Peter’s leadership of the party’s renewal process in the mid 1990’s led to him becoming assistant federal secretary and acting federal secretary in the following years. Then in 1999 when the Council of Canadians, the largest social justice organization in Canada, needed a new Executive Director he took on a new challenge.
This was a pivotal time for the global justice movement, coming between the “Battle of Seattle” to counter the ravages of the World Trade Organization and our success in Quebec City; stopping the scheme to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Peter was right at home in the Council. He was always committed to fighting for social justice and transformative change to create a better world. This is what inspired him to volunteer for Bernie Sanders first re-election campaign for the House of Representatives in 1992 – 25 years before millions of others “felt the Bern”.
This commitment comes from deep in his roots in working class British Columbia. His maternal grandfather was a fisher and mill worker. Peter followed in those steel-toed footsteps, unloading railcars and working in factories and then as a labourer at the Shellburn oil refinery. Perhaps his favorite was being one of two employees at the first craft brewery in Canada – Mountain Ales. He worked with the brew master, filled kegs and bottles and delivered them. Unfortunately the bottling line sometimes broke down and they had to end the day drinking the uncapped beer. It would have been a shame to waste. Of course he took the bus home afterwards.
Peter’s deep commitment to working people and social justice is demonstrated every day in his constituency work. Whether it is helping an immigrant family navigate the bureaucracy or ensuring elders and persons with disabilities receive the benefits they are entitled to Peter and his dedicated staff are tireless in their efforts. His team has helped over 12,000 individuals and families since his first election in 2004.