bc-080905-mayencourt

Lorne Mayencourt has represented the constituents of Vancouver-Burrard in the B.C. legislature since 2001. ((CBC))

B.C. Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt says he wants to run for the Conservatives in what is expected to be a hotly contested riding in the next federal election — an election that could be called as early as Sunday.

Mayencourt, who has represented constituents in Vancouver-Burrard since 2001, said he plans to seek the nomination in Vancouver-Centre, a seat held by Liberal MP Hedy Fry for the last 15 years.

He said he has a strong history of dealing with mental health and addiction issues and is currently running a live-in drug treatment centre in Prince George, B.C.

"I know, and I think the Conservatives now have indicated, that every level of government needs to be involved in issues of mental health addictions [and] homelessness. These are very important issues to every different economic group," he told CBC News on Thursday.

Mayencourt will face strong competition if he becomes the Conservative candidate in Vancouver-Centre.

Besides Fry, those who have announced their candidacy include former B.C. Green party leader Adrienne Carr and New Democrat Michael Byers, a professor at the University of British Columbia.

Mayencourt first announced last December that he would not run in the next provincial election, set for May 2009. He said at the time that the Conservatives had told him he would be a good candidate for the party, and that they were courting him to run in the next federal election.

He won his provincial seat in the Liberal landslide of 2001, by ousting New Democratic incumbent Tim Stevenson. He defeated Stevenson again in the 2005 election by a margin of 11 votes.

The backbencher is best known for a private member's bill that was eventually passed into law as the Safe Streets Act. It gives police extra powers to crack down on aggressive panhandling and "squeegee kids" at traffic lights.