Despite a six-year run designing and renovating Tim Hortons franchises, Ed Mayne has been reluctant to stir metaphors from his coffee-empire work into a political career that has, so far, seen him serve as mayor of Parksville.
But as Mr. Mayne prepared to quit the mayors' job in the Vancouver Island city of about 11,000 to campaign for the leadership of the BC Liberals and become the province's next premier, he made an exception.
"Tim Hortons has a credibility with the Canadian public that they haven't let lapse, and that's what we have to do here," Mr. Mayne said in an interview Monday, referring to the mission for the B.C. Liberals seeking a fourth term in the scheduled 2013 election. "What I did learn from Tim Hortons is to treat people fairly and be honest with them," said Mr. Mayne, who owns the company's franchise in Parksville, and has also been a senior director of development for Wendy's Restaurants of Canada.
Mr. Mayne, 60, is cutting short a career in municipal politics that began with his election as Parksville mayor in 2008 to join five other candidates - four of them recent cabinet ministers - seeking the Liberal leadership.
He has been a party member for years and says he will now seek to enter provincial politics, seeking a seat in the legislature whether or not he wins the vote by thousands of Liberals on Feb. 26.
He is pinning his hopes on the prospect of the party adopting a weighted voting system that would give regions like Vancouver Island as much weight as urban centres, and the gamble that an outsiders' message might have some appeal.
But he concedes he has a lot of work ahead. "I've got 55 days to become a household word amongst the party. My job will be to get out to the 85 ridings and have them know who I am," he said. "I know the people are looking for a change, and we haven't heard a lot of change coming from the other five candidates at this point in time."
He put up the $25,000 refundable deposit to run because he is aiming to win, not to throw his support somewhere at some point in the race, he said. He was not happy with the "top down" approach to government in the administration of Premier Gordon Campbell, he said, so he started thinking months ago about taking his shot at the leadership if the job ever opened.
The HST, he said, was the last straw, suggesting the "horrid" implementation of the policy he supported helped convince him to run. "You learn that when you're in business - that you just can't steamroll over people and expect them to support you in the future," he added.
On the campaign trail, he says he plans to lay out a platform of government accountability that will see all votes in the legislature being free votes unless on confidence issues, arguing a leader who can't rally a caucus to his point of view can't expect to lead the province.
He also says premiers should only serve two terms, and that he supports mandatory voting, or tax credits to encourage people to vote, as measures to encourage public engagement in the political system.
Mr. Mayne, reflecting his municipal experience, says he thinks 2 per cent of the 12-per-cent HST should go to municipalities in return for the province eliminating all grants to municipalities. That, he suggests, would create a sustained funding steam for municipalities.
Unlike candidates proposing to move up the planned HST referendum to June, he says he would leave it in September because he thinks people need the time to understand the issues around the controversial tax.
Like other candidates, he supports an increase in the minimum wage, but would like to see it done over two or three years to ease the blow to a hospitality sector already suffering from the recession, the HST and stiffer drinking-and-driving laws.
Parksville Councillor Mark Lefebvre said he expects council will elect an acting mayor to finish out Mr. Mayne's term, which runs to November. He said Mr. Mayne will be missed as mayor because this is a busy time with such issues as reforms to development and land-use planning in the city.
He said Mr. Mayne may have some appeal to Liberals. "He's the consummate outsider," Mr. Lefebvre said.