Vancouver's newest and youngest councillor will announce officially Monday that he is running to become the mayoral candidate for the city's centre-right party – one that has a chance to dominate council again after a decade out of power.
Hector Bremner, the 37-year-old who was elected to a vacant council seat last October for the Non-Partisan Association, said he is running to bring new ideas to his party and the city – especially with respect to the housing crisis that is currently convulsing Vancouver.
"You can't be fresh, new and different if you're not fresh, new and different," said Mr. Bremner, a former BC Liberal government staffer who is now vice-president of a public-relations and lobbying company that has traditionally had strong ties to the Liberals. "My big three priorities are housing, housing, and housing. We need housing for working people who have been left behind."
He has already made it clear in his time on a council led by Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party council that he is in favour of creating much more housing supply in the city, although it has to be geared to what locals need, and that he is adamantly opposed to blaming foreign investors for all the city's housing problems.
"We're not going to [solve the housing problem] by blaming one another, blaming it on the bogeyman. We're going to solve it by not losing our values," said Mr. Bremner, who is himself a renter living in a downtown apartment with his wife, a former assistant to onetime premier Christy Clark, and two children. "The problem in the city now is that current rules allow only luxury homes and luxury condos."
The decision last week by the NPA's mayoral candidate from 2014 not to run for the nomination leaves Mr. Bremner in a strong position in the party.
Kirk LaPointe announced through Twitter last week that he would not compete for the nomination.
"While there has been speculation I might run again, after much consideration I have decided not to do so," he said, declining to elaborate any more on his reasons. Mr. LaPointe was hand-picked as the mayoral candidate in the last election by the NPA board and did not have to participate in a nomination race.
Mr. Bremner and his campaign team, which was led by well-known Liberal strategist Mark Marissen in its early days, have signed up hundreds of members to the party and are continuing to do so in preparation for a nomination meeting expected sometime in April.
At this point, his main competitor is Glen Chernen, a party outsider until recently who has made a name for himself by attacking the mayor for making bad real-estate deals on behalf of the city and by criticizing the city's lack of action on foreign investors.
Conservative MP Wai Young has said in the past that she was considering a run with the NPA but her current commitment to that is unclear. She could not be reached for comment.
There has been speculation that Liberal leadership candidate Michael Lee might run for the nomination. However, Mr. Lee, the MLA for Vancouver-Langara, has not said anything definitive about that.
Mr. Bremner revealed during his by-election campaign that he spent a couple of years essentially homeless.
That happened when he was 12, after his parents lost their jobs and were divorced, and he and his father spent several years in precarious financial circumstances.
The two moved to Port Moody, renting an apartment above a strip club, after a couple of years in Calgary couch-surfing at friends' houses. Mr. Bremner said his father pulled them out of poverty when he landed a job driving a truck for a small welding firm that was later taken over by a larger unionized company.
"It taught me that, when you're poor, the barrier to entry is always higher for everything."
After high school, he took a few business courses and then started his own marketing company. After impressing Liberal Party members with his energetic volunteer political work, he was hired in 2013 to work in the international trade ministry; later in the housing ministry.
He is now a vice-president of Pace Group Communications.