Running for office was only a matter of time for David Merner, who is representing the Liberal party in the newly defined Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding.
From his time as a political science major in university to his current role as the executive director of the Dispute Resolution Office in B.C.’s Ministry of Justice, Merner has been heavily involved with the provincial and federal Liberal parties.
The 53-year-old has also been an observer at two of the biggest presidential elections in modern history: 2006 in Haiti and 2014 in Ukraine.
“There were certainly security risks and concerns,” says Merner of both situations. “But people were also so grateful that Canadians were there to help.”
Haiti was particularly moving, as people walked long distances to vote, some through the night.
“They filled their ballots by candlelight,” Merner said. “You can see how important democracy is to them. They take it seriously [because] they know what it’s like to lose democracy. It’s very inspiring and a reminder of how lucky we are.”
A father and a husband, Merner and his wife, human rights lawyer Annemieke Holthuis, have raised four daughters in Victoria. The youngest, 12, attends Ecole Victor Brodeur. Their 18-year-old is doing a one-year program at Mahindra College in India (part of the United World College family of schools, which includes Metchosin’s Pearson College).
Meanwhile their oldest, a pair of 20-year-old twins, are in university, one in pre-medical school at Queen’s and the other environmental studies at Dalhousie.
“Still one at home, but it’s the start of empty-nest syndrome,” joked Merner.
“Previously we had been so busy driving around.”
Before he worked in the justice industry Merner started at Harvard University and ended up doing a masters at Oxford University in the 1980s, where, little known to Canadians, he played hockey for the Oxford Blues.
“It was a semi-pro league, we played in the [traditional] Oxford versus Cambridge [rivalry],” Merner said. “The fans loved it, they wanted Slapshot, they wanted all that bad behaviour, it was something else.”
To this day Merner still plays hockey three times a week, including twice in the morning before work.