By Alex Cooper and Jessica Schwitek
After 11 years serving the people of Columbia River–Revelstoke, as well as many years before that serving Golden as Mayor, MLA Norm Macdonald has decided it is time for his political career to come to a close.
He has decided that he will not seek re-election next spring. Instead he will be returning to his first passion, teaching.
At 58, Macdonald has decided that he can’t push it back any further if he wants to end his working life as an educator.
“I really enjoy teaching,” he said. “In fact, when people ask me what I do, I still say I’m a teacher.”
With a year still left in public office, Macdonald has not yet had time to reflect too much on his long political career.
“I still have a year left to go, so my main thing right now is finding someone to take the nomination,” he said. “As MLA, my staff and I have been able to assist so many people, often at the most difficult times in their lives, and that is very, very important work. But I feel it is time for someone younger, with more years to give, to take on the position of MLA in 2017.”
Even though politics won’t be in his life in any official capacity, Macdonald recognizes that being civically active will always be important to him.
“Before running myself, I was always involved in campaigns,” he said. “I’ve always thought that was very important, and I will continue to do that.”
For rural communities, like those that make up Columbia River–Revelstoke, having a voice in Victoria for residents has always been Macdonald’s main focus.
“It’s important not to be just a mouth piece,” he said.
Macdonald is expecting a vigorous nomination contest to replace him as the NDP candidate, including a range of candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
It’s far too early to make any predictions regarding the election’s outcome, but Macdonald says he is always optimistic.
“You never know how things are going to unfold, but as always I’m optimistic,” he said. “There’s such a sense of community in rural towns, and that impacts the way campaigns are run. We all know each other, and want to make sure everyone will be looked after.”
Revelstoke Mayor Mark McKee, who ran for the BC Liberals against Macdonald in 2009, gave the MLA credit for his work as a credit and his concern for local communities.
“He understood what his role was and where he could help and where he couldn’t help,” said McKee. “I think a BC Liberal rep would be better, but Norm did a good job representing the community.”
He said he and Macdonald has mutual respect for each other in 2009.
“It was probably more of a gentleman’s election than normal,” said McKee. “Which might be why I lost.”
Bill MacFarlane, the head of the Columbia River–Revelstoke NDP constituency association, said he was happy for Macdonald being able to step down on his own terms, but that it would be tough to replace him.
“He was a really effective MLA,” MacFarlane said. “He really took people’s concerns to heart and worked on their behalf.”
He said the NDP will begin planning to nominate a successor starting next month. No one has officially announced their candidacy yet.
“It’s going to be an exciting time for us as we build towards the next election, which is less than a year away,” he said.