When Wayne Stetski lost the mayoral seat in the recent municipal election, he had some time to think about his immediate future.
His phone began to ring in December with offers and encouragement to get into federal politics.
He sat down and wrote a letter to himself.
As he wrote, a picture began to form with the theme of ‘Missing Canada.’
While unhappy with the way things have gone under the Harper Government—he singled out the military’s shift away from peacekeeping, the treatment of veterans, laying off federal scientists and the use of whipped votes and omnibus bills, among others—Stetski said he still feels called to public service.
“I wrote that letter in about 15 minutes and I’ve never been one to sit and complain about things unless I was willing to step up and do something about it,” said Stetski.
As an elected official or as a public servant in his previous career as a regional manager with the Ministry of Environment, public service is about relationships, Stetski says.
“I really value that one-on-one relationship and I’ve said to people before, if you’re going to get involved in public life, it really has to start with liking people, and I really like people,” Stetski said. “It starts with a fundamental belief that public service is one of the highest callings in life. Not everybody shares that.”
On Wednesday, Stetski announced his intention to run for the New Democratic Party in the upcoming federal election after a three-year term as the mayor of Cranbrook.
In addition to serving as mayor for three years, Stetski ran and narrowly lost to former mayor Scott Manjak in 2008.
During his time in municipal office, Stetski said he tried to take what he called a ‘holistic’ approach to governing.
“That means, yes, the economy is important and roads are important, sewer and water is important,” Stetski said. “But so is multiculturalism, so are the arts, so are youths, so are seniors, so I’d see all of these issues crossing my desk and there are some people who would say municipal government shouldn’t be looking at those things at all, but I cared about all of them.”
As mayor, Stetski said he faced issues such as affordable housing, physician recruitment and the challenges of door-to-door postal delivery—all of which he said are federal government responsibilities.
“There were a number of issues that crossed my desk as mayor that had federal responsibility where in my mind, the federal government was not doing what it was supposed to be doing,” Stetski said.
Stetski will officially kick off his campaign on Sunday, March 15, at the Manual Training Centre in Cranbrook at 1 p.m.