Conservative takes the high road discussing chances at defeating NDP incumbent
“What makes you think you can knock off Denise Savoie?”
Federal Conservative candidate Patrick Hunt doesn’t miss a beat as he shakes hands with the group of seniors having beers around a table at Smuggler’s Cove Pub.
He immediately launches into how he has the most respect for Savoie, Victoria’s NDP MP seeking re-election, “But I feel that I can help out the citizens of Victoria even more,” he says.
Hunt had been door-knocking in the Ten Mile Point area all afternoon, but had stopped by for a chat and a pint at the pub. Sipping a glass of Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Hunt noted that in two days he would turn 62.
He’s long past the days when he was the youngest MLA elected to the Nova Scotia legislature, in the riding of Hants East in 1978. He served a three-year term then moved to Victoria with his family in 1983. He ran as Reform party candidate in Victoria in 1993 and has worked behind the scenes since for the Conservative party.
Before being elected in 1978 he served eight years in the Canadian Navy, receiving a B.A. in economics and political science from the Royal Military College in Kingston. He has worked in the high tech industry.
Hunt is unfailingly polite. When the opportunity opens up to slag Savoie he declines, then admits he would want to “duplicate her efforts in the way she helps out her constituents.” He differs from her in that he thinks a mega-yacht marina in Victoria harbour would be a good thing – “They bring money into the harbour,” he says.
His main talking point is that he’d like to build Victoria up as a corporate training centre, something he says he’s already discussed with Human Resources and Skills Developmen Minister Diane Findlay. Victoria is ideally suited to be a national training hub for corporate executives, he says.
“There are lots of assets in the tourist trade. It’s very busy in the summer, but under-utilized in winter. It would be a great perk for someone to come out here.”
Hunt and his wife, Deborah, live on Cook Street near Kiwanis Village. They have two adult children, Adrian, 35, and Jen, 33, who have both left the Island to find work in Kelowna and Vancouver, respectively.
“They would both love to be in Victoria, but the jobs are there,” Hunt says.
“We do a disservice to young people if we don’t create jobs.”
It’s a concern he heard a lot while door-knocking earlier that afternoon, he says. “People are a little worried, if not about their own jobs, then their children’s, or the economy in general.”
Hunt allows a little poke at Savoie’s leadership.
“The things she talks about are either provincial or municipal issues: health care, homeless(ness), the needle exchange … I’m going to go to Ottawa for strong foreign affairs. We need to make sure we have a strong national defence,” says the man who as a teen wrote an essay about the positive aspects of nuclear submarines.
“If we don’t have a strong nation that’s well protected, all the rest doesn’t matter.”
• Job creation, especially for young people “so they can find a job, raise a family and enjoy a rewarding a career.”
• Encourage new business. “By focusing on creating wealth, collectively we will be able to afford to meet the needs of all our citizens, especially those who are not able to help themselves.
• Make Victoria a corporate training destination. “Give seasonal workers employment in the winter by attracting managers and executives from back east to Victoria for professional development training.”
– Patrick Hunt