at the next level.”

Working as a physiotherapist, Desjardins was elected to Esquimalt council in 2005 and became the mayor two years later.

She’s also chair of the Capital Regional District (CRD) board and lead co-chair of the Victoria and Esquimalt police board, where she was heavily criticized for the way the investigation was handled into the actions of suspended police chief Frank Elsner.

Desjardins plans to continue as mayor and chair of the CRD as long as she possibly can, but admits eventually she’ll have to take a closer look at how she can juggle multiple hats while running a provincial election campaign.

“We’re doing a lot of things in Esquimalt and we’re missing one councillor already on leave, so I don’t want to stop. I want to make sure there’s good strong leadership and participation at council to move initiatives forward as we have been,” said Desjardins. “But I’m also looking to my council members and staff to help advise me on if they see that there would be any sort of a conflict of interest that may come up. I am quite aware of the concerns of having multiple hats.”

The riding’s current MLA, Maurine Karangianis of the NDP was elected in 2005, but will be retiring from her position this year. Mitzi Dean, executive director of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association, has been acclaimed as the NDP candidate for the riding and the Green Party has yet to announce their candidate. The liberals won the seat once in 2001.

The provincial election takes place May 9.